Though the fact is that there are many of us here at FFH who have lived in the realm of Turn-based Strategy RPGs for awhile now, I find myself continuously surprised by the incredible amount of people who have never played (or even know about) Konami's classic Playstation SRPG "Vandal Hearts."
For those of you who have never before played the game, let me be the one to tell you - "You should play it."
Now, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't classify this game as epic. In fact, I wouldn't even really say it is as good as FFT as far as SRPGs go. But it is certainly good enough to hold its own.
While it doesn't really have the quality of FFT as far as graphics goes, it makes up for it by providing you with a great story. Not as great as FFT's, but it's still really good. Additionally, whereas FFT is chock full of "Generic Random Name Characters" and a few "Unique Player Characters" that have at least some relevance to the overall plot, Vandal Hearts has a large group of fairly well-developed characters, all with names and back stories, and almost every single one of them actively playing an important role in the progression of the plot.
The plot, however, IS rather short, and VERY linear. The armaments from beginning to end are almost entirely shop-purchased, enemies have equipment you can NEVER obtain, there are NO random battles, and there is really only one sidequest in the entire game, which is actually a 'hidden' quest that must be accomplished "as you go" throughout the main story. The shortness of the game is also amplified by the fact that the level of the final villain is not only preset, it is also less than 50. This is largely due to the fact that the lack of random battles completely prevents power-leveling (unless you use the only known cheating method), which is a plus to those of us who enjoy the challenge.
Now, on another positive note - where FFT limited the number of PCs in battle to 5 (or 4 + up to 2 Guests), Vandal Hearts starts you off with only 3 members in your party, but every ally you gain as you progress through the story is an active member in each future battle. By the time you have acquired your final ally, you stand strong as a party of no less than 12. This is, of course, balanced by the fact that the enemy groups you fight increase in quantity/quality as your party does.
There is, however, a downside to this party set up and that is the "Vandal Hearts" Class System, which leaves much to be desired. The classes are very linear, and provide very little for the player to be creative or imaginative with. The large number of characters you possess in battle makes up for this somewhat, but not entirely.
Aside from what I listed, I can't really describe much more about this game without giving up story spoilers. But I will say this much. I would like those who read this topic to give this game a shot. As far as SRPGs go, it is definitely an overlooked classic.
Thanks for your time. ^_^
P.S. - If nothing else, this game has one of the best Ocarina songs I've ever heard. It's title is "Vicissitudes of Fortune". It isn't very long, and is rather repetitive, but I'm certain you will no doubt hear the power in its notes. Look it up sometime on Google or Youtube.