Cross Edge Review
Mash-up games have become much more popular over recent years, be it in the form of Marvel Vs Capcom or Nintendo's Super Smash Bros - fans just love to see their favourite characters from different games and universes meet up and fight each other or work together.
Even Final Fantasy has joined in on this with the recent release of Dissidia, but Cross Edge is another slice of crossover heaven for RPG fans, this time featuring characters from series' such as Disgaea, Darkstalkers, Ar Tonelico, Spectral Souls and other Japanese franchises.
There's enough characters in Cross Edge that regardless of your knowledge of niche Japanese RPGs you'll be sure to recognise at least a few of the cast - and those of you who are truly hardcore RPG fans will find the cast likely the most pleasing aspect of Cross Edge.
Despite the far-reaching cast, the plot struggles and stumbles in its attempts to do anything significant with the iconic characters it has been afforded. The game puts an emphasis on prior knowledge of the characters involved, and those you don't have knowledge of beforehand will remain largely an enigma, with actual detailed character development left behind.
Instead of being set in one of the universes of the games the characters are taken from, Cross Edge plops all the recognisable characters into an all-new setting, which later on becomes a major plot point in the story. Overall the storyline isn't of the high quality of depth you find in games like Disgaea, but for a crossover a fully-fledged plot-line can't be expected.
Instead of a lengthy, arching plot, the game puts a focus on the battle system, which is wildly different to the combat systems of the games the characters are drawn from in many ways. Each side of the battle has a 3x4 grid to move around on, and characters have a plethora of abilities to use and chain-attacks that are activated by timing-based button presses.
The battle system is definitely one of the deeper ones I've seen in an RPG for a long time, a fact that seems completely at odds with the smaller scope of the combat and teeny movement grid. In fact in many ways it all seems at odds with each other, as battles are painfully slow even though they take place with relatively few characters and in a much smaller setting than a title like Disgaea.
Every now and then there are some really clever choices in the design of Cross Edge - for example, the game has random battles, but it employs a meter that tells you how likely a random encounter is to happen. When a battle is imminent it'll let you know, and you can heal up and prepare before taking another step.
The game is undoubtedly fun and has a level of depth that will be more than a little pleasing to true RPG aficionados looking for a game with systems that are both familiar and different and large enough to get utterly lost in. It's just plagued with small issues.
Sadly even all the small issues are eclipsed by one big issue, and that's the controls and the learning curve associated with them. Cross Edge uses literally almost every button on the PS3 pad and everything about the way even the simplest of actions is accomplished seems laborious and difficult.
It's convoluted, hard to learn and difficult to remember - not a good combination for a game with so many options in combat it'll make your head spin. Vital, constantly-used options are buried within menu after menu, and it just quickly makes the game - which at its core is fun - a nightmare to play.
While that's the biggest problem, the entire game seems to have a theme of something wonderfully designed paired with something bad - the game is beautifully graphically illustrated with high definition artwork for storyline events, but enter battle and you'll find PS2-era graphics straight out of Disgaea, hardly acceptable on the PS3.
The voice acting is superb, and often sees familiar voices return in old roles - but again, some smaller events offer no voice acting at all - strange, when the game comes on a mega-capacity Blu Ray disc.
The game has impressively deep customisation to match the battle system. This is another area where the game can quickly become confusing, but it has to be said that the level of depth in both the customization and the battle system is something to behold - and makes the fact that the other aspects of the game aren't of a matching quality all the more disappointing.
Cross Edge feels like it had a lot of people involved in creating it - with so many characters from so many series', perhaps there were just too many cooks - and that explains the sometimes muddy execution here, with quality in some areas fantastic and the quality in others downright shoddy.
Whatever the answer, Cross Edge is a great concept badly executed. You may love it if you're a fan of the series' and characters depicted, but otherwise you might find it a disappointment.
Versions tested: PlayStation 3