And what a game it is. Dragon Warrior VII
offers more gameplay than almost any other RPG out on the market; indeed, three
modern day RPGs might not touch the amount of stuff that you can do in Dragon Warrior VII
. Its plodding pace and old-style sensibilities may turn off some gamers, but those who stick around for the long haul will find themselves entranced with the deep gameplay and intriguing occurances in the game.
The game starts out rather oddly. You are a young boy in Fishbel, a small fishing community. The strange part is that it seems that your island is the only place in the entire world; the rest is a vast ocean. Through the course of your adventure, you'll go time-skipping in an attempt to rescue various lands from the past and pull them into the future, repopulating the world as it should have been. In true Dragon Warrior style, Dragon Warrior VII doesn't shoehorn you into doing things one at a time. The world is so massive and so densely populated with things to do that you can be sidetracked for many, many hours while you run off and do various sidequests.
A sense of the game's scale isn't fully appreciated until you get into your first battle--well over an hour into the game. Dragon Warrior VII also has the revered class system, where you can train your characters in a number of different classes and have them learn new abiltiies, along with adjusting their stats; this won't come into play for even longer. This sort of slow, lingering pace may seem a bit gratuitous at times, but there's never a time that you can't run off and do something interesting instead of following the story's plotline, not counting the smattering of times that the game blocks you off for plot purposes.
For those who have never played a Dragon Warrior game, the core of the title is the super-refined battle engine. It's a 2D, first-person engine, turn based and menu-driven. This may sound decidedly ancient, but it ends up working fantastically. Battles zip by quickly, and you never feel like you were burdened down incontrollably by the encounters. It may be old, but it's been tweaked for six iterations (plus remakes and sidestories) now, and they've gotten it pretty much down pat. The same goes for the rather cumbersome item management system--it has its roots in the original game, but it's been refined to the point where, even though it's still a little clunky, it's more than usable.
There's a lot more to say about the game, because it's simply so huge. The sense of opening up new areas in a world gives you much more of a sense of accomplishment than typical fetch quests--you feel like you're recreating the universe piece-by-piece, which is a nice thing. And the downright silly amount of stuff you can do on the side, like gambling and running your own town, is sure to add many, many hours of gameplay to the already lengthy title for those people who enjoy doing everything and seeing it all.