Magna Carta II

Some gamers, even RPG fans, need a bit of convincing when they see a new RPG on the store shelf they’ve never heard of and that hasn’t been pushed through the hype machine like magical +5 bullshit mince. Some RPG fans might need even more convincing while they are completely hypnotised by the ‘now with English voice over’ Final Fantasy XIII trailer. Some though, the more discerning fan, the true RPG lover, will be stupidly excited to see an RPG they know almost nothing about and has nothing to recommend it other than the beautifully oiled breasts of one of the characters on the box art. Now they are very oily breasts but it’s not those that are so alluring to role playing aficionados, it’s the obscurity. The idea of pumping 100 hours into an entirely new adventure,  completely original fighting and customisation systems and a myriad of items, weaponry, armour, enemies and environments we’ve never seen before. Magna Carta is  made by Korean developer Softmax and has been with the company since its inception in 2001, the original title only being released in Korea. A sequel appeared on the PS2 a few years back to no fanfare and so this latest title has both the curse and luck of standing on its own in the mind of players willing to accept it on its own merits. The merits are plenty.

If you just want it nutshelled and to know where it stands compared to the other Eastern RPGs on the market, then you’re welcome to go and check the middling round up score on GameRankings or Metacritic but you’ll be none the wiser, more accurately, in fact, you will have been misled completely. If you’ve joined Ready Up in our little corner of the internet to actually get some real idea of the game then come in and pull up a pew. Reverend Kearney is about to give the Homily. Magna Carta II combines two things in a way I have not seen before in this console generation. It is a high definition, top spec title with depth, complexity and sophistication. It is also traditional to the point of being retro. The old skool elements are all to the good. The combat is nuanced and hard to get your head around, the story is often told through still scenes and is the same old tale we’ve heard told a million times. All that stuff is good. What we have here is a traditional RPG with all the comforting elements we need, but packed with modern techniques and mechanics that offer the level of play we’ve come to expect.

You play a young chap who has lost his memory and about to discover he has special skills, he hitches a ride with a rag tag bunch fighting a war so that he can revenge the murder of a friend. There’s a princess, a big furry guy, a smart-mouthed magic dude, a 12 year old girl with massive tits and so on and so forth. It’s all in there. Don’t you just want to pull it over you like a warm blanket of familiarity? Don’t get too cosy though, because here comes the combat and it’s a tense affair of real time fighting with no move to a battle screen, enemies with an aggro field,  a timed combination of moves, special attacks and switching to control your other party members to chain together your attacks and not overheat your characters bringing them to a halt. It’s not easy to get to grips with and it’s all thrown at you over the first few hours of play. No one is holding your hand here and leading you, sheep-like through simple one button combat. In fact you could almost say it’s like a proper old skool RPG!

Thing is, though, take one look at the sublime graphics of the environments and the character art and you wouldn’t mistake this for an old game in a million years. Add to that the depth of customisation with your weapons and skill tree all leading you through a myriad of options that affect the whole gaming experience and this is clearly a ‘this gen’ game. Softmax’s limited experience of working across Magna Carta, a couple of Korean MMOs and a Japan-only Dreamcast golfing game over the last decade is belied by their confidence in the way they present MCII to us. We’re given exactly what any fan of the genre could want – nothing more, nothing less. There are no gimmicks, no desperate attempts to shove some half-thought through idea at us. They already know what works and what doesn’t in RPGs. They know, we know, and you know. Magna Carta II is an excellent game in every respect. The other reviewers out there may pick at the seams, and they certainly worked hard at thinking up reasons not to like this title very much – but they are wrong and have poor taste in games. You, the RPG lover, you came here to find out the truth – here it is. Magna Carta II is good. You should buy it.







One response to “Magna Carta II”

  1. Ramsden avatar

    Unfortunately perhaps, as I was one of the two or three people to play the PS2 Magna Carta, the series’ “unknown factor” doesn’t really come into play for me. Then again, the only reason I played the previous game is my love of RPGs and of searching out obscure titles I can speak about pretentiously to people who’ve never heard of them later on. And sadly, I suspect that this game won’t be played by very many people either. Even here on the Ready Up forums, the only comments I’ve seen other than your’s go along the lines of “Saw this game with great cover art (tits ahoy!) but that I’ll never buy or play.”

    I have yet to lay my hands on a copy, but that is purely down to fiscal obligations and not hesitancy. I’m chuffed to bits though to hear that everything I liked about Tears of Blood still holds true. That game was also a quintessentially old-school RPG that elected to polish what already works well rather than dick about with silly half-baked gameplay gimmicks. The only shame of the consistency is it seems that the voice acting is as terrible as last time, judging from the few previews around. Something of a missed opportunity.

    Still, I’m glad also to know I’m not the only person around here who doesn’t think that the Eastern RPG genre starts and ends with Final Fantasy, a series that of late has only declined in quality.

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