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Throughout the campaign you'll always be running against the clock. You have a limited window of time to save humanity before the aliens take over completely. Successful missions only set them back slightly. Unsuccessful missions set you back significantly. It always feels like you're in an uphill struggle and failing means the end. It always feels like you're not gaining an advantage and the aliens have something else in store. This is reinforced in the missions. You never know what type of aliens there will be or what their reinforcements will bring. Encountering new species makes you fear for the well-being of your squad. It's rare for a game to keep you feeling like this. See More
One of the main aspects of XCOM 2 is preparing your squad for each mission. You need to consider the terrain, objective, and enemy types. Based on these you'll select the appropriate soldiers, weapons, and gadgets. A lot of the missions have some leeway, so you'll be able to form a squad that fits your playstyle. It can either be a group of stealthy rangers, running in with machetes to surprise the enemy. Or it can be a group sharpshooters, allowing you to systematically clear the area from afar with sniper rifles. After each successful mission/kill your soldiers will earn experience. With enough experience you'll be able to promote them and earn learn new skills. You can also research new weapons and build them. A lot of it comes down to looting alien technology and reverse engineering it back at the base. All these things add up and it's really exciting watching your soldiers grow into unstoppable killing machines. See More
One of the more fun parts about this game is managing your squad. You can customize the looks, voices, and even names of your soldiers. As you take your soldiers on missions you'll get attached to them. This will create a lot of tense moments when your soldiers are about to die and you desperately try to save them. If you decide to input the names of your friends or family, multiply the tension by ten. See More
Valkyria Chronicles features an expertly-crafted, turn-based combat system, where you control only a few characters in each battle. You are often against greater numbers, so tactics play a huge part in this game. The combat system is called BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones). You view an overhead map of the combat area and can control each character individually. There are a plethora of options with each character: repositioning to have a better attack capability, taking cover, using special abilities or items, or simply attacking. These actions are limited by the AP gauge, so you'll have to pay close attention to how much you can do in a single turn. Each character also has their own class, so you'll also have to plan around their strengths and weaknesses. Some are better at moving, some are better at shooting, but most of them are defined by their special abilities and stat modifiers. See More
This game features a soundtrack composed by Hitoshi Sakamoto (known for his work on FFT and FFXII). The orchestra music makes you feel various emotions at the right times. It's a mix of melancholy, hope, and also fear. Some of the songs make you feel even more tense than the battles themselves. See More
Even though Banner Saga 2’s turn-based combat system is fairly straightforward. You and your opponent take turns in moving and attacking with units on a tactical grid. Each unit has its strengths, weaknesses, and set of unique abilities that you need to consider. For example, archers can attack from far away but they have low armor, so you can’t leave them out in the open. Another example are the Varl, very durable and strong melee units that occupy 4 tiles as opposed to 1. This makes it trickier to position them since more enemies can stand next to them and attack them. This creates combat that is not too simple but still has enough variety and strategy involved to feel rewarding. See More
A unit's current number of hit points equals the damage it will deal to an enemy. Because of this, the best strategy is always to hit all enemy units in a sequence, so they inflict as little damage as possible. Any other strategy is too risky and can backfire way too easily, limiting your creativity. See More
Banner Saga 2 environments, characters, and animations are all hand-drawn. This includes your caravan as it marches over a snowy hill, passing trees and houses in the distance. The various viking-esque soldiers, centaurs and other mythological creatures, swinging axes and thrusting spears on a worn out bridge. Even the very detailed character sprites as they discuss matters with extremely serious expressions. Everything just feels like you’re watching an animated movie, which is something almost never encountered in a game. See More
To get a full and satisfying story, you’ll have to play the entire Banner Saga trilogy. Banner Saga 2 on its own feels like you’ve suddenly started reading a book from the middle. There are a lot of characters you know very little about, making it hard to understand their motivations. The on-going events are not explained fully. Even the ending is not a satisfying conclusion but just a setup for the next arc. See More
Tactical RPGs can be really intimidating, especially if you're just starting out. The tutorials often blaze forward, causing you to miss important mechanics. Luckily, Banner Saga 2 tries to alleviate this by adding a trainer NPC who will give you challenges. These involve performing various combat exercises, helping you to solidify your understanding of the game and even learn something new. See More
Final Fantasy Type-0 isn't afraid to show what war is really about and how it affects the world without glorifying anything. You play as a gifted group of military academy students called "Class Zero", and despite their youth, they manage to see through some pretty horrific things, like the true evil and sadism of the evil empire taking over the world one country at a time. The very beginning of the game shows the more violent and depressing aspects of war, hooking you in on an emotional level. It's a surprisingly mature story, especially if you're a fan of Final Fantasy, since the series typically doesn't go this far into gritty realism. See More
There are some time management details that you have to deal with. While at the academy, you can choose what you'd like to do in between major missions, but these activities all take up a certain amount of time. Heading out to the world map to explore takes up a handful of hours, regardless of how long you actually spend out in the open, while spending time with your teammates and getting to know them better only takes a couple of hours. This mechanic essentially makes it impossible to see everything in a single playthrough, since you have to sort your priorities and go with whatever's most efficient. See More
There are over a dozen playable characters that you can choose from to fight on your squad. They all have a range of different personality types, fighting styles, and specialized weapons to choose from. You can pretty much bring along anyone you want for most missions; if your preferred characters are all spellcasters or sword-users, you can take them with you just because you like them as characters and not miss out on anything. Even though some characters devolve into tropes, for the most part, they're all quite likable and well-rounded. See More
Sometimes, the large cast of characters ends up working against the story. A good number of them are fleshed out well, but others are just there for the sake of being there, or they're so poorly-written that you may forget that they exist. The worst ones have awful cliches as their central personality traits, like the dumb brute or borderline damsel in distress. It's irritating and cheapens the story as a whole. See More
The real-time fights in Final Fantasy Type-0 are fun because of how quick and chaotic they are. You bring along a small squad with you for missions with everyone's different fighting styles at your disposal, though even the characters with heavy-hitting weapons are still agile enough. Targeting enemies and firing off lightning-fast combos of magic spells or physical hits feels satisfying. It gets even more intense once you're on some of the game's important, story-heavy missions with critical objectives and high-stakes. The combat is overall incredibly engaging and doesn't get old. See More
It's hard to get away from how bad the graphics look. Since this is a remaster of a handheld game from 2011, there was only so much the devs could do to improve things without fully remaking Type-0 from scratch. The main characters look okay, but environments and non-important characters have sloppy textures that make it obvious they didn't get the same special treatment. It's jarring when one of your main party members is in a cutscene with a less important character, and your party member has better graphics and detail than the other person. This unfortunately happens a lot throughout the game. See More
There's tons to do in between main story missions. The world is sizable enough with plenty to do during your free time. You can take on side quests to help liberate other towns and cities, go dungeon crawling and take down powerful monsters, or just hang around the military academy and talk to your classmates to get to know them better. More activities also open up as you progress through the story as a way to change things up from the usual combat. See More
The story hardly makes any sense on its own, and on top of that, the game expects you to play through multiple times to figure things out. With all the terminology and mythos that's so poorly explained, you might find yourself getting lost right from the beginning, struggling just to keep up as the story goes on. There's a bunch of lore that you can find outside the game through other media, but if you don't go looking for it, you won't be able to fully get what's going on. But the worst part is that the endings you can get on your first playthrough don't really explain much of anything, so you have to play through again if you want to have any basic comprehension of how the plot wraps itself up. See More
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