|By Charlie Goodrich||Tuesday, 13 Apr 2010|
If you enjoy a good tactical RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics then Jeanne d’Arc shouldn’t be passed up. While the graphics and gameplay won’t win any awards, the way the story intertwines actual events with fantasy is something to be experienced. History doesn’t often play a part in video games. There are of course many first person shooters based on the events of World War II and the game Carmen Santiago which uses historical facts as clues, but in the grand scheme of gaming, history doesn’t usually form the basis for a game. However, basing a tactically RPG on the military life of Joan of Arc was an interesting idea and one I wanted to explore. Jeanne d’Arc (the French way of spelling her name) retells the basic events of the Hundred Years’ War while taking some liberties of course. The story of Jeanne d’Arc revolves around the true events of the Hundred Years’ War fought between the French and English around the 14th century. The story begins when the British attack Jeanne’s hometown and she must defend her family and friends. In order to fight, Jeanne
utilizes a mysterious power locked inside an armlet she discovered. The armlet allows her to transform into a powerful knight thus increasing her stats dramatically. Regardless of her power, the English succeed in burning down the town. Jeanne and her two friends decide to exact revenge on the
English and set out to defeat them. The game progresses in chapters with eight in total. Throughout the game more people join your cause and believe (as Jeanne does) that God is speaking to her through the armlet. You eventually learn that the armlets were forged to combat demons who tried to conquer the world in years pervious. These demons have taken control of young King Henry of England and are trying once again to rule the world. I’m not an authority on the Hundred Years’ War but I am fairly certain these are the liberties that Level 5 took when creating this story. I enjoyed how this story unraveled. The pacing was smooth and there were some twists thrown in that added to how I felt towards some characters. I enjoy when a game that is able to create depth in characters and mold your feelings for them over the long run. I also liked that there are some characters you play as or against that are taken directly from this time period. The story gets a thumbs up from me for playing out well and was being able to keep my interest. At first glace the battle system comes across as the standard for tactical games, but when you look closer you realize there is more to it than meets the eye. Each character has a definite class. So if you bring an archer or mage along you better make sure to keep them back and protected or they will get slaughtered. It is also important to make sure you sides and backs are protected. This is because you gain a bonus for attacking the enemy’s sides or back rather than head on. Something else you need to be aware of are the armlets. You need charge their power which usually means three or four turns before you can use them. Each armlet (there are five in total) can be used a limited time in battle, and it is necessary for almost every battle to use them. Therefore, you have to activate them at the right time to ensure a battle doesn’t become a headache. Employing the best strategy can be thought provoking at times especially when you start a battle surrounded and you have to scatter your troops about. I liked the amount of attention you had to give each battle. It reminded me of Fire Emblem, only not as crucial. It is also important to equip your troops to their needs. Each character has slots where you can equip gems. These gems let you use special attacks, spells, or abilities. If your character is mainly a melee fighter than equipping him/her with spells isn’t a good idea, but giving him some nice special attacks and an ability gem that increases his health would be smart. At a certain point in the game you gain the ability to fuse two gems together to try and create new gems. These gems are important for gaining stronger attacks and spells, as well as, better abilities. To sum up the battle system, the foundation is similar to other tactical RPGs but there are some unique aspects that you will have to learn to succeed in this game. The music and sound in Jeanne d’Arc are both adequate. I wish they would have created more of a soundtrack for this game. The songs you hear in this game are good and I caught myself at times humming along. However, there is a lack of music. The same tunes are recycled constantly which takes away from the game a little. By the end of the game I turned the sound off because I got tired of hearing the same thing repeated. The voice acting is a little better than the music. The actors did a good job but I’ve heard the same quality voice acting in many other games. It fails to stand out aside from the French accents everyone has. The graphics in Jeanne d’Arc offer a neat style but don’t have any “wow” factor. The characters look like bobble heads. Their bodies are much smaller than their heads. I liked how they appeared. It seemed appropriate for a handheld system. I was really impressed with the world map. In between missions you can roam the world and visit shops or battle monsters to level up. The coloring on the map was beautiful. It was vibrant and detailed well. It may seem like a small thing to notice but compared to the rest of the game it was impressive. The cut scenes are short anime movies. They look like your run-of-the-mill anime movies, nothing to write home to Mom about. While the graphics never standout as something to behold,
they work well. After all, it’s an RPG so the graphics don’t need to be cutting edge. If you own a PSP and are looking for an RPG to hack through I would recommend Jeanne d’Arc. The story presentation is wonderful, the battles engaging and fun, and it is easy to pick up and put down. This isn’t a terribly long game either. If you choose to skip the side quests you could beat this in about 30-40 hours. If you want to do everything you’ll spend about 60 hours total playing. There are also different paths you can choose when playing so this game has replay value if you want to get different characters or see different locations. This game has a lot to offer RPG fans and/or history buffs.