Jeanne d'Arc Review
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Jeanne d'Arc is a great tactical game from Level 5 that is probably going to sneak under the radar of most gamers. With its tight interface, unique character abilities, and underused setting, this game should definitely interest any tactical fans out there.
- Tried and true tactics system.
- Good variety of equipment and skills.
- Interesting take on a legendary story.
- Nothing excitingly new as far as the tactics genre is concerned.
- Bobble-headed character models may not appeal to serious players.
- Small battle groups in most missions.
Ever wonder what it would have been like to balk authority in medieval France, and lead a religious revolution? Well, now you have the opportunity in the new tactical RPG from same great developers who brought us Dark Cloud. Jeanne d’Arc places players in control of the legendary battle maid, as she leads her friends and followers against orcs, gnolls, monsters, and English oppression.
The story opens with Jeanne and friends enjoying the fruits of a successful harvest at their village festival. Jeanne leaves to visit a nearby church, where she happens upon a dying knight. The knight bequeaths a sword and magic armlet to Jeanne, just as his attackers show up to finish the job. As Jeanne turns to face the monstrous attackers, she notices that they are lead by an English soldier. It is at this point that we have to pleasure of diving headfirst into a remarkably well done tactical RPG.
Combat follows the tried and tested method of most tactical RPGs. Battles take place in settings ranging from sequester churches and forests to French hamlets and even capital cities. A grid map appears over each level, allowing characters to see just how far they can move, as well as indicating what areas certain special abilities will affect. Each side of the conflict takes turns moving all of their characters in whatever sequence they wish. Characters may move twice, but can only move once if they wish to attack. Each level or mission has specific requirements for its completion, ranging from destroying all enemies to making siege and gaining access to certain areas, or making it to an escape point within a certain amount of time.
Characters in Jeanne d’Arc gain experience and level up as they progress through the game. With each level, characters gain bonuses to a number of different attributes that contribute to their effectiveness in combat, total Hit Points and Magic Points, and their ability to cast spells. Characters gain experience in a number of different ways. Each successful attack or use of a magical ability or skill grants the user a modest sum of experience, which is then in turn modified by a couple of different factors. For instance, if the target of an attack is a higher level than the character, more points are awarded. Similarly, if the target is lower level, then fewer points are received. Causing the deathblow to an individual also grants a higher sum of experience points to be bestowed upon the lucky warrior who lands this critical hit. Characters also gain experience points just for being involved in a battle, and are awarded for their efforts upon the completion of the level.
Skills, Spells and Special abilities are handled in Jeanne d’Arc in much the same way they are in other tactical RPGs. Similar to the critically acclaimed Final Fantasy Tactics, skills and magic spells are accessible to characters through the use of equip-able items and stones. These stones grant the user access to the spell or ability they contain, requiring only an open slot to be equipped in and a modest amount of magic points. This system enhances replay quite a bit, as you will often find these stones left behind by vanquished enemies. This, along with experience points, gives greater reason to replay levels the player has already conquered. More levels, more equipment, more skills. Definitely a win-win situation.
As players progress through the single player storyline, more map locations become available for exploration. Each location contains an initial encounter which propels the story forward, as well as rewarding the player for their efforts. Additionally, these areas can often be re-visited. Upon returning to the site of a previous battle, the player will often find more monsters and other enemies lurking about. This provides a perfect system for leveling up characters and gaining additional equipment for use in those tough battles that we have all run in to.
Over the course of the campaign, many characters flock to Jeanne banner and become part of her Retinue of warriors. Although players initially only have access to Jeanne herself, within a few levels she is joined by many more characters, each with their own personalities and abilities. Once your cast of characters reaches a certain roster size, you won’t normally be able to use everyone in a battle. The average party ... (continued on next page)
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