NIS America Grim Grimoire

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NIS America Grim Grimoire

Pros

  • Colourful visuals, compelling tech-tree interface, dragons are cool.

Cons

  • Repetitive mission design, hackneyed plot, uninspired maps, clunky controls.

Bottom Line

Grim Grimoire is an RPG that fails to innovate the genre in any area. While far from terrible, the overall experience is decidedly average.

Would you buy this?

When we heard the concept behind Grim Grimoire, a PS2 real-time strategy game done in a 2D side-scrolling world, we were seriously intrigued. The concept sounded so outrageous, and yet so bold, that we couldn't help but take notice.

We knew that if the developers pulled it off, it could possibly give birth to a new and exciting sub-genre. Sadly, Grimoire falls way short of expectations and delivers a mess of a game that ignores RTS fundamentals and fails to add new ones. Oh well.

Harry? Is that you?

The story of Grimoire will sound familiar to anyone who's read a fantasy novel in the past decade: Lillet Blan, a young wizard, arrives at a magic school and goes through a series of trials, all while meeting the various quirky wizard teachers. Alright, we can live with the derivative story--most video games have one--but what we can't live with is the nonsensical dialogue and the flimsy plot progression. Tied into this is the mission design, which is repetitive and boring. Every mission follows the most primitive RTS convention of "build your base, scour the map, kill the enemy."

At least the game looks good. It features a nice hand-drawn art style, and the creature design is cutesy and imaginative. The maps, however, all look the same, with repeating textures, hallways, columns, and staircases it seriously looks as if the entire game takes place on the same map. Also, foreground features like archways and columns constantly obscure your units, making it difficult to find and select them.

RTS 101 Flunky

Compounding the game's problems are the controls, which are as clunky as you'd expect them to be. The designers obviously weren't up to the challenge of developing a system that would compensate for the PS2's controller. A lot of shouldn't-be-missing features are also conspicuously absent: rally points, an idle worker button, unit grouping, and draw-a-box unit selection. As any RTS vet will tell you, the ability to interact with your units in an intuitive manner is the single most important facet of the genre and Grimoire simply fails in this respect.

Granted, there are some compelling features in the game. Building up the tech-tree is fun, and there's nothing like commanding a dragon that takes up most of the screen and lumbers across the map, shaking the screen and your controller. But at the end of the day, Grimoire falls far short of its potential. It could have innovated, or at the very least, reinvigorated the console RTS genre, but instead, it only achieves a certain level of mediocrity. Take a look if you're curious but if you're serious about your console RTS games, go play Command & Conquer 3 on the 360 instead.

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