Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice (PS3)
Developed by Nippon Ichi
Published by Nippon Ichi
Originally released on August 26, 2008
Disgaea 3 is certainly the most anime-esque that I've seen the series at. From the opening animation, to the story arc, the "next episode" previews, and all the other things in the game, I feel like I'm playing an anime. Which to me is good, because the game can more fully embrace it's geeky humor. Plus, you can play the "spot the anime trope" drinking game, to help pass the time grinding up to level 1000.
In this iteration of the series, the game is set within the Netherworld Academy, a school that all young demons attend in order to be properly trained in how to be a badass. So, if you skip classes, steal from other kids, and generally act like Jim, you're an honor student. But if you're always turning in your homework, saying your "pleases" and "thank yous," and love dolphins, then you're branded a delinquint.
So, we come to this: our "hero" Mao is obsessed with becoming the Overlord and defeating his father, the current one. So, his first step towards becoming the Overlord? Steal a hero's title, because heroes have the magical powers of love and justice on their side!
The game retreads a lot of familiar territory with the layout, character classes, and the like, just giving them a new coat of paint and calling them new things. Once you dig down into the game mechanics, though, there is where you see the innovation in the series.
Now that you're in a classroom setting, how the students are organized in the class will determine who helps out who with abilities. Same goes for putting people together into clubs, so that they can do things like double tosses, catch other characters, and a handful of other tasks.
One of my favorite additions to the game is the ability to magichange. What happens is a monster and a human type character combine, with the monster taking the form of the weapon. The game gives monsters a very valuable use -- an improvement over their secondary status that they have normally held in most other NIS titles. While I didn't use them extensively, I found the enemy would, and I'd recieve an ass-pounding in return.
Moving the game onto the PS3, the game features crisp, beautiful-looking graphics and still images. The sprites, however, are the same ones that they've been using since the original Disgaea. Why? I'd like to know too. With all the space that they had available on the PS3, I would think that they'd be able to spend a little bit of time and create new sprites -- unless, of course, the 100+ hours of gameplay took up so much space that they couldn't fit in some new sprites.
My biggest problem with the game lies in the length of it. Oh sure, Disgaea is meant to be long, I'm well aware of that. The problem is that the game drags on so slowly that even after an hour or two of play, I really don't feel like I've done much of anything worthwhile. Bit by bit I manage to complete the game, but it's not at all a rewarding experience.
So, while I did enjoy playing through as much of the game as I could (around 20 hours worth), my progress felt very limited. Part of the cause of this was that I felt the need to go and level up my items, level up my characters, and really strive to make them the best team I could. So, the game easily sidetracks you, as per normal. It's just that this time it drags more.
I do appreciate the writing in this title a lot more, because like Super Paper Mario, it really hit home with a lot of otaku and geek tropes, giving me my own personal glee during the dialogues. So in the end, I do have good feelings about the game, but the unusually-slow pace of the game held me back a little. If you've never picked up a Disgaea title before, feel free to give Disgaea 3 a shot -- it's extremely accessible, and you don't need to play any of the other Disgaea titles to understand this one.
Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
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