If Mistwalker, the studio founded by the creator of the Final Fantasy series, were hoping Blue Dragon Plus would be the title to pull them out of Square Enix%26rsquo;s considerable shadow, then we%26rsquo;re sorry to report that this isn%26rsquo;t the case. They%26rsquo;ve gone and done a Revenant Wings %26ndash; that is, concoct an RTS-lite handheld sequel to a console title. But unlike with Final Fantasy XII, few of us actually played, or wanted a sequel to, the original Blue Dragon that came out on Xbox 360 two years ago.
The game hits the ground running, a welcome change to the snail%26rsquo;s pace at which most RPGs crawl along. Newcomers will undoubtedly be baffled at first but, thanks to a big chunk of text that appears every time a character is introduced, it doesn%26rsquo;t take long to catch up. After the first hour, the game settles down and the resulting tale is easy to pick up.
It may appear to be a traditional fantasy RPG, but Plus is more sci-fi in tone. The game takes place within Borg-style cubes full of robots and ancient technology, while the game world functions similarly to a board game. Your party (and, later, parties) move from node to node in a turn-based fashion, doing battle whenever they land next to a foe. It%26rsquo;s an unusual system that, if developed fully, could be quite fun, although we miss actually walking around.
The switch to real-time skirmishing means you can get up mid-fight to make a cuppa. Units take ten billion years to reach their destinations, and when they get there it%26rsquo;s usually a case of whacking enemies till they fall down. Elemental attacks add slightly, but by now are so clich%26eacute;d they%26rsquo;re barely worth mentioning. You%26rsquo;ll only ever win Blue Dragon%26rsquo;s battles through persistence rather than skill.
It%26rsquo;s a shame this isn%26rsquo;t as deep or involved as Revenant Wings, and its world, full of Dragon Ball rejects, isn%26rsquo;t anywhere near as inspired. Plus may be a fresh start for the series, but compared to Square Enix at their best it%26rsquo;s as stinky as one of the game%26rsquo;s Poo Snakes.
Feb 24, 2009