|System: X360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 21, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
As far as interacting with NPCs goes, you can stop into taverns and poke locals for info. However, there's really little of value they have to offer, and if anything, it's just another unnecessary aspect of the game that makes Flames of Judgment feel a bit cheap.
In spite of my criticisms of the game, it's still a very competent SRPG with hours and hours of content. It doesn't offer the type of story or gameplay variety that makes it a fun option for long bouts of play, but it's certainly good for a skirmish here and there.
On the production front, the game's definitely a bit of a disappointment. The visual style isn't particularly interesting, and the chibi-esque character models seem to be at odds with some of the more mature content: blood geysers, harsh language, and some seriously heavy-handed lines of dialogue. The real issues I had with the game's presentation, though, are of a technical nature. Flames of Judgment does precious little to take advantage of the power of the hardware, and having the camera locked to the grid of each battlefield posed many problems when trying to map out a decent strategy. You can move the camera to one of four positions, but environmental objects often obscure the view.
On the upside, the feedback the game gives you while playing is really entertaining. The music is nothing special, but the sound effects and controller rumble add a surprising level of excitement to what would otherwise be a fairly dry gameplay experience. I'm not one to ask for gore for gore's sake, but defeating enemies in this game is always viscerally satisfying. The voice work during cutscenes also isn't half bad, though again, some of the hammed-up voice blurbs during battle don't seem to match up well with the serious nature of the story.
Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment is pretty much your typical SRPG affair. There are a handful of elements tossed into the mix that give the game a subtle waft of freshness, but it's solely something for those jonesing to play this type of game on their console. Like boxed wine, you get a lot of product on the cheap, but don't expect the taste to be great. The production values get the job done - nothing more, nothing less. Though the overall adventure isn't at all compelling, the gameplay is fun in small spurts.
CCC Freelance Writer