Thread: Sakura Wars
04-05-2010 05:23 PM #1
I've been playing this game since I got it last Friday, putting Resonance of Fate on hold for the moment. I'm pretty certain I'm on the last chapter, and should finish up sometime tonight, but I'm going to post my impressions now.
Overview: Many people will have no idea what this game is so I decided to start it off with an explanation. Technically it's a Strategy RPG, although it plays more like a Graphic Novel with the combat taking a back seat.
It takes place in a alternate 1920s Steam Punk New York City. You fight in steam powered robots against other steam powered robots trying to protect the city from a demonic invasion. Now on to the details.
Choices Galore - Fans of having options will find much to love in this game. Like the graphic novels obviously is influenced by, you are frequently provided text options on how to respond. But how you make those choices is not as simple as you're used to. If you want a very long explanation click the spoiler tag, there aren't actually any significant spoilers.
Combat - The combat turns out pretty well. Fairly typical strategy RPG for the basics with a few interesting twists. Such as you can fight you robots on the ground, or transform them into a plane for aerial combat.
Most fights are limited to one mode or the other, but some let you move freely back and forth and generally require you to split your team with some in the air, and some on the ground.
The real draw, however, is that there are no random or generic fights. Every fight is unique and designed with its own twists to make it interesting. They're pretty well done too. Nothing like taking on giant robots, much larger than your own giant robots and taking them apart piece by piece.
Overall the difficulty is pretty easy, with one caveat. Winning is easy, but every time a character is defeated, they'll take a large hit to their trust for you. And it actually is moderately difficult to win without any losses. Especially given as the fights are very long, some easily going 30 minutes plus.
Character Interactions - Throughout the game, the choices you make impact how much your team trusts/likes you/each other, as well as their motivation. Their motivation has a strong impact on their combat stats and how many action points they get on their turn.
Two characters that get along well will perform stronger unity attacks and often auto defend each other, canceling an enemy attack. So if you deliberately anger everyone expect more challenging fights.
You also get nice little sound effects that tell you when someone has a positive/negative reaction to your actions and how strong it is. A small touch, but I at least got really addicted to hearing the good sound effect.
Humor - It's not on the top level of humor I've seen in games, but it does pretty well for itself in this category. Games that let you select your response often do. I mean there's nothing like telling a girl who's having self esteem issues that she's too ugly to make it as an actress.
Graphics - This is a five year old PS2 game, so don't expect too much. That said, it's really not that bad. I've seen worse on a couple of PS3 RPGs (Disgaea 3 and Record of Agarest War.) In addition, there's a large amount of fully animated anime scenes.
Not much combat - As I mentioned before, the combat really takes a back seat in this game. There's usually 1 fight per chapter. Two if you're lucky. Most are pretty long multi-part fights that end in a big boss battle. But you're still left with something like 10 fights. The game is mostly a lot of talking, and if you want more fighting in your game, this probably isn't the right one for you.
No leveling/equipment - That's right none. No customization of your characters or anything. The only way to change combat strength is to build the trust of your team and keep them motivated. Combat isn't the main focus of the game, so this isn't game breaking, but it's still a shame.
The Plot - Very generic save NYC from a demonic invasion plot. Nothing really interesting at all.
The Dialogue - Other than the humor sprinkled throughout, don't expect anything emotionally moving. You probably won't find yourself really liking any of the characters or caring much either way about the villains. The game also has more than its fair share of cheesy lines, even by JRPG standards.
For a game that's mostly talking, having a boring plot, lame cheesy dialogue, and good but not exceptional humor might be a recipe for a horrible score. Especially from me, as I consider those to be the most important aspects of a game by far.
However, this is one those games that somehow ends up better than some of its parts. But only if you don't take it too seriously. The game seems designed to deliberately go over the top at times to begin with.
For example, before every combat your base will transform, with building sinking into the ground so that a giant ballista can come. This is than used to launch your airship. The whole time heroic sounding music plays in the background and the game treats the whole thing as if it's an entirely serious moment.
After that, you always have to wonder if any of the game is supposed to be serious or a just a semi-satire of the whole genre. But regardless of their intentions, viewed the right way the bad parts easily fall into the "bad in a funny way" category. Combined with fun combat and unique game mechanics, I found it highly enjoyable.
So my tentative score, pending the actually beating the game is 8/10
04-05-2010 08:07 PM #2
Glad to see someone else picked it up. I've always been a fan of the Sakura Taisen/Wars and I've played the first 4 as well.
This one is fun, but honestly It doesn't hold up as well as the others, 3 being my all time favorite of the bunch. I'm only about 4 hours in so far but your review is pretty spot on to what I'd say about the game based on what I've played of this one so far and past experience."Designing death and destruction for the masses since 1999."
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Game Collection (Backloggery)
04-05-2010 08:37 PM #3