Stupid January class made me take forever on this, but it still lasted only a month.
Gameplay: 8/10 Like most SRPGs, there’s no fancy world map. What we do have is a book as a framing device, and you pick scenes/battles from the book. It gets annoying at times as not all scenes are linked together, and you have to always confirm before you play the scene.
Battle wise, it combines a lot of different views together. Top down map view to choose a unit, third person view to run around with a unit, and then a closer, near first person view when you’re shooting things. The camera gets screwy sometimes, which blows when you’re trying to move a unit as best as possible with the limited AP (basically running power) that they have.
It gets points knocked off for some tough enemy AI early on, especially with snipers, and endgame, when a scout rush is the solution to nearly every battle.
Story: 9/10 Hoo boy, I’m a sucker for this story. It’s very much an anime plot (not like the anime got it right though), but I loved it. Love, hatred, wins, losses…yeah, okay. Son of a hero Welkin, his sister Isara, and their new friend Alicia end up drafted into the Gallian militia to fight in the Second Europan War against the Empire. Mix in some magical girls and you’ve got the basic plot of the game. The story is pretty well paced, with each chapter in the book being a major event. It gives you a couple plot twists in the middle, leaving enough time for it all to be resolved in the end.
Characters: 9/10 There’s two “types” of characters in this game, the important playable characters the story revolves around, and the LPCs, or lesser playable characters. The LPCs are the units that join your squad who can permadie. Now, in most SRPGs, you take a blank slate and use them and they stay a blank slate. VC is different because each unit has their own backstory and personality. You really get attached to the characters and end up using favorites, sometimes even if their skills are bad. I personally got real attached to Lynn and Nadine (and of course cameo characters Vyse and Aika!)
As for the main characters, they’re all quite unique with strengths and flaws. I’d go into more detail but going into TOO much detail would be major spoilers for a good number of characters. My favorite overall turned out to be Isara >>
Graphics: 9/10 Sega’s first use of the CANVAS engine is a good one, giving semi-realistic graphics, but still able to keep a sketchy anime-style look. Shame that the sequel is more styled after the anime, but eh.
Music: 8/10 The first OST by Hitoshi Sakimoto that I’ve heard, and it was enjoyable. Some of the tracks sound alike, especially the battle themes, though. Also, you’ll pretty much hear the same few tracks throughout the game, since you spend more time in certain places than in others. I’d comment about the OP/ED song “No Matter The Distance” but it was cut for the US version…
Localization: 10/10 Probably one of the strongest localizations I’ve played in a while (though that’s not saying much). The JP voice track is included, though the subtitles for scenes match the English track which throws off some lines at points, but I played with English voices so I don’t really care that much.
Overall Rating: 8.8 rounded up to a 9/10
Recommendation: One of the PS3 must-buy games, I highly recommend this to any SRPG or JRPG fan, or even someone wanting to try something new. It’s only $20 now if you can find it, so why not?