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Shining Force EXA
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Console: Sony PlayStation 2
Year: 2007
RFG ID #: U-072-S-14250-A
Part #: SLUS-21567
UPC: 010086631128
Developer: Cri Ware
Publisher: Sega
E10+ (ESRB): Fantasy Violence , Mild Language

Genre: RPG
Sub-genre: Action
Players: 1
Controller: Standard Controller
Media Format: DVD x1
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Collection Stats:

  • 113 of 7476 collectors (1.5%) have this game in their collection
  • 19 of 7476 collectors (0.2%) have this game in their wishlist.
  • 0 of 7476 collectors (0%) have this game for sale or trade.

Tan's review:

First Impressions:

In the case of this game, having such a great experience with Shining Force Neo, I wanted to make sure this game had my undivided attention when I started it. The long running series has never really interested me until ďNeoĒ came out. Once in a while I have these gut instincts about games where something tells me I can buy a certain game right off the shelf having never seen it in action or read about it, and know that Iíd love it. Well when my wife asked me to pick a game out for my birthday, this one popped out at me and following my gut instinct, we got it and the strategy guide at the same time. It turned out to be one of the best PS2 games Iíve ever played, despite the general gamer scorn and critic negativity the game received in the media.

See there tends to be two schools of thought on the latest two Shining Force games ďNeoĒ and ďEXAĒ. The majority say that these are ďbastardizationsĒ of the traditionally strategy RPG based games because they forego that genre for a more action oriented based game. Ironic as almost half the series are non-strategy games including the very first one which was a 1st person dungeon crawler. I attribute this scorn to the release of ďShining WisdomĒ because it left a bad taste in many gamerís mouths with itís poor translation and change of genre to 1st person again as the original was. A shame it has carried on for so long infected the success of the sequels on some level, especially the hardcore fans who have dismissed the later games. That reminds me, I have to track down Shining Tears, a game expensive even used, but maybe Iíll get lucky this time.

But enough rambling for now. I want to write down my initial impressions of this game for future consideration. This will be a two parter because I want to make a few comments about the standard gameplay and such now, and then more on the ďGeo-FortressĒ aspect later on. The fortress side of things is an added part of the game where you build your fortress that is linked to the Shining Sword. Since Iíve only put a couple hours into the game, there hasnít been much activity in that part of the game yet.

Visually, the game is as colourful and creative as Neo was, maybe even more so. It tends to have a more water-coloured look than the previous game. It makes you feel like your playing an art piece and an old school RPG all at the same time. Great animations, special effects and character art which really sparks your imagination.

The sound is top notch and I like the voice acting. Sometimes the battle music is a bit repetitive but you really donít notice it much when your in the midst of action. Other than that the audio matches the visual very well.

The story and gameplay are fairly straight forward so far. A few cues taken from classic clicheís like the sword in the stone, dreams of wealth and power from common folk and of course secrets that only the player is privy too and not the characters. No spoilers here of course but suffice to say itís rock solid if a bit predictable. Thatís good for a game that is more action based than story driven.

It plays almost exactly like Neo, which is a good thing. Itís more or less an isometric 3/4 view hack Ďní slash like Ys. Ark of Napishtim, Baldurís Gate Dark Alliance or similar games. The Geo-Fortress aspect is more RTS/Strategy based which will give timely breaks when you need to give your thumbs a rest between dungeon crawls.

So far Iím enjoying it immensely. With the exception of some added elements, itís a case of ďIf it ainít broke, donít fix it.Ē Meaning theyíve kept to the same formula that made Neo such a great game. Iím looking forward into diving into the Geo-Fortress gameplay more and exploring itís potential, should make for an interesting part 2 to my impressions.

20 hours in:

Iím something like 17-20 hours into the game and I know Iíve only begun to tap itís potential. It has taken everything I liked about Neo and ramped it up and made it bigger. For every similarity there seems to be a marked improvement on something else. The game also keeps you humble as well. Just when your on the verge on becoming overly-cocky, it hands you your ass and says ďyour not a pro yet champ, let me show you why.Ē

The Geo-Fortress is a great concept. A robotic castle that serves as your base of operations. It has many cool features like training programs, vendors, warp points etc that make it a true hub of the gameís activity and a sanctuary when you need to lick your wounds. The whole while only letting you have a morsel of itís power and potential a little at a time so you have to keep working on activating it through various quests.

My only real negative critique of this game is the dual lead character system. One main character stays at the fortress and the other romps around the countryside in the midst of action. You can switch to either one whenever you please. Now in theory that sounds good because that means you have a main character to lead a party to defend against the constant attacks against the fortress. But in actuality itís a bit of a pain in the ass because you have to level both characters at the same time. Unlike many games the characters who arenít in the active questing party do not level up with the others. So if you arenít vigilant, youíll be attacked with a lower leveled character in lead if you donít keep them both equal. Iíve been lucky so far, as soon as I get the initial attack warning while Iím away from the fortress, I warp my stronger character back to the castle and switch for the other. That way when the game pauses to go into the ďred alert modeĒ of a castle siege, my uber character is the one who responds. Crisis averted I switch them back again. Whether this will bite me in the ass later for neglecting the second main character, I donít know. Only time will tell I guess.

Final thoughts:

Well I finally beat the game last night. I really enjoyed it and it rose above my expectations as far as being a worthy successor to Shining Force Neo. The only thing I really didnít care too much for was ironically enough, the cutscenes. Especially between the two main characters. In a way they made the ending a bit non-climatic and really cheesy. Fortunately it didnít detract from the gameplay as you can easily skip through them. Just goes to show you how unimportant they were to the overall story or experience.

The bonus gameplay unlocked after beating the game was superb. Like a big money/item treasure tromp as a reward for such a good game, throwing all kinds of goodies at you and plenty of enemies and maps to explore at the same time.

Great game all around. Any hack/slash or action RPG fan should do themselves a favor and pick these two games up, especially if you like power-leveling and acquiring things in-game.


Related Games:

Console Reg. Type Title Publisher Year Genre
Sony PlayStation 2 U S Shining Force Neo Sega 2003 RPG
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