Review by Das_Regal
Reviewed: 10/14/09 | Updated: 10/19/09
Patience required - other than that, how did you feel about FFXII?
It's important to emphasize that Magna Carta 2 starts out extremely slow. The plot is incredibly cliche at first, the combat system feels slow and unresponsive, and the world feels tiny and boxed in. It isn't until you get past the "opening" that you're exposed to the wealth of features the game has to offer. Keep this in mind should you try and play the game; try and remain open minded until after the first five hours of play or so.
Nothing mind blowing here, but the visuals are solid and decent. I have a feeling they could have been a bit more polished. It only feels like a small leap over the last generation of consoles. Star Ocean: The Last Hope for example, came out like a year before and had better visuals than this.
The environments are alright, the lighting isn't anything terribly impressive, but the character design is solid in most cases. Elgar is absolutely ridiculous looking. I could not tell if Elgar was male or female before a name was given to him. Some other characters suffer similar problems. The shape of Zephie's face bothers me.
Much like the graphics, the music is solid. Nothing detracting, nothing over the top, fairly appropriate for what the setting. I didn't notice any glaring problems here, or any especially catchy or emotional tunes.
The story is a bit cliche in many ways. Within the first 30 minutes of the game they manage to work in a princess, her gruff guardian, an amnesiac with incredible powers, and the foreshadow an incredibly predictable event. They don't work very hard at creating an emotionally integrating atmosphere, the island you start on feels exotic but not real in any intimate way to the player.
It isn't until later that the characters start evolving and coming to life more. The writing is solid during many scenes, but the game isn't without its awkward dialogue at a few key moments from time to time.
Even so, I enjoyed the ending and the game's take on many elements; but it failed to transcend to anything lofty or especially interesting.
If you liked FFXII's gameplay, you're going to love Magna Carta II's. It's a vastly enhanced version of FFXII's, incorporating a stamina system and much more player control over attacks, with rooms for skill involved in the form of button tapping, timed execution, etc.
Character development and item customization is especially interesting. You can upgrade your weapons using specific nodes by adding gems. In addition, each character has 2 types of weapons they can choose from which emphasize different fighting styles and sometimes different stats. Each style has its own skill tree which determine the special techniques you can execute. Through the course of the game you'll only get enough skill points to master one skill tree (and you get an achievement when you do that) so it's best to pick one and go with it.
There are a ton of quests to do, side events, etc. The game offers at least 60 hours of content were you to do everything at a brisk pace; this is nothing to be scoffed at during this generation of video games.
The only big gameplay detraction I can think of personally, is that the timing of the fights can be a bit irritating. It varies between ridiculously fast-paced execution with an emphasis on quick-thinking and pressing the right button at the right time, and waiting for your stamina bar to recharge. This can sometimes make combat extremely boring; boring enough that you'll let your AI members kill enemies to level you while you do something else on occasion.
Replay Value: 8/10
The skill trees give a different feel for when you replay the game, being that the special moves you execute and fighting styles will different vastly.
Sadly there are no choices to be made in the story or different paths to take at any time really. Everything is painfully linear as far as progression in the game itself goes. Only completing sidequests and trying out different fighting styles serves as motivation to replay.
Achievement Difficulty: Hard
On my first play through I didn't even achieve 500 gamer score. Many of the points rely on the mastering of skill trees which will require you to play through twice at least to master both. There's another for finishing all quests which would be annoying.
In order to really get every achievement it's going to take around ~100 hours of effort I'd say.
Final Score: 8/10
Bottom line: If you like JRPGs and you have no trouble dealing with some of the same revisited elements they tend to throw at us, you will probably like the plot.
If you don't like JRPGs you will probably not like this game.
If you liked FFXII's combat system, you will probably like Magna Carta 2's. If you didn't, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't like Magna Carta 2's, it's a vast improvement with more active player involvement.
Product Release: Magna Carta 2 (US, 10/13/09)
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