Jeanne D'Arc Hands-On

Sony hands us the reins on a localized version of its PSP strategy RPG with historical roots.

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Recently we delivered our impressions of a somewhat English version of Jeanne D'Arc, a stylized and fantastical strategy role-playing game from Sony and Dragon Quest VIII developer Level 5 that's based on the history and mythology of France's Joan of Arc. We finally got to play the game at Sony's recent press event at its San Diego studio and found that it treads nice, familiar ground for fans of the genre.

In short, Jeanne D'Arc played exactly like we expected, and it should be eminently familiar to anyone who's spent time with Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, and other similar series. The game offers two levels of zoom, one right down on the battlefield and the other farther out. You can rotate the camera incrementally with the shoulder buttons and move it a little more freely with the analog stick. You can select the characters you wish to command with a standard cursor, but you can also scroll through characters that have yet to take a turn with the touch of a button (which we found to speed up the proceedings considerably).

Unit movement and command all functioned just like you'd want them to, with indicators showing where a given character can move or attack, health bars floating over each soldier, and so forth. We didn't get a chance to try the transformation ability in our brief demo, but we found the unified guard system--whereby adjacent characters are granted a defensive bonus--to be in full effect. The game's text is still being localized right now, but the parts we saw that appeared to be complete spoke well of the potential quality of the final product. Final localization on Jeanne D'Arc continues apace, so any PSP-owning strategy RPG fan will do well to give the game a look when it ships in early August.

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