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Atari 50

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Critic Reviews

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Game Critics (Jun 25, 2007)
All in all, Shining Force EXA is a solid game that doesn't quite compare to its predecessor. The core of the two games remains relatively the same (focusing almost solely on the aesthetics of countless other hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers), but the inclusion of a second playable character (who's forced upon the gamer) and a Suikoden-esque series of castle defense battles brings things down a notch. Add in a slightly lower challenge level and it falls just a bit short of Neo. Despite this weakness, it's an entertaining and lengthy adventure whose charm overcomes most of its flaws. If nothing else, these new iterations of Shining Force prove that Sega can eventually take franchises in radically different directions and still make compelling games—but I still wish they'd give us another Shining Force strategy RPG...
Given the Shining Force series’ recent track record, I was fully prepared to hate on some generic anime-infused hack n’ slash garbage for this review. Imagine my surprise when I started having some genuine fun with it. The basic combat is entertaining though the enemies are dumb as posts, and the scenarios you find yourself in showcase some creativity now and then. The two main characters even play totally differently! Even so, these good elements aren’t anything more than what we should expect out of a modern action/RPG. Nothing stands out here to make this a must-play title in any sense of the word. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some average-quality anime-infused hack n’ slash, though.
RPGFan (Apr 14, 2007)
I'm a pretty pathetic guy, truth be told. I enjoy games pretty much regardless of how terrible they are, and I did enjoy Shining Force EXA. But I'm not writing this for me, I'm writing it for you, and that means it's time to deliver the hard truth. Shining Force EXA is not worth your money. It may be worth renting, as I managed to beat it in a week, but I'm sure you can find better. While not the worst game I've played, the combination of a dumb story, repetetive gameplay, and those damn in-battle voice clips made me have to relegate it to the scrap pile. On a positive note, if you didn't get enough button mashing during the game, there is an optional dungeon after you beat it that requires you to button mash some more. Y'know, cuz that's cool and all. Yeah.
IGN (Mar 22, 2007)
Shining Force EXA is decent in bursts: the Geo-Fortress system is engaging, the varied locations and monsters that you'll fight against are varied, and the game is quite long, which should provide a lot of exploration for action RPG fans. However, some of the flaws to the combat system, as well as the limited feature development, prevent EXA from becoming a good or even great title.
GameZone (Mar 25, 2007)
Shining Force EXA is can be fun at times, but the simplistic combat can wear you down after a while, and the overall experience is lacking in depth.
GamePro (US) (Mar 20, 2007)
If you can overlook those shortcomings, you'll be treated to a decent enough RPG game. EXA doesn't do much to further the legacy of the series but at least it doesn't critically damage it either.
The bottom line is this: Shining Force EXA and Shining Force Neo are twin games. Their storylines may differ, and there are a few new features in EXA, but they resemble each other far too closely. Developer Neverland clearly took the easy way out to churn out a sequel quickly and earn themselves a few extra bucks without putting in enough effort. Although the game plays just as well as SF Neo (and so it should), you can still get the same experience out of both games, plus SF Neo doesn't have irritating defensive battles to jar the experience. This game also lacks a certain charm that the original had. If I had to recommend one over the other, Neo would get my vote. EXA is not a bad game, but it just didn't appeal to me like the other one did. But, to each his own, I guess. Whichever you choose, you will get a decent game.
Legendra (Mar 16, 2008)
Des défauts, des qualités et du challenge (un peu trop). Au-delà d'une certaine répétitivité du système et de ses redoutables chutes de frame-rate, EXA est une très bonne surprise dans son genre, riche et soigné. Le plaisir de jeu a cependant un prix, il faudra persévérer, car c'est seulement sur le long terme que ce jeu révèlera tout son potentiel.
GamesRadar (Mar 20, 2007)
This isn't to say the game sucks - the hacking and slashing all runs very smoothly even with a dozen enemies bursting into bits, and the art looks good, though it can't seem to decide upon a style - it's sorta Aztec meets Don Bluth meets medieval Europe. Shining Force EXA will pass the time; it's just that your memory of it will, ironically, be worn dull six months from now.
GameDaily (Mar 21, 2007)
Ultimately, EXA's failings stem from well-intentioned but poorly executed attempts at mixing things up. Once the illusion of customization falls through, the game presents a shallow battle system that offers little more than frequent taps of X and a few presses of Triangle for special attacks. Nor does the repetitive action change between either of the two playable characters, though their distinct approaches towards combat may upset some as the game forces players to switch between the two. Add in the problems of a fixed camera, no co-op multiplayer, plus some annoying voice samples, and Shining Force EXA falls short of its potential.
Worth Playing (Jul 31, 2007)
Despite all its negatives, Shining Force EXA isn't a bad game. It's got all the ingredients for a successful hack-and-slash, but falls short in enough areas to discredit itself to all but hardcore fans of the genre. If you're looking for Sega to come out with another true Shining Force game, you'd be better off not looking here; much like NEO before it, the title has neither the spirit nor the enjoyability of the original series. The game as a whole seems more like an expansion of NEO because there's very little new here, and if you didn't like NEO, you probably won't like EXA. If you can find it on the cheap or as a rental, go ahead and give it a try, but be wary of putting down a full $40-$50 on it, as it's certainly not worth a price tag that size.
GameSpy (Apr 20, 2007)
I can't hate on much in Shining Force EXA, but at the same time it doesn't have a whole lot going for it. Fans of anime-style action/RPGs may want to look into it, though their cups have runneth over in the last few years. EXA doesn't differentiate itself from the herd; in fact, its blatant lifting of so much from Neo is a definite detriment. Shining Force EXA isn't extraordinary. Quite the opposite: it's extra ordinary.
1UP (Mar 21, 2007)
Still, while EXA's flaws are myriad, the game's not that bad for what it is: fast-paced, mindless slaughter. It's perfect for players who love kill-everything-that-moves games like Dynasty Warriors and movies like 300. It's not so perfect for those who fancy themselves "true" Shining Force aficionados, though. In this case, ignorance is bliss. Or slightly above average, at least.
Game Shark (Mar 29, 2007)
While I have some qualms about EXA, I do think that it offers a solid role-playing game experience. It's certainly better than Shining Tears, but it is by no means as good as those classic Shining titles. It's all well and good that Sega wants to create real-time entries in this series but fans and it's profit margins would be better served with a return to the series' original trademark gameplay. At the end of the day I feel comfortable recommending EXA to fans of the series all the way back to the heyday of the Sega Genesis , as long as fans keep in mind the few caveats I’ve mentioned above. It is certainly very playable, offers some fun moments and will keep action RPG fans busy for countless hours. For those cautious folk among the masses out there I recommend a rental first.
Lawrence (Jul 03, 2007)
Sadly even with those features in place it’s impossible to ignore that the two main gameplay elements, combat and chapter progression, are fundamentally one-note and predictable. The game follows a simple, boring course and while the order might get changed up every now and then it doesn’t stop from making Shining Force EXA unremarkable in every sense of the word.
Shining Force EXA promises nothing short of a sequel, of sorts, to Neo. In that regard, it succeeds on a level that makes it a must buy. The fact that the advancements in the game are so miniscule that you don't even really notice them harms the game on a level that would prevent a fan of the series to rush out and buy it. That said, if you are looking for a title to give the RPG fix, without the necessity of strategizing every turn you make, this is the title for you. Sega has had rough roads to travel on as of late, and it doesn't appear that they are interested paving a smooth road for any of us to travel on with this title.
There are a few strands of what could be a great game here. The story needed a lot of work, and not to be laid out so plainly. With such straight ahead action, there needs to be more to do with your head here. The strategy elements are long gone, and it leaves a big hole in the game. If you don't have another RPG around, this might be worth toying with, but devoting the time to complete the game is more than anyone can muster.
Deeko (Apr 20, 2007)
In the end, we've gotten another mediocre title that has the Shining slapped on it and packaged for sale. Bearing no likeness to the past masters, the series remains blissfully ensnared in a vile web of putridness that keeps it from being anything other than mediocre. It has it's moments and you'll certainly enjoy some of the hack and slash elements, but there is nothing here that you haven't seen or played before and that's a shame when it comes down to it. Seriously, Shining either needs to return to the roots from whence it came or simply be taken out back behind the shed and taken out. If you're in the market for some mindless hack and slash (a short adventure, I might add), this is a great game to get. However, I can easily say that most people, especially fans waiting from that special Shining installment, will avoid it like the plague.
Game Positive (Apr 18, 2007)
If one word were used to describe Shining Force EXA, it would be mediocre. Excluding fans of the Shining Force series, this game cannot be wholeheartedly recommended. Although EXA has some of the elements that one would want in a role-playing game, it never fully takes advantage of any of them. With such a well-established gaming pedigree, it's a shame that the Shining Force series has gone so far downhill in recent years. Hopefully, in the future, the developers will get things back on track. But, until then, you best stay away from Shining Force EXA.
GameSpot (Mar 30, 2007)
Shining Force Exa has the components of a decent hack-and-slash role-playing game. There are tons of well-designed enemies and characters, lots of huge weapons, and plenty of loot to collect. Unfortunately, the combat is way too shallow to sustain your interest for the 30-plus hours it will take you to get through the game. The shallow combat, coupled with the crippled frame rate, makes Shining Force Exa a tiresome and downright frustrating experience.
Game Chronicles (Apr 04, 2007)
Shining Force EXA is most likely going to be enjoyed by fans of Shining Force Neo, as it is essentially a sequel. If you're not one of those gamers, then just skip it. There are simply better RPG’s out there that are infinitely more playable, more fun, more interesting, and more worth the time it takes to play through one.
Games TM (Apr, 2007)
It's not all bad, of course, as the game's few sparkling moments maintain, but those occasions feel like good ideas that would have worked better with a much more compelling battle system. There's hope that the better elements can be salvaged for a future sequel then, but for the time being Sega's Shining Force isn't quite as shiny as it should be.
Video Game Talk (Apr 20, 2007)
There are a lot of things wrong with this game. There is hardly any strategy at all, the battles often consist of mindlessly hitting the X button over and over, and the various quests do seem to feel the same after a while. If the game was limited to those flaws, it wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately the PS2’s engine isn’t powerful enough to properly run this game so it bogs down significantly during battles with many opponents. This occurs frequently and it ruins the rhythm and feel of the combat system. Even so, for a role playing fan like myself I had fun playing through this adventure. It’s just too bad that there was nearly as much irritation and excitement. This would make a good rental.

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