|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: GungHo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aksys Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
While most of this gameplay is rather standard, or sad in the case of the brain-dead A.I., I do have to commend HSLT for a few of its gameplay elements. One is the abilities that different weapons can bestow upon their carrier. Each character will have an ability that they can use up to a specific number of times during a match. These can range anywhere from healing a nearby teammate or yourself to boosting a character's movement ability, allowing for more steps to be taken. Since they are limited, you'll really have to think about when to use these abilities, but they definitely come in handy if you make good use of them.
Another thing that HSLT gets right is its combat. Instead of just having one character wail away on another once engaged in battle, each character has its own little army. Players can choose from different formations, each with their own specific strengths and weaknesses, in order to try to take out the opposition. For example, choosing a charge attack will potentially increase the damage you do to an opponent, but it's also less accurate and leaves you more open to damage while the phalanx formation will lessen the amount of damage you deal but will put you in a better defensive position. Even more strategy is added by your ability to target either your main enemy or his soldiers, which seems to be the best course of action most of the time, since it helps to make your real opponent weaker.
Unfortunately, while the rest of the gameplay may work for the most part, and in some cases fairly well, HSLT has one more feature that pretty much breaks the entire experience. I'm speaking of what the game refers to as your Valhalla gauge, which fills the longer you're in battle. Once full, you are granted a super attack that can wipe out an enemy and his entire army when used. Sounds great right? Not so much when your opponents have this ability as well. So, if you are systematically beating the life out of one opponent, but they happen to survive with one hit point and no soldiers, it is very possible that they'll walk up to your strongest unit on their next turn and obliterate them from the map. This gets extremely frustrating very quickly, especially since the scenario I just described isn't exactly an oddity but more of a common occurrence.
While Hero's Saga Laevatein Tactics has a few good things going for it in the gameplay department, the extremely cheap one-hit-kills super moves take much of the enjoyment out of the game. Add this to the terrible A.I., the cookie-cutter RPG storyline and characters, and the host of better SRPGs already available on the DS and there's just not much of a reason to pick up HSLT. However, if you've already played through all of these other titles and don't mind having to replay through several long battles because you get wiped out by some overpowered super moves, then you might get a kick out of the tiny army-based combat. Either way, HSLT should definitely not be high on your list of DS SRPGs to play, but not necessarily at the bottom either.
CCC Staff Contributor