Shadow Hearts
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Midway/Aruze
Developer
Sacnoth
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Gore, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Great Intro
• Easy Controls
• Good Story
• Lengthy Quest

The Bad

• Sub-Par Graphics in certain areas
• Voice acting isn't the best

 
Grade
A-

Shadow Hearts is an RPG published by Midway that few have heard of but really should have. Its a "dark" RPG that is fun and surprisingly very well made. In this game you take the role of Yuri, a man who has the ability to transform into other creatures. He is what they call a Harmonixer. You join him on a great quest spanning Asia and Europe. It all starts on a train where evil is brewing -- which also happens to be one of the most excellent intro's in a videogame ever -- and here Yuri's quest begins.

Gameplay:
The gameplay reminds me alot of Final Fantasy. To some extent, you could call this a FF copy, but the different things that are incorporated are what make this game stand out. First off, there is the judgment ring. It's a ring that is to the top, right side of the screen that has a dial that spins. You must make the dial land corresponding to the right spot to pull off the moves. They do this with regular and special moves, plus with healing and minigames. It all adds up to a unique experience and during battle it adds a certain edge to them. Another unique addition is the ability to change into other monsters, with different elemental attacks, with your main character, which gives you different moves. Changing into these creatures does take Sanity points, which brings me to my next subject. Sanity Points are points that either drain when your main character transforms, or as with everyone else, just drains the longer you're in battle, which adds something else you need to manage besides the normal health and magic points. If you fail to keep them with any SP they go into berserk mode where they become uncontrollable and could do anything they want. One last thing I'd like to add is that to get the different creatures you have to fight them at the graveyard (which can be accessed through save points) to earn them, but to even be able to fight them you have to have enough soul energy of that certain element, and you can earn that through regular battle. There is a malice meter that fills eventually and you have to empty it at the graveyard as well, which adds even more to the strategy of the game. If you don't empty the malice when it reaches full capacity, you are forced to fight a tough foe. Emptying it, as you can see, is a must.

Graphics:
Immediately you'll notice that the backgrounds are not 3-D but pre-rendered like most all RPGs on PSone and while some might not like that its still comes off really well in the game and after a few minutes you probably wont care anymore. The only downside is that while some backgrounds look really great others pale in comparison but most are overall good. Now the characters are all done really well. The animations for the characters are all really great from the body actions to spells they all come off together greatly. The FMVs that are in the game are few and far between, but when they're on screen, you're hooked and they look great.

Control:
The control in the game is that of the typical rpg - moving yourself around the screen and selecting your battle commands when fighting. Nothing to hard or complicated. Nice and smooth.

Sound:
Everything in the game sounds great from the calm yet battle pumping music to the sound effects. There is voice acting for the select scenes and for the most part sound good. The only thing that must be said is that the voice acting for one particular character in the game was horrid and terrible but thankfully not a person you meet more then once.

Overall, Shadow Hearts is a awesome rpg that really deliverers a good time for something that wasn't hyped up at all. The story is dark and entertaining to the very end. So if your looking for something different after Final Fantasy 10 do yourself a favor and pick up Shadow Hearts, one of the best and unhyped rpg's for PS2.

- - Justin Celani

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