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  opened by paleface at 03:55:47 02/22/04  
  last modified by paleface at 03:56:39 02/22/04  
  paleface [sys=NGPC; cat=Strategy; loc=EUR]
Interesting strategy RPG set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic world in which daring young rebels resist some sort of evil empire in their souped-up battle mechs, or something to that effect. Right from the beginning you'll notice that this is not your usual NGPC game, as Sacnoth have put in a full anime-style slideshow intro complete with digitized pop-song lyrics, impressive for the NGPC even if they're a little hard to make out ("stack up the fahh!").
So you go through a succession of battlefields in story mode, on each one essentially trying to destroy all the enemies with your mighty robot suit. You have a partner on most missions, which spices things up a bit (particularly as there are hints of a budding romantic interest), in fact there's a good deal of dialogue in missions and it's pretty well presented, along with nice character art.
Missions go in rounds, at the beginning of which you issue a set of commands to your suit. On these missions you don't, as in most strategy games, do your full move, wait for the enemy to do theirs, then repeat. No, everyone moves at once. Aha! So you have to guess at what your opponent is going to do that round, program your suit accordingly, then sit back and watch what happens. Sounds a little hands-off I suppose but it makes for some fun guessing games and gets you thinking. Not that the enemies are particularly bright, of course, but still.
What commands you can issue, and how many you can issue per turn, depend on what kind of mechanized suit you have and what stuff you've bought for it. Between missions you use money earned to get better and better gear, and advanced moves like Dash (move two squares per command) and Heat (damage multiplier for that round). What with these and computers and different suits and weapons and ammo there's certainly plenty to buy, and if your greedy little heart desires more than your wallet will allow you can always take little side missions (basically pitting you against a smattering of foes on a mission map you've completed recently) to raise more cash.
And here's a problem--it is way too easy to max out your gear early on in this game. I spent just an hour or so, maybe two at most (memory is hazy at this point), running extra missions to raise cash, and at the end I pretty much had the most powerful suit the game could offer. So then it was just a matter of plodding through the rest of the game. To do it credit, there are a few tough spots in lengthy missions right at the end, but overall it was way too easy. A more moderate character advancement curve would have helped quite a bit, and would have made the game, which isn't short but isn't long by any means, last a good deal longer.
It's a shame because the characters and setting are interesting and the story is pretty good, but it's over fairly quickly. Then again the mark of a good game is one that leaves you wanting more somehow, I suppose. One of the most unique games on the system, with plenty of style and impressive presentation, I was sorry that it ended but pleased with the singular experience it provided.
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· Shadow Hearts (PS2)

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