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Rogue Galaxy | review | game | Lollipop
(Sony for PS2)
by Mike Delano
Used to be, when a new system came out, you moved on or risked getting stuck with a has-been's release calendar full of movie-licensed games, $9.99 dreck, and pointless repackagings of games from the console's golden years. Microsoft and Nintendo seem to remember the times: With the release of the 360, production for the original Xbox was nearly dead on arrival, and the Gamecube release schedule following the Wii's November 2006 release didn't look much brighter, unless you were desperate enough to buy Twilight Princess on a dead console.
But for all the shin kicks and knees to the groin Sony has (in most cases, justifiably) endured for the PS3 launch, they still haven't given up on their PS2 warhorse. The months leading up to the holiday season saw Okami, Guitar Hero II, Final Fantasy XII, and Bully: As strong a showing as any in the system's history. And in 2007, the PS2 delivered God of War 2, the year's first must-play game on any system, and Rogue Galaxy.
Now, RG doesn't belong in the same company as the aforementioned games (scheduling its release months after FFXII was a wise move), but it's further proof that the PS2 had the sweetest swansong of any console, ever.
It's a fantasy RPG set in an age of space pirates, which allows the designers to create a pretty interesting universe consisting of equal parts Pirates of the Caribbean grime and the sleek futuristic vision of the Ratchet and Clank games. Environments and characters are rendered in an appealingly exaggerated color scheme that speaks to the game's high production values and its overall lighthearted young-man-on-an-adventure storyline.
Nothing here will make you forget other, better RPGs, but the real-time combat keeps things moving at a brisk pace and boss encounters are more satisfying than usual since you and your squad can engage the enemy from all sides, even sometimes above or below. This varied and exciting system turns even the run-of-the-mill stat-building battle scenarios into frenzied free-for-alls. It's the best aspect of the game, and simply more evidence that the concept of turn-based battles needs to be put out of its misery.