When it comes to Culdcept SAGA you're going to be putting your control down for more than just card battles, there are long stretches of this game where all you'll do is watch the computer take their turn, summon monsters, earn gold and battle you for land. Unfortunately you aren't able to fast forward all of this, so you're going to spend a lot of time just waiting around for your turn. This gives you the opportunity to catch up with your emails, go make some food, do a crossword puzzle, learn to speak Japanese, watch TV and, if you're anything like me, write a review of Culdcept SAGA.
While I kid Culdcept SAGA, the truth is that this is an incredibly slow-paced game, to the point where that aspect alone is going to turn off a lot of gamers. But I would contend that not every game needs to be a fast-paced action game like Halo 3, sometimes it's just nice to be able to sit back with a game like Culdcept SAGA and not be in a rush to get anything done. The nice thing is that the game will wait for you, so you can literally leave the room when the computer is playing and then come back in whenever you feel like taking a turn. I found myself playing Culdcept SAGA and a portable game at the exact same time, and not once did I feel like I wasn't giving this game enough attention. Like a chess match (or a game of Monopoly, if you want to continue this analogy) you never really have to pay attention to what the other person is doing.
While we're on the subject of things that will surely turn off most gamers, this Xbox 360 Culdcept doesn't look much better than the PlayStation 2 version that came out a few years ago. Obviously there are a few differences, for example it's nice to have full HD support and a widescreen display, but there's no doubt that this game could have looked a lot better than it does. I don't know if the company just wanted to rush it to the new console or just didn't think it would sell well and decided to skimp on the graphical flair, but there's no getting around that this game looks awful. The most dazzling moments of the game happen when you're in combat, and even that doesn't look very good.
With its bad graphics, steep learning curve and long waiting times, you might think that I'm ready to pan Culdcept SAGA. But you would be wrong, because despite all of the negative things I've said about it so far, this really is an exceptional game. This is not the kind of game you fall in love with when you first start playing, it takes a few turns before you start to get the hang of it and call what you're doing "fun". But the more you stick with it the more you'll enjoy it, to the point where once you've completed it you're friends are never going to get you to shut up about your experience. This is a deep experience that only gets deeper as you trudge through the story mode.
The story itself is somewhat interesting (even though the dialog and voice acting is a bit on the cheesy side), but the real meat and potatoes of this game come in the online mode. Once you've played against the computer, compiled a worthwhile card deck and feel like you understand the basics of the Culdcept universe, it's time to go online and test your mettle. Online you can play up to four players at the same time, either as teams, individuals or against computer opponents. While it might seem minor to some people, the addition of the online gameplay is just the thing Culdcept fans have been asking for ever since playing it on the PlayStation 2. It's hard to find friends who are into this kind of game, so being able to play this game online against people who love the game as much as you do is a real godsend. But beware, because just like the single-player game, playing online will require you to actually sit by your TV for a long, long time. There are not short Culdcept matches.
Sadly Culdcept SAGA isn't everything it could have been, it would have been nice if they had added more to this new game (outside of the addition of 200 cards), improved the graphics and made the title just a little more user friendly. But outside of those complaints this is a top-notch adventure game. Just keep in mind that this game is not for everybody, it's takes a certain kind of gamer to look past some of the imperfections and find the pearl in this oyster. Fans of the PlayStation 2 game should definitely pick this up (if for no other reason than the online modes), but everybody else may want to check out the demo before leaping head first into this unusual, complex and exciting adventure game.
Culdcept SAGA is not for everybody. This is a slow-paced game with ugly graphics, a steep learning curve, and a terrible story line. Yet despite all of those imperfections, this is one adventure game that I will wholeheartedly endorse ... just as long as you're the kind of gamer that can handle it.
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