September 17, 2013

A battle system that had potential (Magna Carta: Tears of Blood)

Posted in video games tagged , at 9:46 pm by riulyn

I spent quite a bit of time with Magna Carta: Tears of Blood yesterday and Sunday because it magically loaded again. This is going to be one long game, especially as they are making my two different parties go through the same long dungeon! Argh…

Anyway, the basic game isn’t really that bad at heart, but rather badly executed. The best and worst of the game I feel is highlighted by the battle system.

Pros of battle system

  • Chi system
  • Action bar/gauge adjustment
  • Positioning

Cons of battle system

  • Attack animations
  • Action bar too long/slow
  • Only 3 characters during battle
  • AI is dumb
  • Voice acting

The Chi system in principal is very cool. Each attack (by party member or by enemy) uses up a little bit of one of the 8 different Chi in the environment. As Chi is getting used up, the power of the attacks is lessened. When there is no Chi left, no attacks that require that Chi can be performed. Thus the starting Chi environment and the regenerative potential of the Chi of that environment can affect which party members are actually useful attackers in different areas, since each character’s attack will use a different Chi depending on the style he/she is using and what level attack they are using (always have to start at level 1 and can go up to the max for the style and then stay at max until you mess up). It’s also an interesting strategy whether you want to significantly lower the Chi that your opponent is using or pound them with the opposite Chi that could potentially do extra damage (the 8 Chi are grouped into 4 pairs). However, the game spends a great deal of time not forcing you to adapt to the Chi environment. Too many of the environments are just flooded with Chi for all 8 elements or the Chi regeneration is too fast. I spent a good portion of the beginning of the game just sending Calintz to murder everything while his party members just watched.

Another cool feature is the action bar (or whatever that thing is called) that adjusts when you can attack based on how many active party members and enemies there are. However, the bar takes a while to fill up when you have to face 3 enemies, especially since the bar doesn’t keep moving while an attack animation is playing out. I’ve personally never timed how long it takes to get from one end to the other end of the bar, but it has to be at least 15 seconds. If you aren’t wiping enemies out quickly due to a first strike, the beginning of the battle can take forever. Even worse is if you mess up the button presses for an attack. Not only does that reset your character’s progress through the different attack levels of that style back to the first level, but it also pushes the progress back on the action bar back one attack. If you screw up healing, you not only get sent back to the lowest level healing spell but you have to wait another how many seconds before you can try to heal or even use an item. In that time you may get massacred.

Another interesting thing is how positioning works. It’s a rectangular field where you can move around freely, but moving around stops the progress of your action bar while the enemy’s (as long as the enemy is standing still) continues to progress. That part is fine. The fact that attacks require you to be a certain distance away The bad part of positioning is that the AI is dumb so you can just throw Calintz to be the tank and take all the physical hits. Enemies will almost always flock to the closest character even if there is no physical barrier to prevent them from moving and attacking mages. If a mage is in range as well as a tank, the AI is smart enough to use physical attacks on the mage and give him/her a beating.

Now for additional cons. The attack animations take forever and are accompanied by horribly voice-acted one-liners. Also, you get a lot of characters (significant portions of the game has your party split up but still you may have 6 or 7 characters with you) and you can only use 3 in battle. And it’s not like everyone levels up on the side; only battle members do. I like keeping my people’s levels relatively even, but I haven’t found a reason why you’d have to when Calintz can be such a tank.

I wonder how Magna Carta 2 is. Supposedly it improves a lot of things over the first game, and there are plenty of things to improve besides the battle system. I am amused enough by the “bad” of this game that I think I’ll finish it and I have been saving Magna Carta 2 for afterwards. It’s just weird that a year ago I was playing game after game on the Xbox360 and I haven’t touched it since November. I suppose all systems have their droughts when you own so many of them, but it seems kind of serious for my Xbox360… Too many games to play, especially on the PS2 🙂

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2 Comments »

  1. Joseph said,

    I really really wanted to like tears of blood, but it just never stuck with me. I love qte type bake systems too. Magna carta 2 is excellent, especially since the number of good rpgs on the 360 are so few. I did manage to finish it just remember wishing it has more end game content. Is tears of blood worth another try?

    • riulyn said,

      I guess it depends on what caused you to stop playing? In general I think it’s a hard game to recommend just because it feels like everything takes forever and the plot isn’t that great. I don’t know when it starts to pick up (it’s still kind of slow but much better than the beginning of the game), maybe 10 hours in (I’m around 35 hours and I think I’m 1/2-2/3)? I am personally amused by the atrocious voice acting and cut scenes (the voice acting being bad is greatly due to the terrible way the cut scenes were framed) but otherwise that’s another big negative for most people. Also not a lot of save points and sometimes the save point is after the boss, though none of the bosses that you are supposed to beat are hard. And sometimes you’ll see them on screen before you would trigger the battle, so you can prepare (aka throw Calintz back into the party). I think the game came out in 2006 but while it looks nice it certainly hadn’t embraced more modern conveniences.


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