Okay, just finished the game. Let's just keep it simple and specific-spoiler free.
Final Grade: B- (For comparison: 999: A-, VLR: A+ )
-Game has major pacing and characterization problems for the first 12 hours.
-Characterization problems are almost never corrected.
-Plot does get pretty gripping for the last 7-8 hours and finally slows the **** down, but what you have to put up with to get there dampens this.
-The game's largest plot twist comes pretty out of nowhere, with minimal hinting. Leaves you feeling cheated, unlike 999's/VLR's.
-Final ending is by and large apathetic. Yes, it resolves almost every plot thread. But the lack of emotional investment in the end just leaves you shrugging your shoulders.
-Zero II never becomes a compelling villain.
In short, play it, brace yourself but mostly enjoy the ride, be relieved to know that a trilogy like this does actually see some measure of resolution.
Now to expand upon some of my issues in spoiler territory.
-Probably THE biggest complaint I have is the utter ruining of the Akane/Junpei arc.
Like Sigma/Diana this should've been a pretty big climax, bigger in fact since we've
been trailing this pair across three games now. Unfortunately...they went to such
great lengths to ruin Junpei as a character that I felt no joy in watching him finally
propose to Akane. If anything I called bullroar on it because he'd be acting
so out of character that there's NOTHING left of him compared to the
999/VLR counterparts. It was a very sour production to watch play out
across the entire game. And just when you think he might've improved
a little bit he still goes back into ragey-teenager mode shortly after.
Bad form game. Bad form.
-I mentioned it above, but I really do feel cheated by the revelation that Q-team
really had four people in it all long. Maybe if this were in 999 or VLR style this method
of sneakiness wouldn't have been such a cop out. But because ZTD opted for this
cinematic approach, just visually deleting a character from a scene entirely and
then trying to pull the "Oh, he was there all along. Just in some way far remote
corner over a dozen yards away we opted not to show you in order to keep it
a secret" is just...grr. It's like a magician trying to claim his rabbit-hat trick is
impressive, when what he really did was blindfold everyone right before
the trick so you couldn't see him put the rabbit in.
-It also felt like they had to ret-con their own lore for this entire story to take
place. VLR specifically explains that when you put a bunch of Shifters in a localized
area the strongest one essentially zaps the juice from the weaker ones to
produce a more powerful effect. That's why future Junpei wasn't getting much of
anything at all, and why Phi's Shifting was shakier than Sigmas. (Clover just wasn't
noticing because she's a sender, not a receiver.) Gathering them all there was to
specifically power-up Sigma and Phi through this leeching. So, because of VLR's
explanation, the ZTD scenario should not be able to happen at all. You cannot
have 6 functional shifters all in one group. One or two of the stronger ones
will pretty much zap all the field energy of the others.
-There we a few moments too that felt like the cast had to be force fed Idiot Pills
to have happen. Most are nitpicks, but the biggest one is easily the birth of Delta and Phi.
'Hey, we're locked in a shelter with a finite amount of food. Let's make babies.' Sigma and
Diana pretty much gave birth to two babies just to watch them starve to death. Probably
one of the most 'villain' things to happen in this series. And no, the transportation didn't
correct that. Remember the core copies stay behind in addition to the split copies being
sent off. And this was WITHOUT knowledge about what those children would become.
So, yeah, a very inhumane thing to do.
-Speaking of the Transporter; this is the only method given between all three games
now that allows physical transportation for bodies between timespace. ...which means
it has to be the method Clover and Alice mentioned at the end of VLR. ...which means
they actually NEVER returned to the past. Just their copies. Their mains are still trapped
in the dead-future. ...way to retroactively ruin your one bit of hope-spot for VLR there
ZTD. Drag everyone down with you why don't you?
-Also, they never did explain the anomaly at all. Which is quite irritating to say the least.
They made a small deal out of it in 999 and specifically devoted the very last scene of the
game to it in VLR. I'd thought for a moment that all the 'My body did something I didn't
want it to' moments were going to be about this anomaly. But no, that's all Delta's
doing. And it can't have been Delta at the end of VLR because he has no Shifting powers.
So essentially they took this plot thread and unceremoniously left it forgotten in the corner.
-And ah yes, the 'reason' for all this happening...is very, very weak. For a game that adores
fleshing out its world, giving you every last detail about all the proper plot points...to suddenly
just resort to 'An unnamed terrorist kills the planet with generic bad-guy methods.' No details
on the who, no names, no dates, not even a remote hint on how the group is supposed to
find and deal with them. You don't have to pursue this outright but come on game...not
even a sliver? Just seems like you jammed this in there for quick-lazy justification for Delta
without bothering to fill in the blanks because you knew you'd never ever have to. That's
one of the reasons the ending just feels so emotionless. It's pretty obvious they didn't care
to elaborate. And if the creator doesn't care about their work, the viewer feels it and it
And for funsies, even though my second 'Called It' guess was very wrong. My first one most irksomely proved true.
They went and killed the dog. ;_;