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Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Aksys Games
Developer: imageepoch
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:
There are a lot of RPGs that just aren't brought over to America, but I'm certainly glad that Fate/EXTRA was. It is a strategy RPG with a robust story that provides plenty of entertainment without being repetitive.

The characters in Fate/EXTRA do speak out loud but their voices are in Japanese, so unless you speak Japanese, you'll have to rely on the subtitles to tell you what's going on. Unfortunately, short things like the opening of battles aren't subtitled so we just have to guess what taunt they're saying there. Everything you really need is subtitled, though. Actually, I really hope that you like reading text if you're planning on playing. The story is really well done, but you have to read a lot of text continually. It is worth it, though!

The visuals in Fate/EXTRA are very well done. At first, you might not think so because all the school children look very similar, almost clones, but that is by design. Once you get into the arena, you'll see beautifully designed worlds with interesting enemies. The Servants are well detailed as well. The color and unique looks are quite beautiful. A lot of times you can almost tell information just by looking at a Servant, like who they were in their past life.

The first thing that you should know is that Fate/EXTRA is a PSP game and cannot be played on a PS3. I know lots of PSP games can be played on the PS3, but this one can't. When you first launch Fate/EXTRA, you will be given the option to start a new game on Easy or Normal Mode. There is a warning that there are "multiple dead ends" so it is recommended that you create multiple game saves in case you run into one. I highly recommend that you listen to this warning. You can save pretty much anywhere except inside the arena. I do wish that you could save inside the arena as well, since it can get really long and it would be nice to be able to save, but that adds to the difficulty of the game. Fate/EXTRA is not meant to be an easy game. If you need to pause inside the dungeon, you can just turn the PSP off and it'll pick right back up when you turn it back on.

In Fate/EXTRA, you are a student at Tsukumihara Academy. Ms. Fujimara is the teacher, and she's a bit clumsy. Shinji Matou is the most popular guy in school, unnaturally so. Sakura is Shinji's sister. Mr. Kuzuki is the new, very odd teacher who gives you the creeps. All of this seems like a normal school where you are on the school paper and you go home and sleep every night. But new students keep showing up and acting strangely. When a mysterious girl in red appears and tells you that you're an NPC, we know something is really not quite right. You'll notice that your days in school are counting down from 4. After you run out of days, you will find out what is going on. The school is just a construct. All the real people in it are skilled hackers and magi who are there to participate in the Holy Grail War. In this world, the magi (and you) do not actually do the physical fighting. Instead, you will choose a Servant to bond with. The class that you choose will affect your gameplay. You can also choose to be a male or a female player. Even after you find out that you are a magi, you still have no memories. Something went wrong with the restoration process, so you are at a bit of a disadvantage and have to learn everything over. SE.RA.PH is the artificial world that the school occupies. Basically everyone there is a master hacker just to get into it, not that you remember how to do this. All of the magus there have "digitized their souls" and inserted them into the reality. It's not a talent that can be taught. You have to be born with the natural skills.

The goal is to beat all the other Magi in the tournament, but you're going to have to get a bit stronger to do this. Each day you have to prepare, you will need to go to the arena and fight the opponents there so that you can level both Master and Servant up. When you leave the arena it will end the day, so don't go into it until you are done with that day. This game isn't about fighting though. To fight well here, you are going to have to learn about your opponent so you have to spend time talking to everyone every day and researching everything that you can. If you miss information in a day, it is gone forever as people don't repeat themselves. Just keep on fighting in the arena to level up and get stronger so that you can beat the other magi and win the tournament!

As I said before, Fate/EXTRA is not meant to be an easy game. If you want it to be easier, then just choose to play on Easy Mode, but still don't expect it to be a walk in the park. The more information you learn about your enemies and competitors, the easier it will be because you will be able to predict some of their moves so you will know what moves you need to do. But this will only help so much, so save often and learn everything. You can save everywhere except the arena. Once inside, you will have to wait until you are back out again to save. The map of the arena doesn't always show you the full paths, some are hidden, so make sure to try and walk past the walls just to make sure.

It is very important that you use the chapel as much as you can. Once you are able to go into the Chapel, you will be able to use your SP points to increase your Servant's powers. You should go there at the beginning of every day to use the previous day's SP so that you keep your Servant as powerful as possible. Even 1 additional point makes a noticeable difference. The stronger your Servant is, the more likely you are to survive.

Game Mechanics:
The controls in Fate/EXTRA are quite easy to get the hang of. You can move with either the D-pad or the stick. (Triangle) opens the System Menu where you can Save, Load, and play with the game Options. (Circle) will center your camera on the direction you are facing. (Square) brings up the Arena Menu. It lets you use items and Code Casts. (X) is to talk and select the commands.

The battle system in Fate/EXTRA is different from most games. It's a bit like playing rock-paper-scissors. You have three commands at your disposal: Attack, Break, and Defend. Attack beats Break, Break beats Defend, and Defend beats Attack. You will select a command six times and your Servant will execute them in order, so you've got to guess what the enemy will do. Some enemies only use one type of command, so those are easy. Others are not so predictable. You can't actually fight, so if your Servant gets killed, you will die and it's game over. Sometimes it will show you what the enemy's moves are going to be. In those cases, if you're not paying attention and choose the wrong command to counteract that, it will show that command in red so immediately you know to go back and edit it. If you land three commands in a row, you will have an automatic extra attack at the end of those three, which really helps. If you don't kill the enemy on the first round of commands, you will keep going on rounds until one of you dies.

I have really enjoyed playing Fate/EXTRA and I still have a lot more to go. The story is quite long and detailed. If you're looking for a strategy RPG that will provide weeks and possibly months of entertainment, check out Fate/EXTRA.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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