Konami's recent release of Suikoden into the U.S. market marked the end of their absence in bringing quality Japanese titles to stateside audiences. Vandal Hearts continues that trend, bringing U.S. gamers one of Konami's recent Japanese hits.
Vandal Hearts is a strategy RPG set in 3-D landscapes. The game itself takes place mostly on the battlefield, and the story line follows the exploits of Ash Lambert and his comrades Diego Renault and Clint Picard.
The graphics in Vandal Hearts are made up of 3-D landscapes, with 2-D sprite-based characters. During your turn in battle, the perspective can be manipulated using the L and R buttons to give you the best possible viewpoint. Battles occur not only on flat land, but also hills, pyramids and ships.
Battles use a turn-based system, each player moving all of his or her characters and attacking before the computer's turn. Being turn-based, the action is at a somewhat slower pace than other RPGs. Not that that the game is slow-far from it. There is no lasted in the well-paced battles.
Since battles take up so much of the game, you are left to a menu-driven interface for talking to people or traveling from building to building when in a town. This cuts down on exploration, and makes the game a lot more linear than your average RPG. Konami's storytelling is in top form with Vandal Hearts. The plot has so many twists and turns, it will keep you on your toes. Just remember to watch your back!
Stereo sound complements the gameplay. Vandal Hearts has some of the clearest sound and music this gamer has ever heard, using yellow book audio, or music that is streamed in directly off of the CD. The music is finely composed to accentuate the battle sequences for both the enemies and allies.
The game is still being translated for the U.S. market. When the game is closer to its release, EGMwill bring you more info on what could shape up to be one of the only strategy RPGs the PlayStation sees in U.S. stores this year. Let's hope that this marks a trend of Konami translating their hot Japanese titles.
What's an action/strategy role-playing game without a little blood, eh? Vandal Hearts has blood and plenty of it.
The generous sprays of hemoglobin emerge when you deliver the final finishing blow to an opponent, unless they're made of rock or some other substance. Let's not let the censors get this one--Vandal Hearts uses it in a much more realistic way than say. Mortal Kombat.
- MANUFACTURER - Konami
- THEME - Strat/RPG
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Download Vandal Hearts
After scoring big with Suikoden in late '96 (see ProReview, January), Konami is readying another good-looking RPG for spring '97. Like Suikoden, Vandal Hearts was a hit in Japan first. Also like Suikoden, Vandal Hearts uses a 3D angled-over-head view. However, Vandal Hearts is loaded with more (and much bloodier) combat than Suikoden as it tells a complex story of good versus evil (with political intrigue added to the mix). The outer-world setting gives the battlefields the unique look of literally floating in space. You can control the viewing angles and spin the battlefields to get varied perspectives. Stately classical music and detailed sound effects provide the sonic background.
Konami releases another strong offering in its growing RPG library. Combining a solid story line, challenging strategy, and original gameplay, Vandal Hearts is close to being as good as Konami's earlier title, Suikoden.
Kick Some Ash
Vandal Hearts is based on the elements of war and betrayal. You play as Ash, a commander in a peaceful kingdom, Ishtaria. When war threatens, you must discover who is wreaking havoc in the kingdom, and why. During your mission, you pick up clues and add members to your party, while fierce enemies and monsters block your path to the truth.
Though the story may seem familiar, Vandal Hearts has some unusual gameplay features. Unlike most RPGs, Vandal Hearts allows strategic movements during battle, making the placement of your party members around enemies as important as using spells correctly. The more you have flanking an enemy, the more offensive and defensive bonuses you'll receive. Strategic positioning is especially important when battling larger, stronger opponents.
Also unique to the game is the advanced control you have over your characters. Unlike most RPGs, Vandal Hearts enables you to determine a character's class (including hawknight, bowman, mage, bishop, and ninja). The controls are further complicated by your many offensive abilities: Not only do you use spells and weapons, you can also set booby traps.
Sights and Sounds
Vandal Hearts' 3D graphics are good, with sharp sprites and special effects for the spells that are reminiscent of Suikoden. The characters' celebrations can become annoying and sometimes distracting, but they're well balanced by creative and flawless full-motion videos (FMV).
The clean, crisp audio will keep your spirits high; the sounds are always on cue no matter how long you've been playing. The voice-overs during the FMVs add intrigue and help deepen the story line.
Hearts of the Matter
Vandal Hearts' original gameplay and strong graphics and sounds should satisfy even the most particular RPGers. It would be a scandal to miss Vandal.
- In any battle, always rid yourself first of troubling magic-users, healers, and missile-using enemies.
- In Plain of Sorrow, protect only one of the Mage Towers to guarantee warp travel back to your world. Make sure It's guarded on every side and always heal your comrades-in-arms if they're ailing, or else you'll spend the rest of eternity in limbo.
- When fighting Hassan and his crew in the Gadar Sea, split your party in two, cover both gangplanks, and wait for enemies to attack. Make your party members with bows and arrows face the gangplanks, and keep Huxley The Healer between both groups.
- After defeating the Death Ant, go to the tavern in Port City Minato and talk to everyone. Before you leave, you'll get a Nova Key, which you use at the Dojo to undergo the first of The Six Trials of Toroah.
- As you enter the map for Sand Dunes of Sea, go as far forward as possible in a tight formation. The Death Ant will resurface in front of you, and then you can launch a mass attack to defeat him.