FIGHT ((or)) FLIGHT: What makes you decide?


I wanna know what makes or breaks an RPG within these jade halls of GameGrene. What RPGs would you consider to have:

> The best story

> The best combat system

> The coolest character designs

> The highest replay value

> The greatest "Aww...I can't believe its over" factor

Mixing an RPG's storyline with combat and overall eye-candy is a delicate process; very rarely is there one who shines in ALL categories. Candidates can be from ALL consoles, ALL decades, & ALL genres. I have my OWN to contribute, when the time is right...

Best Story: Tie between Knights of the Old Republic and Fallout 2.

Best Combat System: That's tough. I haven't been wild about any of the RPG Combat Systems, but combat systems aren't really why I play an RPG. I'll say Knights of the Old Republic for its excellent turn-based system.

Coolest Character Designs: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. This game takes a cue from the little Tarot-like game from Ultima IV, allowing you to pick a class directly or by answering questions. The mix of skills and class levels allowed for a lot of flexibility.

Highest Replay Value: Knights of the Old Republic 2. It's really too bad Lucasarts rushed Obsidian into releasing this game on-time/early, because they didn't get a chance to finish some of the extraordinary sideplots they had worked in. All the same, the different stuff you can do on any given replay of this game is pretty mind-boggling.

I have to give an honorable mention to Morrowind, which is so big in its scope you could play lots of different games with very different adventures throughout your journeys. This one only gets honorable mention, though, because despite its open-ended awesomeness, I was only motivated to play it through once. Also, the Tribunal expansion was disappointingly limited and extraordinarily buggy.

Greatest 'Awww...I can't believe it's over' factor: This one goes to my all-time favorite, Baldur's Gate 2. Even though the engine and graphics are pretty primitive by modern standards, and though the plot wasn't all that great, the depth of the NPC interaction - with bickering party members, quarreling would-be girlfriends, myriad side-plots, kidnappings, and three possible romances (for a male player: female players got stiffed with only one relatively lame one) - changed the way I play role-playing games forever. Not just electronic RPGs, but all RPGs. Even if another game comes along and unseats this one as my #1 favorite (which seems inevitable, given time), I'll never, ever forget it.

well...this thread hasn't seen much action. let me give it a try:

best story: well..i've got a tie between KOTOR and Planescape: torment. interestingly, both concern discovering your past.

best combat system: the KOTOR system IS pretty simple, but i do like NWN doing all the complicated DnD calculations in the background and allowing you to just watch the bloodbath. (and fling spells...).

Coolest character designs: definitely Planscape: torment. flying skull, half-demon, a forever-living man...just brilliant.
I reckon Morrowind's characters and NPX were just too detached and impersonal to elicit any emotional response from me.

Highest replay value: well, i never really played any game twice, especially ones which have no multiplayer aspect. i CONSIDERED replaying KOTOR as 'evil dude' , but decided it was too much effort.

Greatest 'Awww...I can't believe it's over' factor:
hands down, planescape: torment! very good game: good story, original characters and a cool setting.
then again, Cocytus' notes remind me BG2 was indeed very good... a close runner-up

I have to throw in with Torment. I've never had as much fun playing a computer game as I did with Torment.

Nearly everyone I know who's ever played it says that. I'm vastly annoyed that I never got my grubby paws on a copy. has it for $2.37 ...

Only $2.35 with your two cents!

It's possible to find it on the shelves at the odd store -- if you know a place that sells Diablo for 10 bucks, then thumb around and see if they're selling Torment for the same price...these days, it gets packaged with other Bioware products.

It's certainly worth $10...and was worth the $40 I shelled out when it was new.

The one drawback to the game is that the controls are odd...not as fluid as Baldur's Gate. And it loads slowly on the computers of 1999 (the year it came out, I think)...but I have a much newer PC now and the screen loads aren't an issue.

It's hard to talk too much about it without giving the story away. You play a revenant who is trying to figure out who killed him...and why. The clues are scattered across the planes...from Sigil, to Under-Sigil, to the Outlands (once quaintly known as the Plane of Concordant Opposition!...ah, 1st Edition...)...and others.

The game has a journal, like Baldur's Gate does...but takes it a step further and keeps track of all the critters you've come well as the major NPC's -- I confess that I ripped this concept off and starting doing that for my games...and it's due to Torment (see my Sidebar articles)!!!

As was the nature of Planescape...the purpose is not in beating up a bunch of bad-guys. It's a mystery...a puzzle...and well done. The options for the dialogue with the NPC's is probably the most detailed I've ever seen. If your INT and WIS scores are'll get even more dialogue options -- again, the focus is on the story, not the combat.

I think a failing of many D&D PC games is that there is a lot of random combat...and for no good purpose..."Oh, we slept in the woods, now we must fight the xvarts who lived nearby!" I confess, that Torment has it's moments where it's guilty of this kind of logic...but, for the most part, it's combat light. Heck, it's nearly impossible to find and use a sword in the game!

And, lastly, I love the game so much that I've incorporated a number of the NPC's from Torment into my own game -- my players make their way to Sigil now and then. I honestly think the characters in Torment are that good...much more life-like than what you'll find in most D&D games (remember the 2-dimensional days of Pool of Radiance?).

I guess I'll have a go (since no one else really cares...sigh) I have had more experience with console RPGs versus PC, for no reason other than my inability to buy a GOOD computer, anyway...

BEST STORY: Grandia II. The religious tone of the story takes a dark & drastic turn that I'd never experienced at the time, character development was brief, but the plot was exciting.

BEST COMBAT SYSTEM: Grandia II again. Stepping away from traditional and often boring turn-based combat, all commands are executed in real-time. This requires strategy and timing. Also there are no RANDOM battles, combat with monsters can be avoided if so wished.

COOLEST CHARACTER DESIGNS: I'll go with Xenosaga. Me like anime, anime in 3D?? Ooooooooooh......

HIGHEST REPLAY VALUE: Final Fantasy VIII. I like the complexity of the junction system. I know a lot of people hated how complicated it was, but if you master it, you need not summon any GFs...

THE AWE FACTOR: Also FF8. It was the first RPG I played on the PlayStation. I finished it around 5am one morning after playing it all night, watched the 30min end cinematic, fell asleep, and woke up depressed. Then I started playing it again from the beginning, and felt better...

BEST STORY: FFVII, hands down. Nothing else I've ever played has had a plot that made my head spin so much. Not even Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is this convoluted and wild. Well, maybe Dirk, but little else.

EVERYTHING ELSE: Dunno, I just wanted to promote FFVII.

yes, but dirk gently, and especially the sequel (DTTotS) , are a bit rubbish.

I recently dived into Baldur's Gate II -- I know, I know...I'm way behind on current events in the PC gaming world...sue me.

But, now that I'm into Chapter 5 of this saga...I have to say that it's pretty darn hoss.

One of my favorite things about II is a lot of the throwaway details that make old DND gamer's like me smile. There's a lot of subtle tie-in's to the rest of the DND universe that make me happy -- like the mentio of a spelljammer ship, the mention of Kurtulmak, the githyanki, etc.

There were also a few twists that I didn't see coming because I don't expect them from typical PC games.

Anyway, thought I'd throw in and give my vote of support.

Humph, I disagree.

Hmmm. Do I just promote my favorite game not many played, or do I give my honest opinion in each category. Honest opinion wins any day.


Tough category, as this is what I really play RPGs for. I'm going to have to say Skies of Arcadia, my all time favorite RPG and my favorite not many have played, fits the bill here. Sure, it had a lot of cliches. It knew it and it didn't care. It was a classic epic, and it pulled it off. The end sequence from Yafutoma on is probably still one of my favorite climaxes in any media ever.

-Combat System

The opposite of the above, I could usually care less about an RPG's combat system. Skies got the job done, but it wasn't my favorite - it was good because it was fast. Same with FFX. Chrono Trigger nearly won this category for the awesome tech system until I remembered Final Fantasy Tactics: it's not precisely a traditional RPG, but it had the right amount of micromanaging without being too complex for a good, intricate combat system.

-Character Design

Why are people saying Morrowind for this? I love that game, and consider it one of the best virtual worlds ever created... but its character models and animations make me cringe a bit. If character design was about the written character and personality... this would be a really hard category, and I would probably have to say FFX. I enjoyed Tidus' developement, yes, but my favorite was watching Wakka struggle with his motivation. If it were more world design and overall character models and design, I'd have to say Skies. All unique NPCs, lots of personality in the supporting cast... really, the best overal large cast. The main characters may be stereotypes, but they're more than that, and lovable. The supporting cast... well, play the game to the end. That's all I'll say.

Replay Value-

Tactics. The battle system was intricate and a large portion of the game, and each fight was unique. I love my other favorites dearly, but this was a great game for its battles... not despite them


I can't answer this. All I can say is...

Strong ending sequences that left me satisfied:

Chrono Trigger
Vampire: Bloodlines

For what it's worth, FFVI also had a strong ending, from what I saw. I just always burn out before I can complete it. I haven't played VIII or XI to completion, and mean to fix that some day. Wild Arms also is a game with a lot of promise I've never completed. Suikoden III is on my to play list... long list.

*special note on why I don't play PC RPGs...

Baldur's Gate 1 gets the tease award for glitching out during the 'you are poisoned' plotline (those who've played it know which one)and never generating the antidote. Great game, but that killed it for me. Being unable to go anywhere 30 hours in kills it. I did play Vampire: Bloodlines, breaking my PC rule... but that's about it.

Why are people saying Morrowind for this? I love that game, and consider it one of the best virtual worlds ever created... but its character models and animations make me cringe a bit.

I'm not talking about the avatar or the character animation. I don't really give a damn about that. I'm talking about the ability to customize your character's stats using the rules. Morrowind had a great character-builder.

Baldur's Gate 1 gets the tease award for glitching out during the 'you are poisoned' plotline (those who've played it know which one)and never generating the antidote. Great game, but that killed it for me.

I've played it through three times, and that never happened to me. =)

Well, for character customization in Morrowind, I can certainly understand where you're coming from... still don't like the animations and models, but I can see what you mean in terms of system, a use based points system is as close as I've seen to truly perfect... even if the best way to level is to jump from one town to the next for a while ;]

As far as BG1 goes, I played it on a Mac, and an old one at that. It may have been my file, but I've always found the Infinity engine to be, at least in this game, a bit unstable. Wonderful, fun, and awesome, but very unstable. I usually had a cascading series of saves to get myself out of inevitable bugs...

regarding MW's "running continously into a wall to go up levels": well, the principle of skills improving the more you use them is very good, and the fact that improving you most important skills bumps you up a level is also OK. The designers just didn't account for the gamers' unsatiable desire for power and levels... you can only design so much..

Message to: (Thawwing Light)

Since you like combat systems that are "fast" I must recommend the "Grandia" series (see my list above). Very fast, smooth, and it's actually fun to fight random battles...

Well here is my go at it as I've played console and arcade games since that forgotten time when there were just pinball games out there. (And how come there was never a cool D&D pinball game???)

Best Story: Ow! There are so many out there with such remarkable stories. Though I think my favorite on the PC is still is Curse of the Azure Bonds by SSI. Tromping all over the realms trying to get rid of the darn things was a blast. For the console I am still rather fond of the epic of Breath of Fire 4 for the PSX. A sweeping story that was actually two stories, and only one story at the same time. Tied with the original Xenogears story.

Best combat: Hmmmm. For the PC Id have to say Neverwinter Nights has a good combat system that does a passable job of emulating tabletop play. For the console thats a really hard one as no two games are hardly ever using the same system even when its a sequel. The Tales of series of games have a refreshing divergence from the standard system of RPG fighting. Front Mission wins for a more current console RPG, (with mecha no less.)

Coolest character designs: Ow again! So many many here to pick from.
PC side would be Neverwinter Nights again. Lots of fun getting to know the various NPCs and party members and trying to see what little things you can pry from them. Console side would be any given Final Fantasy game. Even at their low points the FF gmes tended to create very intriguing people to play or interact with.

Highest replay value: For the PC that would be Neverwinter again. Just too many characters to delve into at once and there are often variant paths to try good or evil. Console replay would be Shadow Run for the SNES just because its a fun and strange ride. More modern would be Front Mission. For the arcade its Dungeons & Dragons: Shadows over Mystara, the followup to Capcoms D&D: Towers of Doom.
Note that I prefer games with branching stories and choice option/ paths vs games that force you to replay the entire damn game just to unlock some trick or whatnod. Oddly enough the FF games tend to lack solid replay value. Playing one is like reading a very large novel, (usually the 2 part type.) Fun once, but you tend to wait a year or so to read it again.

Greatest "Aww...I can't believe its over" factor: hmmmmm. PC side would be the end of the Knights of Krynn and Pools SSI series and the end of NWN Hoards of the underdark. Console side would be Breath of Fire 4 for the feeling that there was some unfinished business. Enjoyable end would be Xenogears. For the Arcade would be D&D: Shadow over Mystara again.


*Runs around putting Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on everything o.0*


But seriously. I love that game. And Firestarter...