Thursday, December 18, 2008

Longest RPG I have EVER played

I'm a Role Playing Gamer by nature, and for the most part have played just about every RPG out there. Normally, when marketing an RPG developers will claim that their game boasts up to and over 80 hours of gameplay. The only time I have ever reached that amount of time was on Final Fantasy 7 making sure I did everything. And by everything I mean obsessively getting characters to level 99, maxing out Knights of the Round (three times) along with other absurd needless tasks ultimately over preparing for the Emerald Weapon. So, in all actuality Final Fantasy 7 only took me 40 hours to beat the first time, and subsequent play-throughs less and less time. Mastering it only took 86 hours. So I was 6 hours over the average boasted amount doing tasks that were just astronomically useless and only something a nerdy fanboy like me would ever do.

But I'm here to discuss Dragon Quest 8. I just recently got around to playing this behemoth of a game the past few months. I have had a lot on my slate and when I tackle an RPG I like to ensure that it is given the proper time and care. I hate stopping an RPG partway through for another game and then totally losing my place when I come back to it. Where am I going with all of this you ask? Well, Dragon Quest 8 like the title of the article implies is the LONGEST RPG I have ever played. What's more is I haven't even beat it yet. I am damn close though, and pine to finish it by the weekend.

Let's answer the first and most obvious question, is the game any good? Of course it is! I wouldn't have kept going otherwise. The only RPG I have ever outright quit playing because it stunk so much was Star Ocean 3. I'll write another article about the ways in which that game blew chunks. Still, Dragon Quest 8 is a marvelous game. Its best assets are in its amazing graphics, wonderful music score, and well developed characters which is lacking in many newer RPGs. Also, DQ8 has the amazing ability to make me want to explore every nook and cranny of the game. Never have I really felt like I was playing an adventure than with this game. Due to its light tone and atmosphere the game never pushes you in a sense of urgency allowing you to explore whenever you want to and make it feel fun.

The downsides of the game are minimal at best. The battle system can get repetitive during the game, but when you come across bosses the game ramps up to a degree of strategy that I have honestly never seen in a RPG. Normally I'll whip out the move which crushes the earth and is so overpowered you wonder why the developers made it. Most Final Fantasy games allow you to level up beyond your foe to a point where hitting the attack command is the only thing you need to do. DQ8 says screw that and every boss fight is a new and interesting challenge with no real key move to bank on. This becomes a downside only in that the game produces ZERO cave save points. So you run through a cave that takes you roughly 1 hour or less and get owned by some giant Mole boss and what do you get? A game over screen is what. And yeah that cave you went through? You have to do that again too. And anything you forgot to save before adventuring into said cave.

So what makes the game so absurdly long? The answer lies with the games level up system, and expansive world. Never before have I worked so hard to obtain levels in a game before. I am currently 57 hours in nearing the end of the game with no side quests completed for the most part and my characters are on average level 37. Doing the math that's .64 levels per hour. Grindfest is an understatement with this game, and half the reason why playtime is above and beyond my usual 40 hours spent beating other RPGs. The other half is the expansive world coupled with random encounters. Make no mistake Dragon Quest 8 is a large game. Navigating from town to town on foot can take well over an hour or more if you are under-leveled. The random encounters make things all the worse because the enemies come in large numbers and are tough to take down in one turn. Usually it takes three to four turns to get out of a battle, which is a lot by comparison to other RPGs.

Also, let's not forget shopping. While leveling up poses its challenges it's also not an effective way to ensure victory over bosses. Leveling gives negligible status upgrades as opposed to equipment which tends to be very pricey for how much gold you get per battle.

All the above is what attributes DQ8 being the longest RPG I have ever played, and the final hour tally is as of yet unresolved. Will I hit that elusive 80 hours? I doubt it, but we shall see.

*"Flee-party is unable to flee" *hits power button* "flee this b#*@$!"*

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