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Review: Centurion
By: N.L.Y. | Published: September 3, 2007 22:00 pm | RPG Maker


Here we are, RM3 out for several months, and getting the first wave of it's new games. This prospect can only fill someone with hope for a new breed of good games (one that adapts to some various discomfiting features of RM3), and designers.

But, I suppose the real question for me tonight is, does Centurion do that? Does Centurion take into account, and work well with, the various aspects being heralded as failings by fans?

Well, No. But I suspect this is not so much Tsunami's fault, merely him learning and adapting to the software in a process that will eventually lead him to a comfortable balance with the RM3 design system.

I'll admit that when I first downloaded Centurion, I was not at all impressed. In fact I was, for a time, most disappointed. However, it is all to easy to judge games to a standard they have no real business being judged by, and when you go into a RPGM designed game you need to cast aside any preconceived notions and focus on the game before you. In other words, it is wise not to expect Final Fantasy X and then totally ruin the experience for yourself. Is Centurion Perfect? No. Not by any scale, but is it horrible? Most certainly not, you simply have to ignore a few blatant drawbacks. Some of them were Tsunami's doing, and some were equally Agetec and Enterbrain's doing. All of those will be listed later of course (as well as the pros).

The story itself is rather intriguing: You play Abiles (a.k.a The Centurion), a fugitive from justice with a bounty of 1,000,000,000 gold on your head, who has decided to stop running from the corrupt Clan-System government of Arilus and fight back. Arilus is a country ruled by 7-clans, and this rule was recently, forcefully taken through the course of a long and fierce war-taking the lives of many soldiers, and citizens. It just so happens that during the course of that war You (Abiles) were fighting With the Clans, rather than against them, but certain acts called your conscience into play-and you left the Clans.

But, where this game actually begins, is some years post this war-when the clans have already forced their oppression upon the humble people of the world. You find yourself at the gates of the Orc Clan (a newly formed clan) with a fiery dwarf named Stryker (this begins what I feel is a rather long list of similarities between this game and FFVII: Soldier to Resistance/Clan to Resistance, take out Mako reactors/take out clans, and most noticeable: Abiles is an exact personality match with Cloud, as is Stryker with Barret). From there you meet various people who are all forced under the thumbs of the clans, and ultimately wage a subvertive war against them. There are several juicy plot twists, and I must say I enjoyed watching the story unfold.

Hmmmmm... lets head on over to the negative side shall we?
This is one of the areas that Tsunami really didn't do much of anything in. The maps are fairly basic (one field type, one dungeon, one town) throughout most of the game. They were all underdeveloped to a boring degree and were, more often than not, almost flat. I always love to see detailed maps, with differing field types, elevations, and designs but not much of that in this game.

Not only the maps were underdeveloped, the towns were as well. They all had people and buildings of course, but 80% of the buildings were decorative (every building that wasn't a shop, or you didn't have to go to basically), meaning that you really didn't have anything to explore or see that was unique in each one.

And the NPC scripting was weak at best, making for a rather drab experience when one wasn't pursuing the story. Not Tsunami's best area Next.

The Main feature I enjoyed was the story, but there wasn't much else in the game so this is understandable.

It also had a rather well done leveling and experience system. So long as you didn't purposefully over level the battles are never to easy, and if anything they were the perfect amount of challenging. Sometimes you came close to (or did) die, but if you did it was usually a tactical error on your part as opposed to an overly tough monster. Mostly you just rolled with the story and you didn't have to do any extra battling (though that could've been because you battled so much regularly).

The game also featured several Dungeons that were decent. There were little mazes sometimes, or (in a specific instance) all of your characters were abducted and transformed. You then had to battle them to turn them back into their original forms. It is these aspects that lets me know that Tsunami is a good designer with creative ideas, and that this wasn't his strongest effort.Well, one negative side to the features was, most certainly, the fact that there weren't many. You just went from place to place unraveling the clans as you went, and occasionally learning some shocking little tid-bit about a certain character, but not much more.

The aforementioned dungeons were, as I said, nice. But on the flipside of that token, they were bland. This mostly isn't Tsunami's fault, its just that the RM3 battles system... well it Sucks, and when you battle as much as Tsunami has you doing, it can seriously affect your game. I mean, when you choose to do a game that is mostly story with no real features what else is there to do but battle to your next destination? Well, after playing this game, I can tell you there isn't much else, and it seriously hurts the game that 90% of the time is battles and dungeons. Maybe even more.

So a note to all designers (and one that was drilled into my head by this game): Try to keep battle-time to a minimum with RM3, as the battle-system just isn't fun; At All.

There weren't any real bugs at all. RM3 is hard to bung up really bad, and Tsunami kept it basic. And he did a good job of doing it in a clean, and organized fashion. So, a job well done to Tsunami for having no programming errors that I could find.

Worth mentioning again (since it really applies to this more than Features), is the Leveling System. Another job well done to Tsunami for keeping the battles smooth (just try to make less of them please?).A few grammatical errors here and there, nothing to throw a hissy-fit about.

I really did like the story, and enjoyed watching the characters unfold. The scripting wasn't of great quality, but its hard to write for an RPG so I can overlook this and just enjoy the story as I play.

As I said earlier there are some direct similarities between Centurion and Final Fantasy VII, but as Tsunami didn't blatantly rip anything off it worked out to a rather fine effect (after all, what's not to love about FFVII?, it surely has plenty of goodness to go around).The story is, as I've said several times now, quite good, but there isn't much carrying it. There is, plain and simple, to much time spent in battle and not enough doing something, anything, else. However, since you cannot design your own battle-system, and Tsunami had no way of knowing exactly how crappy it is, I won't fault the game too much for that error. I Can however fault it for lack of side-quests/features. As far as I can tell, there aren't any. And if there were, you'd probably have to battle so much to get to it that I wouldn't really feel like it.

The game isn't horrible but it isn't perfect. Fundamental flaws give serious detrimental qualities to overall game-play, but it has a good story and it seems to me it is just a first step into the software for Tsunami. If he learns the proper lessons from this game, his next game will definitely be much higher than 7. And I wish to accentuate one of those lessons into every designer reading this: Less Battling. If it can be helped, don't do battling. I mean random battles in a dungeon is perfectly fine, and its only natural to have them on a field, but don't make too large a chunk focused on it. So, in summation, Centurion is most worth the effort of completion for its story, and it provides a sterling example of an experience system done right. I'm hopeful for a step-up in the future though, from Tsunami, and RM3 designers who are becoming experienced with system. I might not be so easy on you guys next time.

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