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Cross Edge (PS3)
Cross Edge (PS3)

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, but for some this will be an ideal game, 28 Jun 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Cross Edge (PS3) (Video Game)
[This review is for the NTSC version, which is identical to the PAL version]

At the time of writing Cross Edge has an average critical review score of 47/100, making it one of the twenty worst RPGs of the post-NES era. It also has an average user rating of 8.0 on GameFAQs (only 0.2 points behind Final Fantasy XII), with almost 50% of the votes being 9/10 or above and almost 80% of the votes being 8/10 or above, making it the fourth best RPG of this generation so far. I'm not sure of the exact significance of these numbers, but they're definitely telling me something...

Speaking of numbers, Cross Edge is a numbers game. Levels go up to 999, HP maxes out at 999,999 and the damage cap is well into the billions. There are hundreds upon hundreds of weapons, items, accessories and pieces of armour, almost all of which have to be synthesized from rare items (the only things you can buy are those which have previously been synthesized). Before ten hours have passed you'll be dealing with more than a dozen party members, each one of whom can learn up to ten unique skills. Each skill can be combined with a number of other skills to form a combo, which can then be combined with another sequence of skills to form another combo, and so on.

What's immediately clear, therefore, is that while Gust, Namco Bandai and Capcom may have their name on the box, this is a game by Nippon Ichi and Idea Factory. Both NIS and IF are known for making TRPGs (tactical role-playing games) rather than JRPGs (console role-playing games), and it shows. There are no NPCs to talk to, no towns to explore, no long-winded cutscenes and certainly no pseudo-philosophical overtones. 99.9% of your time in this game will be spent either fighting or tweaking your party to make them better at fighting. The other 0.1% will be spent saving, loading and staring at the game over screen. Almost all of the "cutscenes" (2D character portraits exchanging words over a static background) are light-hearted comedy sketches and have nothing to do with the "plot", which itself is little more than an excuse to continue fighting.

I don't want to give away too much about the battle system because (a) part of the satisfaction comes with figuring it out for yourself and (b) it's impossible to explain in writing anyway, but suffice to say that Cross Edge features perhaps the best combat I've ever experienced in an RPG. Literally every move matters, not least because the only way to acquire key items needed for synthesis is to "overkill" enemies (by KOing them, then knocking off another health bar in the same combo... yes I said combo, not turn). Each enemy can and will use special attacks, and one-shot KOs are not uncommon. The grid layout adds even more depth (bunched characters are easier to heal but more susceptible to area attacks, for example) and the incredible scope for customization means that there can be no right or wrong answers.

It's also not unnecessarily complicated, as most reviews would have you believe, it's just poorly explained. In fact, some aspects of it aren't explained at all at any point in the game. Personally I loved this hands-off approach because it meant that I could get on with the game and learn through experience (there's nothing more annoying than a game halting your progress to inform you that "X is used to do Y" when you've already read it once in the manual and again in the options menu). Granted, it's a little more challenging than choosing between Attack, Magic and Item, but I honestly can't see a fan of the genre encountering any significant difficulties with the interface. If you aren't psychologically traumatized by the prospect of functions like "guard break" and the aforementioned "overkill" then you've nothing to worry about.

It's difficult to explain exactly why I've given Cross Edge five stars and why I love it so much. All I can say is that I can't recall enjoying the basic mechanics of a game this much for a very long time. Every minute I spend with it is enjoyable in a way that makes me want to keep playing it more and more. Clearly there are negatives if you go looking for them - the graphics are primitive, the plot is effectively non-existent, exploration is extremely basic, level grinding is a necessity, aspects of combat are poorly explained etc. But why go looking? It is what it is: a deep, challenging JRPG/TRPG hybrid with an awesome battle system, humorous character interactions featuring some familiar faces and a customization system so ridiculously vast that it puts most others to shame. If (and only if) you're a fan of the genre, do not hesitate to buy Cross Edge. You won't regret it.
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