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Growlanser: Heritage of War 

Preview for Playstation 2


Tuesday, August 21, 2007 


Title:
Growlanser: Heritage of War

..............................................
System:
Playstation 2
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Genre:
SRPG
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Publisher:
Atlus
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Developer:
Career Soft
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Release:

..............................................
Online:
No
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ESRB:
Teen (T)
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Growlanser: Heritage of War Screenshot Gallery

Growlanser: Heritage of War Screenshot Gallery

Growlanser: Heritage of War Screenshot Gallery

by Seth "forweg" Weisend

Ever since the days of Fire Emblem and Shining Force, strategy RPGs have provided an alternative to their more traditional cousins. SRPGs do away with static combat, and focus on large-scale warfare instead. None of the exploration or dungeon-crawling that is typically found in the regular RPGs. Rather, tactical, grid-based battles take the fore.

Into this tradition comes the Growlanser series, which has been an SRPG staple in Japan since 1999. Western gamers are probably most familiar with a package release of Growlanser II and Growlanser III by the late Working Designs. Since the demise of Victor Ireland's company, many fans wondered if Growlanser would ever again see the light of day outside Japan. Worry not, however, for Atlus comes to the niche gamer's rescue once more.

Growlanser V, which has been retitled Heritage of War for North American consumption, is the chosen PS2 release. This particular installment makes a huge break from SRPG tradition, as it's almost more akin to Diablo than previous Growlanser titles. Only the main character can be controlled, while the others fight automatically. It's also a bit reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII, as the battles seem to go by quickly and without much player input.

As for the main character, there really isn't one. The character the player controls is shifted from chapter to chapter, so the story is seen from multiple viewpoints. Expect lots of political intrigue and personal drama to unfold over the game's 70+ hours. Multiple dialogue choices are available at select moments, so your choices could effect the strength of your bond with your comrades, or whether you gain new allies.

Heritage of War's world is a wide one which can be fully explored, parting yet again with the SRPG standards. There's a huge world map that must be traversed, and several towns to delve into. Enemies aren't encountered in pre-set battles, but rather can be discovered almost anywhere on the map.

Series veteran Satoshi Urushihara returns to produce more lovely anime designs. His artwork has always maintained a uniqueness to separate it from other anime styles, as it has an older, early 90s vibe. This installment features 3-D visuals, a first for the series. The isometric view hardly capitalizes on them though, and the characters are so small that I think that 2-D sprites might work better.

If you've never played a Growlanser before, Heritage of War is a good place to dive in. It retains practically no relation to previous games in the franchise, both in terms of plot and gameplay. Newbies and fans alike can give it a spin on September 18th.



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