E3 09: Magna Carta 2 impressions

I had seen some screens of Magna Carta 2 when I made my way over to the Namco Bandai booth today, but beyond that I had honestly no knowledge about the series. All I really knew was that it was a Xbox 360 exclusive RPG, it looked pretty, and that all next gen RPGs are starting to look kind of the same to me these days. I wasn’t jaded, but I wasn’t enthused either.

I came away from the game much more interested than I was when I walked in, though. Beyond its good looks (and it’s got plenty as far as that is concerned), it sports one of the more interesting, in-depth combat systems I’ve seen in an RPG in some time. Rather than feeling overly complex though, it still felt functional and simple to learn. Hit the jump and I’ll tell you a little more.

The opening cutscenes of Magna Carta 2 set the stage for a sweeping political epic in the kingdom called Lanzheim. You play the role of a character named Juto who — you guessed it — seems to have lost track of his memory. The story of Magna Carta 2 had all the clichesyou would expect from an RPG of its stature, so  I personally wasn’t impressed there, but if this type of setup is your jam you ought to dig it. The story seemed solid and well done from what I could tell, at least.

If you haven’t played the original Atlus game, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood, you don’t have to worry about intertwining stories — this game is completely separate in terms of that (the same team is back for Magna Carta 2 though). You will meet a total of six playable characters in the game,three of whom can be in your party at the same time.

Where the game really seemed to shine was in the combat, which was completely real time and allowed you to choose to approach monsters to engage in fights or avoid them. If you are ready, you choose to enter combat mode and your movement will slow a bit, so you don’t want to activate this mode unless you are sure you are ready to rock.

One of the coolest things about the combat is the ability to switch between characters on the fly. I adored this feature in Final Fantasy X, and although it works slightly differently here, it still seems just as handy. The other characters in your party will be AI controlled, but you can specify what types of actions you want them to take to tailor your strategy as you wish.

The combat gets even better when you realize you can chain attacks. Each characters has a stamina gauge that will fill up, and once they are full you can time it right and chain their attacks together. However, when the stamina gauges overheat, they have a danger of leaving that character vulnerable and useless, so there is a strong element of risk in trying for a chain. The reward is a devastating special that will pretty much blow the pants off of anything coming after you. 

I feel like I can’t give a final word on Magna Carta 2 without having had more time to play, but so far it looks like it could present a good experience for the gamer looking for more uniqueness in their RPG combat. If you hate the good old I-have-amnesia-but-I-must-save-a-kingdom story though, I’d say you ought to pass on this one: it already has all the trimmings of what makes modern RPG storylines need a strong kick in the ass.

Colette Bennett