Vandal Hearts - Review

Another fine konami RPG.

By: Paddy Murphy

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 8
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 9
   Plot 8
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 6
   Difficulty Medium to Hard
   Time to Complete

40-50 hours



   Vandal Hearts is one of those RPG's which takes years off of your life. I was on a holiday in France when my friend pointed this game out to me. I bought it straight away without even knowing what it was, because it was by the same developers as Suikoden. What I got was a surprise.

   Vandal Hearts is a strategy RPG, along the lines of Front Mission, or Final Fantasy Tactics. But long before FFT was sitting on my shelf, there was this little beauty. It is a turn based RPG, where you control a certain number of characters on a 3D battle map. Between battles you navigate via a number of menus and maps.

   The battle system is the core of the game. The fights are too enjoyable, you want to go back and do them again. And again. Your menu consists of things such as move, attack, defend, magic, item and the usual. But what makes the game so great is that after a while you can upgrade your character into a number of different character classes. These classes range from guardsmen, who have massive defense and attack, but awful speed, to wingmen, who have astounding speed but almost no defense. This makes the game as you can balance the arny whatever way you want. You can have a speedy army, a powerful army, or a mixture. It's really quite fantastic.

   The menus are good. As you'll be staring at them for a large portion of the game, I guess they have to be. Easy to navigate and good looking.

Burn, baby, burn!
Burn, baby, burn!  

   On a musical scale, Vandal Hearts isn't as good as it should have been. It has some nice dittys, but nothing memorable, or fantastic. Sound effects are great though. Plenty of grunts and gurgles, as well as weapon clings-and-clangs.

   As far as originality goes Vandal Hearts gets my vote. Very original gameplay, as well as an intriuging plot, with plenty of twists and loops. The depth of the customisation reflects in your characters image, and feelings, giving you a closer bond to them. Something not in a lot of RPG's.

   The localization, as with all Konami RPG's ain't so great. Plenty of incoherent lines and bad translations. But this doesn't take too much from the story.

   The plot is very well thought out. Three friends, Ash, Clint and Diego are all members of a special knighthood. An imperial general, Magnus, goes missing on an island down south. The government believes he is planning a coup and sends Ash, Clint, and Diego to investigate. On your journey you'll meet an egotistical maniac, Kain, who is leader of the rival group of knights, The Crimson Guard. You'll also meet a seedy politician, a demi-god, and a scared and confused little boy.

   Now Vandal Hearts loses out big time here. It doesn't have a lot of reply value; the only thing to keep you going back after finishing it are the special keys. Get them all and you'll get the real ending. But other than that, you'll throw it on the shelf for a long time before picking it up again.


   As far as Visuals go, Vandal hearts is an early PSX title, so graphics aren't that great, but they do what they need to. Characters develop into various costumes, etc. when you change their class.

Vandal Hearts may seem a little dated to certain people, but inside there is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, with an original battle system and plot. But whatever you do, don't get the sequel. They ruined it.

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