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Grandia Xtreme - The Worst That JRPGs Have to Offer
I have some fond memories of Grandia II and III, though they are mixed in with how terrible and "heart"-centric the writing was. But I play JRPGs for the gameplay more than for the writing, so that doesn't bother me overmuch. Grandia Xtreme, however, forces me to wonder if those memories of fun are even vaguely accurate, because Grandia Xtreme is one terrible game. I dumped GX about halfway through, roughly at the twenty-five hour mark, which is probably twenty hours longer than I should have played it. I suppose the name should have been the tip off. Has anything with "Xtreme" bolted onto it ever been worth anyone's time? The only thing "Xtreme" about GX is how offensively low budget it is. Or how bad the writing is. Or the level design. Or its disregard for anything else in the player's life save video games. Actually, there are a lot of "Xtreme" things about the game, and none of them are good.

Let's start with perhaps the most egregious - the game's disregard for the player having anything that could resemble a life outside of video games. When I booted the game up for the first time, I selected the option to start a new game, and then was sent through the obligatory fifteen minutes of boring, non-interactive background introducing me to my annoying, childish, unsympathetic shithole of a protagonist. After the game had firmly established that I would feel no empathy for the main character and thus likely be entirely emotionally un-invested for the duration of the game, I was finally allowed to play. I wandered into the first dungeon, figuring I'd spend forty-five minutes on it and then go get some dinner. It was over two hours before I was greeted with my first save point. Two solid hours of uninterrupted play is what the game expects from you at virtually any given time. If you sit down to play GX, you need to clear your schedule for the evening. There is no option that lets you escape a dungeon, there are barely any save points, and, in fact, in the last dungeon I was in, you are incapable of going out the way you enter.

It does not help that each dungeon is a grueling experience in grinding your way through a bland, generic environment filled with bland, generic monsters. Every dungeon is a set of bare, unadorned corridors, each identical to the last. You're lucky to get a rock or bush as decoration. If that weren't lazy enough, you essentially run each of the five or six dungeons in the game three times. You repeat repetitious dungeons. It is a remarkably boring experience. And, again, if that, too, weren't enough, the last dungeon I was in was of the incredibly boring random-generated sort. The real kick in the nuts, though, was that all the loot I ever got out of that dungeon was limited to healing herbs, of which I already had the maximum amount. Excitement ahoy!

The characters are terrible and flat, and the plot is the same boring shit that's been regurgitated so many times that it reeks of creator apathy: a rag tag band of adventurers thrown together by fate must defeat a mysterious ancient evil bent on destroying the world for no good reason what so ever. Shockingly, the plot is just as lazy as the rest of game.

To be fair, combat is kind of fun for awhile, as is the magic creation system. But they quickly grow dull along with everything else in the game. Ironically, for a game labeled as "Xtreme", tedium is the defining factor of Grandia Xtreme. The game feels acutely as if it's trying to take ten hours of content and turn it into sixty. Everything is plain, stripped down, uninteresting, and recycled. Not even the first few hours of it are worth playing.


 
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