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Take an amnesiac hero who discovers his true inner power within the first hour, a sprawling world ripped apart by warring factions, a twee supporting cast with surprisingly clear gender distinctions (in true ‘JRPG’ fashion the girls all have child’s faces surgically implanted onto adult bodies) and a cast of amateur voice actors. Enchanted Arms? Infinite Undiscovery? No, this one’s Magnacarta 2.
The hook here is the combat. Like Infinite Undiscovery, fights occur in real time. Left trigger toggles between movement and combat modes, where attacks and signature techniques are mapped to face buttons. Scraps come close to action-adventure territory, but limitations, such as cool-down times for overenthusiastic attackers, prevents total genre abandonment. Though fun at first the discovery of chain links and chain breaks (the ability to replenish party stamina by switching between your trio to send multiple characters into overheat mode) makes battles very one-note, even when the various combinations are factored in.
The rest is nothing new. Sure, magic’s called ‘Kan’ and money is ‘Sid’, but everything else in RPG land is as you remember it. Not that the borrowing malarkey is all bad. Remember Final Fantasy VII’s materia? Softmax has squeezed a similar idea into the equipment enhancement system. Weapons have associated Kamond boards with slots for upgrades, and though the super-simplified skill trees and the chain systems are basic enough for genre virgins to grasp with ease, the potential for combo-tinkering will please even the most indoctrinated RPG connoisseurs. A shame then that the world itself is so hard to care about. Incongruous cut-scenes tell a confusing tale in desperate need of editing for clarification purposes, ruined further by truly abysmal character design.
While Magnacarta’s tale is uninteresting, its stolen ideas do evoke memories of better role-players past. For that reason it’s a ‘lite’ RPG still worth a go while there are no better examples of the genre on the horizon, but only if you’ve already exhausted the alternatives.
Oct 13, 2009
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