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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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The Video Game ConnoisseurWorld War I: A Different Perspective

Mario

Mario

BY JOHN KANE IIIStaff Writer

Shadow Hearts II: CovenantPublisher: MidwayPS2$39.99ESRB: T (TEEN)

The year is 1915. World War I has been raging for six months. Monsters wander the countryside. How come my history teacher never told me this? Seriously, the setting of Shadow Hearts II is World War I Europe. However this is an alternate version of Europe because there is magic, monsters, and people take turns when fighting (unless it’s a cut-scene). I don’t know which is more entertaining, the disclaimer at the beginning stating that all locations and people in the game are fictional (proving once and for all that Paris is a made-up place and Princess Anastasia is a fairytale), or how often the game oversteps the teen rating.

Seriously someone must have bribed a member of the ESRB. You have an opponent who’s an S&M bondage queen (they don’t hint at it, they say it repeatedly), you are repeatedly helped by two stereotypically gay Frenchmen-in the English version they’re brothers, although I have my suspicions as to the nature of their relationship in the original Japanese version. To top it off one of the brothers makes dresses for a Marionette that one of your characters uses to attack, in order to get him to make a dress you have to find pictures of male pinups to trade for it.

I could continue in that vein for pages, but I’m lazy and I think it would be better if you played the game yourself. The game takes place approximately one year after the original Shadow Hearts and six months into World War I. I never played the original Shadow Hearts, which in retrospect probably wasn’t a good idea. So many references are made to the previous game that players new to the series will get lost easily. In fact, the story happens because of the actions in the last game. Yuri, the main character, killed a god called down to destroy the world at the end of the last game. Fast-forward six months to the village of Domremy, a poor, worthless village in northern France with no strategic or military value. Of course the Germans have to capture it. However, it’s being protected by Yuri (who by the way has the ability to transform into monsters and has the Germans believing that a demon is protecting the village). The Germans send Leuitenant Karin Koenig with Vatican exorcist Cardinal Nicolai Conrad and a platoon of soldiers to destroy the demon. It turns out that Nicolai actually works for a secret society and knows all about Yuri and his past exploits and curses him with “Holy Mistletoe.” So Yuri and Karin, along with Yuri’s friend Gepetto, and Gepetto’s puppet Cornelia, and a wolf named Blanca, escape the village and France, heading to Wales in search of one of Yuri’s friends, 1000 year old magician Roger Bacon who might have some clue as to what’s going on. I hoped he might know why no one they run into realizes Karin is a German and doesn’t accuse her of being a spy. If your not confused yet, it gets better. In their travels they pick up a vampire trained as a professional wrestler who uses large heavy objects as weapons (timber, lockers, water mains, etc.) and a fortune teller/exotic dancer who mixes various oils to cause different effects. After rescuing Roger Bacon they learn that the society Nicolai is working for is lead by the historical mad monk Rasputin whose sole purpose of taking over Russia. So they use a nuclear-powered jet Roger built to fly to Russia and team up with princess Anastasia to fight Rasputin who is having dealings with the Japanese government. At this point I realized I should’ve been taking notes.

Shadow Hearts doesn’t really have a complex story, it’s just kinda confusing and was written by a History Channel nut with mild ADD and a collection of H.P. Lovecraft novels and D&D books. The comic relief is overused at points when it would have been better to keep the moment completely serious. The battle system is very creative, featuring a ring system in which you stop a dial as it passes over a certain point on a ring in order to hit your opponent and decide how much damage you do. The graphics are top notch and the visuals are beautiful. The character designs could use a little work and all the NPCs look alike no matter what country you’re in. Shadow Hearts II: Covenant is a great game, but I suggest picking up the original first or you’re going to be a little lost.

John Kane III is the Photography Editor of The Mass Media. All opinions expressed in this column are his own. He can be reached at [email protected]. Making the gay Frenchmen brothers is probably what got the rating lowered to teen. Stupid Church.