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Author Topic: Shadow Hearts Covenant - VERY Impressed  (Read 6002 times)
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depward
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« on: October 06, 2004, 04:05:03 AM »

Is anyone else as impressed at Shadow Hearts Covenant as I am?  I'm 25 hours in and I could easily say it's been one of the more fun, "never want to stop" kind of games I've ever played.  Just a great game!

Graphics are pretty.  The characters are really personable - which is rare, seeing as how each and every character is developed somewhat (maybe not Lucia so much).  The music is fantastic along with the CGI sequences.  And the story is there too.  Just a great, great game.  I highly recommend it to anyone who even remotely likes RPGs.
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2004, 04:15:18 AM »

Wow, that is a pretty rousing recommendation!  I'll put in a request and see if we can review it...
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2004, 05:25:40 AM »

...As soon as I complete Shadow Hearts 1. As soon as.
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2004, 10:45:35 PM »

Quote from: "Fellow"
...As soon as I complete Shadow Hearts 1. As soon as.


Umm . . . err . . . if you EVER do get done, would you ever think about trading it to someone?   biggrin   I played a bit of the first, enjoyed it somewhat, but now have a hankering after playing 28 hours of Covenant and loving it.
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2004, 05:06:17 AM »

Man, it's a good thing I bought it a while back for $20. On the other hand, it's a good thing I also got the pre-order deal, so I received a second (fresh) copy of said game.

So basically I have two copies of the game. What're the odds of that? Tongue

I suppose I could send the other one to you. Most likely it'd have to be the version I bought, since the pre-order deal has "not for resale" plastered on everything. But don't worry, it's in good condition, and not filled with horrible scratches all over.

You might want to send me an e-mail, with your address, though.

Oh, and you'd also have to slap TML in the head for that desktop thread post of his in Gone Gold. Yeah, that'd do it.
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2004, 06:13:37 AM »

Couldn't find your e-mail on here or GG, so I sent you a PM.  Check that.

This is the second time you'll be helping me out, the first being the Valkyrie Profile instructions .pdf style.  Your generiousity is much appreciated.

More of Covenant - just got to the second disk.  Man oh man has it been really great so far.  Just great production all around really.  Voice acting is fine, soundtrack is getting better and better in my mind (different bosses have had different songs, pretty cool), and just quite a surprise.
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2004, 06:25:45 PM »

Valkyrie Profile instructions? Where?
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2004, 08:04:52 PM »

Quote from: "Belgedin"
Valkyrie Profile instructions? Where?


Still have them on my comp - check your PMs   biggrin
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2004, 06:49:52 AM »

Just a neat little update:

Now 35 hours in.  Initial impressions remain intact - this is really quite a great game.  The battles are always fresh, the cutscenes/plot is great (one, in particular, had a good bit of humour along with some seriousness, one of my most favourite game plot cutscenes ever now), just everything is really way beyond what I expected.

There has been one moment, with an in-game puzzle, that made me sort of go, "Bah!"  Kind of a tough puzzle too.  Hadn't really encountered any tough ones, so it was actually a nice change of pace.

Really, at least give this game a try if you like well put together games.
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2004, 06:59:48 AM »

I'm liking the game so far... but does it keep such a wacky tone, or does it eventually get serious?
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2004, 02:42:56 PM »

Little bit of both -

A good dash of humour along with a quite a lot of seriousness.
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2004, 03:42:48 PM »

As long as it gets some seriousness in soon, I'll be happy.

Possible Spoiler

I'm at the part with the Grand Papillio in the small town after Paris, and it's just so bizarre that it's almost disheartening.  Sure, I'm all for breaking up a Final-Fantasyesque melodrama with humor, but the last bit of serious plot I felt like I experienced was the first trip to the Graveyard... at the moment, I feel like I don't know where I'm supposed to be going, nor do I know why I'm going there.

Does the plot start coagulating soon?  Am I still in the "introduce and recruit the characters" section of the game?
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2004, 05:48:24 PM »

You're still in the "introduce characters" part of the game.  The story, more or less, goes from bizarre parts (the Joachim character is fairly bizarre) to serious, and repeats.  In terms of actual plot development, there's a whole lot coming, don't worry.  And about introducing new characters

**Minor slight spoiler (NON-STORY SPOILER HOWEVER)**

I kept on recruiting characters throughout where I am now.  I got one around the 20 hour mark and I got one around the 30.  I do believe that the last one I've recruited is the last one.

**End spoiler**

I dunno, stick with it if possible because it is quite fun.
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2004, 02:07:02 AM »

Oh, it's not bothering me, I just expected a more serious tone to begin with, what with the setting and all.  No biggie.  I'd probably play til the end even if it never got serious, just because the battle system is surprisingly fluid and the graphics/animations are fun to watch.
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« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2004, 09:55:57 AM »

Just a quick little update:

At the end dungeon place now.  About 45 hours in.  After you initially get to the last dungeon, a whole plethora of subquests open up for your characters' "ultimate" weapons and armor and other such nice little items.  I've done a couple, namely getting the Neo-Amon fusion and Cornelia's last dress and some other weapon/armor quests.  Some, though, seem pretty long and involving.

Had one of the greatest CGI cutscenes I've ever seen just awhile ago.  I really like the style of this game - a lot of humor and just all around almost goofiness yet with a whole lot of seriousness as well.

My favorite character now is definately Karin Koenig.  To put it quite bluntly (and almost sadly, hahaha): she's like the girl that I've always wanted to meet . . . minus the whole "polygonal and made-up" respect.   :lol:   The story makes you really care about each character which is a definate plus.

Having tons of fun with the game, sad to see it pretty much close to the end though.
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« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2004, 05:38:16 PM »

I have only about 5 hours in but I am liking the game so far.  The judgement ring is a nice touch to keep otherwise tedious, trivial combat entertaining.  Gladius had a similar system and I thought it worked well there too.

The translation and voice work is better than average for a JRPG too, I like that.

The story seems ok.  I love the setting, WWI Europe, and wish they would do more with it.  Maybe they will, like I said I am only 5 hours in.

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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2004, 05:40:45 PM »

I wanted to bump this up. I am only 1.5 hours in (I know, nothing in the world of RPG's), but I am very, very impressed so far. Teh most fun FFX style game since, well, FFX!

Can't wait to play more.
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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2004, 06:03:53 PM »

What I have enjoyed most about the game so far is that is doesn't waste time. You don't have a 1 or 2 hour long introductory sequence with your characters in a pre-adventure state...You know, the part of the game where you are supposed to be getting to know the characters by wandering around a shopping mall, space station, home village, etc talking to all sorts of pointless people about pointless things.

Granted I am only about 5 hours into it, but there doesn't seem to be much filler. The direction and design are tight enough that the characters are developed as you play the game.
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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2004, 07:56:43 PM »

Quote from: "angrycoder"
What I have enjoyed most about the game so far is that is doesn't waste time. You don't have a 1 or 2 hour long introductory sequence with your characters in a pre-adventure state...You know, the part of the game where you are supposed to be getting to know the characters by wandering around a shopping mall, space station, home village, etc talking to all sorts of pointless people about pointless things.

Granted I am only about 5 hours into it, but there doesn't seem to be much filler. The direction and design are tight enough that the characters are developed as you play the game.
I agree for the most part.  The jump-in-to-it method of storytelling can be a bit jarring at times--at the beginning, it felt as if I'd missed something...
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2005, 08:09:04 PM »

I've been in a gaming funk of sorts lately, losing interest in every game I’ve tried after several hours of play. Picked up the first Shadow Hearts basically at random off my shelf last week and I think it may be the game to lift me out of my gaming doldrums.  

I bought the game when it first came out several years ago and played it for only a few hours before turning it off in disgust. I was expecting a serious RPG that stayed true to its pre-World War 1 setting, and when I realized it was a horror RPG with tons of anachronisms I was bitterly disappointed. Threw it on the shelf and just let it gather dust.

My interest got piqued with everyone raving about the sequel so now that I’m judging the game based on what it is, rather than what I expected, I’m finding it to be a rather decent RPG. First off, I really like the pacing of the game. It’s story heavy, but they break up the cut scenes nicely so it always feels more like I’m playing the game rather than watching it. Second, I like that the game seems to focus more on boss fights and less on mundane random battles. I think I’ve fought more bosses in the first ten hours of this game than I have total in some RPGs.

The Judgment Ring system is well done, with enough variety to prevent it from growing stale. I originally thought it would be a gimmick, but they really have built some solid game mechanics around it. I like that there are items and attacks that affect the speed and hit area of the ring. Adds some strategy, and keeps the battle system fresh.

About the only quibbles I have is that I wish they tried to have the dialog match the setting a little more. Having the main character run around saying stuff like ‘Dude’ and ‘Pops’ and essentially be a character with a 90s sensibility is somewhat jarring. There’s so much they could do with the setting but haven’t.

So, to sum up, I’ve found yet another game gathering dust on my shelf for years that’s of much higher quality than many of the games that I bought in the last couple of months. Reaching deep into the backlog sometimes pays off.
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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2005, 08:38:41 PM »

Shadow Hearts:  Covenant was far and away my Game of the Year for 2004.  Graphics, story, music, combat...everything was damn near perfect.  The way they tied the story of both games together at the end was absolutely brilliant.   I'm hoping it sold enough to warrant a sequel.
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« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2005, 08:41:05 PM »

Quote from: "Gratch"
Shadow Hearts:  Covenant was far and away my Game of the Year for 2004.  Graphics, story, music, combat...everything was damn near perfect.  The way they tied the story of both games together at the end was absolutely brilliant.   I'm hoping it sold enough to warrant a sequel.


I hope it sold well in Japan because its our only hope.  In the US sales have been miserable (sub 100k).
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« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2005, 09:15:55 PM »

Quote from: "Gratch"
Shadow Hearts:  Covenant was far and away my Game of the Year for 2004.  Graphics, story, music, combat...everything was damn near perfect.  The way they tied the story of both games together at the end was absolutely brilliant.   I'm hoping it sold enough to warrant a sequel.


Same here.  Such a great, great game on all levels.
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« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2005, 09:20:40 PM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Quote from: "Gratch"
Shadow Hearts:  Covenant was far and away my Game of the Year for 2004.  Graphics, story, music, combat...everything was damn near perfect.  The way they tied the story of both games together at the end was absolutely brilliant.   I'm hoping it sold enough to warrant a sequel.


I hope it sold well in Japan because its our only hope.  In the US sales have been miserable (sub 100k).


That's too bad, but not surprising.  Other than a couple ads in Game Informer, I didn't see a thing about it anywhere.  It's too bad such brilliant games (Shadow Hearts, Beyond Good & Evil, etc.) have such horrid marketing departments.  With some decent promotion and more wiser release dates, I think both of these games could have been successful.

BTW, is that under $100,000 or 100,000 copies?  If it's 100,000 copies, they might have at least broken even on it (3 mil at $30 copy average).  If it's only $100,000, then...yikes.
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« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2005, 06:22:18 AM »

Quote from: "Gratch"
Quote from: "Kevin Grey"


BTW, is that under $100,000 or 100,000 copies?  If it's 100,000 copies, they might have at least broken even on it (3 mil at $30 copy average).  If it's only $100,000, then...yikes.


100k copies.  It may be even under 50k.  First month sales were less than 30k and it dropped off dramatically there.  I have no idea how big of a budget Covenant had but hopefully they weren't expecting more than niche sales.
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« Reply #25 on: January 13, 2005, 07:11:35 AM »

"About the only quibbles I have is that I wish they tried to have the dialog match the setting a little more. Having the main character run around saying stuff like ‘Dude’ and ‘Pops’ and essentially be a character with a 90s sensibility is somewhat jarring. There’s so much they could do with the setting but haven’t."
The first game has a certain quirk factor, but to me, that was part of its appeal.  The sequel definitely turns the quirk up a few notches, but it fits better with its lighter tone.  It also helps that Covenant's translation and voice work is much improved.
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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2005, 08:09:05 PM »

I am trying to play the first shadow hearts before I play Covenant but I'm not sure I can hold off much longer.  Just how much better is Convenant vs the first game?
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« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2005, 10:34:37 PM »

I don't know that it's significantly better, outside of the obvious improvements (graphics and voice acting).  In fact, I think you would miss out on the significance of many of the games in Covenant had you not played all the way through the first game.  Especially the facets of Alice & Yuri's relationship.
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« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2005, 06:16:16 AM »

Quote from: "shon"
I am trying to play the first shadow hearts before I play Covenant but I'm not sure I can hold off much longer.  Just how much better is Convenant vs the first game?

Well, it's not completely neccesary to play through the first.  I played about 10 hours of the first and stopped so I could play the second.  And based on those first 10 hours, yeah, I was enjoying it.  But really, the sequal Covenant is so stellar I would have to say that you might just enjoy playing that over the original.

As far as the story is concerned, I was a bit "what the heck happened?" in the first game.  But Shadow Hearts: Covenant does give you little bits and pieces as to what happened in the first game.  For example, I didn't know a whole lot about Yuri and Alice's relationship.  I know the basic nature of it.  But I also do wish I could have played through the first before the second.  Though, I really do think the second is absolutely phenomenal.  Like I said before, my game of the year last year.  It just has so much personality as well as the story being great.  At first I thought it was pretty "meh", but it gets a LOT better.

I'm a fan of both gameplay and cutscenes.  They both rate almost equal in my book.  I like well-made cutscenes.  They really appeal to me.  And I can say that Shadow Hearts: Covenant's cutscenes were just about the best I've seen.  After beating the game, you have access to every single cutscene and the ability to watch them all if you'd like.  I occasionally pop it in and watch a certain couple, just because I think they were so well made.  And there's one that actually got me teary-eyed.  And the reason why the cutscenes were great in my mind was both pretty well done voice acting, pretty good dialogue, and an intriguing story.

But the gameplay is that sharp as well.  I really didn't like the Ring of Judgement a whole lot . . . but there's quite a bit of customization you can fiddle around with.  It really made me never bored whenever I fought.

There are some puzzles and some side-quests, like every other RPG.  None really got to the "GAH THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!" point of time, except for perhaps one later on in the game.

Characters were all fairly well done, with the exception of Lucia.  I don't know, I didn't like her character a whole lot.  Didn't really play with her either.  I'm a big Gepetto fan - Cornellia is the freakiest "doll" I've ever seen.  I had to get all of her costumes.  And I'm a huge Karin Koenig fan.  Like I said in an earlier post, she's possibly the greatest female character I've ever experienced in a game.

Alright I'll stop gushing.  I know there are some people who didn't really care for this game, but I, for one, absolutely loved it.  One of my favorite RPGs of all time, along with FFVI, Valkyrie Profile, and FFIV.

Excuse the weird sentence structure and incorrect grammar - my brain is fried from several hours of FFXI   biggrin
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« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2005, 11:52:16 PM »

Well, this isn't technically about Shadow Hearts Covenant but about the first game but this thread seemed as good as any so anyway...

Since the completist in me wouldn't allow myself to play Covenant until I played through the original I thought I'd put in my thoughts and a plug for the original SH game, especially since so many people seem to love Covenant but may have passed on the first.  

I played about 5 hours of the original Shadow Hearts last summer gearing up for Covenant's release and while I enjoyed it a bit, it didn't really grab me and I soon moved onto other releases (and consequently in the process didn't get around to playing SH:C).  

I decided to start up SH again this past weekend thinking I'd put in a few hours here or there so I could get to the game I really wanted to play which is its follow-up.  To my suprise the original Shadow Hearts grabbed me much quicker than last time and approx 15 hours into it I'm really enjoying it.

Its definitely rough around the edges- it really does look like it was designed as a PS1 game and the battle animations, monster design, and particle effects are decidedly substandard.  However the character animation in-game and during cutscenes is outstanding and the pre-rendered backdrops are very nice if a bit low-res.  The music is very catchy too.

The overall design is very much in the mold of the PSX Final Fantasy games and its not surprising that the developer was formed of former Square employees.  

The story and characters are the best part.  Very fast paced and decently translated with a few omissions.  Most interestingly the game is effectively split into two parts- one in China the other in Europe and the structure gives it a very unique feel.  The final part to the Chinese section could have passed for a decent finale for most games.  

There is one absolutely unintentionally hysterical section that features perhaps the worst voice-acting I've ever heard in a game.  So bad it was almost physically painful.  Those who've played it probably know what I'm talking about SCHLOOP!.  

Hopefully playing Covenant hasn't ruined the original for most and I'd defintely recommend giving it a look.

I'd also like to mention I've put in an hour to Koudelka, the SH series' PSX forerunner and I'm pleasantly surprised.  It actually has better production values than Shadow Hearts 1 IMO.  Its fully voiced with very good acting and an excellent translation.  Its also *much* more serious than Shadow Hearts.  It doesn't share much of a resemblance at all gameplay-wise, though its definitely still an RPG.  I can't guarantee I'll beat it but so far I'm very intrigued.
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« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2005, 11:57:07 PM »

I was this close into picking up Koudelka, because a video game place had about 6 used/new copies (unfortunately it's about an hour and a half away   frown ), but decided not to.  I am a psx RPG-junkie though . . . so I might make that trek this weekend . . .

I heard the combat was pretty "bleh."  How is it?  Apparently it takes a longer time than usual to load up battle sequences and about 1-2 seconds for an actual move to register after selecting it?  Is this even true?

Lemme hear more about Koudelka!   biggrin
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« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2005, 12:11:20 AM »

I read about the loading time issues too.  I selected fast loading in the options for PS2 and I don't know if it made a difference but it doesn't seem any worse than most RPGs.  There is a slight delay sometimes in combat animations to start but I don't think its anywhere near 1 second.  

Combat is a little interesting, primarily because its turned-based like most RPGs but laid out on a grid.  I don't know how strategic it will end up being but you do have to factor in things like having your melee character close to engage while your ranged characters can hang back and you can't use a ranged attack if another is blocking the line of sight, etc.  

One factor sure to be controversial- weapons eventually break.  There is no shop in the game so all weapons have to be gained from combat or picking them up in the environment.  There is also no indicator on how close a weapon in to breaking.  I've heard this can be an annoyance in the late game but we'll see.

In feel the game bears almost no resemblance to Shadow Hearts.  Its very dark and feels closer to a survival horror game.  In fact in some ways its pretty reminiscent of Resident Evil or, even closer, Parasite Eve.  You control Koudelka walking around an ancient monastery, exploring the environment, getting into random encounters.  The random encounter rate so far has been *very* reasonable (another strongpoint of SH IMO).  

There are three primary charaters and there interactions are interesting because they don't seem to like each other at all.  I was rather surprised to encounter a few pretty scathing theological arguments already.  Again, much less quirky humor than Shadow Hearts.  

Obviously I'm too early to tell but the game seems much better than its 50% Game Rankings score would indicate.  Then again I'm a sucker for a good story, interesting characters, and pretty FMV and Koudelka seems to have that in spades.

I was able to pick it up for $14.99 and I don't think I'll have any problem getting my money's worth.
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« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2005, 12:23:49 AM »

Cool sounds good.  I'll most likely go pick it up this weekend then.  Sounds like what I like in an RPG as well!
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« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2005, 12:40:14 AM »

Some more notes on combat I picked up from GameFAQs-

The grid functions somewhat like chess.  You can't move past an enemy's front line and they can't move past yours.  That seems to make initial maneuvers and formation pretty important since closing the distance to an enemy rapidly  will restrict their room to move.  Also, if a character is knocked unconcious and the enemy moves past them, they cannot be revived until the enemy is pushed back or defeated.  

Depwared- please don't blame me too much if you drive an hour and a half and don't end up liking the game  :wink:
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depward
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« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2005, 12:46:47 AM »

Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Depwared- please don't blame me too much if you drive an hour and a half and don't end up liking the game  :wink:

You're getting all the blame if I end up not liking it   biggrin   Though, luckily for you, I usually end up liking just about every RPG I play.

How's the music?  Generally, if I find the music kinda horrid, I don't really get into the game opposed to if the music is outstanding.  You know how it goes.

Plus there's a Krispy Kreme nearby there.  And, just going there, makes a trip worthwhile.
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TheMissingLink
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« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2005, 02:01:37 AM »

Quote from: "depward"
Quote from: "Kevin Grey"
Depwared- please don't blame me too much if you drive an hour and a half and don't end up liking the game  :wink:
Plus there's a Krispy Kreme nearby there.  And, just going there, makes a trip worthwhile.


I'm officially going with you.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2005, 02:05:41 AM »

The music is actually very minimal.  During the exploration phase there is typically no music just ambient noise.  Combat has music and its fine- pretty uptempo but nothing grating.  

Mmmm....Krispy Kreme.
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-Lord Ebonstone-
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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2005, 02:36:00 AM »

Is it one of those big Krispy Kremes where you can actually watch the donuts being made in the overly elaborate donut machines?
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2005, 03:35:09 AM »

Quote from: "-Lord Ebonstone-"
Is it one of those big Krispy Kremes where you can actually watch the donuts being made in the overly elaborate donut machines?


You better believe it...and they give you a hot and fresh donut right off the conveyor...we rarely stop by Krispy Kreme, but when we do, it's a celebration!
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2005, 04:22:21 AM »

Quote from: "depward"
Apparently it takes a longer time than usual to load up battle sequences and about 1-2 seconds for an actual move to register after selecting it? Is this even true?


All right, I know what this is referring to now.

I initially thought it was the load up when you enter combat but the load time there is fine.  What's weird about the engine is that during some actions during combat the game unloads everything but the party member attacking and the enemy and *then* has to reload everything else following the action.  Hard to describe but you'll know it when you see it.  So far I would classify it strictly as an annoyance and not game-breaking.  It also seems to be alleviated somewhat with the fast-loading option on PS2.

Also, this is a game that very much benefits from the texture smoothing option too.
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