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Review - Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)

Started by Nightcrawler, February 01, 2011, 11:30:39 AM

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I have finally completed the Shadow Hearts series with Shadow Hearts: From the New World. I'm really not sure what they were going for here. It seemed like it was going to be some kind of rehash of Covenant, even going so far as to pretty much have many of the same character parts. Frank was Joachim, Yuri was Shania, Hilda was Lucia, Mao the cat and Blanca the dog. Some of the comparisons are a bit of a stretch. There are several differences. However, there were definitely many similarities.

Now, I probably would have enjoyed a rehash of Covenant, however it turned out to be something much different. It seemed like it tried too hard to be like Covenant and ended up being some bastardization of it instead.

Gone was the horror atmosphere of old. Gone were the gripping story moments that had you at the edge of your seat. Gone was the laugh out loud humor. What we had were a few tiny sprinkled moments of each that reminded me of the previous greatness, but that was it. The rest just fell flat on it's face. Also, just about every single annoying thing about Convenant was also brought back and made to be more annoying than ever before.

You're probably wondering why I played through this game if it was that bad. Well, the first half wasn't that bad. It was kind of cool to play a game with a setting covering various real places such as Chicago, Las Vegas, Alcatraz etc. That part was still refreshingly original. The gameplay was more balanced and much closer to fun. It just kept getting worse as it progressed. After about the half way point, I had invested to much time to quit. But, by the end of the game, I hated it so much I couldn't play it without swearing every minute!

Ironically, the story started to pick up in the second half and was more enjoyable. Unfortunately, I had to suffer through terrible game play to see it!

On to the specifics:


Let's see... A young kid, a warrior princess, silent native american, ditzy vampire girl, drunken cat, spanish musician, and an old crazy ninja wannabe. At first glance, you think that's another crazy mix like Covenant. I mentioned the similarities of the characters earlier in the review. While the crazy mix worked in Covenant, it didn't here. Most characters were just plain dumb, had clumsy interaction, and poor character development.

Gone were the classic moments from Covenant where the group interacted in ways that made you laugh out loud. Instead, you just have these clumsy moments for the most part and wonder why they are traveling together. Real character development was non existent for Mao, Natan, Frank, and Hilda. I forgot they were even with me most of the time. The voice acting was good though.

Ricardo, Shania, and Johnny were the only characters that got any substantial development. Even then, Ricardo's practically stopped after the incidents with Edna were over. Johnny, while getting lots of screen time and something that seemed like character development, just never seemed to make any real connections or emotion. Shania was the strongest character by far and the only one I really cared about.

The villains in this game consisted of a silent woman named 'Lady', a guy named 'Killer' and a underling named 'Gilbert. Their names were stupid, but they weren't too bad. I kind of liked the silent villain, especially because she was paired with Killer as a mouthpiece. Gilbert reminded me of Danny DeVito's Penguin from Batman Returns and was enjoyable as well. They were definitely no Rasputin from Convenant, but they made for an interesting group of villains throughout the game as opposed to the stereotypical single bad guy and then ultra bad guy revealed.

Ironically, one of my favorite character development moments was the first time Lady speaks. It was probably more touching than any of the good guy's scenes.

Roger Bacon was back too, although played much less of a part and had a different voice I didn't like as much.


The voice acting was very good for this game. I just wish the characters were better.

Some tunes for Covenant were back again, such as Joachim's. There were a few native american inspired tunes with hawks and wind sound effects in the background. The haunting melodies of old were pretty much non existent. In general, most background music was forgettable. Lady and Killer's theme was probably the most emotional piece (a piano piece). I prefer an emotional musical score that enhances each scene. You won't find that here.


Graphics were good. STILL NO CAMERA CONTROL! It was just as annoying as the last game. CGI cut scenes were few, but still excellent. The in-game cut scenes were also done well. It seemed a few corners were cut on some pivotal moments as there was no cut scene. Instead, there were a few drawings and narrative. Budget overrun? It was like they had to insert the story board with voice-over.


The story was a bit thin. The first half of the game consisted of Johnny meeting up with Shania and Natan who were chasing after someone. The three soon meet Gilbert and chase after him. Eventually, the find everyone is connected. Along the way, they stop to pick up other characters and rescue Al Capone from Alcatraz. Otherwise, there really isn't a lot going on. It was more interesting to watch Lady, Killer, and Gilbert's interactions and see what they were up to.

There wasn't too much connection to Covenant. There was Lenny and Roger Bacon. The release of Malice from Covenant pretty much caused the problems in this game. Otherwise, there's little connection. Thereis the emigre manuscript. There is a cameo from Joachim as the great Q in Hilda's side-quest along with Keith in bat form from SH1. There were a few other references such as Gapetto's shop seen in the background but for the most part, this game had little connection to Covenant.

There wasn't much personal struggle for any of the characters aside from Shania, and even then was light. It was more her change from the kiss of malice and dealing with feelings of seeking revenge. Johnny should have had personal struggles after the revelations of his life, but he just didn't.

The ending was short and most characters were written off with a sentence or two narration. Basically, a story board ending. Only Johnny and Shania had much screen time. It was a little unrewarding for all the hard work I had to put in. Thank goodness the after credits scenes were there or I'd feel robbed.


Gameplay was much the same as the last game, except much worse due to several annoying additions.

Combos were changed up with the addition of stock gauges. I thought it was going to be like an enhanced limit break (FF7). Your stock could be 1 level or 2. If you had 1, you could combo with another character and chain. If you had 2, you could do a double attack or double combo. An ultimate attack could consist of two attacks from each player, chained together. At first, I liked it, but unfortunately it became the focus of the entire game and every single fight.

All enemies have stock as well. You pretty much spend the entire game wasting time trying to reduce the enemies stock or you'll be dead, especially in boss fights. I'm not joking. There are fights in this game where if you do not reduce enemies stock every chance you get, you're entire party will be killed. It's that damn annoying. By the way, the enemy reduces your stock often as well. Combos are required to kill most bosses and you'll have a very hard time keeping your stock up enough, and reducing theirs, to do it!

A group of standard enemies could easily wipe out your characters if they combo or double attack your ass because you failed to reduce their stock. I'm totally serious, the entire game revolves around these stupid stock gauges and combos. It also requires a good deal of strategy to pull off whole party combos with the varying enemy positions and hit range of each attack.

I didn't like the crest magic from the last game and the stellar magic from this game was even worse! There were too many spells again. The stellar charts were ridiculously annoying to work with and understand. It probably took me half the game to really understand it all with authority. Then, I had no money to upgrade the charts to something appropriate.

Sidequests were about the dumbest things I've ever seen in my life. Unlike past games, they added nothing to the character development, and they were all hard and annoying. They were some of the most ill conceived, un-fun things I've ever seen. I hated near all of them. I wouldn't have played them if I didn't get spanked by normal monsters, and need them to make my characters powerful enough to beat the game. It was maddening.

Johnny's picture snapping garbage was also pathetic. I think I got 38%. I couldn't be bothered with the annoyances of taking hundreds of pictures of bosses and hard enemies in pit fights that could kill me off or deplete my limited items.

The pit fights in this game were back too. Just when I thought they couldn't possibly get any more annoying, they were! The conditions were insane on some of those fights. Again, I wish I could have skipped them, but I needed some of the prizes to have a chance of beating the game.

This game was hard. It was amongst the most difficult RPGs I've played in recent times. But, it was hard because of stupid annoyes. It was hard because normal enemies could wipe you out at any time due to the 50 (no exaggeration) different status effects and stock gauge combo or double attacks. It never game me enough money. It was always stingy. Power leveling didn't seem to do anything either.

The last boss was also ridiculous. Instant wipe out of the entire party easily. if you don't have ample keys and a high enough level, you're dead. No chance.

I don't know how anyone could design this game and think those side quests or pit rights were fun in any way.


Overall, the game was an annoying waste of life. I wish I had known early on so I could quit. It was fairly enjoyable the first 20 hours before it got truly annoying and trash worthy.

Nearly every dungeon took multiple hours. I could rarely clear them in one sitting. They didn't even have enough save points in some dungeons. No excuse for that kind of stupidity.

I just can't understand how someone could design this game and think it was fun. The story wasn't too bad. I would recommend you watch a play-through on Youtube. It will much more fun that way. Don't waste your life and challenge your sanity by playing it yourself!  ;D - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


I never beat the game either, I got to the finale and just couldn't take it anymore. The regular enemies get insane, and the game wanes on fun. I wasn't strong enough to continue, and I wasn;t dedicated enough to complete quest...
Sleep is like cocaine, for the brain.


Is there an easy mode for this game?  I actually just ordered this game and I'm really enjoying Covenant, I'm sad to hear they messed the sequel up.
Winston Churchill in response to allying with the Soviet Union: If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons


No, I don't believe there was an easy mode or I'm sure I would have used it. :D

Maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did. Although the bar was raised so high with Covenant, there's probably nowhere to go but down. - The central hub of the ROM hacking community.


I guess I can also go in the other direction and look at Covenant's prequel.  That game is a lot harder to find though and more expensive especially if you want to find an edition that is complete.  I actually do have Koudelka already but I'm not really that interested in it yet.
Winston Churchill in response to allying with the Soviet Union: If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons