As if being a Final Fantasy clone wasn't bad enough...

User Rating: 2.5 | Dragoneer's Aria PSP
Yes, you've read it right, it's a definite Final Fantasy clone ladies and gentlemen. I have nothing against the FF series, and to be perfectly honest I'm actually quite a fan, but having a game like DA feels like playing FF VIII on the PSX and putting everything on slow motion. I have to admit, the visuals are quite pretty - full 3D rendered environments, nice character detail, a lot of attention to the aesthetics - but I guess the praise just ends after that. If there's one thing striking about Dragoneer's Aria, it's the fact that it's SO DANG SLOW. Everything's slow including the dialog, the way the player navigates around the area, cut scenes, and good Lord, even the BATTLE, which is the heart and soul of a decent rpg, is done in a speed that could challenge a lazy yawn. The UI is unimaginative at best, having a vertical portrait of your characters pasted on your screen and the rest of them on the left side, with windows sliding in and out from all over the place. I think they lost interest with the interface after they decided their characters looked pretty enough because the "save point" in this game is just that - a save point; no fancy frills, no nothing. It's just you filling out the space. Character navigation is set in a third-person perspective which gives you the feel of an MMO, without the massive multiplayer aspect. Movement from place to place is frustrating and slow (figure out how many times I say slow in this review and you get a free knock on the head!). Battles are started by coming into contact with winged evil "eyes", no random encounters here, thank goodness. But everything just falls like an avalanche from the point where you and the monster interact. Enter an extremely slow enemy profile shot, wherein you witness one (yes, only one, which leads to to thinking you're battling only with one monster) of your enemies sort of "emerge" before actually engaging with the fight. Once you go through the usual attack / defend / magic, the battle concludes with a topper of an annoying piano melody lick which is amusing on the first few fights, but gets really OLD fast. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, mp here is stored for everyone's use and usually ends up making you do your lame attack moves over and over until you have enough mp for one character to do a decent magic spell. Sure there some points that I could give plus points to: there's the "lusce" the game's magic engine which acts like an abbreviated FF7 materia system; the decent enough voice acting is a welcome change to the frustrating dullness. I can't even think of anything else besides that. Playability still boils down to a game's capacity to keep you playing and enjoying. Dragonner's Aria tried, and shamefully failed. It had all the elements that WOULD HAVE made it something WORTH PLAYING, but it decided to stick to mediocrity and let everything else suffer along with it. Truly, DA is a potentially great game gone terribly (and sadly) to waste.

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