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Rogue Galaxy
From: SCEA
For: PlayStation 2
Genre: RPG, Sci-fi
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Rogue Galaxy
If you're a PlayStation2 owner and haven't quite scraped up the means to get a PlayStation3, take heart: you haven't been abandoned just yet in the forward, lemming-like rush toward next-gen titles. Rogue Galaxy offers yet another reason to keep the ol' PS2 plugged in and playing.
Posted February 12, 2007
If you're an aspiring space-pirate (indeed, wannabe-pirates in general are finally seeing a resurgence of decent pirate games from which to choose), then good-on-ya, because Rogue Galaxy is an original role-playing venture (from lauded, cred-heavy developer Level 5) that fuses gorgeous, cartoonish-bright cel-shaded visuals, appealing characters, tons of variety, secrets and minigames, and a startling degree of fluidity in the gameplay itself. And, come on -- space pirates! Yarrr!

Players, meet Jaster, a suitably do-gooder young hero stuck on a bleak, armpit-of-the-galaxy slave planet (there's more than a little sheen of old-school Star Wars in evidence here, in both look and feel). Jaster longs for offworld adventure -- and gets it when he is mistaken for an infamous bounty hunter by space pirates in need of his "expertise." Ensuing thusly is a planetary rock-hopping saga which, while ultimately linear, moves along with charm, variety and surprisingly solid voice-acting.

To begin with, players control Jaster toiling amid his new duties as would-be space buccaneer aboard the pirate vessel Dorgenark and visiting worlds both under- and hyper-developed, from a lush jungle land to the galactic-capital, water and mining worlds. The variety of locations gives the game a sprawling sense of adventure, even if it does take a few hours for things to get rolling. Players will eventually choose different characters to command directly, and most of those characters -- including Kisala, the obligatory cute-but-tomboyish-chick or the mild-mannered robot who could fairly be called "Steve-3PO" -- are familiar archetypes and even on the one-dimensional side... but it's a good dimension while the baseline-excellent voicework helps move things along in a fleshing-out manner.

Speaking of moving along, Rogue Galaxy largely flies in the face of typical RPG pacing. First, the combat is rooted in real-time action (with pause-menu options for items and special attacks) with players engaging waves of foes with the help of some AI allies (who occasionally need some baby-sitting, but they're useful nonetheless).

Too, there's no artificial breakdown between exploration and combat. There you are, running along with the follow-camera (mostly) behaving itself, then there's a braying warning, and suddenly you've got enemies coming out from behind the furniture and everything, as it were -- if outdoor environs had furniture, that is -- wailing on you as you swing your blade, shoot your ranged weapons, jump-attack, and even huck enemies into other enemies as frantically as you can.

This fluidity defines not only the fighting, but also the greater progression of the game. No waiting for an environment or a room to "load," no bean-counting your way through endless submenus in what should be the heat of battle... the entire game has an on-the-fly feel that's perfectly suited to the space-swashbuckling (Spacebuckling? Swashspacing?) subject matter.

Even when you're not giving or receiving beatdowns (remember kids, it's better to give than to receive), Rogue Galaxy has a lot to offer. There's a fairly massive item-fusing system; an entire insect collecting/nurturing/fighting scheme that hovers dangerously close to Pokemon territory with a nice tactical element; and the North American release even features extra dungeons and a new water-planet adventure that wasn't in the previously-released Japanese version. Not too shabby.

It's not all smooth sailing and buckle swashing, of course. Fact is, the combat does get repetitive at times (however, due to the real-time nature, this is not the same as boring), and the utter, irking necessity to employ certain weapons to bring down certain bosses smacks just a wee bit of "designer intrusion." Still, scant shortcomings of Rogue Galaxy can't hold an imperially-taxed candle to its hearty virtues.

In the end, Rogue Galaxy is nothing universe-shattering, nothing revolutionary... and it doesn't have to be. It totally works as a rock solid mix of old school sensibilities, squeeze-the-PS2-dry visuals, gameplay variety, and audacious adventure.

Plus, there's pirates.
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Bang for your buck:
Good Rental 
Great New Purchase 
Excellent Pre-played 
Excellent Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  4.25  (out of 5)