02 September, 2010

MagnaCarta II

And so comes the time for yet another review and another RPG at that, but this time it is no WRPG or JRPG... no ladies and gentlemen, this time it is a KRPG. From South Korean developer Softmax, together with Japanese publisher Banpresto, comes MagnaCarta II, only for the 360, in all its glory. I first played this game several months ago as a rental from Boomerang and after a few days I purchased it from said rental association. Unfortunately, it was then that it met with a sorrowful destruction at the arse of my younger sister. So, recently I decided to buy it again and I am very glad that I did. It is still as great as it was then. As with most Korean games, the art is what first attracted me to it; I absolutely love Korean game design and art! Like many games I play, need to set aside, then come back to, I started a new game. Having to multiple difficulty setting (It seems to be stuck somewhere between Easy and Normal) I ploughed in right away before remembering the one issue I have with this game. As much as I love Liam O'Brien and The Black Ranger, the voice acting in this game is deplorable. So grievous that I found myself turning off the volume on the monologue scenes and just reading the subtitles. If ever there was a time when the choice between English or Korean/Japanese voices was need... this is it! I beat the game at just under 40 hours with most of the achievements, although I didn't really actively seek them out, except for a rough knowledge of when/where to get the quests so I didn't miss any.

Also, I knew before hand to not sell a fucking thing for the weapons achievement, although the downloadable ones are so much better, you will never use another weapon (but you need to have them all in inventory). I found the end of the game to be satisfying and the storyline was really great albeit almost identical to the story of The Last Remnant, with names and places altered of course. Even though it was like reading a carbon copy of The Last Remnant, it was enjoyable and the characters are well cool. Crocell turned out to be my favourite, but that's really no surprise considering he is a fireball flinging pyromancer/maniac. The graphics for the game were good for when the game was released, I'm sure, and I suppose they are terrible now, but they are a little dated around the edges. It's very pretty to look at on my television and more so the graphics during FMV's and especially in battle. Each character has a few really special abilities which I just took to calling Mystic Artes, shamelessly ripping off Bamco's Tales games... Which is FINE because I'm pretty sure Bamco were the Publisher's for the NA version of the game (Atari EU and Banpresto in JP). Well when they do their Mystic Artes, wow, that's probably the best graphics in the entire game. I was really impressed by those. Scenery is very beautiful as well, especially in the distance. It seemed like the further away something was, the prettier it was, even in cities.

Combat is active and places you on a map much like Star Ocean and Infinite Undiscovery. You don't get a screen guiding you into battle and you can choose to dodge battles if you want. You pull the Left Trigger to enter a combat mode where you start using abilities and such and pull it again to enter Movement Mode where you run at normal pace and can't use spells/weapons. It sounds cumbersome, but it works really well and after about 20 minutes you don't really even notice the switching any-more. You place point into different trees to increase your ability with your chosen weapon (for Crocell it's either Fireballs or FireFists... I choose Fireballs of course) and so get new abilities which you can quickly switch through using your other buttons. It's very smooth and flows nicely with combat. No guns in this one though! The closest is a bow, but I really, really hated using her. You can have three people in your party at one time, with others in reserve. The reserve team gains %70 EXP I believe, but you can increase that with EXP items if you really want to. By pressing the Y button on the field you can change party leaders (who you control) and set the AI to act accordingly to your actions. Y also allows you to use items in battle.

Levelling isn't too terrible in the game; I never found myself too low a level for any fight I was in nor did I find myself wondering even what level I was. It only became a moderate annoyance after I had beat the game and didn't want to grind another 30 levels to fill the rest of my trees (quicker just to restart the game or actually go to 360a and pay attention to their skill tree guide). Levelling is also how you accumulate skill points (you can get weapon enhancements to increase that as well as belts or ring accessories) so every so often I'd just go into their skill trees and throw around some points and have done with it. Nothing has level requirements that I could find. Finally the music! It was very nice, but not the best over all. I did like some of it, but found myself turning on other music, like most games I play. I didn't bother to download the soundtrack either. Like I said, it was nice, but nothing special... thankfully it didn't ruin the game either. The ambience was good, but as I said earlier, the voice acting was so ghastly with one exception... Steve Blum did the voice for the main antagonist and of course anything with him voice acting in it must be listened to, so I just turned up the volume whenever he started talking (for those who don't know, Steve Blum did the English voice for Vincent Valentine in all appearances). Also, he is the reason I didn't just turn off voices... don't want to miss it!

I don't think I've missed anything this time, but there's always the possibility for forgetfulness. I had 37/46 achievements when I finished, putting me at 950/1240 which isn't bad at all. The rest involve mastering additional trees and doing chain breaks (pretty easy when you get the hang of it, just very time consuming). I'd recommend the game for RPG fans, but not just at that... you have to really enjoy RPG's I think to enjoy this one. It's very much a K/JRPG style of game and the story is structured in a way that would make sense to only those used to RPG's. It would help if you're a fan of Infinite Undiscovery or Star Ocean as well as there are many elements which are similar to those games. I don't ever remember seeing very much promotion for this game, which is a shame because it's really spectacular. Give it a go, but it's an acquired taste.