Shadow Hearts is frustrating and I
hate it think it's pretty average. Still going to keep playing though...
The judgement ring is bar-none the best battle system in a turn based JRPG
edit: I'm interested to know what it is about SH that you find frustrating?
I actually also like the judgement ring! It's a great addition (as are Yuri's transformations). It's about all I like though. Frustrations: long attack animations; frequent status ailments; small movepools (excl. Yuri); and while I like the SP bar in theory, it's bloody annoying to manage when you're also in a battle where you're healing tons of status ailments and/or run out of SP-restoring items. The game as a whole actually interests me, but I don't really enjoy the battles at all.
Covenant is far better mechanically. It fixes a lot of the problems SH has but loses a bit of the creepy atmosphere in favour of goofy humour. SP is a pain in the backside in the early parts of both games but it gets a little easier as you move along.
Scott is spot on. I think it's worth playing the first just so you get the emotional impact in the second. Covenant is one of my favourite games so I'm a bit biased.
I haven't posted here for ages! I started Conker's Bad Fur Day yesterday. It feels a little clunkier than the Banjo games and I don't know if I like how vague the game is in regards to where you're going but by god it's hilarious.