Kingdom of Paradise - PSP review

There's been a bunch of good RPG games for the PSP over the last year or so, including Persona, a bunch of of Final Fantasy titles and Tactics Ogre - almost none of which I own or have had a chance to play yet unfortunately. Of my systems, I think my PSP gets neglected the most - but there's still some pretty good games for it. My wife picked me up Kingdom of Paradise quite some time ago, and it can be had used for a pretty good price as it has been out a few years now. It's an unusual RPG game, as it has action combat with RPG elements such as leveling and gaining new skills, all thrown against a sort of Eastern/martial arts backdrop.

Graphics - 7:

There's a lot to like here, whether it's how the attacks and spells animate and how good the overall backgrounds are. The actual character graphics seem a bit weak after playing games like Final Fantasy: Crisis Core though. Also it felt like a lot of the background assets were reused several times in different places, giving a feeling of 'been here and done that' a few times. There were a handful of times the camera got in my way/on my nerves as well, and is worth mentioning.

Sound & Music 9:

I actually liked this quite a bit. The music really fit the unique locale and helped set the mood for me much more effectively than the graphics did. There was also a surprisingly wide range of sound effects in both the combat and the surrounding environment that did a good job of keeping me engaged in what was happening.

Gameplay - 6:

I'm going to have to pick on it a bit here. The camera got on my nerves at times, as mentioned above, and while I could appreciate the unique style to combat, the control schemes were not to my liking. I also had a tough time with some of the intricacies of the various systems that were in place. There were some neat ones, like the elemental system - but there were times I thought that they could have been explained better. For me though, the biggest issue is the combat - things like blocking and attacking are handled with the same button (the PSP has a ton of buttons - couldn't they have figured out something different for that?) but attacking worked far better for me than defending did due to the timing and controls.

Intangibles -6:

There's some online stuff - but I didn't get to take much advantage of it. Where I was playing this game, I didn't have internet access until the very end. The main quest was engaging, but I think I beat the game in about 17 hours - which seems like a very short time for an RPG game. I also never really had much interest in another play through - once I had seen the story, it lacked the sort of variety in choices that games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect have that encourage you to play it a second time through for a different experience.

Overall - 7:

The game is being graded on something of a scale by me here. It's not as good as some of the newer RPG's out there, but like an Xbox Live or PSN game - Kingdom of Paradise can be had at a very low price (I saw it at Disc Traders in town for $3 used about a month ago). That's pretty good value if you're looking for a somewhat different type of RPG game and aren't too worried about getting more than 20 hours of play out of it. Still, from a pure quality standpoint, if price is not a factor, I preferred games like Crisis Core overall.
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