Review #1 by Scott Dilley
Most RPG's for consoles these days don't give you much of a choice in the characters you use. Usually your given a set base of characters, with a set base of attributes, that you can then level up. What I've really been missing is a game that let you pick a characters class and various attributes, then go out adventuring with a personalized character. Then comes along Blaze & Blade, where not only can you make your own character, but it supports up to four players at the same time.
B&B is an action RPG, you won't find turn battles here, (which I frankly am getting tired of.) This is not an epic RPG, there is a story, but it's not a FFVII. The emphasis here is on action, and although too much action, and not enough story can usually kill an RPG, in this case it works out very well, which I will elaborate on later. The world is a typical fantasy setting, you start off in an Inn, and after your first mission, you can travel to various places within the game, including the customary graveyard tombs, ruined towers, and monster invested caves. It seems that you've found a plaque like stone, in which many different gems can be placed. Your goal is to find each of these gems to make you collection complete and unlock the mysterious powers within.
Now, lets start off with one of the best aspects of this game, character creation. You can choose from a variety of classes, which include Fighter, Hunter, Dwarf, Thief, Elf, Wizard, and Fairy. Each class has it's positive and negative aspects. The Fighter and Dwarf are both strong and fast, but can't use magic. The Hunter can use a bow, which has great range, and can use Herbs for healing, but again has no magic. The thief is quick, can dash, and I believe can steal items, (I really haven't played the Thief yet.) The Elf is basically your middle of the road character, he can fight, but not as well as a Fighter, and can cast magic, but not as well as a Wizard. Wizards are great at magic, but not very good at fighting. As for Fairies, they have magic, but more subtle stuff than the fireballs of Wizards, they can cast sleep, and slow and other such spells. After choosing you Characters class and sex, you are then presented with various elements that you can have your characters based around. The only thing this effects is how well a character defends and casts that certain element of magic. Finally, your presented with a set of three cards, each having a random number on it from one to six. If you get three of a kind you get to flip over a new set, and after your happy with the total number the cards add up to, they are added to your bonus points. Then use your bonus points to increase the value of your stats such as strength, agility, mentality, luck, and constitution. Save your character to your memory card, and your ready to go adventuring.
The other great thing about B&B is it's multiplayer ability. With a multi-tap you can adventure with three of your friends. This is why the story is less important, because instead of utilizing a linear story of epic proportions, it uses an opened type of story, with non-linear game play. You can adventure any where in the game you want after the first mission, and any player can join in at any time. It bases the last save point of the lead character as the starting point for all the other characters joining the game. This is what really makes the game, if you can't play with your friends all the time, than you can adventure alone, but when you do have your friends over, they can join you no matter how far you've gotten. You can finish the game alone, or have your friends help you in spots where you get stuck, it's one of the best aspects of the game.
As for the sound and music, don't expect much. Music is mediocre, and sometimes can be plain annoying. And sound effects are your typical action fare, lighting bolts, grunts, whacks, ect. It won't win any awards, although most of the tunes are palatable. Not much else can really be said about it.
Game play is not it's strong point either. Now I'm not saying it's bad, but then I can't say it's all that great either. The world is completely polygonal, with a isometric view, although you can change the camera angle at any time, which is what saves the game from being awful. You can view your character in an isometric or top down view, form close up to far away, and turn the camera view all the way around. With out this feature, you would not be able to see in some areas, and even so, if you get stuck in a forest with a bunch of trees around you, it can be hard to see where your going. Playing the game is fairly simple, run around and hit things with your weapon, or charge up a spell and aim towards the bad guys, all in real time combat. While your at it, you have to solve various puzzles, depending on where your at. Puzzles are usually of the switch variety, find a switch to open a different door. Occasionally you'll also have to return an specific object to a location, or complete a small task for some creature. One warning on the difficulty, it can get pretty darn hard, especially on bosses, if your playing by your self. You'll also, on the rare circumstance, run into a puzzle or switch that you need another person to complete, although it doesn't affect getting through the game.
Graphics are decent, but nothing to really write home about. It's a free roaming, polygon world, with lots of bright colors and a very anime look to it. Detail and texturing are all right, but it probably could have been done better. I didn't see any clipping or seams in the polygons, and it has a very solid look to it. I really did like the graphics, although to get these larger worlds to look nice, they had to put some annoying loading time in. Each 'level' of the game have several areas, broken into sub-areas, go from one sub-area to another, you have about 3-5 seconds of load time, go from on area or level to another, and your looking at about 15-30 seconds of load time.
All in all, I did like the game, and it has some great aspects, mainly the character creation, the multiplayer abilities, and the non-linear aspects of the game. The game is pretty much Japanese, with a lot of kanji, so if you want to know the story, then you need to know the language. Other than that, it is still a simple, yet fun game, and can be completed without knowledge of Japanese. If your looking for a multiplayer action RPG, than you will have fun with Blaze & Blade.