My biggest problem with Orphen
is in this category. Although everything looks nice and there's a good premise for all the action, Orphen
has some real problems in execution and design. The voice acting is okay, but the dialog is terrible. Plus, the motions characters are making on screen seem clunky and repetitive. As I though of a way to say it, I imagined someone offering me a ride in a Ferrari, and then telling me I'd have to wear a clown costume the whole time. Orphen
can't come through on what really makes an RPG memorable, and feels in some places like a bad imitation of the whole genre. I don't think I used an inventory item more than 2 or 3 times during the whole game, and then only to keep from replaying a long section. Fighting seems way too simple, and why have all these different magic attacks if you can just kill everything with a sword? The bosses are a definite exception to this, but you'll only fight a handful of those.
Menu selection is equally non-intuitive, and seems poorly thought out. For instance, after your party wins in a fight, images of monsters you beat can be earned, with variations in the picture depending on battle performance. Only problem is, where do you look at the Picture Book? Oh, when you die or continue, you can choose to look at the Picture Book before you begin play... What?! Could there be a stranger place to access this feature? Likewise, the fact that changing spells and attacks during a battle means starting over is so anti-RPG... Of course, this IS the new age, baby, and if you can just work with what Activision put together and enjoy the difference, you'll have fun with Orphen.
One new feature I like is Map Mode. During exploration, you can go to a birds-eye view and move through levels from any angle or perspective, helping find traps, secret areas and sometimes just the way out. Unlike the simple maps most RPGs give us, Orphen lets you into a fully realized model of the level, much as the developers might use to see everything in a level editor or some such tool. Very nice. RPG fans must try a rental for this one, but I can't say it meets my criteria for a great RPG on PlayStation 2. It has a lot going for it, and being pretty helps. But like those pretty faces at parties you wish had stayed at the other end of the room once they open their mouths, Orphen feels a little vacant. A good first effort for Action-RPGs on PS2, but we'll have to wait for the killer-app in this department.