By Louise Yang . November 8, 2009 . 12:36pm
Magnacarta 2 is a treat for the eyes. The full motion cut scenes are fully animated and look like they came out of a movie. Sure, I still think the characters have vapid, lifeless eyes, but I think that about most CG scenes.
In action, the game performs smoothly and wonderfully. Skills are colorful, bold and look powerful. When I’m down to only a sliver of health, there’s no describing the relief I feel when my AI teammate heals me and I see the refreshing visual effects sweep around my character and the green numbers pop up showing how many hit points just got replenished.
Enemies vary from humanesque soldiers to anthropomorphic animals to just wild, strange creatures. Characters can cause more damage to enemies if they attack from behind, but sometimes with enemies I’m encountering for the first time, it’s hard to tell which is their front and which is their back.
Bosses are also rendered beautifully — if you can ever call a gigantic creature whose only goal is to destroy you beautiful. They never look fully organic, but more of a mix between some colorful creature and some futuristic technology.
While players are whisked from place to place throughout the game, each with its own distinct themes and feel, none of the places really stand out. Towns are sparsely populated and feel artificial. Each location just feels like a different level in a linear game. But hey, at least it’s a easy on the eyes.
Despite the rewarding to learn fighting system, fun boss battles, skill and equipment customization, Magnacarta 2 isn’t without flaws. I’ve already mentioned the drab story earlier, but I have to complain about the dialogue. It just goes on and on and not all of the talking scenes can be skipped.
The full motion video cut scenes look good and move the story along. These are skippable but I usually just watch them anyway. I really wish that the static characters talking to each other scenes could be skipped. Alas, they can only be fast-forwarded through by repeatedly pressing the A button. Most of the time, especially in the beginning, characters just repeat each other. What a waste of time.
For a game whose selling point is the fighting system and the synergy of the team, it could make the fights go a little more smoothly. Players can assign general behaviors to AI teammates such as "prioritize healing spells" or "attack the same enemy as the leader" but they can’t tell AI teammates to do something as simple as "walk around the big rock and don’t get stuck on it." There were several instances in the game where I started attacking an enemy, thinking my power-hitter teammate was right behind me only to realize that nope, he was stuck behind a tree or another teammate and didn’t bother to change directions.
Then there are the countless fetch quests that almost every NPC wants my team to go on. Sorry guys, I’m too busy taking part in the huge civil war and I can’t stop to collect 5 mysterious mushrooms for you. Most of them are just standing around anyway — they need to get off their lazy butts and stop getting other people to do their work.
Other than what I mentioned and a handful of minor faults, Magnacarta 2 is altogether playable. The real time fighting system keeps me more engaged than the usual turn-based system. It certainly gets my adrenaline pumping during boss fights. The story is a load of rubbish, but in a game like this, you stay for the action, not the plot.