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Disgaea 3: Absence Of Justice is something very special that deserves to be played everyone. But everyone won't play it, because they'll take one look at the 16-bit-esque graphics and pass.
It's their loss. What lies beneath the off-putting graphics is a beast of a strategic RPG in the mould of Final Fantasy Tactics. With anywhere from 50-300 hours of gameplay within, there is plenty of value for money. While the story mode will only take 30 hours or so, that is far from the end of the game.
Like the previous Disgaeas, the Item World serves as the game's highlight. Going 'inside' one of your weapons to level it up (ie make it more effective), you also level up your party at the same time and earn money with which to buy new weapons to level up... and the circle of Disgaea life rolls on.
There's no doubt that it takes dedication, but the series as a whole is far more accessible than reviewers give it credit for, and it's turn-based (with no time limit), so new players and methodical thinkers aren't under any pressure.
Overall, Disgaea 3 is an incredibly addictive, length and (nowadays) cheap game that many will ignore due to its graphics, but contains a half-decent story and amazing gameplay.
One final thing, if you are into Trophies, you're better off importing the US version; as far as I'm aware, the EU Trophy patch hasn't yet gone live.
The Disgaea series enters the realm of the PS3 with this, the biggest, baddest and quite possibly silliest installment of the strategy-based RPG to date. The game centres around Mao, heir to the boss of the demonic realm, the Netherworld, and his adventures as he performs his studies in the Evil Academy. Although 'studies' is perhaps the wrong word, as in this school it pays to be lazy, tardy, violent and rude!
The gameplay mechanics are simple on the surface but can become as complex as you want them to be. It's a turn-based, squad-centric system - you summon out your team members, have them take actions then wait as your enemies do the same. And in terms of allies you have a huge array of different characters with different skills at your disposal, divided between story characters (including Mao and his rival Rasberyl, a demonic delinquent in the sense that she loves to help others and be generally kind and studious), skilled humanoids (archers, warriors, mages and the like) and monsters(yes this includes Prinnies, the demon exploding penguins that are pretty much the mascot for the series, dood). It all makes for near limitless amounts of combinations, and when you factor in the fact that different weapons have different effects and there are numerous skills each character can choose to learn you can essentially build a team catering to any style of play you can think of.
Let's also discuss for a moment the level caps and replay value here, in the sense that 9999 is the highest level you can get to and you can loop through the main game as many times as you want after its initial completion - this being advisable as each pass through the main story unlocks more content. There's a whole new set of maps post-game as well, plus the Item and Class worlds, randomly generated dungeons that can be used to strengthen items and characters respectively. To cut a long story short, you can put hundreds of hours into this game and still not have seen everything there is to see.
It's fair to say I'm a huge fan but if I'm being objective there are a few flaws to Disgaea 3. First of all are the graphics, which have suffered in the name of making the gameplay mechanics so huge. Visually it's nothing that couldn't have been done on the PS2. Also this is one of the worst offenders in terms of charging for downloadable content; if you want all of the extra features, characters and storylines available via the PSN store it's going to set you back £39.99 at the time of writing, well over twice the price you can pick up the game itself for.
In summary, this is a true triumph for gameplay over graphics. Once you get into it there's hundreds and hundreds of hours worth of levelling, squad tweaking and indeed plotline-driven fun to be had. Whatever you make of it, be it just running through the story or spending the time to collect everything you can, one thing's for certain - if you remotely like the RPG genre in any way you're going to have a blast playing Disgaea 3.
Disgaea 3 is, somewhat unsuprisingly, the follow up to Disgaeas 1 and 2, although it takes place with completely different characters, and with a completely different setting to the previous games.
Our antihero in Disgaea 3 is a young demon named Mao, and he is out for revenge against his father, the overlord of the underworld, after said father trod on his SlayStation and cost him 4,000,000 hours of save data. Cause for a mission of vengeance indeed.
The first thing most people will notice is that the game's graphics are not typical of a Playstation 3 exclusive. However, that's all part of the Disgaea charm, and I for one am glad it's stuck how it is. For the uninitiated, it's a stylised isometric world with sprite-based characters - it looks like a slightly prettier version of something a SNES could output. If you're one of those for whom graphics are the be-all and end-all, this game is most certainly not for you.
Like the other Disgaea games, this is an old-school RPG through and through. You'll start off with a couple of characters, including the aforementioned Mao and the excellently named Raspberyl, and you'll meet new friends along the way too. You can have up to 10 people on a map at any one time, although your total party is virtually unlimited. You can also create new party members in the form of monsters, other demons and prinnies. Oh, the Prinnies. Prinnies are violent little penguins with peg legs and a pair of daggers, who explode when thrown. And they say "Dood!" a lot.
Your party is fully customisable. Inbetween missions you get the chance to heal up and buy new equipment, which includes new weapons, armour and healing items. As you level up you can ask the permission of the judges of the underworld if you're allowed to purchase better and better equipment.
Gameplay is completely unique, but a bit hard to describle in a good way. The story tells itself in kind of lengthy anime cutscenes which take place between all the fighting. Each level takes place on one relatively small map (by RPG standards anyway), which can look like a giant chessboard with terrain litteread around. Certain squares will give different effects, such as increased damage, defense, enemy boost, or an inability to throw characters (this is important!). You can rearrange the board to your advantage by changing the layout of the bonus tiles, and destroying the disadvantageous ones. The game, in the later stages certainly, can be won or lost based on how you manipulate the tiles to your own advantage, and it's this deep strategy that emerges as you progress that really sets the game apart from its counterparts.
The game does an amazing job of easing you into itself gently. The later stages can certainly be hard, but it never feels like you're thrown in at the deep end. You start off with the very basics and gradually learn the intricacies of the game, which admittedly don't seem that important at the time, but in reality shape the game's later stages and are what makes it unique. From start to credits the game lasts around 25 hours long, but there's much more to do after the fact, including new extra-difficult missions and some great DLC.
In summary, Disgaea 3 is a wonderful, vibrant, and deeply strategic RPG title that no fan of RPGs should be without. It's so different from anything else that it really must be played to be believed.
Disgaea 3 follows the exploits of Mao, the most honored student at Evil Academy, a school where the tardiest, laziest, and rudest demons receive the highest marks. The son of the school chairman, Mao has never once attended class nor opened a textbook. He longs to overthrow his father and assume the title of Overlord, which he decides he must become a hero to achieve. Join him on his zany adventure filled with witty dialogue, exciting events, and thrilling strategy battles.