Jeff Markiewicz On December 14, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Magna Carta 2 is a sequel but it offers up a brand new storyline and universe from its predecessor. The game is made by Softmax who has made the strategy RPG series War of Genesis, which and the previous two Magna Cartas. The stories aren’t linked so everyone’s going in fresh. They obviously have the muscle to pull off RPGs but will they make their first outing on the next generation consoles a hit?

A Civil War is well underway in the world of Lanzhiem. Several years ago Prime Minister Schuenzuit murdered the queen and took Princess Rzephillda prisoner only to have her escape soon after. She has made her way to the city of Abazet and has formed the Southern Forces in opposition of the new ruler. On Highway Island, you’re found washed up on the shore will full blown amnesia. A villager named Melissa comes to your aid and gives you the name Juto. Unable to weld a real sword, you help out the island with a wooden one fending off animals and running errands. Pretty quickly the Princess makes a personal visit to the island and the Northern Forces mount an attack. In the defense of the island, Melissa is lost and you evacuate the island with the princess and her bodyguard and join their counter-sentinel unit to get revenge. The story starts pretty generic with amnesia and a mysterious past but becomes pretty entertaining and decent as you progress.

The epic campaign lasts about 35 hours, depending on how many side quests you decide to tackle. There is quite a bit of variety bundled up in them and the world is fairly linear so you smoothly transition from the main quest to them and exploration. A problem does present itself upon completion you always have to return to the quest giver or backtrack but other than at the end it’s no real issue. Near the end some side quests take you all over the world and if you get caught up in the main quest, it will take a long time to backtrack to do them. Another issue is that quest do not show up on your area map, only the minimap so in some of the more open areas or if you forget about a side quest, as you can take on multiple at a time, you can easily pass them up. The game starts with you just controlling Juto, the main character, but eventually your on-screen party will swell to three characters at a time. You can switch them in and out from inactive party members on the fly which is really nice. Each character can be controlled directly and in towns you’re restricted to the use of just one character. You can chat to your fellow members in town but they don’t say much. The combat system is fairly unique. You have a basic attack and then use skill points to acquire a myriad of other moves. These special attacks consume kan that you build up from normal attacks. In addition to this, you have a stamina system that will require patience to get used to. In the beginning, you’ll be able to do only a couple attacks before you’ll have to wait for it to fall down. If you are desperate or just accidently jam the attack button like in a 3rd person action game, you’ll enter overdrive mode. Here your attacks will be even more potent than before but at the cost of a very long cool down, of which initially you won’t even be able to move. Later on in the game though, you’ll be able to do more attacks and learn of ways to chain attacks together and do moves which will completely negate the stamina you’ve used up. Each character has two fighting styles which lets you customize your party a little more but typically they are always pushed to the range option, if one exists because two melee characters in combat is poor because of bad AI. Also they fill the tradition range of roles in these type of games, from tank to healer. If they are attacking two different enemies it’s fine but eventually it always comes down to one of the characters not being able to maneuver around the other limiting the potency of your strengths. The tutorial period at the beginning showing you off these dynamics is almost painfully bad but it comes into its own and after a couple hours you’ll be managing your members like a professional. The advanced techniques aren’t taught very well either so you might have to check online how to do them, especially because certain quests will make you do them without adequately teaching you how to perform them. Occasionally you’ll get to do a mini-game which help add a splash of variety but are typically a one-time deal. There are also puzzles but most pose no issues except for one, which is probably a result of a translation error and will cause confusion. The worst part is at the end which is populated with quite a few puzzles that feel like they are there to just artificially extend the game and aren’t executed that well. 

The RPG system in the game is quite nice. When you level up, just like most JRPGs it allocates points to your base attributes automatically but in addition to this you also receive skill points. These points are used to unlock special moves for your character in a node-based system. Most nodes are for moves but some are for permanent upgrades to your base attributes which forces you to decide if you’re going to go for moves or upgrades. You also have to choose between which fighting style you want to upgrade but by the end of the game you’ll have enough to populate both lists. The second way to get upgrades is to use kamonds to upgrade your weapons. These can boost up base attributes as well as other things like giving you immunity to certain attacks or give you an experience boost. These are a lot of fun to play around with. You can also find recipes to use these kamonds to make more powerful ones or make equipment. Each character gets two accessory spots that you can use to upgrade things similar to what the kamonds do. The system creates enough depth to make it feel like you’re not on rails and have a choice in how things develop but the game is pretty easy, only putting up a fight a couple of times. There are times you can find yourself under leveled if you run past enemies but as long as you take on everything in your path, no grinding is required. I almost wished there was a difficulty slider to make situations a bit more challenging to get bigger rewards but in the end even though most battles are fairly easy, it’s still a lot of fun. The core elements are here for a lot of enjoyment if you let it mature past the first couple hours.

The graphics are pretty disappointing. The world looks pretty bland with low-resolution textures and simplistic geometry. Water lacks any animation so it looks more like ice. A lot of the effects are pretty generic and simplistic. During escort quests the non-player character (NPC) follows a rigid waypoint system which just looks unnatural. Characters don’t show much emotion during cut scenes leaving you to derive it from context and their voice. It’s not all bad though, occasionally you’ll see a decent view. Cut scenes are all done in-engine with some extra effects on top which jazz it up a little bit. Major upgrades for your party will upgrade their look and throughout the duration of the game, Juto starts out looking like a scrawny little teenager and by the end looks pretty bad ass. What is there gets the job done but could’ve been better, especially since it’s powered by the unreal engine.

The sound design is pretty similar to the quality of the graphics. Some of the characters have high-pitched almost whiny voice like a Sunday morning cartoon. Most have the quality of those cartoons too, which means they aren’t that great. The voice acting is tolerable but you’ll find yourself skipping the back and forth bickering and will find yourself reading ahead of the other parts so you can skip ahead. Once you exhaust all of your stamina and go into the cool down mode, your party members all have a single quip that they will say and since you overload yourself quite a bit, it gets repetitive and annoying quick. One of the aspects that usually help this area is the inclusion of the Japanese voiceovers but they are unfortunately not included. Title music is actually quite pleasant but doesn’t translate into the game which is standard-fare JRPG music. The sound effects are decent and do their job but you won’t be marveling over any of them.

Magna Carta 2 does nothing particularly remarkable and some parts leaves a lot to be desired but it nails the fundamentals enough to become addicting. You’ll load a save and set out to only play an hour but you breeze through several without noticing. And when you notice, you’ll keep saying you’ll play to the next save point only to keep putting it off to the next. The story is pretty generic but is coherent and interesting enough to keep you driving forward. The fighting system does require some patience and gets a little repetitive near the end. The graphics are pretty poor with cheap effects and blurry textures but occasionally you’ll see a decent view. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table but at its core is a fun experience that’ll keep you entertained for a great while.


Story starts of immensely cliché but comes into own after a while. The world is pretty well realized and has a rich history if you choose to delve into it. Combat system takes patience to get use to and can get a little repetitive but once you stumble upon advanced techniques, it gets some of its luster back. The node-based skill system works well but by the end of the game everyone ends up in the same place limiting replayability significantly.


Graphics are pretty poor with cheap effects and blurry textures but occasionally you’ll see a decent view. Major upgrades will change the appearance of your character which is nice. A big disappointment is the lack of emotion showing on the faces of characters.


Sunday morning cartoon quality voice acting so you might get one or two decent but everyone else is okay or worse. Title music is actually quite pleasant but doesn’t translate into the game which is standard-fare JRPG music.


Magna Carta 2 does nothing particularly remarkable and some parts leaves a lot to be desired but it nails the fundamentals enough to become addicting. If you like JRPGs and need some time to hold you over for a certain big title next year, this one will fill the void. Don’t let its lack of innovation hold you back, its fun.

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