Vanguard Bandits – The PS3 Attitude Review
Originally released for the PSone, Vanguard Bandits makes its PSN debut in North America, nearly two years after its Japanese PSN release. The game features giant armored mechs battling it out in a tactical RPG fashion, like in Final Fantasy Tactics. With so many games in the genre nowadays, can this 10-year-old title still draw blood, or is it destined to collect rust on the battlefield?
The PSN version of Vanguard Bandits is a direct port of the original PSone game. Players control Bastion, a young and skilled fighter who just so happens to be the long lost prince of the Kingdom of Pharastia. War rages between the neighboring kingdoms and Bastion is caught in the middle. Lives will be lost and difficult decisions made as you fight your way to your rightful place among royalty.
There are a total of 56 missions spread out across three separate storylines. From start to finish, you’ll end up completing 20 separate chapters in a single playthrough. Each mission takes place on a battle grid in which you face off against enemy All Terrain Armored Combatants or ATACs. Winning any given mission will require you to do more than just charge enemy forces and attempt to overpower them. Terrain as well as ATAC placement affect battle stats and can mean the difference between a 15 point hit and a 32 point death strike so strategizing is key, hence why it’s a tactical RPG and not just simply an RPG.
Everything you’d expect out of a role-playing game is present in Vanguard Bandits. There are plenty of weapons and stat-boosting stones/amulets to collect and leveling up your ATACs opens new attacks and abilities to try out. It does take a while before you get to the level necessary for all the better equipment, but once your there, the game opens up. At first, everyone just feels like the same fighter class with a handful of attacks.
What sets Vanguard Bandits apart from the rest is its ability to actually watch the fights unfold between two ATACs on the battlefield. Rather than just display a series of numbers showing the damage, you actually get to see the mech dual it out. There’s even dialogue between the two fighters. It’s a nice feature at first, but slows down the pace of each mission considerably, especially since all you’re doing is watching. Thankfully, you can turn the feature off and progress in normal TRPG fashion.
With the multiple branching storylines and five different endings, there’s also tons of room for replayability to discover the missions you missed out on the first time around. With so much to do, it can all be a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully, MonkeyPaw Games has released a free downloadable strategy guide for your convenience.
Vanguard Bandits may not be the best tactical RPG out there, but for $9.99 it’s not a bad deal. The learning curve is pretty sharp but if you stick with it, you’ll be pleased at the way the game turns out.