January 5, 2015

Magna Carta 2 vs Magna Carta: Tears of Blood

Posted in video games tagged , , , at 11:13 pm by riulyn

To be honest, I have this urge to remind you that Magna Carta and Magna Carta 2 exist, even though I personally wouldn’t put these two games near my top 10. I feel like they don’t get enough love, even though they aren’t great games? Of course, I’m saying this years after Magna Carta 2 came out. Still, I think they are worth something, if only because of their battle systems.

Don’t worry. Magna Carta 2 shares art style and some concepts but is ultimately a completely separate game, so feel free to just pick up the second game (my recommendation) if you are interested.

BATTLE SYSTEM

I’ve already talked about the first game’s battle system in a previous post, so let’s get into Magna Carta 2’s battle system. Magna Carta 2 is an action RPG but it’s not button mash attack and guard. It’s a strategic button press system but unlike the first game, it is not limited by set patterns. Basically, any attack or skill uses up stamina. This will be shown by a stamina meter. Stamina is replenished with time (aka your use meter will steadily decrease, speed depends on stats). However, if you use up the entire meter, you temporarily go into “Overdrive” in which your attacks can do extra damage. Afterwards, though, you cannot perform any actions until you have “cooled down”.

Why would you press yourself to go into Overdrive if you get stuck with this cooldown period? Once you get three party members (a few hours into the game I think?) you get told how to do chain break. Chain break is basically having one character go into overdrive with a skill, allowing him/her to get chain ready status, and then switching to another character and having them go into overdrive with a skill within a short time limit (you will see a gauge rapidly decreasing below the stamina meter so you have an idea how much time you have left). Once the second character has successfully completed his/her task, “chain break” occurs and the two chained characters both completely recover their stamina. This is basically a good way to do massive damage and/or recover stamina more quickly, but beware – a boss character can sometimes interrupt your attempted chain break by doing their special move. I don’t think the boss AI can tell exactly when you are doing chain break; they seem to cycle through attacks on their own schedule. Thus it’s more of a warning that chain break won’t always happen even if you plan it perfectly.

The other important aspect of battles is the kan system. Basically, all skills need kan. Magic users need environmental kan of their element, which can be already present or generated locally via normal attacks. Normal attackers (Juto and Argo) just need to use normal attacks to accumulate “strength” kan. Unless doomseeds are falling, which can completely block the generation of environmental kan, pretty much party members are never useless. Also, thankfully, you can switch characters in and out of your active party and all your characters will gain experience from battles (though inactive members get less experience – 50% I think?). Either way, all characters are useful, though certain ones are useful in more situations than others, and you don’t have the grinding for levels problem. Especially if you are unlucky like me and have to grind in order to obtain enough of story-related compounds.

I’d say Magna Carta 2 is better than Magna Carta in the following

  • Battles are much quicker and feel more involved. You also don’t have to engage mooks if you don’t want to, even if you run into them.
  • With free-switching of characters mid-battle, you can change your battle strategy on the fly. The game wants you to do that sometimes by actually varying the boss attacks/strategies much more than in the first game, though they still seem to run on scripts mostly based on time and not on reacting to your party’s actions.
  • Characters are more balanced and the fact that they have skills instead of styles means they can do things like buff and debuff instead of just heal or attack.

While Magna Carta is better than Magna Carta 2 in the following

  • Button timing, while in patterns, has a much bigger penalty if you mess up
  • Changes in environment affecting the ability to attack

Overall I think a battle system that is quicker and more active is more enjoyable, even if it might have less strategy.

PLOT/PACING/CHARACTERS

You will have to forgive me for not remembering Magna Carta’s plot too well, but I’d say plot isn’t the strongest aspect of Magna Carta nor Magna Carta 2. I feel like the premise of Magna Carta and the intrigue was a lot more interesting and unique than in Magna Carta 2. However, the pacing and amount of traveling for plot advancement was much worse in Magna Carta than in Magna Carta 2. While Magna Carta might have given their characters more inner conflict and different motivations, there’s something nice about a plot that always seems to be moving forward like Magna Carta 2’s, unless you get unlucky with item drops. Character-wise, I feel like Magna Carta 2 might have their cast talk too much in cutscenes, but they also seem in character to be so chatty. They at least try to make all their characters involved in the conversation throughout their stay, while I feel like the characters of Magna Carta really fell into main duo and sometimes actually involved and not just reacting characters. Personality-wise, I do think both games have a good mixture of characters, though if I had to pick a favorite playable character of the Magna Carta games, it’d probably be Zephie. Not to play as, but as a character with a good but not perfect personality. She may try to have good intentions, but it’s not just things going wrong, but sometimes what she thinks is a good intention is actually not so much. It’s a nice portrayal of a princess.

OTHER

Graphically, Magna Carta and Magna Carta 2 both look very nice for their systems. I’m also genuinely happy to see some realistic widths in the character models for Magna Carta 2 instead of the more typical anime style where most characters, both male and female, have torsos that are barely wider than their heads. The outfits are…well, kind of flashy and still lean towards more sexualized women than men, but I have to say I find Juto of Magna Carta 2 to be the most attractive of all the Magna Carta characters.

The voice-acting is a lot better in Magna Carta 2 than Magna Carta. It helps that cutscenes and such run smoothly once they are loaded. There is a lack of variety in character model poses for the dialogue, though, which is unfortunate.

Music is decent in both games.

Finally, it took me a bit over 30 hours to beat Magna Carta 2 while it took 80 hours to beat Magna Carta. I did a bunch of quests in Magna Carta 2 but many of them are pretty easy to complete. Magna Carta 2 is just a much more streamlined game than Magna Carta. It is actually decently streamlined for a JRPG. I think the biggest issues with Magna Carta 2 may be that the plot may not be unique/interesting enough for a decent number of people, while Magna Carta suffers not only from bad pacing story-wise, but just a tortoise-feel in general gameplay. That is why I would recommend Magna Carta 2 for those of you with a 360 looking for a “JRPG” to play, but would caution heavily against diving into Magna Carta.

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