game: magna carta: tears of blood
console: playstation 2
score: 9 / 10
Right, so it will probably be pretty easy to tell I haven't written a review in ages, but stay with me! This is a game that really needs a review itself, and a little bit more love. Also excuse how this thing will be all over the place, I couldn't think of one good method for it.
Right, so. Off we go!
PLOT/STORYLINE: ( 9/10 ) The general plot and storyline to Magna Carta is probably most different than the average Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts, but it still manages to wrap its fingers around you until the very last second when it drops a huge plot twist on you! Taking place in a fictional world called Efferia, it has been 30 years since the war against the Humans and the Yason has started. We first meet Calintz, the main character of the game, and leader of a mercenary group called the Tears of Blood. This group launches a resistance to the Yason, and is currently cooperating with an Alliance group to end the war. Here you'll meet interesting characters like Eonis, Azel, and Haren. Every member of the Tears of Blood has lost something, or someone valuable during the war. Along Calintz' journey to end the war with the Yason, he meets a young maiden named Reith, who challenges his thoughts and attitude toward the war. Bearing amnesia and only remembering her own name, Calintz vows to protect her for saving his life, and to bring back her lost memory.
With many plot twists and stories that just might bring you to tears, this game is heavy in plot and character development, keeping you on your heels until the very end.
GRAPHICS: ( 10/10 ) Sorry Square-Enix, but I have to say Magna Carta kicks your ass when it comes to graphics. Backgrounds, cities, characters, and FMV sequences seem to all be planned and carried out accordingly. You'll never see a funny face on one of your characters; their facial expressions and movement all seems to be extraordinarily real. The FMV sequences also gives Atlus something to brag about -- no problems in this section!
MUSIC: ( 10/10 ) By far, this game has some of the best music I've ever listened to. Creative and fitting to its environments, the music in Magna Carta is something to sing about! It never gets boring, and tends to fit its mood appropriately. Some music will make you want to sing and dance, others will make you want to cry, and others will even get you pumped for a boss battle, and even soothe your soul. Overall, if this game didn't interest you at all, I'd give the soundtrack a buy. It's simply perfect, and I'm usually pretty critical when it comes to game music.
BATTLE SYSTEM: ( 9/10 ) Though greatly hated and criticized by its critics, Magna Carta's battle system is another thing that Atlus can really brag about. With free movement in battle, and an ability to control all on screen characters, it really gives its competitors a challenge. Relying on Chi, or elements of the world, to fight, it gives the game a challenge not many games can pose. It also gives the gamer a chance to try out different characters, instead of using the same one throughout the whole game. Consequently however, there are Chi Lanterns, which allow you to switch and mess around with the Chi in that area. Without the Chi of the element your character uses ( let's use Calintz' default style as an example; Wind [A] and Mountain [M] ), they will not be able to attack. So if you want Calintz to attack in battle, you better make sure your A and M Chi is intact! ...Or you'll wind up getting defeated by your enemies, or resorting to another character.
Another interesting aspect to the battle system is the use of Styles. Each character starts with one style, and can learn up to three more with the use of Scrolls, which can be found in Dojo's, and can be dropped by certain monsters. Each style uses certain Chi, and needs to be leveled up. An attack in battle is executed by pressing 3 buttons at certain times. By pressing them in perfect time, a new attack will be learned for that Style. When all attacks from that style have been learned, a Combo attack can be achieved. While in Combo mode, you receive more damage, but also unleash all attacks at one time. Remember though, if you miss one button, your attack is canceled, so be careful!
The main battle system can be quite confusing at first, but in the long run, it can be quite fun to play around with. Each battle starts with having to fill up the leadership gauge at the top of the screen. Both the parties, and enemies gauge can be seen. There are small arrows on the gauge which, when the gauge reaches, allow you to attack. ( Though when running/walking in battle, it stops filling up for that time ) At that point, if you are close enough to an enemy to attack, a small circle will appear with three buttons you need to push. Pushing those buttons in succession, will allow you to perform an attack. You start off with weak attacks, and eventually lead up to your stronger attacks. Remember that you also need to level up your styles before using more powerful attacks. The Leadership gauge depends largely on the charisma your party has; in order to up charisma for your party, Calintz is able to talk to them through hotels and save points, which can either level up or down their current level. He can also give them gifts too! If your charisma beats the enemies current level, you'll have a good chance in battle, being able to attack more.
There is also a Trinity Drive gauge below the Leadership gauge. This is filled up when your attacks all achieve a Great! score. It can reach up to 100%, but can be used from 30% and up. Using the square button to unleash this will multiply your attacks by that percentage. So if you use it at 50%, your attacks with be given 1.5x the power. Very useful when fighting powerful enemies!
Another thing to look out for is a characters shield. When in Standard attack mode, your character will have a shield, represented by small dots above the HP bar. Depending on the style your character is using, depends on how many of those dots your character will have. Calintz, for example, usually has plenty of dots, while magic users like Reith and Eonis, will have only one or two dots. If an enemy attacks more than the number of dots on your character, then their shield will break and they will receive critical damage. Don't worry though -- the shield always fills up after the attack is over!
My favourite concept of the battle system is walking. While journeying across Efferia, you have two options of travel outside of cities. You can either run, while not being careful to spot enemies, or you can walk; sword drawn. By walking, you can see the enemies clearly, able to sneak up on them and attack. If you do this, you will surprise the enemy and start with a full leadership gauge, while your enemies will simply take your attacks until a certain time has passed. It makes the game a lot easier. Though effective, your enemy can also do the same to you, so watch out!
Also: if you run low on HP outside of battle, instead of using items or finding an inn to heal you, you can simply rest by pressing the square button, while your characters HP goes up! Remember to check the area for monsters first though, or they'll strike you while you're least weary, and disrupt the healing process.
A neat aspect in Magna Carta is the ability a Fortune Teller can give. By telling a characters fortune, they can either gain more experience in battle, or less. You can undo a fortune if it's not so good, which ... I highly recommend you do.
GAMEPLAY: ( 9/10 ) For only having one disk, this game is incredibly long! Since you do a lot of walking, that takes up some time. The battles are usually longer than the average Final Fantasy game, so that can eat up some time as well. I'm only about 1/3 through the game so far, and I'm at 20 hours! It's a nice game to play if you want one that will keep your interest for a long period of time.
DIFFICULTY: ( 6/10 ) Though many have said Magna Carta to be a difficult game, I find it quite easy. To be able to heal to full health after almost every battle, it can't be too hard can it? Once you get used to all the aspects of the battle system, you can even defeat your enemies simply even when they surprise you. Though I will give it a 6 just because it can be quite difficult when you don't know what you're doing!
OVERALL: ( 9/10 ) A nice 9 out of 10 for this game! It's simply magnificent and different, from its story to its music. I highly recommend it to any RPG fan.