This about covers it:
Above: In no particular order, Disgaea 3 (PS3), Disgaea 2 (PS2) and Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP) – we reveal which is which at the end of this review!
Enough said about that.
For those of you who haven't been lucky enough to play any of the Disgaea series, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice is another challenging strategy RPG populated with off-the-wall anime-style and tweenaged characters. It's your job to build a crew of these eccentric demons, monsters and mixed-up, wannabe heroes from the Demon Academy to tag along on anti-hero Mao's quest to defeat his dad and become Overlord.
Yes, it makes for an odd story. The characters swing from one hyperbolic emotion to the next so quickly that if you can't forgo logic and happily lend suspension of disbelief, you'll quickly lose interest. On the other hand, fans won’t mind the silliness, because seeing Mao try to convince everyone he's a diabolical demon while he begrudgingly or accidentally helps others time and time again is pretty funny - it’s a lot like the plot of a Saturday morning cartoon.
Despite its childlike story, the turn-based combat system has the depth and challenge to attract serious strategy gamers. All the statistics and clever strategies are present, but they’re underneath a set of insane looking attacks. Your warriors are as likely to use a technical sword combo as they are to pull out a pair of chain guns or convert an ally into a laser cannon for an over-the-top energy blast that visually rivals the ultimate-secret technique found in any other game (often, though, the sword will end up being the strongest). Basically, it's going to look silly, but play hard.
Above: I summon the awesome ice-wolf of 85,401 hurting chunks of ice!
Even with attacks like the one above, there’s no need to worry about getting too strong. The difficulty scales up quickly, and you're expected to spend a good portion of your time replaying areas and going on missions to power up before proceeding. This slowed the pace of the game, but also makes it bigger. Between story missions, for example, you can explore the Item World, a randomly generated set of levels that exist inside literally every item in the game. The farther you get exploring the hundreds of levels inside each piece of equipment, the stronger each item will be. It's an interesting twist on upgrading equipment, provided you don't mind spending hours grinding to equip a new axe.
For gamers who are willing to obsess over the stats and intricacies, Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice will give you an excuse to chain yourself to your couch. You’ll be rewarded by steadily uncovering new classes, new abilities (or “Evilities”) and, if you succeed, a hard-earned sense of accomplishment. Depending on your tolerance for the immature, you may or may not care about the wacky hijinx, but even without the story, the sheer volume of content makes Disgaea 3 an enticing game.
Any fun game of this size is a good deal, but we have to end the review the way we started it: There's not enough difference between this and its prequels. The biggest changes are a handful of new character classes and abilities that are bought instead of learned through experience, but neither is enough to set Disgaea 3 apart from its predecessors (or justify the jump to PS3). You'd be better off finding a used Disgaea 1 or 2 (PS2) - after you've spent 400 hours beating those, pick up Disgaea 3.
Oh, and here’s the answer:
Aug 26, 2008