Infinite Undiscovery Xbox 360 review

Square Enix makes its long-awaited Xbox 360 debut. And while it's not Final Fantasy (yet), is it still worth getting excited about?

When you consider the legendary status of their Final Fantasy franchise, it’s unsurprising that Infinite Undiscovery, Square Enix’s first XBox 360 exclusive title, has generated a fair amount of pre-release excitement. So is it on a par with Square’s previous releases?

Infinite Undiscovery‘s plot certainly sounds familiar; it introduces us to a typically feckless young hero (this time a flautist by the name of Capell) who must overcome adversity and defeat the obligatory evil empire (‘The Order’), who in this instance have chained the moon to the earth. Cue the usual party gathering, monster battling and levelling-up, in traditional Japanese RPG style.

Unusually, Infinite Undiscovery‘s battles are all fought in real-time, a little like Sega’s Phantasy Star Universe – a welcome change to the turn-based fighting of JRPGs, but unfortunately no less repetitive; foes are despatched with plenty of mindless button-mashing, and the dull battles aren’t helped by the particularly dim enemy AI. Don’t feel like fighting? Simply run away – you won’t gain as many experience points, but you’ll at least get to the next cut-scene much more quickly.

Rather than allowing direct control over each member of your party, IU instead offers what it calls the ‘Connect’ system – you can select a character with the left bumper button and use their magic or ranged attacks against the enemy from a pop-up menu. While this sounds like a nifty idea in theory, it can often be an irritation in practice; it’s all to easy to find yourself too far away to launch a spell, requiring a switch back to Capell to take a few paces nearer your target.

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IU also suffers from some of the worst slowdown I’ve yet seen on the 360; execute a spin-attack, and the resulting lightshow that emanates from your sword causes the poor Xbox to drop frames with alarming regularity. Considering the amount of carnage, blood and flashes of light thrown around in Ninja Gaiden II – which it did without a hint of slowdown – the fault appears to be some dodgy coding rather than the 360’s lack of power.

All these criticisms and moans may lead you to think that Infinite Undiscovery is a bad game, but it isn’t – it’s just an uninspired one. It’s a standard JRPG with largely the same plot we’ve all come across a hundred times before, and its characters are all stock fantasy cliches with improbable hair. The dialogue hovers between trite predictability and toe-curling awfulness without being particularly memorable (there’s no ‘all your base are belong to us’ equivalent here, unfortunately), while the sprawling landscape belies a surprisingly linear game that requires little more than travelling from point A to point B and delivering items to various NPCs.

Any JRPG worth its salt contains plenty of lengthy cut-scenes, and Infinite Undiscovery‘s are typically lengthy, some featuring the worst voice acting I’ve heard in years, while others are, bizarrely, subtitled instead.

To be fair, there’s certainly plenty of game to play through – around thirty hours of adventuring, so I hear – but whether you’ll find Infinite Undiscovery compelling enough to battle through to the end is debatable. Personally, I’d had my fill within a quarter of that time.

Finally, what the hell is that title all about? I’ve been thinking about it for several minutes now, and I still haven’t quite worked out exactly what an ‘Infinite Undiscovery’ is. It sounds like something created by a Japlish RPG Name Generator, if such a thing exists. Sadly, Square Enix’s first 360-exclusive outing is as typical a JRPG as its identikit name suggests – in fact, ‘Generic Underwhelmingness’ would probably make for a more descriptive title.

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2 out of 5