Review by holyknight14
"Probably would have made a better movie"
Langrisser V: The End of Legend was released in 1998 on the Sega Saturn and is the final installment in the series (barring remakes). The Langrisser series is virtually unknown outside of Japan because none of the games after the first one were translated, not to mention it was translated as Warsong. Despite never seeing official releases of the games in english, the series has survived because of small fan communities and the hard work of many fan translators, such as borgor, Lduran, D and HiryuuHonnyaku. Masaya made a lot of strange changes in Langrisser V, some were good... many were not so good, let's take a look at what happened.
Unlike the previous games in the series, L4 and L5 do not have a vast span of time between them, in fact L5 is a direct sequel to its predecessor and starts before the end of L4. The game begins in Gizarof's cloning lab as the main character, a clone named Sigma awakens to the voice of a female clone named Lambda. Soon after their meeting, the facility is attacked by two mysterious men and the clones are forced to flee the laboratory. The story revolves around the two clones and their connections to the Langrisser and World Tree as well as finding their purpose in life through their comrades and also Jessica. While L5 starts out somewhat interesting, it begins to go in a strange sci-fi esque path towards the second half of the game that doesn't make a whole lot of sense in certain parts. The story of L5 isn't terrible but it kind of changes and questions the previous games with the new revelations that are learned towards the end.
The graphics of L5 are phenomenal and quite possibly the only excellent part of the game, the graphics can hold their own even today, 8 years after the game was released. Map and battle sprites are done very well, the sprites in this game are a lot bigger then they were in previous Langrisser games so more detail is visible in them. The environments are colorful and very fitting, there are forests, rivers, mountains, snow, labyrinths and many more areas for the characters to cross and battle in. As far as the battle screens, the animations in L5 are nice to look at and show a lot of detail, though some of them don't really make sense (apparently knights have invisible wings that let them charge through the air).
The main reason, however, that L5 has amazing graphics is because of Satoshi Urushihara's artwork. Fans will probably recognize the similarity of the characters to anime like Plastic Little. Each of the main characters are incredibly well drawn and with amazing detail. There are also several scenes in the game that feature his artwork throughout various story sequences. L5 has the best looking characters of the series in my opinion and it would have been amazing to see more animation using this style of artwork.
The majority of a Langrisser game is spent on a map known as a scenario where generals and their hired mercenaries, usually referred to as troops, do battle. Langrisser games focus more on the strategy aspect of the game, rather then brute force through power levelling that is visible in most strategy rpgs, however, the system is not fool proof. On the player's side are the main characters and the opposing side can be enemy factions or monsters. Before a battle takes place, the player is able to conduct various actions, such as hiring troops or purchasing items from the shop. The flow of battle is controlled by the Judgement system, which is essentially a nifty word for "speed." All units are classified under various affinities and then units who attack foes they are strong against will receive attack and defensive bonuses.
The basics of L5 aren't too bad, but the more advanced systems are imbalanced. The Judgment system favors unmounted generals and it's not unlikely for mage generals to have two turns in the time it takes a flier to act once. Instead of having each unit take up one square of space, L5's maps are divided up into mini squares and units take up a varying amount of space. Often times it becomes extremely difficult to space units as they will vary in size and the cursor doesn't do a good job of indicating where a unit can and cannot move, leading to a sort of clunky interface. Units are also capable of attacking and retreating depending on how much of their "action or attack gauge" they have consumed, which can lead to placement issues and units getting in the way because you can't precisely tell where a unit will be able to move after an attack. While it's easy to see where Masaya was heading with this system as it provides a lot of freedom, it wasn't thought out well and causes a lot of headaches when moving around a lot of units on the map.
Music/Sound Effects: 7/10
This category is sort of a mixed bag, L5 has a lot of tunes and they can be separated into three groups, they're either boring, strange or excellent. A few of the tunes are downright horrible, they're either played too often, repeat too much or just flat out suck. Some of the songs in the game are kind of strange, they aren't bad but they don't really fit the mood all that well. A bunch of the music is very well done, but the only issue is, you tend to not hear them often, but I guess that might contribute to them being better then the other songs. L5's general song theme seems to be a strange type of rock music combined with previous Langrisser songs, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
I grade challenge based on whether or not the game is too easy or too hard, extremes get low scores while games that have balance get the higher scores. L5 is a walk in the park, mostly due to the fact that Sigma is extremely overpowered from the character creation quiz and the enemies that the player faces are really weak for the most part. Only towards the end of the game are there a few challenging encounters, but these are rectified by the fact that 99% of the time there is another way to achieve victory instead of defeating them. On the bright side, if you're replaying L5 for some strange reason, you can pretty much breeze through the game after beating it once.
There is very little reason to replay L5, the game has one path and there is no real optional material that can't be played in one save file. The character creation quiz may be worth going through a few times to see what kinds of combinations you can get for Sigma, but that's really all there is aside from levelling up through different classes for the characters, but each of them generally fulfill the same roles, so there isn't much excitement there.
While L5 isn't the strongest game of the series, it's certainly not terrible and the way in which it concludes the series is pretty well done. I doubt L5 is worth picking up if you're looking for a decent stand alone type of strategy game, it's more for long time fans of the Langrisser series. If you are planning to play the game, play it for the amazing artwork rather then the gameplay itself, take your time and try to enjoy it.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 09/07/06
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