Posted: December 18
It's probably worth my while mentioning the reason I first purchased this game (on Xbox, originally): some of the best slash writers in my reading list were writing really interesting stuff about the characters, and I wanted to get the original context.
Basically, this game is best played for the story and the interplay between the characters. The animation, frankly, is as clunky as all get-out - it's best played after playing something like Final Fantasy VII or VIII (the original PS versions if you can get them) as something of a palate cleanser if you're a real graphics junkie (or you could go the whole hog and just play Angband or a similar text-based RPG as a starter). The battle system is different - it's turn-based (as with the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series), but instead of making decisions about each individual fighter's actions, you're issuing commands to groups of fighters (and they will perform their actions based on your command). You don't get access to every possible command - instead, you're choosing from a limited list - between six to eight options most of the time, narrowing down to about two or three when things get really nasty. If you're a gameplay or a graphics fan, this probably isn't the game for you.
If, like me, you're interested in story and worldbuilding, however, this game is *brilliant*. The world is complex and well-realised, and it's fun to be sitting down and figuring out the back-story and the background politics. The story is fascinating, and if you're a slash fan, it is a hoot how slashtastic the interaction between Rush and David (pronounced Dah-veed) turns out to be at times - and the slashtastic moments start very early on in the game. The art is marvellously detailed, the backgrounds are glorious, and the characters are wonderfully created. In many ways, I get the sense they spent so much time and effort on creating the story and the artwork that when it came time to add the animation and the gameplay, they'd almost run through the budget. This resulted in very unrealistic movement (it's almost as though their animation models were puppets on strings - it is *very* Thunderbirds movement at times) and a lot of skimped details in the FMV scenes (the one which sticks in my head is one scene where Rush is sitting on a bed... and because the bed isn't animated at all, it stays a rigid rectangular shape. All I could think is "that has to be hell on the back").
It's almost a pity, in a way, they didn't put the same amount of time and effort into animating their artwork that they did into crafting it. The voice actors do their best (although if you're familiar with British accents at all, you'll notice Lord David's accent keeps sneaking off toward Sarf Lunnon when he isn't watching) but really, given they're trying to effectively make wooden dolls live, their best has a limited effect.
As I said earlier: if you really need good animation and good gameplay to make a storyline live for you, this probably isn't the game for you. If, on the other hand, you're a big fan of complex worldbuilding, interesting characters, and a fascinating plot, you'll probably be able to find enjoyment in the game despite the rather wooden movement.