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Monday, April 30, 2012

Darkmatters Review: Disgaea 3 - Absence of Detention

Darkmatters Review: Disgaea 3 - Absence of Detention


Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Mortal strategy game fan – you are required to report to the Netherworld of Disgaea (say “DIS – GAIA”) where the wackiest, most hard-core strategic battling awaits you…

I have to declare an interest here, I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing Disgaea games – from the original on the PS2, the sequel (also PS2), the nice re-releases of both on the PSP, the cool DS version and of course the high quality 3rd and 4th entries on the PS3. Until getting this version though my favourite has been Disgaea: Hour of Darkness but now the humorous demonic fun hits the PSVITA and the good news is that this is the best Disgaea yet!!

The VITA version is an enhanced version of part 3 ‘Absence of Detention’ which includes over £30 of downloadable content from the PS3 version as standard. Good times!

The developers NIS must be smoking something good as they consistently come up with crazy plots, characters and missions that make everything else look dull and safe by comparison.

The plot takes you to a freaky school called the Evil Academy where being bad is the way to progress. You play as Mao - son of a great Overlord of the Netherworld on a mission to take him down because he trod on your game console (looks a lot like demons rock PSPs), causing the loss of over a million hours of saved gameplay. Understandably - the only recourse is the kill him!!

Underneath the abundance of sexy female characters, evil monsters, insecure heroes and generally odd enemies, Disgaea 3 packs probably the most refined battle system since chess. Sure Final Fantasy Tactics has aped it and games like Advance Wars do something similar with military vehicles etc but if it’s dungeon crawling, levelling up and seriously laugh out loud funny dialogue you want – nothing comes to this.

The basic drill is to create an army of customised members which you can adapt to how you want to play e.g. a team of thieves packing guns backed up with healing magic users or maybe a sword wielding ‘tank’ character who is buffed to almost untouchable levels and has learnt devastating magically enhanced attacks? A lot of the fun is that you can pick your own people / monsters, name them, level them up to virtually infinite amounts.

There is much fun in wandering around the school base – assigning team members seats in classroom (those sitting near each other are more likely to help each other on the battlefield), buying and selling, creating new characters and talking with the host of non player characters. But the real joy comes from the battles – where you assign actions to each of your team in order to defeat whatever enemies are to hand.

"Crazy amounts of damage inflicted? Oh yes!"

The main campaign is deep and long – especially as this version has the DLC alternative story included for no extra cost. Levels are well designed and have been honed from the previous Disgaea games with small improvements that add to the playability. In addition each weapon and item in the game can be ‘entered’ where you’ll find 100+ levels which if you make it through will power up the item… It’s here that you can lose yourself in many, many hours of fighting.

Hats must be taken off to NIS as they have worked hard to make the VITA version of Disgaea something really really special. The graphics look even better than on the PS3 thanks to the smaller screen, cameos from characters from the other Disgaea games can be found – even confusingly from part 4 and there are some great new quests and bosses to work through.

The VITA unique touch screens both front and back are used really well, and there is even a wholly new GPS functionality that boosts your experience points as you travel around in the real world!? Plus integration with the PlayStation Network lets you see how your friends are doing...  Comprehensive and brilliant – this is a shining example of how an already released game can be buffed up and made even better for the VITA.

If you’re a strategy game fan and you’ve never played Disgaea – drop what you’re doing and go and buy a VITA and this (or download from the PSN). Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is a master-class in portable gaming finesse and packs so much to do that you’ll likely still be playing it this time next year. 

Until the much wished for Disgaea multiplayer online wargame gets made – this is the very definition of a ‘must play’ experience and sets the bar very high for all future PS3 to VITA remakes.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters: 


5 – Best Disgaea Yet!!

"obsessive fans dress up like the characters!?"

1 comment:

newandroider said...

I already platinum this game