Contrary to the reviews on this website and underrated coverage of this game on gaming sites, this game is really excellent. I'll be unbiased enough to admit that the load times are rather dreary, but once the game gains momentum, you will not want to put it down. This game is unique, I'm not as much into RPGs as shooters or action adventure, but I know how to enjoy a good RPG.
I'm here to give this game justice! Apart from the load times as aforementioned this game has extremely-excellent gameplay. It's turn-based like final fantasy, and even plays like the tactics series of Final Fantasy. If you enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics and have looked for a sequel or counterpart, THIS IS IT!!
I'll try to cover the aspects of the game as well as I can, considering I don't want to be too elaborate, just persuasive.
Maps - Grid-based topologies, nothing too fancy but the graphics are nice for the environments and there are destructible elements of the maps which usually provide essential items to the synthesis process.
Synthesis - There's a part of towns where you can go, kind of like a magic foundry where you can augment your weapons to improve their features (increase strength, magic, other magic support, OR you can increase the damage, range, even ADD more moves to your character's repertoire), you can invent skills, provided you have the right scrolls (which list the ingredients required to invent skills, items, etc.) and then there's the synthesis process which is what you use to create, enchant, and produce more powerful items. You can arbitrarily combine items as the game recommends or wait 'til you get the scrolls with directions for what items to combine to produce more powerful items (best part of the game). I just found a list online so I didn't have to wait for the scrolls in the game. The synthesis process is basically what will motivate your quests. You'll want to find the item drops required to produce or "synthesize" the best weapons, armor, and other items in the game.
About the three-army selection: It's not so much that you pick and choose at your whim, although ultimately you will choose which army is victorious, the concept of the three armies being playable is to immerse the player into the multi-faceted storyline. You don't just get one biased perspective of the story--you get aspects of the story from each army, little by little and it actually develops quite well once you get passed the first couple of battles for the armies.
This game is extremely immersive and provides a lot of control for how your characters develop. As you level, you are given an amount of points to allocate to each of your character's attributes as you see fit.
Then there's the battle system, with the combos available that you combine between character's special attacks to provide even greater attacks (think synergy) and these are called chain skills. They're really freaking cool, the best ones are the ones combined after the characters have been assaulted, they then get these unique skills to use like kamikaze or last effort attacks that are violently powerful--if you combine different last effort attacks between the characters, you get these insane chain skills which are quite pleasing to pull off (but rare unless you play the strategy right).
The game is very diverse and more than delightful if you enjoy strategy and turn-based RPGs, never played Diablo, don't want to--there's a good reason why and this is probably why I like this game so much. It's EFFING GREAT!!!