Vagrant Story (2000)
- Developer: Squaresoft
- Publisher: Squaresoft
Square, one of the most prolific and celebrated developers on the PlayStation, offered up three swansongs for the console. One was Final Fantasy IX, a technically stunning and graphically gorgeous - but ultimately divisive - title which returned to the roots of the Final Fantasy series for its inspiration. One was Chrono Cross, a vastly acclaimed sequel to the much-loved Chrono Trigger. Finally, there was Vagrant Story; a return to the world of Ivalice for the team who made the epic Final Fantasy Tactics, and arguably the most lavish 3D title ever produced for the console.
Seven years down the line, that doesn't seem like much of a boast, sadly. Vagrant Story still looks... Okay, in places. If you squint, you can see why we were blown away by the game two generations ago; we can recall being stunned and delighted at the opening scene where a dragon crashes through a stained glass window, which now seems low-resolution, pixellated, clunky and jerky. The direction of cutscenes and quality of artwork hasn't changed, but our technical expectations now leave Vagrant Story looking much worse for wear.
The good news, however, is that the game still plays well, regardless of graphical concerns - and once you're twenty minutes into the strange world which your character, Ashley Riot, must infiltrate, the graphics probably won't bother you much. The gameplay is action focused, with a chaining mechanic not unlike a rhythm game, but a detailed equipment crafting system means that it loses none of the depth you'd expect from the designers behind FFT; and the storyline is intense, politically charged and intelligent. Rumours of a PSP remake abound, and art director Hiroshi Minagawa - most recently seen taking the helm on Final Fantasy XII - refused to rule it out when Eurogamer spoke to him a few months ago. Fingers crossed...