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stevenxonward avatar 1:19 PM on 10.19.2009  (server time)
Magna Carta II: Impressions

This is going to be my first ever c-blog. I hadn't really decided on whether or not I'd invest a lot of time in writing these, but it seems as though I might be the only one playing Magna Carta II, so I figured I'd let you know if it's worth your precious time and money. I'm a little over 4 hours in at this point and the game has already shown me things I haven't seen in a current-gen JRPG since Lost Odyssey.

Before I get started, let me say that Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was absolutely NOT awesome. It was a terrible game whose suckage was equaled only by its theme song. If you played MC: Tears of Blood, try to erase every bit of it from your memory. Go ahead, I'll wait... Now that that's gone, you can sleep easy knowing you never need to think of it again. Magna Carta II appears to have been created totally independent of Tears of Blood, which was actually a sequel to the first Magna Carta, Magna Carta: Phantom Avalanche. MCII is essentially a reinvention of the franchise, and it's apparently not even spelled the same - MagnaCarta II is the correct spelling, but that's stupid and I refuse to use it.

Visually the game is very well put together, and renders of Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim's character designs are impressive. The only exception so far is Melissa, whose render is thoroughly terrifying. Her shoulders are at least twice as broad as the Juto's (the main character) and her head is twice as small. The Magna Carta series has been pretty big on breasts (pun might be intended), but Melissa's start about 6 inches lower than they should and are about 6 inches further apart than one would expect. It's not to say that I focus on these things, only that it's pretty noticeable and wholly frightening. The art style for the first few hours has been slightly desaturated. It's certainly not monochrome, but it's definitely less vibrant than the overly saturated Star Ocean 4 and Infinite Undiscovery. The overall look is pretty soft and soothing. Beyond the visuals, MCII has a very impressive Uematsu-esque soundtrack.

The battle system is a huge improvement over the needlessly convoluted battle system of the previous installment. MCII boasts a more real-time system that blends traditional action button mashing with elements of Final Fantasy XII. The battle's are fought in the environment without transporting you to a separate battle screen. The battle mode can be turned on and off with the left trigger. You'll be toggling a lot, as having battle mode turned on slows down your character considerably. You're only allowed about 5-6 regular attacks in a battle before entering "overdrive" state. In overdrive state, your attacks do 1.5x damage. You also have the ability to use special skill attacks with the X button, but the option is not always available. Your attacks are gauged by a meter beneath your character that functions similar to Secret of Mana's battle meter, only in reverse. Your attacks build your battle gauge until you reach overload state, after which you will then fall into "overheat" state. You are unable to attack or move while in overheat state. After a few seconds your mobility will be restored, but you will still not be able to attack again until your battle gauge depletes. It takes some getting used to, but there are a few workarounds. You have the ability to change your leader on the fly by pressing certain directions on the d-pad. If you accomplish an X button attack while in overdrive state, you can switch to another character and immediately use another X button attack to achieve a chain combo for extra damage. Like I said, it takes getting used to.

I can't comment much on the story at this point. MCII commits the most egregious offense of giving the main character amnesia. The game goes on to indulge in other RPG clichés, though I won't mention any others. Basically, you're a guy that joins the Southern Forces fight against the Northern Forces in order to avenge something or someone. That's really about all the story you get at 4 hours.

I'm excited to keep playing this one. It's the first JRPG that has immediately ensnared me since Lost Odyssey. After the first 3 or 4 hours of Star Ocean, it sat in a drawer for a few months before I finally got an itch to finish it. I still haven't played past the first 4 hours of Infinite Undiscovery or Enchanted Arms. But with Borderlands and Dragon Age: Origins on the horizon, Magna Carta II will likely get set aside for a while. I might change my mind should the story pick up a bit, but there are just too many games coming out that I'm a bit more stoked on. It's definitely worth picking up if you're a JRPG enthusiast. If not, you should still pick it up after you play through the rest of the games in your queue. If you don't like JRPGs, you probably didn't read any of this.[img]

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