Hellooo~? I can’t believe it!
Evolution: Worlds is essentially a remake of Evolution: The World of Sacred Device and Evolution: Far Off Promise in one GameCube disc. However both games have been merged into one with some improvements from the original DC games.
The story revolves around an adventurer by the name of Mag Launcher, who makes more than a passing resemblance to Grandia’s lead character Justin. He and his close friend Linear Cannon search the ruins surrounding the town of Pannam for the Historical Society that has been researching and unraveling the mysteries of a highly advanced prehistoric civilization that was able to create many wonders in that time, including Cyframes. Cyframes are magical machines that attach to a persons body and can help them along with giving its host great strength.
Graphically, although the game has been significantly redone for GameCube, the game is still sub-par and could probably be rendered on the Dreamcast without a sweat. The most noticeable revisions are in the character models: very nicely rounded, featuring good expressions. The backgrounds, while much better than the originals, are sparse, feature ugly repeating textures and framerate problems. In Pannam Town you can literally turn the game into a slideshow if you get the right (or is that wrong?) angle. It’s worse because there’s no visible reason for it to struggle in the framerate department at all. If you tap the Y button to make the camera move into an over-the-shoulder view, nasty pop-up and a draw distance that would make the N64 squirm are all too apparent. (This is especially true in the dungeons.) The enemies you battle have not been fixed up whatsoever from the DC versions, and as such, they are seam-ridden, low polygon models with horrible texturing.
The game also loads constantly. If you leave one screen or enter a battle, you’re treated to 1 or 1 ½ second delay, while the game loads.
Gameplay is unfortunately not much better. The random dungeons from Evolution 1 are back and they’re just as boring as ever. Trekking through horribly designed random dungeons is not my idea of a very good time. One floor melds into another until you no longer care about the game, if only to escape the drudgery for a few minutes. However, this only lasts for two dungeons. After that, every required level is pre-defined. The designs are good, and certainly a step up from the horridity that was the randomly generated floors.
The battle system is spare but thankfully not as horrible as the dungeons. It is “classic” RPGing where you and the enemies take turns. There is a little meter on the right hand screen to show players and monster turns so that you can plan ahead accordingly. Characters learn special abilities in battle by accumulating “TP” and they can be only unleashed the first time in battle. You cannot learn new moves until you’ve learned the current one that you’re building up for. While this is a novel concept, it unfortunately causes some unintentional problems. One such is when Linear has accumulated enough TP to learn a revival spell. And no one is dead. You cannot learn the spell nor can you skip ahead and learn the next one.
For all of the disappointments in graphics and gameplay (mainly the dungeons) the sound is an incredible surprise. The game is entirely voice acted. Yes, everything. Every character and NPC speaks his or her lines, (a text box is also featured) and frightening part is that is all extremely high quality. Ubi Soft has done a fantastic job localizing the title and has somehow managed to bring some of the best RPG voice acting I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. It isn’t Eternal Darkness quality, but it comes close. To match this is the incredible score which I have nothing but praise for. The most important track in any RPG is the battle theme or themes. This can make or break a game, as you will be constantly listening to it. In Evolution: Worlds there are four main battle themes: “Normal”, “Surprise”, “Ambushed” and “Boss”: all are fantastic. The disparity between the graphics and sound is so great it is almost hard to believe they are both featured in the same game.
The problems with Evolution are many, but in the end it still tells a cute story featuring charming characters. STING has really reworked the game into a much better product that was on the Dreamcast. Even the graphical issues would not be such a problem if the developers created a more exciting battle system and better designed dungeons. If you’re absolutely dying for an RPG to play on your GameCube, Evolution is currently the only show in town. The game is worth a rent if only to see how well Ubi Soft localized the game and the game’s great music. If I were you though, I’d skip the game and buy the soundtrack instead.