Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Atlus
Developer
Banpresto/Softmax
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes
 
Grade
The Good

• Well designed characters and locations
• Timing based combat is fun yet challenging
• Interesting story

The Bad

• Gameworld looks a bit blocky
• Whole game has a sluggish pace
• Voice acting is poor

 
Grade
B-

You have to give Atlus credit: they continue to bring in niche RPGs to North America that would normally would never see the light of day. Such is the case with Magna Carta: Tears of Blood. This Banpresto/Softmax RPG is built along the same lines as Square's Final Fantasy series - a large, sweeping fantasy RPG about a massive conflict where the player learns about the characters and their place in the story.

The story behind Magna Carta is one of a war between the humans and the Yason. The main character, Calintz, is a commander in the mercenary group know as the Tears of Blood. This mercenary group is well know for being staffed by soldiers would have all lost family members in the war. After a mission goes wrong, Calintz is separated from his team and comes across Reith, an amnesiac priestess. Of course, the rest of the story plays out like your standard JRPG, with enough twists and turns to keep the average player entertained.

When the player gets into the game, you'll be able to move your character with the left analog stick in a fully polygonal world. You can interact with other NPCs, open treasure chests and engaging in combat. Once out of civilized areas, you'll be able to switch between different movement modes. You can choose Dash Mode, which allows you to move fast, but leave you open for sneak attacks, or Detect Mode, where you move slowly, but have a better shot at initiating combat on your own terms. To start combat, you just need to come into contact with enemies present on the battle field.

Once in combat, you'll be able to change between allies with the L1 and R1 buttons. Since the whole team shares a single turn bar, which fills as you stand still, you'll need to plan before moving. The team will get turns based on the relationship of the characters and how the battle plays out. When you defeat an enemy, you'll be able to get turns quicker, while the enemy will have to wait longer. When your turn comes around, you'll be presented with the Trinity Circle, where you'll have to land a combo of three button presses are the correct time to pull off your attack. As you get successful at it, you'll unlock more attacks. Further along in the game, you can actually pause battle with the Triangle button and switch styles (which will be important as you deplete certain types of Chi in the area).

The one thing that players will have to take into account is the Chi available in the area. The game world is composed of either different types of Chi and each attack is based on one type or another. When you use an attack, the Chi it uses is depleted partially. Once that type of Chi is gone, you can no longer use that attack until either the Chi is restored or you leave to another area. Often, there are Lanterns that you can use Talismans on to shift the Chi balance in the area. Of course, you can choose to deplete the Chi intentionally to stop enemies from using certain attacks.

Along with standard attacks, you can also go into Combo mode, where you have to move quickly to pull off large damaging attacks. Counter mode puts you on the defensive but allows you to do damage while blowing off enemy attacks.

Graphics are pretty much on par with most of the JRPGs out for the PS2. The game world has some nice detail and the on-screen characters lend a certainly reality to the game's living environments. The strength of the game's visuals is based on the excellent character designs by artist Hyung-tae Kim. His designs of the female characters are especially nice. The enemy designs are actually quite well done, which is a bonus for most of these types of games. Where the visuals do falter though, is that, on the whole, everything could use more polygons in the models. The character models and the outdoor environments all look a bit blocky, which does detract from the mood the story and music tries to establish.

Speaking of music, Magna Carta does feature a nice soundtrack that works hard to set a tone and mood for the game. This and the sound effects do a fair job. It's a shame, though, that the voice acting completely undercuts them. I can't tell whether the voice acting is bad or if it's poorly paced. I almost get the feeling that it's dragged out in some effort to line it up with what one might call lip synching.

Honestly, the whole pace of Magna Carta is just a bit too slow. If combat was something like Star Ocean 3, where your allies were independent and AI controlled, the combat might run a lot faster. Couple that with the fact that the story sequences and even moving around feel so slow, anyone without a good bit of patience might feel like this game drags along. Which is a shame because the core of this game is pretty good.

So, should you look into this one? If you have some patience, then by all means get it. There's a lot to be enjoyed here if you can just endure the dragging pace of the story. If you're looking for faster action, then you may get bored with this one a bit too quickly.

- - Vane

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