The story for this release returns to the setting of the original and does away with the academy introduced in the second game. It's 1935 and the imperial army are invading the small nation of Gallia so straight away your intrigued at the aspect of a side-story that compliments the universe perfectly. The story & characters are probably the biggest difference. While previous releases followed a heroic protagonist, VC3 follows the exploits of a promising young officer named Kurt as he is banished to the 'Nameless Squad' on the charges of treason. The 'Nameless Squad' is made up of criminal & insubordinate individuals that are forced to partake in suicidal missions or face a firing squad. Now I've mulled over it for a while and I must say I prefer the story setup for VC3 over its predecessors due to the themes it deals in and the interesting nature if the cast. The cast of characters are a notable highlight as each one is introduced well with their own backstory that make getting to know each one intriguing. You'll no doubt end up settling on your favourites tho. The games chapters are structured like a military tactical map with your objectives clearly laid out ahead of you. On this map you can also access your base camp. Its here where you'll be spending the XP & money earned in combat to improve your squad with skills and equipment. A characters class & potential can also be changed here, so for those looking for complete control of squad development, theres much to do. The units tank is also extensively customisable here as well. As you progress all manner of equipment & frames will be unlocked to suit the needs of each upcoming battle. On the odd occasion you'll be given a choice with choosing your upcoming battle. At first this wont seem to effect much, but later it will have an impact on the ending you will receive as this release, for the first time in the series, has multiple endings to seek out. The game also throws in side missions during chapters you can use to grind a little to extra XP & Money to ease those difficult missions you'll eventually face. Its here you'll find the only issue with the game as it affords no mid-level save, yet most missions can take over 1+ hours to do. The portability of a handheld doesn't always afford that amount of time between being able to save. Even with this minor issue, your looking at a huge amount of game to play through. To get through everything that the game has to offer could take 30 hours easily. The issue of having a console game squashed onto handheld may sound daunting, but its still a fantastic piece of software
Being a marked improvement over its predecessor on PsP, whilst bettering the original with its darker themes & wonderful cast of intriguing characters is a joy for fans. The trademark gameplay the series is renowned for is here with a few new additions to the formula to test your tactical mettle. The only crux with the game that prevents a perfect score is that, to this reviewer, the mechanics & structure seem more suited to console than the short-burst portability of a handheld. Still, don't let that detract you from playing one of the finest handheld releases for several years.
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