Rogue Galaxy ( PS2 )


ust when you thought the good-old PlayStation 2 had nothing left to offer but a bunch of sequels, along comes Rogue Galaxy, an original role-playing game from the makers of Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud 2. Like those games, Rogue Galaxy features a beautiful cartoonish art style as well as lots of imaginative characters to meet and places to visit. Its frequent battles are much more action oriented than the traditionally slower, turn-based combat that Japanese RPGs are known for. Rogue Galaxy is also quite a big game, featuring plenty of optional areas to explore and minigames to engage in. Yet in spite of all this, the basic flow of the game can get monotonous, making a few too many parts of Rogue Galaxy feel more like a grind that weighs down on the otherwise rousing, upbeat adventure. Fortunately, it's easy enough to look past these parts.


Rogue Galaxy is the story of Jaster Rogue, a good-natured young man who's just trying to make ends meet hunting beasts on his dusty little home planet. He longs for more excitement in his life, and he gets it when one day he has a run-in with an enigmatic man who seems to be a highly experienced bounty hunter. Then, a case of mistaken identity lands Jaster a seat on the Dorgenark, a space pirate ship (complete with sails and everything) that's traveling the galaxy in search of experienced crew. The first space pirates Jaster meets include Steve, who's basically an even kinder, gentler C-3PO, and Simon, a squat little alien-looking guy with a rocket launcher and a thick Scottish brogue. He'll be joined by numerous other characters later on the game, ranging from a downtrodden, dogface warrior to a no-nonsense tribal warrior woman. The characters are likable but somewhat one-dimensional, and the plot makes stabbing attempts at comic relief amid what's a fairly standard anime-style boy-goes-to-space storyline. Rogue Galaxy has an imaginative look and expressively detailed characters, and the quality of the voice work is quite good, all of which makes the story sequences fun to watch even when they're predictable. One nice touch is how most of the story cutscenes are rendered using the game's 3D engine, so your characters will appear differently in them depending on which weapons and outfits you have equipped.