GrandiaWhat? No! It can't be! Grandia is... finished? My God. There's no more. I've beat it. What else is there? for the last two weeks I have spent every waking moment of my life worshipping at the altar of Grandia, and now it's over? NO! Now that I have finished Grandia, I'll just have to find something constructive to do with my life. I know! I'll write this review! In case you haven't noticed, Grandia has really gotten under my skin. It is not a flawless game but It is an amazing experience nonetheless. Grandia was conceived as the alternative to Final Fantasy VII. In contrast to Final Fantasy VII's dark futuristic vision, everything in Grandia is cheerful and colorful. So much so that in the beginning of the game, I dismissed it as childish. I mean, you start out on a scavenger hunt with some other kids looking for imaginary armor made from buckets and other useless thingamajigs. But it is so much more than the 3D Earthbound I thought it to be. As the story went on, I got more and more interested in the struggles of the characters. Soon I was investing 3 hours a night playing it, then more, until one frightful day, I devoted NINE STRAIGHT HOURS to this silly thing, breaking only for lunch (and I mean a QUICK lunch). We are talking serious immersion here, so much that it may not be healthy. So before this rant gets out of control, I'll stabilize myself with some clear rational numbers: Gameplay - 7.5 The battle system has it's good and bad points. It's sort of similar to Square's Active Time Battle, except that when you're no keying in commands, everyone is moving around, making it seem like you're always watching a big fight scene. Very exciting! The only bad thing about it is that in order to get any spell worth having, you must keep casting the pathetic spells to level up your magic. So later in the game, every battle is spent wasting time, casting meaningless spells. I got sick of having to cast Defense Raise twice in every battle to get more earth magic. The magic system is certainly Grandia's biggest flaw. But while I was playing, I was too interested in the story to really care too much. Story - 10 In the beginning of the game there is a bit too much story, and it takes about 5-10 hours for things to really get going, but it's definitely worth it. The game is about 30 hours longer than your average RPG (it took me 50 hours total), and towards the end, it's just amazing. I cannot stress the immersion factor enough. In fact there were at least 3 moments where I was on the verge of weeping with joy for my characters. I started off thinking the main character was kind of one-dimensional, but he evolves greatly, and the relationships he builds over the course of the game are truly touching. Graphics - 8 The first city in the game suffers from some truly horrendous graphical glitching. After, that it's basically smooth sailing. The spell effects are fun, but since you must constantly cast magic to gain magic experience they can grow tiresome. In general, the graphics are quite colorful, and the character art is phenomenal. What the game lacks in technical shine, it makes up for in style. Sound - 7 You should probably ignore this rating as I can't really comment accurately on the sound. The music did the job nicely, the sound effects are virtually irrelevant, and the voice acting... was a mixed bag. I have to admit that it's really cool to have the occasional bit of dialogue voice acted to add impact, and most of the time, the voices worked. Most of the time. The few times that they don't are rather embarrasing. Replayability - 4 I will never play this game again. Why? Basically, I don't want to have to go through the annoying process of leveling up my magic endlessly when I already know how the story goes. Of course, this may not bother some folks as much as it does me. Still, there's nothing much to see anymore except for two optional side dungeons, but all they get you is some extra items that arentt worth the trouble. OVERALL - 9 Why do I give Grandia a higher rating than it probably deserves? Because no other game has touched me this deeply and involved me so much in it. The single big flaw in gameplay is more than outweighed by the truly amazing plot. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it did rule my life for two weeks. Yes I know people say that about other games, you know, jokingly saying ''Kiss your social life goodbye!''. But this isn't Tetris. Grandia is a whole other world, and if you don't experience it, you don't know what you are missing. Buy Grandia now. It is the best possible argument for being a videogame junkie.