The AI in this game is set up to be very reactive. Enemies and civilians are able to show emotions and status effects via symbols that hang over their heads and as the game wears on enemies gain a wider range of tactics and abilities and seem to learn how to combat a player’s regular attacks. Enemies in the game do not really become much stronger, just more intelligent.
During recent times the guys at Square Enix have felt the need to push the Final Fantasy franchise in new directions exploring avenues outside of their classic RPG’s. This has given rise to many alternate forms of the title particularly those belonging to the Crystal Chronicles family and evidently this title, ‘The Crystal Bearers’. So where does this title sit in the scheme of things? It’s actually Final Fantasy’s foray into the action/ adventure arena. The game focuses on roaming game play and real time fighting and action sequences designed for a single player experience.
Telekinetic abilities are the main feature of the game allowing the player to perform various combat actions using objects as projectiles, moving enemies against their will and making enemies use their abilities against other enemies. The player is also able to interact with civilians and the environment with this ability. You can grab onto ledges from distances (like a grappling hook effect), activate switches from afar and move and receive things from citizens.
Outside of the real time game play the other major difference that Final Fantasy RPG fans will find is that there is no experience or level up system. Instead the only way to improve your characters stats is to customise and combine items found in chests or on vanquished monsters, turning them into stat enhancing accessories which can be equipped to your character (Layle). This tends to give you much more reason to explore environments for things. There are a lot of areas in the game that resemble what you would find in a platformer along with many fun mini games, both of which are positive attributes to the overall experience, but during many of these sequences it is impossible for you to die. If you fall off a ledge for instance, your character will automatically use telekinesis to grab onto any ledge and drag himself up. I feel like this detracts somewhat from the gameplay and certainly from the challenge of the game making it feel aimed at a younger and less experienced audience. Something normally pushed by a Final Fantasy title, which I can say is not pushed on this title is the graphics. Sometimes I feel like I am playing a game that visually looks something I’d see on the PS2. This is most likely due to the expansive nature of the game and the limitations the Wii System has for such a large environment. The main downfall with this title is the layout of the environments. It is often very difficult to understand where you are on the map in
relation to where everything else is and can be extremely confusing and frustrating trying to work out how to get from one place to another. What tends to throw you off is the repetitive nature of a lot of the streets, fields, and rooms etc. It can easily feel like you’re just going around in circles, which will often urge you to put down the game. To try compensating for this sometimes you’re offered directions via a small flying moogle, but even this can feel like a bit of a cop out for not developing a coherent environment to navigate and again, it detracts from the experience. So the burning question, how does this game stack up against the epic Final Fantasy RPG? Unfortunately for me it falls short of the mark. The action sequences are quite different and interesting particularly with the telekinesis involvement but the battle sequences (although in real time) just feel boring. There are a lot of interesting innovations in the game but a few key lacking areas really let it down. For traditional fans, this is probably not a game that will really satisfy you. -Peter Giannoukas
Published on Mar 21, 2010