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Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star
Score: 75%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
Some people think it's easy to change fate, but it usually either ends in disaster or you create some looping alternate timeline. Fortunately, we have video games to see how those routes go. Here we have a twist of fate in Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star.

The graphics for Fate/EXTELLA are pretty sharp on the Vita, but they werenít what I was expecting. I mean that in a good way, by the way. I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of 3D characters, both on the battlefield and in the cutscenes, complete with movements to capture the mood of a scene. There are also 2D renders to depict who was speaking, and they looked very high quality with nice detail to art as well. The backgrounds did a nice job of enhancing gameplay by not being overly done or overly distracting. While I do enjoy nice scenery, I believe the minimum will suffice with a game such as Fate/EXTELLA. Iím here to conquer the land, not enjoy the view.

The sound of Fate/EXTELLA is pretty on point as well. I really enjoy fast-paced, upbeat tracks and Fate/EXTELLA certainly delivered, especially in the heat of battle. Thereís also plenty of softer tracks, which fit excellently when certain story elements were fleshed out. For those who donít know, the voice acting is entirely in Japanese. Naturally, English subtitles are present for players to keep pace with the story. I also feel many people will enjoy the sound effects accompanying your characterís attacks. The fiery ferocity of your attacks ravaging enemy troops canít be beat.


Gameplay:
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star is a pretty combat-heavy game. If you enjoy slashing your way through hordes of enemies, this is the game for you. The game focuses around a Story Mode in which you control the character whose story you opt to play through, starting with Nero. The controls are nothing new if youíve experienced a hack and slash game before. The Left Stick moves your character while the Right controls the camera. The (Square) button is your light attack and the (Triangle) is your heavy attack. Combining the two interchangeably results in devastating combos that can clear waves very easily. The (X) button makes your character jump and you can also perform attacks in the air. The Right Bumper makes your character dash, while the Left Bumper is your guard. Simple, right?

The main objective in Fate/EXTELLA is also pretty easy to grasp. During missions, youíll be placed on a battlefield. In the upper right of the screen, youíll see a map that will have several quadrants colored either red or blue. Your job is to go to each quadrant and claim it as your own. This is accomplished by defeating the Aggressors that are placed in each of the quadrants. Often times, your own servants will be waging war in the various quadrants. You can help them out if youíd like or leave them to their own peril. Iíd recommend giving them a hand, though. Once you claim enough quadrants, the boss of that area will appear. Defeat them, and the mission will end. Expand your land and reign sovereign: Thatís your goal.

Fate/EXTELLA gives the player several options to play with when playing the game. The first is the Main Story. Here, youíll be able to guide your chosen leader to victory in the war. Next is the Side Story. This mode allows you to chase after a servantís ambitions and help achieve their goals. The Free Battle Mode allows you to pit certain characters against each other on a stage of your choosing. The Gallery allows you to enjoy the various pieces of music and art youíve unlocked from playing the game. Youíve got plenty to do, so take your time and enjoy yourself.

Itís one thing to dream of success through battle and another to achieve it. Fortunately, this dream is made easier by leveling up. By participating, and succeeding, in battle, your servants will acquire experience and subsequently level up. This will increase their combat abilities and also give them access to new skills for use in battle. If you ever find yourself down, try doing some training and coming back stronger than before. That may be just what you need to tip the scales in your favor.


Difficulty:
Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star features three difficulty levels that players can choose from. These three levels are Easy, Normal, and Hard. Players can choose a difficulty level for the Story Mode and also for the Free Battle Mode when battling a computer opponent. In the Story Mode, difficulty affects the damage and ferocity of the opponents youíll be mowing through. In Free Battle Mode, difficulty affects the complexity of the A.I. There isnít much need to feel pressured into playing on a high difficulty, so pick the one you feel most comfortable with and enjoy it.

Game Mechanics:
Leveling up in Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star does provide you a way to keep up with the enemies youíll face, but itís not the only way. You can also bolster your strength through the use of Instant Skills. Equipping these to a character allows them to use the skill. Itís an easy way to increase your offensive ability. Youíll need to have an open slot on the character to equip the skill, but fortunately, the number of slots increases as the Bond Level with that character goes up. Setting an Instant Skill of the same category in an adjoining and connecting slot will increase the effectiveness of both skills also. You can obtain Instant Skills from defeating Aggressors, so make sure you pick them up when they drop.

Every great warrior is blessed with some type of incredibly powerful attack. Fate/EXTELLA: The Umbral Star also blesses users with a powerful attack. By pressing the (Circle) button, youíre able to unleash an Extella Maneuver. Nice name, right? If you have at least one bar in your Extella Maneuver gauge, located on the bottom left of the screen, youíre free to use this powerful attack at your leisure. If successful, youíll engulf the surrounding enemies in your aura and deal some pretty massive damage to everyone. The more enemies you engulf, the higher the damage inflicted. In addition, you can press the (Circle) button during the Extella Maneuver and deal even more damage at the cost of your Extella Maneuver stock. Just make sure that you actually hit an enemy when you activate it, otherwise youíll have wasted a stock for no reason.

Your servant isnít the only one making an impact on the battlefield. While it may not be direct, youíre character can also make an impact through the use of Code Casts. You can use Code Casts by pressing the Directional Buttons. By equipping a Mystic Code, a master can use Code Casts to support their servants. Mystic Codes alter the type of Code Casts available, so equipping different Mystic Codes will give you access to different Code Casts. You can craft Mystic Codes in My Room by using the craft option. Itís not all about who has the flashiest combos in battle. Sometimes, a well-placed buff or heal may make the all the difference.

Fate/EXTELLA is just the thing for players needing a hack and slash title on the go. Iíd normally expect turn-based titles to flourish on the Vita, but Fate/EXTELLA gives a brilliant showing that heavy combat focus is just as amazing as anything else that the Vita offers. I never realized just how much I wanted a game like this until I got it, and thatís quite an interesting feeling, trust me.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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