Now, let me state from the beginning that I'm a huge fan of the original Vandal Hearts
. Sure, you were limited to the number of missions you could do, since there were no random battles, so you basically had to keep everyone alive through every mission so you'd be tough enough to defeat the last boss. Sure, it was decidely first-generation. But damn, was it fun. I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed FFT
, mainly because it didn't try to get me to follow some damned confusing plotline with lots of people with similar names. Unfortunately, VH2
strays a bit too much into that plotline world, and loses some fun because of it. Fortunately, the battle system makes up for it.
You're a young soldier, fighting on a side that you believe is right, but soon learn may not be... blah, blah, blah. You know the Strategy RPG drill. What matters is the combat and such, and VH2 delivers on this, to an extent. Instead of everyone on one side moving, and then all of the enemies (the original Vandal Hearts), or having people move depending on their AT (Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre), VH2 has one enemy move at the same time as each of your people. This makes for really interesting gameplay, as you try to predict who the enemy is going to go after and move that person, instead having them attack the enemy. Since they're executed simulataneously, some pretty weird things can happen. You can gleefly trick an enemy into attacking empty space if you stand next to it with your back facing towards it, and then on your next move go to another side of the enemy, attack it, and then end your turn with your back facing it again. Really. But overall, it works, and it makes you think a whole lot more than most Strategy RPGs, because you have to be careful where you put everyone. Protecting the little guy is even more important in VH2.
The way you gain special abilities is by carrying the various weapons around that have them, and using them in battle. At first, it seems tedious, but since I really enjoy the battle engine, I never got tired of using all the various weapons to get the techniques buried inside. Once you get a technique, you can switch it between all the various weapons of that type, so you can make powerhouse spell staves and stuff like that. Very neat.
The game map is very much like Final Fantasy Tactics, except that you never HAVE to do a random battle area. You get to choose. This is terribly handy, as you don't have to wander back and forth across an area in an attempt to have the random battle kick in. Just jump in and fight.