This is a turn based strategy/RPG fighting game with a lot of plot. The story is presented as a book with panels containing cartoon fronts which you select to watch / play. As you play out each double spread the page flips over to the next chapter. However, to advance you must watch each clip / complete each battle in sequence.
The battles take place in a variety of surroundings and you fight with a squad you have picked from the men and women you have at your disposal.
Plot / characters:
There is a LOT of plot. To progress through the game you have to watch from six to ten cartoon plot movies before you can battle. This can be frustrating when you first start the game, but stick with it; you soon open up skirmish battles which can be played at any time.
At the start of the game you can only fight with the troops you have on hand, but as the story progresses you become the leader of a squadron, allowing you to pick which soldiers you want under your command. Each soldier will have a different personality and set of traits; some may perform better alone, others need people around to stop them panicking, some like the desert, some are allergic to woodland. There are a lot of these traits to consider when building your squad. You also need to take into account which soldiers like one another and which soldiers should be kept apart. If you are clever with the traits and friendships you have amongst your soldiers you can get them to power up for better damage / defence etc, it you ignore their needs then they can lose damage / defence etc until you pay better attention to what their personality is.
The fighting is turn based but presented in a way which I haven't seen in any game before. At the start of a battle you will be briefed on what your mission and objectives are and then you will pick the soldiers you want to take, placing them on an overhead view map in whatever strategic positions you think would be best.
There are six classes;
Scout (low damage, very long distance runners, moderate constitution),
Sniper (high damage, short distance movers, low constitution),
Shocktrooper (high damage, moderate distance runners, high constitution),
Engineer (low damage, long distance runners, low constitution - special: disarms mines),
Lancer (anti-armour damage, moderate distance runners, moderate constitution),
Tank Commander (high damage, short distance moving, high constitution).
At the beginning of your round you will have a set number of Action Points which are shown across the top of your screen as shields. You will get a base number of AP each round which can be added to by bringing specific characters with you. You can spend you AP moving one character or buy giving Orders (pumping up specific attributes, etc). When you chose a character to move you switch from your overhead map to a first person view. You can move that character around in the environment until their movement bar runs out. If you encounter enemies they will take pot-shots at you until you are past them. Entering into your aim function stops them from shooting at you, but you are then riveted to the spot until your combat is done.
Graphics: Pencilled outlines filled with water colours - very pretty if a little cartoony.
Sound / music / voice acting: Nothing outstanding, but nothing bad either. In first person mode the characters had little catch phrases like "I'll do my best" and "I'm gonna get you now!"
Camera angles: No problems with the camera, you can rotate it in first person to see around corners or over obstacles.
Playability / diversity: Despite the lengthy waits between fights with the main plot line, the game play itself is very addictive. I enjoyed it enough that I intend to replay it through at some point.
Ease / length: The game is relatively easy once you get the hang of it, some of the skirmishes I worked out a method of completing in one to three turns, but each new fight gave new difficulties which needed to be worked out, so new battles can take a while all the way up to the end. You can always play skirmish missions to work out kinks in your technique and get XP / cash for levelling up your troops and gear.
Save points: You can save during the book mode, but you can also save during combat - something I didn't notice until I was half way through the story line.
Gore rating: There is no real gore in the game making it completely child friendly. Apart from the fact that you're killing people there's no real reason for it being a 16+!
Bugginess: I found no bugs during my play through.
Replay-ability: Pretty high. I certainly intend to have another run through of it. You can return to any mission you particularly enjoyed or play skirmish missions at any time.
Comparison: There's nothing on the market that I have found that plays in the same manner as this game, however, I would compare this game to Final Fantasy for it's lengthy plot and turn based style of fighting.
This is a great game which has a unique style of fighting, combining tactical placement of units with first person fighting. I really enjoyed this and I hope very much they bring a sequel out on the PS3 and don't just relegate the title to the PSP. Highly recommended!