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Shadow Hearts From the New World (PlayStation 2) artwork

Shadow Hearts From the New World (PlayStation 2) review


"Weíre here to take your pornography and sodomize our vast imaginations "



Weíre here to take your pornography and sodomize our vast imaginations

I remember a couple years ago I made a blind purchase towards a not so well known franchise called Shadow Hearts: Covenant. And while most of those gambles tend to blow up in my face, this one didnít. It was, and still kind of is, Playstationís best-kept little secret. Without the reviews of Dragon Quest or the huge marketing budget of Final Fantasy, Shadow Hearts takes the back light. But much like Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the hidden gem amidst cartoon networks massive schedule and aptly promoted Japanime, Shadow Hearts is Sonyís wonderful little dark horse. New World is no different.

I got a curse for you, itís called ďtomorrow morning your ass is outta hereĒ.

Iíll be the first to admit that, even though I raved about it, Covenant was overbearing at times and it didnít make much sense. There you had a rather dark and brooding game that centered on a character that did way too much pining, an incredibly sorrowful storyline and an overabundance of grief. Not to mention crazy antics and zany characters were thrown in at inopportune times just so you didnít walk away from the game feeling like you had just been diagnosed with cancer of the puppy.

That is where New World differs. It still has the crazy antics and the outrageous characters like Frank the Ninja (Iíd still love to see an actual, real-life rain forest ninja or one even named Frank for that matter) but itís not partnered up with a tale that could make Memento look sunshiny.

South Bronx Paradise Baby!

The atmosphere, for one, has changed. Rather than in the middle of a gruesome world war, New world takes place in America during the 1920ís, a fast paced, care free time in history. No more dark alleyways and wore-torn streets, instead you roam around a bustling Times Square, an uncorrupted Hollywood and a gorgeous Grand Canyon that has yet to see modernization or tourism. The gameís environment gives you a great sense of its light-hearted nature and the rest just follows.

Johnny--the gameís cow-licked main character--runs a detective agency whose primary source of income is finding missing cats. Sounds like a simple life to me. But after an odd case and a strange meeting, everything falls into Johnnyís lap. Yes, I know that most games start off with an innocent character suddenly thrust into a world of danger and catastrophic elements and although New World follows along that same formula it manages to steer clear of the main character having a crisis of conscience or of pointless cut-scenes where the characters find themselves and push on to ďdo the right thingĒ. Johnny takes most of it in stride and drives forward for the most of the game because A. Heís got a sense of adventure and a sense of humor and B. Shania--the games female counterpart with a stern sense of duty--has a really, really nice body. Remember, Johnnyís still a kid. And if he has the choice of going back to his normal life or bounding around with a gorgeous, white-haired native American girl what do you think he would decide? The same thing I would.

Iím gonna wring your pants!

Much to my joy, the one thing that made Shadow Hearts unique--the judgment ring--has returned and with much appreciation I can say X-Seed didnít try to revamp it or give it great new additions, they just kept an already stellar idea. They did, however, make an addition to the battles themselves. Anytime you land a ht or someone lands a hit on you, it fills up your stock gauge. Once itís full, it allows you to pull off double moves, so if youíre one of those people who debates whether to use magic or attack, heal or boost stats, this wonderful little addition allows you to do both. Combos as well depend on the stock gauge. No longer are you required to line up behind the character and waste a turn, with one click of the R1 button you can start a combo, allowing you to literally pull off eight unanswered turns if done properly. And, if your patient enough to let your stock gauge fill all the way up, thereís the brutal, HP draining double combos. Itís pretty self-explanatory. Each character is linked to the other allowing them to go in succession and use two different forms of punishment before the enemy gets a turn. Itís really an ingenious way to put bosses down.

But donít forget, the bosses--as well as all other enemies--can do it as well, pushing the strategy to a whole other level, forcing you to watch their stock gauge and use stock depleting attacks or youíre going to get a vicious double attack or a relentless combo that may just put you down as well.

Itís cheap looking and itís outta here! What kind of crap is this, did an Elephant paint this?!

Sadly, the only thing really, really ridiculously good looking in this game is Shania. You get any eyeful and a striptease every time she morphs into one of her fusions (yes, those neat little demon forms that Yuri had in the pervious SH) and each one of those of those forms are unique and show off this native Americans many talents, but beyond that New World just looks fairly bland. Very few of the cut-scenes step up from the in-game graphics and they could have done so much more with the environments. Giving you a brilliant scope of the Grand Canyon when you first arrive or sharpening some of the games abundant cut-scenes would havenít been such a bad idea.

I donít think I need to be playing with these medium strings. I need light gauge if Iím gonna thrash.

I have no real complaints about New Worldís sound. The dialogue isnít sappy, corny or overwrought with clichťs and each character has their own unique voice (minus Roger Bacon of course. I donít know what street they scraped that guy off). The music, although not really my style, is often fitting and the intro score is matched perfectly to the intense opening sequence. Yes, I have no complaints about the games soundÖ then again, I have nothing to boast about either.

You say hi to Magellan for me there, crazy coot!

Iím all about side quests. To me the one thing that can make or break an RPG is having enough things to veer you off the path of the actual story so that you donít get bogged down. As per the first two, Shadow Hearts provides enough of these to keep you entertained for a good half of the game. Unfortunately, a lot of those quests consist of merely grinding level after level until youíve built up enough soul or collected enough coins or they consist of simply talking to the right person at the right time. There are no real challenges set forth aside from Natanís Umi hunt and they get rather dull, making it seem like a necessity rather than an optional mind vacation.

The wearer of this belt shall possess all the superpowers of seventies super groupÖ Foreigner

Although most of the battles are fast paced brawls filled with hits and misses due to the judgment ring, each character has an array of cool looking, personal attacks--from Ricardo searing the enemies with his flame thrower guitar to Natan slinging his pistols every which way slick enough to make even Dante jealous. Not to mention, again, the antics. Huge flowers from Hildaís attack bound from the ground and blast the enemies and Johnny tugs a rather modern looking cell phone from his jacket and calls in some back up in the form of Lenny (Yes, that is Lenny from part two.) Itís definitely worth seeing and it tugs you away, at least for a time, from the constant battles.

Well, it was fun. Iím gonna go take a nap now and then I think Iím gonna go call some hospitals.

Shadow Hearts From The New World is nothing short of a worthy sequel. Aside from the rather lackluster ending and the constant leveling up, it manages to stay loyal to everything its counterparts did right while reworking everything those counterparts did wrong. Whether youíre a newbie to the series or a die hard fan, youíre going to find it worthwhile.

What the hell are you still reading this for? Go buy Shadow Hearts From The New WorldÖ or enter a contest to get a free copy then whine incessantly after you donít win. Your choice.

Rating: 9/10

True's avatar
Community review by True (July 01, 2006)

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