Shadow Hearts series continues to grow and everyone
is invited to come along for the ride. by
17, 2006 - The
Shadow Hearts series continues with this third installment,
From the New World. Count on more quirky characters,
a bizarre storyline that's all over the map and an
intriguing and varied style of gameplay that matches
the outrageous and occasionally incomprehensible storyline.
It expands on the foundation of the original game
with new content and characters but still manages
to retain its familiar charm. The fact that this is
a new game and not necessarily a continuation of the
series makes it accessible to new gamers.
Garland is the young protagonist in the game. After
the death of his father he opens a detective agency
in New York, circa the Great Depression. Here he meets
a strange professor that wants to hire his services
to track down an equally strange man. What Johnny
encounters is a supernatural vortex controlled by
a demon that swallows up humans that have some kind
of connection to this crazy case. Johnny teams up
with an equally young psychic girl named Shania that
has the gift to communicate with spirits and can transform
herself into these powerful spirits. With monsters,
occult references, serial murderers and a healthy
dose of humor, From the New World, takes us on an
adventure that is anything but predictable.
characters include Hilda, a vampire that needs to
feed in order to keep up her powers. Natan is a member
of Shania's tribe that uses a form of combat that
blends Marital Arts and guns called Gun-Fu. Mao is
huge talking cat that uses the "drunken fist"
combat technique, and Frank is an over-the-top Brazilian
ninja that can fashion a sword out of virtually anything.
And speaking of over-the-top, there is a gay duo that
will follow you around selling supplies that you can
purchase with points earned in the game.
level-up through experience points, increasing their
skills, weapons and magic but there are other ways
to increase the various powers of the characters in
your party. Performing various side quests such as
collecting coins and tracking down monsters will upgrade
different and unique combat techniques for each of
the characters. These skills are a little off center
and can't be upgraded through leveling-up. You have
to go off on various tangents to access these missions.
These special upgrades are not a requirement to progress
through the game but they do offer more combat options
and hence, variety. There's enough going on in the
game to not even bother with these side-quests but
they make an excellent excuse to replay the game a
few more times. Once you get familiar with all of
the characters' normal skills, you can replay the
game and add these quirky skills to their abilities,
not to mention the new side quests that you'll open
Judgement Ring makes a return as the main component
to the combat system. The Judgement Ring has a fast
sweeping hand not unlike that of a clock, which circles
around various colored segments arranged within the
circle. To access different actions and moves, you
have to press the X button when the hand moves into
these sections. If you miss, you will lose your turn
or otherwise compromise the strength of your attack.
It takes a good deal of practice to get your timing
down so that you can nail these areas. They are also
dynamic, rewarding you for getting the timing down
perfectly by making your attacks more powerful if
you press the button when the hand moves directly
into the center of a colored section. If you land
to the outside of the intended area your attacks will
be weaker. For those spastic gamers that can't get
the timing down, there are upgrades in the game that
can slow the hand down or increase the size of the
various colored regions.
new feature to the combat system is the Stock Gauge.
Once filled, you can team up with another character
to launch a combined attack that will be two times
as strong as a regular attack. You can also use it
to execute combos or to take away the energy stored
up in an enemy's Stock Gauge. Keep in mind that the
enemy can unleash some combos and double strength
attacks just as you are able to, so you will definitely
want to knock out his Stock Gauge before he gets too
abilities come in the form of Stellars which act like
stars in a constellation. These stars are called nodes
and form a Stellar Chart which are made up of different
Zodiac signs. These charts and nodes can be transferred
to different characters to help upgrade their magical
abilities. The only character that can't use this
ability is Shania.
can be confusing at times to keep track of all the
characters and their upgrades, as well as their unique
attributes, not to mention all the other features
and elements in the game. Fortunately there are in-game
help menus that will give you immediate assistance
with any problems you may encounter. You can always
call up a particular character's stats to see what
level they are at and what powers and skills they
still require. Later in the game you will have more
trouble with the puzzles than you will with the actual
monsters. These puzzles can be obscure and require
some trial and error. They are essential to solve
if you want to do some dungeon crawling. The dungeons
are a fair size and will relinquish some nice goodies.
maps are huge looking but there are invisible walls
that restrict your ability to explore. The towns are
a little on the small side and function more like
checkpoints than virtual mini-cities. The backgrounds
have nice details, with clean looking textures and
a bare minimum of recycling. A lot of effort was put
into the character models to make them appear different,
not only in looks but in their mannerisms and voice.
The music is good but it does get recycled a little
too much. The sound effects are stock and while there
is a good range of sounds, they are nothing to get
story in, From the New World, may be completely whacked
but it keeps things interesting while adding a lot
of unexpected elements to the gameplay.
trademark Judgment Ring battle system makes a return
with improvements - "Stock System" allowing
players the option of executing a "Combo"
command with a second character or "Double"
command enabling a character to perform two different
actions in one turn.
completely new story and set of new characters will
make the title easily accessible to newcomers of
the series with its unique style and sense of humor.
cast of well-drawn, entertaining characters with
distinct personalities and reappearances by a few
of the series' favorites.
a higher level of realism with easy to navigate,
visually-stunning backgrounds, special lighting
and illumination effects.
production values with dramatic events unfolding
through high quality graphics, CG cut scenes, impressive
sound effects and voiceovers.