30+ hours into FFXII. I won't finish this before L.A. Noire comes out but whatever, I don't care. I'm loving the game far too much to put it down at all.
I just started Legend of Kartia
for PlayStation, which is a really interesting tactics game. Old-school Atlus putting there stamp on the formula created by Quest. Interestingly, the game is published by Konami who would go on to make their own tactics series, Vandal Hearts. The only thing that is lacking in Kartia so far, is the storyline. It's a bit simple and lacks the grandiose story of say a Matsuno tactics game (e.g. all the politics, intrigue, twists etc). That, and the characters are a little iritating and the translation iffy. On the other hand, the music is clearly inspired by Sakimoto/Iwata. So much so, that it's such a good imitation that I thought it was
them until I looked it up.
The gameplay is rather solid, but also leaves a lot to be desired at the same time. You use cards to conjure up magic and create "phantoms" which are beings you have to create to form your own army and beat the opposition. You also have a "rock, paper, scissors" system which you have to keep track of to beat the enemy. These unique perks help keep the game from being yet another "rip-off". On the other hand, whenever you move your units, which you do one at a time, it becomes an arduous process since the enemy units are sometimes right on the other side of the map and you have a platoon of around twenty. So it takes a long time. The beautiful artwork is contributed by Yoshitaka Amano, so it gives off a very Front Mission/old-school Final Fantasy feel and suits the world in which the game is set, very well. So there's a lot of pros and cons with this game. Also reminiscent for me to the original Front Mission aside from the Amano artwork is the fact that there is two storylines to play with, which you can choose between at the start. I think I'm a little over halfway through the young knight's story now.
It would only be many years later that Atlus would take another stab at the tactics genre with the likes of Stella Deus, which by the looks of things, has a completely different style, more catering towards the fans of Shin Megami Tensei.
Also worth noting is that this game was directed by the creator of Megami Tensei, which was also one of the last projects he worked on at Atlus.
After playing Kartia for a bit, I got the urge to start playing Vandal Hearts
too, which had been sitting on my gaming shelf for a while now. Now, this
game has a better storyline more in line with what I was expecting from a tactics game. The gameplay is far less complicated than the aforementioned game but all the better for it, in my opinion. It's practically a regular tactics game, move your really small squadron (thankfully the exact opposite design of Kartia; less is more) around the maps and cause havok. The game has loads of charm that helps make it unique; from the blood spurting everywhere after you kill enemies (which is very satisfying to the sadist in me), to the unique cast of characters [there's even a character named "Clint"
who is an unstoppable brute of a man.
], and the unique art style. And the storyline is well worth it if you enjoy political intrigue, mysterious characters and labyrinth plotlines with plenty of factions with their own agendas. Very, very
good game so far.