|Oh man. The combat here is great as everyone runs around and does their thing with great dispatch making combo hits, spell casting, counters, and such and such just as smooth as you please. But aside from the amazingly brisk load times, everything outside of combat is a huge pain.
It's just wrong. The exploration camera is the most laughable that I've seen in a long time, completely unable to keep up with you on its own. You can rotate it but somehow the responsive rotation in the peaceful town where there's no need for it switches to ridiculously slow rotation in the dungeons where you need to be able to see monsters approaching.
As if to make up for the overly generous save points in Grandia II, so far the only save point has been back at headquarters, so I had to go through an hour and forty-five minute dungeon crawl without saving once--and this is at the very beginning of the game! Ugh.
The bizarre color and design sense of Grandia II is back again here, with characters wearing whatever the hell part of the color spectrum they can find that clashes with everything else around them (monsters, on the other hand, look pretty good). The setting is a crazy-quilt mish-mash of sci-fi, fantasy, and steam-punk, and left completely unexplained, at least at the beginning.
But the worst, the absolute worst, comes in the form of the cutscenes. I don't know what English-school reject they got to translate the dialogue, but this person needs to be stopped. To be sure, it probably isn't the fault of the translation that none of the characters are remotely likeable, but none of the lines read like natural conversation despite the translator's attempts to throw in slang and colloquialisms--hearing your mighty warrior yell "Oh sh-t, whyyy??" when he falls in battle just grates like you wouldn't believe but come to think of it he was probably just asking a rhetorical question about the script.
As if the lines weren't bad enough, it seems like they got a bunch of amateurs (wait, the back of the case says voice acting by Mark Hamill, Dean Cain and Lisa Loeb... huh, go figure) to read them--you can actually hear these people taking turns reading lines out of the script book and the sound quality is poor to boot. Of course, you can't skip these conversations, and some of them aren't subtitled so turning off your speakers isn't going to work so well. Besides, you wouldn't want to miss the mighty wit of our translator!
At one point I got up in the middle of the cutscene to go visit the bathroom because I knew how the conversation was going to end and I couldn't bear to hear it "acted" out. Unfortunately, it was still going when I came back. And for some reason, polka-like music accompanies these blessed scenes.
Unloaded this one at EB.