Fate/Extra's greatest strength is to be found in its plot. It manages to make a situation about survival feel both elating and depressing at the same time. You find yourself to be a rather weak master entered into a tournament in order to gain control of the Holy Grail and are matched up against much stronger opponent's throughout. You'll often find yourself elated at your own survival, but heavily torn about the taking of another master's life since the game works to establish them as actual characters even if you only have a few interactions with them over the course of a week.
The game also features a lot of mature themes and dark tones that are blended together extremely well to add to the plot's impact. This nature follows the story through out with the ending being both saddening and hopeful at the same time. I won't go into details in order to avoid spoilers, but I did find it to be a fitting end considering all that we learn throughout the course of the Holy Grail War.
The Achilles' heel of this game is the gameplay to be honest. Whether it be the relatively simple nature of the combat to need to run around the school of exploring all of the rooms in order to advance the narrative successfully. The game is just simplistic in its design and this tends to be a massive failure for the combat system in particular.
The combat in this game is broken down into turns comprised of six rounds apiece. For each of the rounds you'll need to select Attack, Break Guard, Skill, or Code Cast. The Attack, Break, and Guard are comparable to Scissor, Paper, and Rock in terms of abilities with Attack beating Break, Break beating Guard, and Guard beating Attack. In contrast the skills will successfully land a hit regardless if you choose to Attack, Break, or Guard, but can be defeated with a specific code cast. Of course, the biggest difference between Code Cast and Skills is that Skills are a servant ability and take up an entire round slot while a master performs a Code Cast leaving the servant free to choose its own move for the round slot as well. Sadly, while this simple system may have worked in a shorter game the total play time of Fate/Extra is much longer so the simplistic nature of combat begins to drag it down for most players.
Outside of combat you have the camera which is auto-positioned while your in the school, but can be freely rotated while in the arena in order to prepare for the elimination battle. This is sort of a weird decision in my mind, but it works well enough I guess.
Graphically speaking the game feels rather lazy to be honest. Most of the characters in this game are rather generic looking NPCs that don't stand out and most of the regular enemies are reused three or four times at least. It makes the game feel like it needed more work in order to include additional regular enemies and spice up the school with a few more unique looking characters even if we aren't going to fight them in the tournament.
Outside of the repetition I found the female master's shoes to go through rather interesting color shifts throughout the game ranging from white shoes with red markings to dark brown.
Sound wise Fate/Extra is a bit of an oddball for a U.S. release since it features the original Japanese audio with English subtitles. This is a rather odd design decision in my opinion, but the original cast seems competent enough, but it would have been nice to have an option to listen to an English dub as well.
While, I can forgive the game for sticking with the original Japanese audio as a cost saving measure I find the lack of background music to be rather disturbing. Most of what we do get is rather nice, but the game seems to only have a few tracks to work with for the entire game and the constant repetition of certain tracks grow old after a while. This especially applies to the background music for regular enemy encounters and running around in the arena. You'll hear these tracks constantly and wish the developers had at least changed the song up a little bit between each of the in-game weeks.
The game does offer a few things in terms of replay value. The game includes three levels of difficulty and at least two endings. The game also has you go up against different masters depending on which path you take at a pivotal point during the story. I've also been told that the dialogue changes a bit as well for every servant in each of the weeks so if you want to experience every possible conversation in this game you'll need to play it at least six times. And, I almost forgot this game does include a secret boss that is only accessible on a file that is marked as new game+.
Lasting Appeal: 6
I chose caster as my first servant. I love Tamamo no Mae soo much shes soo cute and adorable its intoxicating! The story line is great and for barely gettin into the series at the time i loved the different take on it. especially the battle system and maps. The Ancient Heroes were pretty sweet too. And taiga's lil side quests were entertaining :D. I loved decorating the room. The graphics are great too. I liked the enemies and it was a bummer when some of em disappeared. I really liked the ending it was kind of a shocker for me that the experience for my character would end there. But i wont forget how amazing this playthrough was. Even the sequel to it is gorgeous given its a heavens feel route for the girlies in game :D! and that girugamesh is even playable in the 2nd game and they alll have their own costumes!!!! the room decorations and the relationships you can have with them were great, along with the different endings. This game over all is one of the best games i bought. Thank youuuuu Gamestop. I give this a 20 outa 10 holy grails.
Some elements I shouldn't like, but I like anyway.
As with other reviewers I will applaud the story. The major battles are more than just bosses you don't care about, they become real characters and I began sympathizing with them after each win. It really makes you question your motivations for fighting, which is not an issue in almost every other RPG. Many people criticize the combat system but I found it rather enjoyable. There is a lot of depth to come out of such a simple mechanic (Rock, Paper, Scissors). I sometimes find myself thinking that I should probably hate the combat system, but I can't because it was done rather well. Another element I found myself liking in spite of myself is the music (which reminds me of elevator music). I also liked the graphics, especially in battle. The battle animations really make it feel like you are accomplishing something. One thing I really don't like is the rather steep drop off for XP when you reach the higher end of the level range for an area, which means grinding takes a long time if you want to be high enough level for the major battles.
Amazing story, worst game play ever seen
I typically don't write reviews. I've been playing games since 1984. All of them, all genres. This is the first game that I felt compelled to write a bad review on, because I just can't let it go. Fate/Extra has one of the best story lines in a psp game (outside of Persona, Crisis Core, Star Ocean). However this game has the WORST battle system i've ever seen invented for a game in the history of gaming. Couple that with the fact that you can't save while grinding, and can be killed off of bad RNG, setting you back hours of game play, its pointless and sad. Most will trudge through it like good little soldiers that enjoy the story and are sadists at nature. (I suppose I am one too then). Bottom line, save yourself days of disappointment and frustration and watch the anime and never ever get this game. If you're a hardcore fan of the Anime then that might ease the pain of how pitifully bad the game play is.
Great story, really boring gameplay
When I play an RPG, I have one thing in mind: the narative. Many people are interested in things like gameplay and whatever extras come with the game (card battle systems come to mind). However, I want to feel attached to the characters; to feel like they do. I want a moving experience. I remember the flurry of emotions when Hiro first encountered Lucia in Lunar: Eternal Blue. I remember the feeling of being truly alone when playing Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter as the hero is shunned by the society he comes from. Now, I got that experience when I watched Fate/Stay Night. The lingering heaviness of a bittersweet farewell involved in the ending was a powerful thing.
I came into Fate/Extra expecting the same sort of feeling. They weren't on the same level for me. I wasn't expecting the classes to be the same people as from the anime but I was expecting some deeper interactions than I was given. The story was well written (perhaps a bit too abstract in some places and hand-holdy in others). However, the narative (all of the elements of the game that contribute to the story; not just the writing) was just so empty. Combat was slow, cumbersome, and unavoidable. There were so many times that I found myself dodging enemies just so I wouldn't have to fight again - not because my health was low but because I was bored. The sound for the game wasn't bad but I wouldn't call it "inspired" in any way.
The graphics, on the other hand, are pretty darn good for the psp. The environments ranged from blah to rich and an unholy level of awesome. However, the enemies were commonly pallet swaps from previous floors. So, if your goal is to experience a good story, this is a good game. But if you need the compete experience: excellent mechanics and a firm grasp on how to drag the player in (kicking and screaming if necessary) to a rich and lush environment, you'll want to look elsewhere.
OK if you know what to expect
This is a RPG with quite a bit of "visual novel" and "dating sim" elements.
So only get this if the fact that the game is very text-heavy. does not turn you off
The nice thing is If you get tired of certain aspects of the story, you can just skip conversations with triangle. If you missed something you can review with square.
it's a pretty good game.
all and all i'm not a huge fan of the game, but they did a great job on it.