Robot Alchemic Drive (R.A.D.)
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Enix
Developer
Enix
Genre
Mech Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Unique controller scheme
• Plenty of upgrades for your mech
• Pretty long game
• Very original, and well executed ideas

The Bad

• Graphical Glitches
• Horrid Voice-acting
• Plot seems shamelessly tacked on

 
Grade
B+

The whole mech game genre has been hampered by many cash cows and boring games trying to cash in on their respective T.V. shows (Gundam: Journey to Jaburo is a prime example). While some are pretty decent, there just hasn't been an American released mech game that can be called "Excellent". Yet Enix brings us a totally original mech game that is actually fun to play.

At the beginning of the Story mode, you choose one of 3 characters to play as. You are the heir to the Tsukioka family, a notorious weapons manufacturer which is facing some financial troubles. You also choose a "Meganite", which are large robots used to fight a new evil threat called the Volgara. The Volgara is a large race of robotic aliens that will stop at nothing to destroy the world. Their are 3 different meganites to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Don't worry though, throughout the hefty story mode you can unlock other Meganites to use on the battle field. This helps break up the monotony considerably.

The story is told through in-game cutscenes, which are dubbed by some of the worst voice acting I've heard. If you enjoy the humor found in old Martial Arts movies, then you'll eat this stuff up. Fortunately, you can skip the voice acting all together with a simple push of the X button. The simplistic and derivative plot also leaves much to be desired. As you get further in the game, you find many more unnecessary characters and even more ridiculous scenarios. Still, the best bits of the game come when you're actually playing the game.

The controls are the most eccentric and satisfying part of the Robot Alchemic Drive experience. Departing from the traditional set up in mech show and games, your pilot isn't inside the robot they're piloting. Instead, you are on the ground using a handheld device to pilot your Meganite. The game supplies a nice tutorial to explain the complex control setup. You use the top shoulder button to have your robot move forward of backwards. The analog sticks control your Meganite's torso and arms, and the face buttons are used to control their respective weapons, including rockets and lasers.

So while your battling it out with your Meganite, where is your main character as this carnage is going on? Well, that for you to decide. Maintaining a safe position for your character is as big of a deal as keeping your mech in good shape. By pressing the Select button, you can take control of your ground character, and since you can only view what you're ground character can view, it's a good idea to find a safe location with a nice view of the action. Some may find this to be a tedious chore, but I thought it was an original game element that was well executed.

In addition to the ready-to-use attacks - you can also collect money to buy new weapons, moves, upgrades, and shields to beef up your mech. This is not only fun to do, but it's also essential for surviving the later missions. You can also upgrade your human character and adjust their running speed and health.

The graphics have some strong points. The sharp looking robots and the particle effects are great, but the blocky character models and boring textures make it look like a first-generation Playstation 2 game. Not to mention the strange glitches - like people running through solid surfaces, and the annoying pop-up. The slowdown can also get pretty bad when you're controlling your ground character around a mass of panicking pedestrians. Still, the graphics are decent and they get the job done.

The game very long, and it's multiple Meganite robots help break up the game's repetitive nature. RAD is broken up into episodes - each episode usually has a major battle and a bunch of in game cutscenes. There are more than 50 episodes to play through - some of the episodes make take you a whole half hour to play, and some may last only 10 minutes. Still, it should take the average gamer about 25 hours to complete. I must say that the replayability factor is lacking. While you do get 3 different characters, they all have the same missions and only some rather insignificant parts of the story are changed (like the lead character's love interest).

In spite of the simple story line, the awful voice-acting, and the unpolished graphic engine, I still urge Anime fans to check this game out. Everybody else should rent before they buy.

- - Grandlethal

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