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Vagrant Story is one of those games that wows you at the start--a big "WOW!" in this case--but maintains only a tenuous hook in the long haul. In this mix of action/adventure and fantasy role-playing, players are cast as a Riskbreaker (think one-man army) named Ashley Riot, whose pursuit of a villainous cult leader takes him to the mysterious city of Lea Monde.
The highly stylized graphics in Vagrant Story are easily some of the best ever seen on the PlayStation, and give the game a gorgeous, distinctive look to match its somber tone. Cinematic story sequences blend in almost seamlessly with gameplay, which takes place in 3-D environments (viewed from a third-person perspective) that can be rotated to provide the best angle.
Vagrant Story features a rich battle system that's built on both strategy and quick reflexes. In addition to character statistics, weapons and armor have detailed numbers of their own and can be disassembled, assembled, or even combined to create new items. Hand/eye coordination factors heavily into combat, as Ashley develops offensive and defensive battle abilities that require perfectly timed button pushing in order to be used.
Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get bored with Vagrant Story. The painfully linear gameplay here doesn't rise above killing enemy after enemy in room after room, and (oh boy!) solving puzzles by manipulating boxes. If not for the wholly intriguing (but sparsely littered) plot, one would be strongly tempted just to leave Ashley to rot in the catacombs beneath Lea Monde. --Joe Hon
- Highly stylized graphics
- Rich battle system
- Intriguing plot
- Shallow, linear gameplay