I bought this game last week and absolutely love it. I've gotten addicted to it and cannot put it down. The bulk of the game is doing missions and work for various kingdoms as they wage war against each other. As your mercenary group expands and rises in rank and fame you unlock story missions that flesh out the story, grant you extra members for your party, and leveling exp.
For achievement seekers, the achievements are very easy to obtain, 90% being unlocked for recruiting all the various ex-generals in their respective missions. The difficulty can come in spikes, more-so with forced story missions after various X-factors have been achieved. The game will also keep you on your toes as whenever the AI fight each other, the losing kingdom has chance to be instant destroyed; leading to a 2nd or 3rd playthrough for the small group of special characters.
For a 360 game, the graphics can leave something to be desired. The character models are a bit "plushie doll" like, but do not detract from the overall experience. The music is fairly decent, mostly reminding me of tunes from DBZ and Sonic video games. The battlefield maps are somewhat bland and overused, but grid-like turn based games are not really known for 5-star vistas.
Outside of an opening theme video, a short film clip at start of new games, and flashy (and albiet awesome) cinematic on characters "Final Specials" skills, the entire game is mostly text and dialouge ala Fire Emblem.
The battle system is turn based, grid tile combat. Each character has 3 specials they can learn. Various chest and wooden boxes are scattered across maps to give smithy materials used to upgrade weapons, craft equipment and skills. Each character can wear one piece of armor, two accessories, 3 tech skills (HP up, stat boost, next attack never miss, etc), and 3 specials (restricted by weapons). All of your equipment takes up CP, which is an item limit that grows as you level allowing stronger armor and more powerful techs and specials.
Combat utilizes a light, medium, and heavy attack system. Each character has 7 action point bars: Move-1, Light Atk-1, Med Atk-2, Heavy Atk-3. Skills require no AP, but use SP aka mana pool. Specials take 1 bar and SP per use. All of this is linked to a combo system that utilizes an accuracy system. 4 Light Atks will give higher chance to smash an enemy with Heavy Atk. All heavy attacks, mostly weapons, have effect such as Knockdown/Back, Lifting in air, slamming down from air, etc. Knockback will do extra damage as enemies are flung into walls, trees, rocks and other obstacles.
The 2nd main character, Diaz, give party access to a teamwork/assist system that can extend combos, increase damage, and provide many tactical options. Friendship gauge is filled up by Diaz's Alert ability and allows party members to assist each other with additional attacks and Teamwork which allows a character(s) free full turns to act, leading to tremendously long and damaging combos. It can also be filled by regular attacks, albeit slower then using Diaz Alert.
Further in story you unlock Battle Formation gauge that has 4 levels. Teamwork/Assist slowly fill up the gauge. 5pts for assist, 10 for Teamwork. Every 25pts of Formation fills a level up the bar, giving access to 4 different formation attacks that grow stronger as Diaz levels up. When a level is charged up, characters unlock a BF option that has all 6 party members unleash an ultimate attack on target dealing damage depending how maxed out the bar is. The negative of this system is if a party member dies, Battle Formation is unusable(needing all 6 members), and if Diaz is defeated, assist and teamwork are not accessible.
The finale aspect of combat is elemental portals that appear on the battlefield. Standing on these grant various buffs depending on the color. A few are HP recovery each turn, SP each turn (both possible party wide), Friendship bar increase, etc. They are also linked to Diaz's specials. Standing on a portal allows him access to his earth magic that when well placed/surrounded, can strike A LOT of enemies.
The above 3 paragraphs are also explained by party members :).
Overall the game is very fun. Graphics and music can be better but very fast grow on you. A myriad of characters to recruit and A TON of missions for both story and each kingdom make for a lengthy and at times random game experience. The character art is gorgeous, voice acting for each character is very well done (many are voices from various anime), and difficulty and battle system is a steady curve that only spikes a handful of times (more-so if impatient/split up forces/rambo).
If you like games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, Tactics Ogre, etc.....definitely give this game a try.
Length of ownership: 1 week
No: I don’t recommend this product