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One of the most charming, beautiful, and innovative games I played in years.

After dealing with the trainwreck known as Sonic the Hedgehog for the 360, I lost any hope for SEGA to make a GOOD game. So when I first heard of this game, I was skeptical. But after reading reviews on it, I decided to rent it first to see if it was really all it's cracked up to be. And I was surprised, this was one of the best games I have played on the PS3.

The game takes place in an alternate Earth in a place called Europa. During the WWII era. There is a war going on between two major powers over a precious resource called ragnite. And the Empire, one of the powers, decides to attack the small neutral nation of Gallia after learning of the large amount of ragnite there. The game centers around a college student named Welkin Gunther, who went from the university he attends to his hometown of Bruhl to get himself and his sister prepared for the an evacuation from town. He then meets with Alicia Melchiott, who he helps fend off the Imperial attack on Bruhl long enough for the citizens to evacuate. Then he, Alicia, and his sister Isara all escape on his father's tank and then join the militia in hopes to save Gallia from the Empire. That's as far as I will go story wise, the game has a really compelling story and I don't want to spoil any of it.

The gameplay works like a mixture of a turn based strategy game, and a real time third-person shooter. You select your units from a map of the area, and then you shift into a third person view of that character. From that view you get experience the game's canvas engine. Which is a mixture of anime and a water color painting. You move your character like you would a third person shooter as much as the action bar at the bottom allows, when it runs out, you must end that character's turn. During the time you can do an action such as shooting your foes or healing yourself and others. Every time you use a character you use up a command point. Once you use up all your command points, the enemy will get a turn to do the same to you.

After the first three chapters of the game, Welkin becomes a leader of a militia squad. From there you get to pick out the units you want in your squad. There are five classes of units. The Scouts, they have the largest action bar so they can travel far, and have the largest line of sight so they can see more enemies in front of them then other classes. The Shocktroopers, they carry machine guns and provide the offense and defense of the squad, but have much more limited mobility. The Lancers, they are the anti tank men and have decent defense, but limited mobility. The Engineers, who have almost the same mobility as scouts, but their main purpose is to refill ammo for other units and repair your tank. And the Snipers, they have the most limited action bars, but can kill or at the very least damage enemies from afar. You also have acess to the Edelweiss, Welkin's tank. Which provides moving cover for your units, and serves as both an anti-tank and anti personal unit. But it uses up 2 command points each time you use it, so use it sparingly.

The units you pick out aren't of generic fare. They each have a unique look, personality, and backstory, voice acting included. So you get to like units that you use a lot, and if you don't like them, you can switch them out for others. Also, each character has a set of strengths and weaknesses called potentials. Which activate depending on the situation the unit is dealing with at hand. For example, if the character has the fancies women potential, they get a status boost when they are around female characters. If they have pollen allergy, there is a chance that they will have thier health drained from standing around grass or plants. Taking advatage of these strengths and weaknesses will form your ideal squad for each and every battle you face, which leads to surprisingly deep and strategic gameplay.

Another thing to mention is the leveling system in this game, your characters don't level up individually, they level up by class. So if you level up a class, then all units in that class will get leveling benefits whether they are expericened fighters in your squad, or fresh troops you just brought in which saves a lot of time grinding in skrimishes.

The music in this game is very calm and pleasing to the ears, and has an epic feeling to it in some parts of the game. Unfortunately, it is not very detailed as you often hear only 4 or 5 different battle soundtracks throughout the game. At least the cutscenes music is varied.

Now for the flaws of this game. the A.I. is basically a reminder of the stormtroopers from Star Wars. The enemy will sometimes run straight towards your troops and get gunned down quite quickly. Other times they would spend there CP moving thier tanks only to move it back to it's original position, however, their large numbers makes up for it. Another problem I have with the game is the load times. They are almost akin to Sonic the Hedgehog 360, they take a long time. Which is especially agonizing when you get defeated in battle and have to start the battle over. Of course, there is a save feature that allows you to save anytime when you are choosing which soldier to move, so you don't have to start over. Which almost helps with the loading screens, but not quite. Luckily though, they aren't nearly as common.

Overall though, this game is great. Innovative gameplay, great characters, and good graphics. This game itself proves that originality isn't dead and that SEGA can still make great games when they aren't milking Sonic. If you enjoy RPG's, real time strategy's or any game that involves strategy, I recommend adding this game to your library.

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