Developer: Square Enix
Price: $12.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

IMG_0106Square Enix is a house hold name in the Role Playing Game genre, and for good reason. Many of the standards that are accepted in the genre found their birth with Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, or one of the various other series and single games that Square Enix has created. Few games can rightfully claim that they’ve helped to define capabilities on a system, or that they have the staying power to be considered epic. Square Enix has several titles that have done just that, and with Chaos Rings, they’ve done it again.

Chaos Rings rich storyline is delivered flawlessly in this pocket sized title. Players are charged with discovering the secrets of the arena, finding their Chaos Rings, and discovering the link they have with one another. Not often do I find myself experiencing the adrenaline rush that I realized with this games storyline. The plot twists keep the game exciting and the multi-group storyline approach brings re-play value to an all new level.

Chaos Rings is a turn based RPG that follows the same kind of design that many of Square Enix’s games do. An innovative combat system allows for strategic planning of each battle, and the various abilities keep combat fresh throughout the game. Abilities are assigned in a similar way to the dress sphere system of Final Fantasy X-2, but it’s a micro version that combines elements of the “blue mage” enemy ability system as well.

Graphically, Chaos Rings is on par with a PS2 Square Enix game, and the game looked sharp on my 32 GB iPod Touch. The enemies have the detail and AI that fans of Square Enix have come to love, and the environments are rich and detailed. The sound track is exactly what long time Square Enix lovers have come to expect, and brings a whole new level of enjoyment to playing the game.

I had a lot of expectations going into this game, as I love Square Enix as a franchise. This game delivered on every one, and surpassed in quite a few of them. The story line is amazing, and while it’s a bit more shallow than a console game, is more immerse then most apps can offer. Four separate character sets allow players to play through the storyline four separate times with unique elements to the story being evident in each play through. A newgame+ system provides countless re-play option for each of those four story lines. It took me 6 hours to play through the first time, and I ended up being about 20 or so levels overpowered. Doing the math… there is at least 24 hours of play through to see all 4 storylines, and 48 hours if you go through each of the newgame+ options. Not everyone is going to spend time overpowering their characters, but what it amounts to is a lot of game time regardless of how you play.

The game is divided up into 4 levels and two arena battles. Each level has a set of level difficulties, so the player gets to choose if they want to play through fairly easy, or if they really want a challenge. Levels contain random encounters, treasure chests, puzzles to solve, and two bosses in each level to overtake. After beating the game, there is an option to begin a newgame+, or an option to load. By accident I loaded the game, thinking it would start my newgame+, and I was greeted with a surprise. I won’t ruin it, but make sure you load the game after your first run through of the game.

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The controls for Chaos Rings will revolutionize how joystick games are created on the iDevice format. If it doesn’t then developers are blind to how well this works. Instead of a stationary joystick, wherever the player clicks on the screen to move, a joystick appears. No awkwardness as your finger goes out of the joystick area. No frustration that is associated with click to move. It’s an amazing system that I found NO problems with, at any point in the game.

The only grief I have, and let me emphasize it’s a light grief, is the ability for characters to overpower to the point that the game is fairly easy. At this point, my characters are around level 46 and I am so well equipped that I am killing level 71 mobs without much trouble. The balance issue is a key point for some individuals, but the game play is so solid that it’s hard to really hold this against the game. It certainly isn’t reason to reduce its rating.

Chaos Rings is the only title I will be playing for quite some time, outside of my normal review requirements. I’m determined to beat it with each group, and hit level 99 with all characters. If you’re like me, expect 50+ game hours out of this game. If not, you’ll be hard pressed to even beat the game once with less than 4 hours of committed time. At $12.99 this game has officially broken the theoretical price barrier, but it’s worth every penny for this AAA quality title. Expect more titles to come out trying to meet or beat this standard, especially if the iDevice community stands behind quality over low-price quantity. I sure as heck do!!!

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