Originally released on the PS2, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood was a beautiful RPG that was hyped back in the day to be able to give Final Fantasy X a run for its money. However, the game received mediocre reviews as the title had a tedious battle system and felt largely imbalanced. Developer Softmax is back with MagnaCarta 2, exclusively on the Xbox 360, to revitalize the game once again with new tweaks and revisions.
The story takes place in January of II49 on the Lanzheim calendar. In the kingdom of Lanzheim, the Prime Minister, Schuenzeit, obtained power by murdering Queen Ibrin in a political and military revolution. After the Queen’s demise, her daughter, Zephie, was imprisoned before escaping to join the Southern Forces to fight back against Schuenzeit’s tyranny. In the midst of this war, a young amnesic boy named Juto struggles to regain his identity while fighting alongside Zephie in Lanzheim’s civil war between the North and the South.
Battles take place in a transition from Movement mode to Combat mode. When exploring the environment, you can open chests and talk to villagers in Movement mode. When there are enemies on the open field, pressing the left trigger switches you seamlessly to Combat mode with Juto drawing his weapon. Combat in real time is the standard fare in this game with the ability to attack and dash and unleash Signature Techniques, otherwise known as skills, towards your enemies on the battlefield.
Characters have a stamina gauge meter in battle that rises steadily after each attack. This gauge shows the stamina used and if you fill it above the maximum level, your character instantly goes into Overdrive. Overdrive raises your attack and skill power and allows you to unleash your Signature Technique in battle upon numerous enemies. However, once you use any standard attack or skill in Overdrive, Juto will fall victim to Overheat state where he is unable to move or use items until he regains the lost stamina. That means if you rely on button mashing, you will quickly learn that the tide of battle will turn quickly against you.
As you attack your enemies, Juto accumulates “Kan” that allows you to utilize special abilities. There are 4 types of Kan: Fire, Wind, Lightning and Water. They are used for wizardry characters and can be found randomly on open fields in the game. Those, like Juto, lacking magical abilities can use them to strengthen their existing Signature Techniques in battle. Kan is also found in Kamonds, or shiny jewels left behind by deceased monsters after combat. There are 3 types of Kamonds: Ability, Status and Special. Ability raises your ability stats, Status helps to protect you against negative status ailments and special, just like the name suggests, has its own unique special abilities.
Throughout the game, you will earn skill points in battle that are used to unlock various skills in, you guessed it, a Skill Tree. Locked skills are greyed out until you gain the necessary skill points to unlock it for use. After all skills are mastered, you are declared a master of that particular fighting style. You are able to select different fighting styles in the game akin to your character. In Juto’s case, you could select between wielding a sword single-handedly and duel-wielding a sword.
MagnaCarta 2 is not a bad game by any means but is largely a forgettable one. You won’t really feel much for the characters with a lot of bland and dry dialogue. The quests you undertake are mostly item fetching quests and monster hunting on the open field. Battles are far more intriguing than the storyline as many of the characters are predictable and your run-on-the-mill personas.
Visually, the game has beautiful graphics. Many of the cities, villages, and forests look absolutely stunning. The character designs by renowned artist, Hyung Tae-Kim are unique and easily rival some of the best designs put out by RPG juggernaut, Square Enix. Music in this game is equally impressive but its a real shame that the voice acting in this game falls into mediocrity.
MagnaCarta 2 is a game with potential that is regrettably marred by its cliché storyline and characters. The battles are decent but feel far too repetitive after several hours of gameplay before fighting the big bosses in this game. I had high hopes for this game after playing the original on the PlayStation 2 a couple years back but found MagnaCarta 2 to be less than engaging while writing this review. Overall, MagnaCarta 2 is a half-decent RPG that is worth a rental on the Xbox 360.