The PS2 controller does not lend itself well towards the control schematics that one would be used to in a Real Time Strategy game, no, this is something you would expect to play with a mouse and keyboard. But somewhere along the way the developers took a look at the PS2 controller, determined it would be a pain in the ass and still came up with a stellar control scheme. Kudos to whoever thought up this brilliant control scheme. Selecting units can be done by highlighting them and pressing square. Or you can hold square and move the targeting cursor over the same type of units to highlight all of them and issue commands. If the screen is looking a bit crowded, use the left or right on the directional pad to select an individual unit. Scrolling through menus is done with the L1 and R1 buttons and the camera can be moved with the analog stick. It has a very short learning curve and you should have the hang of it after just one or two stages, well before the action gets out of hand and tougher to manage.
To call this game a Real Time Strategy title might be a bit of a misnomer, because with this control scheme the game does have to take a moment to pause the action while you are trying to find a particular unit or issue a command. This can lead to abuse which at times makes this game a little too easy but this is a small complaint in an otherwise stellar title.
Progressing through the game will place more Grimoires into Lillet’s command and will allow her to cast higher level magic, which is divided in to four disciplines. The first discipline you’ll learn is called Glamour magic. This is composed of elves and fairies. This type of discipline is strong against Necromancy. Necromancy is strong against Sorcery, and Sorcery is strong against Alchemy. To round out the circle, Alchemy is strong against Glamour. Even with the obvious advantages you can never count out an opponent who is using a discipline that you may be strong against. There is a good balance that comes with each discipline. While Sorcery is weak to Necromancy you will gain units who can damage the ghosts that Necromancy commands. The game will also slowly ramp up your power and then challenge your new abilities by throwing combinations at you that may not seem to immediately work.
The game will clock in just shy of twenty hours or so, and that’s just going through the main levels. There are also bonus stages that can be unlocked over the course of the game. However once the game is fully completed that’s about it. This is a title that could have used some one on one online play, though I’m just being picky, truth be told I would much rather play through the story again because it’s a really good story. The only other small complaint I have is that the game was a little too easy. Granted there were a few levels where I was at a bit of a loss on what to do, but once I figured it out then the stage was a breeze. Even on “Normal” difficulty this game wasn’t horribly challenging. Unfortunately the game also seems to be like a race for large units like dragons or chimeras or morning star units. Once you get them they are difficult to stop. If there were a harder difficulty setting where the computer knew to use morning star units against dragons and chimeras I think I would have been a little happier.
Grim Grimoire does so many things right that it’s hard to be critical of it. It has a great balance though is a little too easy at times and could have received a huge benefit by having a multiplayer option, though the single player experience is great for what it is. The game looks and sounds amazing with superb voice acting and highly detailed character sprites that prove that the PS2 is no where near ready to step back and let the PS3 take the lead in graphics and sound. This is going to be another one of those sleeper hits that squeak out just before a consoles life comes to an end. A true gem that should be picked up before it becomes one of those sought after titles long past its short shelf life.
Another sleeper hit from NIS that deserves your attention
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