With Magnacarta 2, the first thing you will notice is the incredibly disproportioned heroine on the front cover. The second thing you will notice is how flat chested she is in game! Ironically, this sums up Magnacarta 2 pretty well – on the surface looks it great, but once you get to the meat of the product nothing is quite what it seems.
Our plucky young hero this time is a lad named Juto, who is following the long held tradition in gaming of losing his memory. All gamers know this either means he was once a git or he’s a super soldier that someone screwed over and hasn’t rediscovered his power. Oh ladies and gentlemen prepare for a barrage of familiarity. While the supporting cast are relatively interesting, it does feel like a copy and paste job from one of the dozens of other JRPG’s. It unfortunately doesn’t help that the voice work for all characters is woefully dull – not one of them brings you to believe in the character, only reinforcing the idea of an actor recording lines.
Starting in the small village of Highwind, Final Fantasy fans will see more than just a passing reference. Magnacarta 2 (For the most part) looks a lot like FFXII on a next gen console, with all the models and (most) environments having the shine they deserve in a 360 game. However, the game has none of the polish found in Sqaure-Enix titles. Graphical draw distances are constantly blurred. Pop up from scenery and characters is frequent, and getting stuck on the environment is quite a simple task. In the first area alone you will find yourself blocked by invisible walls where other games would have allowed you to walk. It’s a design choice, but is frustrating for a game that takes its time to even attempt to hook you.
Leaving the main town area (after much slow dialogue) sets you towards your first combat experience, the one place Magnacarta 2 sets its self apart from the JRPG crowd. Incorporating a real time combat system with elements of classic turn based systems. Combat engagement is 90% of the time dictated by the player, pulling on the left trigger sets you into battle mode and complete control remains in your hands. Simply pressing the A button swings your weapon which, depending on your level can be turned into a combo with subsequent taps, while the X button unleashes your assigned special move. To stop the game turning into a spam fest you have the B button which can be used to respond to enemy attacks with moves like counter and a combat bar at the bottom of the screen which fills up with each attack you use. When the bar is full you enter Overdrive in which you do more damage with each attack but end up in an Overheat status after. Overheat momentarily stuns your character leaving you open to attack. However a chain system exits to switch between characters, in a unique option to avoid this setback. It’s pretty tricky to get the chain system down, but once you do it becomes routine in the tougher fights and keeps your concentration up in what would otherwise be a glorified Diablo click fest. The combat system is let down in only one area – your AI partners. These mechanical idiots will do very little to help without your control. Although there are a number of set tasks you can give them, the situation can change rapidly, leaving them doing completely the wrong thing. It makes you reconsider the merits of the gambit system from FFXII
Your first quest is handed to you soon after completeting your combat tutorial, and is Magancarta 2’s way of keeping the grind out of the game. Sub-quests are handed out much like MMO’s and reward you with experience, items and money. Some of these sub-quests are simple dungeon crawls, where as others are played out like mini games and provide a nice distraction from the main slog. Each character comes with his own weapon tree to advance down – to increase power and learn new moves. Unfortunately the system isn’t very deep and choosing between level ups is almost absent with obvious choices being presented each time. Each weapon also has a slot system that once again will have FF fans reminiscing about the materia system in FF7, but in Magnacarta’s defense it was a great system and feels well implemented here.
Apart from the droll voice acting, the soundtrack doesn’t do too badly at keeping the feel of the game nice and even. A couple of standout rocking tracks appear, but the action on the screen doesn’t quite match the epicness of the sounds. All these elements put together make up the intrigue in the plot, and due to their poor quality fail to drag you in. Not to say that the plot is worth really worrying over missing. Nigh on all the twists and turns in the story can be called several hours before they happen, with the exception of the twist at the end which is actually pretty good – the problem is finding the will to get there. Magnacarta 2 pulls the disappointment card once again in regards to its length – after seeing two discs in the box, it’s upsetting to learn that after 35 hours you are pretty much done. That includes the abundance of loading times you will face.
Magnacarta 2 is a sum of its parts, and unfortunately while most of the points have stand out qualities, they are weighed down by the flaws. Once again you face a game that could have done so much better if the production had been on a higher level. It’s a shame, as the game entices you to stay and you almost feel drawn in, but then something happens that keeps you isolated from the experience (and I’m not talking Uncharted or Brutal Legend). With a number of better RPG’s out there and the games constant reminders of the Final Fantasy series (Which is of higher quality by leaps and bounds) it’s hard to recommend this game over the others. If you have the patience of a saint and have been looking for a new RPG, you could do worse, but unless you’ve played a lot of RPG’s, you could do far better.