MagnaCarta 2 boasts incredible art design, with beautifully conceived settings and eye-candy character designs by Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim
- Great visual style, fun combat, game elements all work well together
- Unskippable dialogue, cliched story, slow start
Even though it largely follows what very well could be excerpts from "The Idiot's Guide to RPG Plot", MagnaCarta 2 is still a relatively fresh and well-done role playing experience.
Price$ 109.95 (AUD)
As much as Japanese RPGs get flack for their regurgitation of similar themes and design elements, there's an underlying appeal to the genre that continues to draw ardent fans. MagnaCarta 2, despite its Korean origin, is very Japanese in style. And while it re-uses many of the genre's familiar tropes, they're all utilised well -- which makes all the difference.
The story follows Juto, a young lad with convenient plot amnesia who lives a simple life in an island village with his caretaker. An ancient artifact is dug up in a cave nearby, and soon forces of an inland civil war are fighting over the relic, bringing Juto into a struggle to end the war. Naturally, Juto's past will emerge, war atrocities will be uncovered, and the fate of the world comes into question. It's pretty typical stuff, but it's told in an inoffensive enough way that you won't really mind playing RPG cliche bingo as you go along -- though the inability to fast-forward dialogue is a glaring oversight.
Where MagnaCarta 2 really shines is its combat. Enemies are encountered while travelling and can be either avoided or engaged with a button press. Combat occurs seamlessly with no transitions to a "battle screen." Rather than picking options from a menu, characters execute actions with button presses, and can also move freely about the battlefield to pursue foes or dodge attacks. But you can't just mash A repeatedly and expect to win -- every blow expends a character's stamina, and while using up a great deal of stamina results in more powerful blows, it also leaves your controlled character stunned and vulnerable afterwards. Fortunately, the game makes it easy to switch control of your three active characters at any time, and while it can be confusing at times (since your CPU-controlled buddies might have locked on to a separate target), it keeps combat flowing at a fast pace -- particularly when risky, exhausting, but potentially highly rewarding "chain attacks" come into play.
There are other fun elements to play around with, too. MagnaCarta 2 offers a wealth of sidequests, special skill learning trees to invest points into, and the ability to augment weaponry with stat-boosting enhancements. None of these are really original, but they are nicely done. The game also makes sure that players are never without guidance: quest-givers and event locations are marked on your minimap, along with a pointer to indicate what general direction you'll need to head to move things along. Detailed quest info and tutorial refreshers are also available anytime they're needed.
MagnaCarta 2 boasts incredible art design, with beautifully conceived settings and eye-candy character designs by Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim. Occasionally it's marred by some low-res textures and technical issues like pop-in, but for the most part the game is visually rich. Music, too, is solid, with some very nice tracks scattered throughout. You won't be enjoying these elements for long stretches of time, however. The game only runs about 35 hours -- which is either a good or bad thing depending on how much free time you have. Aside from a slow first hour or two, the game's story and combat move at a brisk, enjoyable pace.
When all's said and done, MagnaCarta 2 isn't terribly unique, and you won't remember much about it a few months after you're done with it. But what lies at the game's core is an appealing, well-crafted charm I found very fun. MagnaCarta 2's twisting road doesn't tread much new ground, but it's still an engaging ride regardless.
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