The game opens with a young boy called Jude on a floating island, blissfully unaware of what will happen to him. Whilst on a walk he notices an airship has landed, and bound by curiosity, he explores discovering the herorine, Yulie, and another companion. When he arrives back at his village, there are soldiers looking for an ARM, in the midst of the chaos, the island plummets to the ocean, and Jude beomes attached to an ARM, and thus the game kicks off.
Whilst the story doesn't tend to twist and turn as much as some RPGs do, it is an easy storyline to follow, and there is a lot to be said for that, in a day when some RPGs storylines are extremely confusing. The characters all have a charm about them, and consequentually, this is a game where you'll actually like the characters. However, the tendancy to discuss the issue of war, just war, and genetics is perhaps a little over the top in places, to the point that towards the end, you'll be getting rather bored with the entire scenario. Graphically, the characters are well designed, and the enemies are detailed and varied depending on location. However, I couldn't help but feel that in making the game fully 3D, that the detail of the areas has been lost quite a bit. However, there are times when you'll actually be quite impressed, like the foggy mountain pass, and then you'll just feel the game is being inconsistent.
It is the gameplay that makes this trully revolutionary. Whilst battles are turn based, the way it is done is trully extraordinary. You have seven hexagons, and depending on your location, and the location of the enemy, and the type of attack, the battles unfold. For instance, for close combat, you must be on the next hexagon, but you can move from place to place. Magic can usually be cast from anywhere, BUT what makes this really great is the depth of strategy you'll start to use. You will find yourself attempting to surround enemies to box them in, and thus keeping your healer away, or you may find yourself picking on the hexagon with the most enemies in, but as a result you'll be experiementing more than a traditional RPG. That said, but you have the usual levelling up, bonus skills to unlock and the such as any other RPG.
The rest of the game plays out by visiting villages, perhaps the poorest element as you cannot explore the inside of houses. This makes the game a little limited, as exploration is a massive part of RPGs. However, dungeons and areas have a bonus platform element where you can jump from platform to platform with bonus side view sections. You can find swords and bottles to hit switches, but then this takes away the depth of the third game. Overall, the game plays far easier than the third game in the series.
So, conclusion. This will be taken by RPG gamers in different ways. Some will hate the restrictions the game has employed whilst others praise it for an inventive battle system. Personally, I find the story is what it will hinge on for players, and that for me, I quite enjoyed it. If your not an RPG player though, I probably wouldn't start with this one.