This was a decent strategy/RPG from Konami. It is the worst strategy/RPG I've ever played, but that's only compared to Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Shining Force 1 and 2. The game was fun, featuring battles with more objectives than just "defeat all enemies" or "rescue whomever". Instead, they had unique missions such as "defeat the guard dogs in under six turns" and "don't let the enemies escape". But on the downside, it had horrible graphics! They tried to do what I think was some sort of FMV, but it didn't work out too well. They had portraits to go along with a character's dialogue like most RPGs, but didn't too well in that either. The mouths in the portrait move up and down repeatedly, even when they're saying stuff such as ".....". They didn't do a great job on music, either. But that doesn't matter too much, because RPGs rely mainly on story and characters. Unfortunately they didn't do great here, either. Not so bad that you won't enjoy the game, but I've seen better. You and your two buddies, Clint and Diego, are soldiers working for the Empire, but soon form a resistance group against them (Where have we heard this story? Oh yeah, in every RPG ever made!). Fortunately, it's not your typical "save the world" story.
The characters are pretty good for a strategy/RPG. They still get involved with story after joining up. In Final Fantasy Tactics, you hardly ever hear from characters after they join up, unless it pertains to a subquest. However, like most Strategy/RPGs, the hero is a huge lamer. Ash is so lame it's not even funny. And another thing, what kind of name is Ash?! -Notices the glare from Ice_Man_Ash-Ahem, I'll rephrase. . .what kind of name is Ash for an RPG hero?
The game's best quality is that it's fun as hell! It doesn't have the job system, which I loved in Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, but it has an alternative. Each unit starts off with a basic class: healer, soldier, archer, and mage. Once they reach level ten, you can promote them to a class of your choice. For instance, say you have a level ten healer, go to the dojo and talk to the monk. He'll then offer to promote your healer. You can change him/her to either a monk, who offers a nice mix of healing, magic, and physical attacks. After he/she reaches level twenty, he/she will become a ninja, who is a more powerful Monk. Or, when he/she is still level ten, they can become a bishop, who focuses on strong healing and supplemental spells, which are essential to keeping your team alive. After he/she reaches level twenty, you can promote to an arch-bishop. There are still unique abilities for the archers, soldiers, and mages.
Another good thing is that all your characters join the battle, and there is no little "reject room" where the people you don't want stay. Then, once you have a solid battle team, you go out and kick some ass on the battle field! The battles are extremely fun, with a lot more strategy involvement. Before each battle, I'd analyze the enemies' positions and my goal, and divide up my troops. Half the fun is forming a battle plan. It's almost a guaranteed loss if you rush into the fight without thinking.
The game isn't very long, so check it out if you have the time. You could
probably beat it on a three day rental. Konami has a sequel in the works.
I may do a preview once I get some details.
Vandal Hearts Reviews
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