Monday, 8 July 2013

Project X Zone - Final Round Review

When it comes to Japanese RPGs the market is huge, and what better way to tap into it then with a massive crossover game?  Project X Zone does just this, crossing over Capcom, Namco Bandai and Sega with 29 different franchises.  Characters that are well know, Ryu and Morrigan, to those less know, Soma and Xiaomu, come together in this simple yet captivating strategy game.

 With turn based strategy games it can feel like you are just doing the motions, over and over again, with little in the way of diversity. Project X Zone can fall into this category but fortunately the differences balance out the rest of the game; each team of characters has different theme music, attacks, catch-phrases and of course interact differently with each other.

The crossover combinations, which are amazingly flashy, can happen between a team(two characters) with (or without) a solo partner and another team, in total there can be up to 5 characters in the battle screen at one time.  There are of course requirements to this, such as radius with another team, and only being able to use this ability once per team per turn.  Even considering this it is pretty easy to rack up some enormous damage on your enemies.  Because of this it is easy to think you’re overpowered and can take on the world, but fear not!  The tables can get turned very easily and each turn can become more important than the last in your struggle to stay alive.  Combat isn’t overly deep as each character does roughly the same damage per attack, depending on level, and unfortunately there is very little strategy in the combat screens.

Each chapter lasts upwards of half an hour, easily past the hour mark later in the game, depending on your skill and whether or not you want to defeat just the objective or everyone in the arena and collect every chest.  Every battle area is just as amazing as the last, with breakable objects, obstacles, chests and, of course, a plethora of enemies.  There can be so many different characters and enemies at once that it can sometimes become daunting, yet the simple menus and status screen provide a way for you to keep track of your team and utilize them to their fullest extent.

As with most RPGs you can upgrade the stats of the characters, but rather than upgrading individual characters it is done via their team.  There are only two slots that can be modified per team, one for gear and the other for accessories.  Each of these item have different stats, such as +health or negate poison, and the stats are clear enough that a newbie to the genre will easily be able to understand and plan around them.  The best thing about the items being team based is the fact that you don’t need to fiddle with 30+ different characters to get exactly what you want.

Another similarity between Project X Zone and other JRPGs is the surplus of dialog, it wouldn’t be right to call it this otherwise.  Because these characters are known, they tend to say and pass on little titbits of information or references that will catch certain fans attention.  There is, of course, quite a bit of fan service, but even this can produce laughter as the characters are somewhat aware of themselves.  It is a surprise when there is dialog that doesn’t produce some sort of laughter, and even the references that go right over your head (I’m sure I’ve missed a fair bit) can still get a chuckle.

Over the course of the time I have been playing this on my 3DS, and every time I put it down to play or do something else, it is so easy to pick back up again.  It is honestly so much harder to actually put it down in the first place. 

All round it is a great JRPG, and with the easier strategy and simple combat system it will be a great title for those who haven’t played the genre before.  Even veterans of the genre will find reasons to love Project X Zone; the characters, interactions or story will have something for everyone.


- Steff Webb

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