Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers

With the Western release of Final Fantasy XIII just a month away Love has been playing an entirely different Final Fantasy on Nintendo Wii.

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With the release of Final Fantasy XIII just a month away you may be forgiven for overlooking the latest offering in the spin off franchise Crystal Chronicles. But Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers is a pretty decent alternative while you wait for the long overdue next chapter of the main series. The Crystal Chronicles series began with a multiplayer adventure on Gamecube. The Crystal Bearers, however is focused on single player, it's a traditional Final Fantasy in that sense, yet it manages to be different. Let's start off with its strengths.

Crystal Bearer is pretty. Sure, the refresh rate drops sometimes and I never got a headache from counting polygons, but it still manges to look damn good. The environments are beautiful, vibrant and varied. The architecture is interesting. Nature shifts gently between something sparse and controlled to something lush and out of this worldly. Admittedly, the lack of communication with most of the world's inhabitants makes some areas feel a bit lifeless, but overall it's a really impressive fantasy world that unfolds in front of me.

How the world and its inhabitants have been painted is undoubtedly the greatest strength of the game. Crystal Chronicles has retained its foothold in fantasy while the main series got a bit out of hand in some sort of emo state where weird fashion and feelings took centre stage. Although one can find one or two over designed outfits in Crystal Chronicles, in general the game appears more restrained.

In the centre of all this we find a young man with fancy hair, as usual. This time, he is unusually cheerful. He is not weighed down by the severe anxiety that many RPG heroes tend to suffer from. Layle is spontaneous and sometimes almost a bit inconsiderate. Thanks to this he does not qualify on the list of the most stereotypical RPG protagonists.

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One of the game's main disadvantages is the gimmick used in both puzzles and combat. Layle has telekinetic abilites and uses a kind of magic lasso to interact with objects in his surroundings. By attaching the lasso on doors and waving he Wiimote it opens. You can also reach new areas by attaching the lasso on a cliff and pull yourself up there with the flick of the wrist.

This in itself can become a bit monotonous. But it is the fighting that turns something monotonous into something insanely repetitive. Attach your lasso to any monster and jerk it back and forth until it dies. There is an element of strategy because you can throw enemies into each other and the surroundings, but it quickly becomes incredibly boring.

This is a problem the developers seem to have been aware of. Despite the fact that monsters are attacking from all directions you can easily run past them. So if you get tired of fighting just escape. I soon ran away from most battles. Of course, this meant that I missed out on the spoils the monsters drop, but that's okay. I can buy everything I need from the money I earned finding treasure chests. And I do not have to worry about not levelling up enough, since there is no traditional experience system.

To run past most battles in a role-playing game feels incredibly blasphemous, but Crystal Bearers is not a traditional RPG. Neither weapons nor traditional magic is used. A search for various objects that can transform into rings and brooches will runs through the story, but equipment is not a particularly important part of the game. Altogether, it is hard to put into the game in a single genre. Half RPG, half adventure, perhaps, complemented by stupid dialogue, cosy surroundings and platform elements.

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You decide the pacing of the game. The first few hours everything seems to proceed on rails, but I soon realised there is much to explore on the side. Fishing, hide and seek, rescue and garden design are just a few of the activities you can spend time with when taking a break from the main story.

I often take these breaks involuntarily. The lack of a decent world map makes navigation very difficult. I got lost a lot. There are road signs, but as I jump down from my Chocobo to inspect them the feathered bastard runs away. Crystal Bearer offers up a large open world and I would have been grateful for better directions.

I find myself wondering whether the Final Fantasy brand is a burden when it comes to my appreciation of the game. My expectations and demands for a new Final Fantasy are very high. Perhaps a new adventure RPG would not have been subjected to an equally critical review. At the same time there is a sense of elation as soon as I get to hang with a Moogle or ride a yellow bird.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers may not have cost as much to produce as an entry in the main series. However, the game is much more than a rush job designed to cash in on the brand. The environments are solid and the exploration satisfactory. For those who follow the main storyline and have a good sense of direction the game may seem a little short, but those who like to try to see everything will be able to squeeze a lot of gaming out of Crystal Bearers.

Despite a bunch of major flaws, I will award the game with a fairly generous seven out of ten. And it is thanks in large part to the environments. Despite the repetitive combat system and some clichés I enjoyed losing myself in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers
07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
Beautiful nature, great environments, well designed world, lots of side missions.
Repetitive combat, requires a good sense of direction, dumb dialogue.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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