Before or after? Sure, what the hey. During? Nooooo. The intro sequence to a video game sets both the stage and the tone of what's to come, and Sen no Kiseki does it in a bad way.
Walking around at TGS this year, I'd noticed a lot of people carrying bags bearing the logo of traditional JRPG developer, Falcom's latest game in its Legend of Heroes series for the PS3 and PS Vita, The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki (Trails in the Flash). Ever the sucker for advertising that I am, I checked out the game's trailer online and I immediately liked what I saw. A fantasy JRPG that takes place in a school? I'm there.
What I didn't know then, and what I found out after getting the Vita version of game, was that the game was absolutely plagued by loading screens. Now, a brief load screen every now and then is understandable, but we're talking full 10 to 15 second breaks in gameplay depending on whether you're moving from area to area or entering battle. Take a look at a video from the PS3 version:
Most heinous of all was during the beginning intro sequence where there were 2 full loading screen breaks before I was even introduced to any of the primary characters. Below is a video of the Vita version I took of the very first loading screen break. (Forgive the video quality and blinking red light. The PS Vita TV isn't out yet, so no direct capture for me)
I'm actually starting to miss when everyone had pre-rendered cutscenes instead of trying to have everything in real time rendering.
Falcom has been made aware of the player issues with the load times and have released a patch for the game, but if it lessened the load times, I sure can't tell… (Note: The above video was taken post patch application, if that gives you any idea) According to Inside Games, Falcom has said they're hoping to decrease the load times even further, so hopefully they'll patch it again soon.
As for the game itself, loading screens aside, it's a fairly decent game. It's chock full of JRPG clichés, but if that's your thing and you don't mind the constant load times, it can be a lot of fun. Just have something to do while you're waiting for the loading to complete.
On a separate note, the game allows you to transfer save data between the PS3 and Vita versions, which is a cool feature in theory, but seriously, if you're going to do that, go the Blu-ray/DVD route and give me both versions for slightly more than the separate individual copies. But that's another complaint for another time.
The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki is currently out in Japan for the PS3 and PS Vita. No news on a Western release.
ロード時間が短縮する修正パッチを配信開始 ─ 『英雄伝説 閃の軌跡』更なる短縮を目指して鋭意制作中との情報も [Inside Games]