Frustrating and Boring. Not worth your time.
People have complained about pop-in and slow load times. I installed on Hard Disk, and can assure you that IF you do this, the **frequent** load times are bearable. However, if you don't install, I've read reports of 20-30 secs of load times, and even cut scenes shorted than the load times. Pop-in happens even if you install on hard disk, maybe up to 3 seconds at most though.
The reason I give graphics as "poor", since there's more to graphics that pretty artwork. Yes the artwork is nice, but I don't think having a 100 square foot play area before needing a loading screen is acceptable in a modern RPG.
If the areas are larger than 100 square foot, then they will be totally bland "play fields". The "castle remains" at the start is laughable, nothing more than a series of huge corridors and empty rooms strung together with a few random monsters plonked inside. When you compare this with the incredibly detailed "dungeons" in games such as fallout 3, they are truly laughable.
Animations are quite stiff, and the main characters moves as if he has a load in his pants.
After getting owned a few times, you will begin to peel away the veneer of this boring system. All it boils down to his flanking or intercepting the enemy. You have little direct control over you characters who are bundled up into "unions". The main choice you get to make is which enemy union you attack.
In reality, despite the flashy graphics (with pop up), the whole combat revolves around the position of blue and red dots on the minimap and which ones you are going to engage and in what order to avoid flank/intercept.
To make combat more annoying options such as heal/use ability are **random**, they may not come up when you need them. Also despite boosting the speed of my character he still seemed to get intercepted, and swung last in combat....a lot. The main character is the only one you can buy and equip items for, you have no control over what abilities he will learn or when he will use then...really!
Then there's a lame quick time event system, probably put in at the last minute when they realized how boring the combat was. This just means you have to watch the insanely long turns play out....did I forget say it was boring? Luckily there's even an option to automate the quick time system, so you can get on with your life and have fun, while the 10 minute turn plays itself out.
The main difference between the start and end of the game, is that there are **more** unions to manage, and therefore longer and even more tedious turns. I can liken to combat to playing tic-tac toe with random events.
The less said about this the better. The main chacarter is and adolescent dork from central casting; he wants to save his sister. The plot plays out in a linear fashion, when you "explore" the open dungeons, all the dialog is 1-2 lines of pop up text only, almost no party interaction. Most of the dungeons are empty of anything really. The story just plays out as a fixed movie, but to watch each part you have to engaing in the boring combat system. If I wanted a totally linear story I could watch a film or read a book.
I found a nice on right at the start of the game where I was told to go to the caste ruins to deliver a letter. Since the game is mostly linear, you MUST do this to unlock the rest of the game.
I spent 4 hours going back and forth to the ruins, looking for hidden areas, double checking the quest log etc. As it turns out, you MUST travel to the ruins immediatly from the NPC quest giver...don't think to upgrade your stuff first, and going there from the map. The "ruins" are in fact a special instance of the ruins created ONLY from quest dialogue.
This just shows the shockingly linear thinking from the developers. I've been gaming a long while, and I've not seen this sort of blatant restrictions since the late 1990s! Moreover, the gameworld is spread accross 2 disks, but consists of little "rooms"; its far smaller thant Fallout or Oblivion which fit on only 1 disk.
I really think the developers need to work on improving their skills. As gamespot says this is technicaly flawed, a series of little rooms strung together with loading screens, total linearity, long loading times, pop-in, poor animation. This is not acceptable by totays standards.
Moreover not only is it technicaly flawed but the combat/levelling system is random/boring and frustrating and simply not worth your time. Please try this or rent it first before you waste your money.