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Tang Soo Techie

Joined: 03 May 2003
Posts: 9583
Location: On a never ending quest to save my girlfriend

PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2005 11:10 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Shadow Hearts 2 is an unusual sequel, this game is rated Teen whereas the original was rated Mature. The original game featured bloodstained scenery and in-your-face occult overtones. To increase sales by lowering the ESRB rating, that has taken a back seat to secret societies and political conspiracy. I was disappointed, but found a game that was ultimately hard to put down.

At its heart, the game continues the story of Yuri, the original's main character. I hesitate to call him a protagonist. He has already saved the world but killed a God in doing so. He'll fight to the death for his ideals, but is hardly virtuous. All that, and he turns into monsters. Over the course of the game, he performs Fusion with increasingly powerful creatures aligned with the forces of light, darkness, earth, wind, fire, and water. This progression to ultimate power is reset by a curse, which sets the stage for the sequel.

Yuri's story has an interesting locale - all over Earth, 1915. A slightly Lovecraftian vision of Earth, teeming with interesting monsters. They're not the sort of monsters that would attack or make themselves known to millions of ordinary people though. No, they merely wait in underground passageways, abandoned castles, and apparently the Vatican too. They wait until they see a motley adventuring group with magic items bought from a duo of teleporting homosexual merchants who can never seem to find the softcore pornography they so adore. Only then do the monsters appear and attack. I'm not kidding. I swear. This game knows its absurd and isn't afraid to make fun of itself.

Graphics: 7/10
The characters and monsters looked good across the board, although nothing really stuck out. Environments tended towards the ordinary compared to other entries in the Role Playing genre. Power effects also looked good, but again, nothing to amaze the viewer here.

Sound: 3/10
Although some areas had a good score to accompany the scenery, all battle music (which needs to be good in an RPG) was horrible. Vocals can be a good idea, but not if they're on a thirty second loop. Over and over, until you find yourself muting the damn thing.

System: 10/10
Nearly all probability, whether you hit with your attacks and spells and whether items work, is determined by the Judgment Ring. A disk is displayed with a number of orange hit areas and red strike areas. An indicator sweeps around the disk, and you need to tap a button each time the indicator sweeps past a hit area. Monsters can affect you with Judgment Ring maladies, such as erratic indicator behavior or invisible hit areas. It adds an interesting level to the game. Also, your characters have a number of sanity points that decrease each combat round. Once those points are exhausted (restorative items are easily acquired) the character goes berserk and takes random actions. A combo system is also present, where your characters can chain their attacks together for increased damage. The unique, excellent game mechanics behind Shadow Hearts 2 make the game stand out among its peers.

Characters: 6/10
Some playable characters and villains are cool. Some are not. On one hand, you've got this main character who turns into monsters and laughs at danger. You've got some personalities that really stand out as among the coolest of the genre. On the other hand, the game also includes a lame puppeteer, a vampiric wrestler ... a plethora of two dimensional characters. Once you mash them all together in your console the result is barely above average.

Story: 7/10
The story has little sense of an ultimate evil, little promise of some epic battle followed by cinematic ending and credits. There are a lot of villains to meet and defeat, although the path from one to the next can be contrived at times. Despite that, each step of the journey is interesting. I often wondered what awaited at assorted destinations, and encountered some well executed plot twists. The second chapter of Yuri's story is worth checking out, even if you're not familiar with the first one.

Overall: 7/10
The bottom line: if you like a turn based RPG, check this game out. While weak in some areas other aspects more than make up for it. This was as difficult to put down as any of the Final Fantasy series.

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