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April 17, 2007 - [Register or Login to view links] is a lot like your ex-girlfriend -- there will be moments when you have a great time together, but you won't be able to shake the feeling that you can do better.

I'm all torn up inside, readers. See, Valhalla Knights succeeded at impressing me with fun, real-time combat, completely pissing me off with drawn-out quests and eventually driving me away due to the complete lack of anything resembling story progression.

From the get-go, you know things are a bit discombobulated in this title from XSEED Games. Out of nowhere you're tossed into a battle with a dragon, hit with a cut scene where you find out you're an important guy named Rastul and then wake up in an inn as a completely different character -- a completely different character suffering from amnesia.

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Dance party!

If you're an enterprising gamer, you'll find out your initial battle as Rastul was over a tiff with the Dark Lord, the ruler of the land, and the character you create and wake up as is actually living years after the battle that started the game. Where does this information come from? The instruction manual. These basic facts aren't included in the beginning of the game or even seven hours into it.

But even with the hackneyed RPG memory-wipe and uninformative opening, when I got behind the controls of Valhalla Knights, I started to think this game still had a shot at being an awesome title. The main character is yours to detail -- beyond choosing its gender, naming it and customizing its attributes such as strength and dexterity, you pick its job. A fighter is good with weapons and melee combat, a mage is adept at casting attack and ailment spells, a priest is a lifesaver that can cast healing spells for the party, and a thief is most dangerous when packing a ranged weapon such as a bow. More occupations will become available as you continue to play, you can assign your characters secondary jobs to expand their arsenals, and you'll be able to create characters from different races such as elves, dwarves and machines.

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Girl gangs scare me.

The town itself -- called "The Cursed Land" in the instruction manual -- is detailed place featuring brick streets, a pristine chapel where you can bring your fallen characters back from the dead and folks wandering around the marketplace, but the best part of Valhalla Knights is the real-time combat system and the options that accompany it. Before going into battle, you can dish out weapons and armor as well as create a fight formation and decide how your teammates are going to react -- I put my fighters up front and made sure they'd rush into battle, dropped my mages in the middle to cast spells from the second line of defense and left my priest in the very back to heal the team and stay out of harm's way.

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