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Infinite Undiscovery May 18, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Video Games.
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When you first fire up the Tri-Ace developed/Square-Enix published Infinite Undiscovery, your immediate reaction will be “wow.” Between the full-motion opening movie sequence, the imagery of the moon chained to the ground, and the quality of the in-game graphics one is treated to in the first few minutes of gameplay, it’s easy to get the sense that Undiscovery promises to be an RPG of epic proportions. After playing on for an additional five to ten minutes and you will be hard pressed not to be “wowed” again — this time, because what seemed epic merely moments before doesn’t even come close.

Not for lack of trying, though. Objectively speaking, it does have the necessary ingredients for a great JRPG: an interesting premise, a good soundtrack, an action-oriented battle system (and not a turn-based one), and loads of different characters that can be incorporated into one’s party. In fact, in some cases unused characters can also be seen on the battlefield, giving new life to “storming the castle” as a video game experience. Yet these elements never quite gel, mainly because of those things in which the game can be found wanting. Interesting premise? Sure. But it isn’t nearly fleshed out well enough and is marred by utterly terrible voice acting. The battle system? Not too bad if you can overlook poor camera controls that ensure you never see what you need to and terrible AI that guarantee your computer-controlled partymates won’t do what you need them to, and use up your items besides. Plenty characters? Too many! There aren’t nearly enough opportunities to try them all out, nor are there distinct advantages to seeing what each has to offer.

Infinite Undiscovery’s main shortcoming however, lies elsewhere. It is possible to plod on through with the game and overlook its shortcomings. You might even manage to enjoy yourself, after a fashion. But if you think that the game would be best enjoyed the second time around, you would be mistaken: it lacks a New Game+ option, leaving players with no way to carry over the fruits of their labor (Character Level, Weapons, Items, etc.) should they want to start anew. Ouch.

It’s not that Infinite Undiscovery is a bad game, per se. It’s just not a terribly good one either, compromised as it is by unusual, if not bad, design and development choices that mar the few positives that the game does have to offer. That and perhaps it was a little bit too ambitious. Unfortunately, ambition alone does not a good game make.

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