Just a great game! Gamers who hated the battle system never tried to master it.
Hence, picking this game up without many expectations I was pleasantly surprised.
BK offers a nicely done story with a lot of twist and turns, one of the best videogame soundtracks ever and a really good battle system. The combination of pre-rendered backgrounds and real-time characters could have been better however, and might take some getting used to. The pre-rendered backgrounds themselves however are very artistically done and add to the atmosphere of a great game.
A superb RPG mixes both a great battle system with good character development and especially interaction. Baten Kaitos sticks to this formula and is by no means a dungeon crawler.
You'll have to interact with people, which will drive the story onwards, and if applicable you'll get to fight... that's really all there is to it.
However, the story is really nicely done, with an insane amount of sometimes unrealistic twists and turns... well, isn't that a bad thing? No, I assure you, in Baten Kaitos it certainly is not!
The in-game world is pretty immersive although it never comes close to the level of interaction set by the Bioware RPG's, but most things are spot-on. One of the real strengths of BK however is the battle system. In BK you'll hear alot about Magnus, which are just cards containing the essence of an object. Sounds boring? Well, it might be at first, but these Magnus are really well applied in the card-based battle system. So let's discuss it a bit more:
Gameplay FHC (=frequently heard comment): "The battle system sucks"
Actually, this comment will probably come from someone who never really grasped the system. The bs is card-based, turn-based and to some extent also time-based. The battle system actually contains all elements of greatness, it is really strategic both in-battle as in preparing your deck. In-battle you'll achieve extra damage by making certain card number combinations, and using the elements well in combination with the knowledge of the enemy's weakness.
It is fast-paced, gives both great freedom and control and also incorporates the biggest element of them all: luck! You can try to minimize this effect by well preparing your deck, but you will always come across a turn in which you won't have any -good- cards to use..
The fun thing is that most of the above isn't even necessary to get through a large portion of the game, as the system is easy to pick up but harder to master. That's what probably explains all these negative comments as as soon as those gamers will come across an enemy they can't handle their natural RPG instincts would tell them to level up instead of learn about the details of the system.
The graphics in BK are a combination of pre-rendered backgrounds and real-time objects. The backgrounds look great, they look just like some kind of dreamy painting. The real-time stuff isn't bad either, although it doesn't use any of the fancy effects of which the GC is capable of.
The combination of these two elements however, takes some getting used to, as they don't fit in as well, as say in Resident Evil. (However, they are in no way bad.) The in-battle models and effects look great though.
One of the best videogame scores ever, combined with some bad voice-acting. The actors often don't know the context of their sentence, which makes it awkward at times, and the probably compression used let it sound as if they are talking through a tube. The score however, is really dreamy and on-par or even better than anything I've ever heard (including Morrowind and the likes).
Sound FHC (=frequently heard comment): "The voice acting sucks"
Yeah, this is true. Although I must say that it isn't as bad as many people believe it to be.
The entire package of great music, great characters and a good story got me addicted to this game. The first hour or so in the game, you'll feel like this game is nothing special, and you'll probably won't like the production value (sound and graphics) at all. But once you'll get to understand and use the battle system and experience the great fairy tale which is Baten Kaitos you'll keep on playing, eventually realising that BK is one of the deepest and best RPGs out there.