Review: Spectral Force 3

Matthew Olcese | 18 Sep 2008 20:50
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I can't even point out where I realized my hopes would not come to fruition nor can I even say they were dashed. That's the essential, boiled-down-to-its-bare-bones conflict with playing Spectral Force 3.

The strategy, on the whole, is not very strategic. Keep the weak healers in the back so they won't get killed and not heal you, and be sure not to encounter too many enemies at once for fear of being overwhelmed. Follow these simple rules and you will do well. Equipment, at least, requires a somewhat strategic mind. You will come across many useful, stat-boosting items in their travels, but the weight restrictions for each character are fairly low, forcing you to triage equipment and judiciously decide what would be good for each character and the overall strengths of your party.

Because there's not a lot of strategy necessary while in the midst of the actual battle, how fun a particular level or map (of which there are over 100, laid out in grids with limited amounts of movement turns allowed to the player at any given moment just like any other strategy-RPG that's been released) is almost entirely dependent on the type of enemies present as well as the environment's overall layout and design. Some maps have many treasure chests that can be sought out by adventurous players while avoiding dangerous dark knights, while other levels yield little for the exploration-inclined player and offer nothing but easily defeated stock monsters by way of combat.

For every good gameplay aspect presented in Spectral Force 3, there's something equally bad to provide a counter balance. Of course, not all of the terrible aspects of this game are bad; the aforementioned voice acting, for example, is too much fun. The graphics are simply bland, neither adding to the excitement and fun nor detracting from it in any meaningful way. On and on it goes with Spectral Force 3: no one aspect rising above the mediocrity of the game to provide a defining gameplay experience but never being terrible enough to completely bore or turn a player off.

Bottom Line: An adequate gaming experience at 20 or maybe even 30 dollars; 60 dollars may be a bit expensive for this much mediocrity. Not one single aspect stands out and defines the game.

Recommendation: Fans of strategy RPGs will find nothing new here, but it's definitely a niche title and not one to write off completely. Rent it or pick it up cheap.

Matthew Olcese has obsessive completionist tendencies while playing most role-playing games. His wife hates him for it.

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