Ragnarok Odyssey Ace: Decent Combat, Average Everything Else

By Thomas . April 13, 2014 . 12:30pm

Ragnarok Online started in 2002 and was one of the first really well known Korean MMORPGs in the west that I can personally remember. While I haven’t seen as many people talking about the franchise as when it first made it big, the past decade or so has still been kind to it, even over here. The series has grown beyond just being an MMO and has reached more traditional gaming consoles such as the 2008 DS Ragnarok game that XSeed brought over. Heck, the west even got Ragnarok the Animation, an anime based on the franchise courtesy of FUNimation.

 

Then, 2012 marked two separate Ragnarok releases with Aksys releasing Ragnarok Tactics on PSP, and XSeed releasing the Vita-only Ragnarok Odyssey. And now in 2014, we are seeing an enhanced re-release of the latter as Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, this time on both the PS Vita and PlayStation 3.

 

You start out making your character, and well, Elder Scrolls this is not. The character generator is really simple, and doesn’t offer much variety. Half of the faces you get to choose from seem to be joke faces, too, which is disappointing. Ultimately, the character creator feels rather shallow. I suppose it gets the job done, but I was left wanting a lot more. I can usually waste hours on these things, but I was probably done in about 15 minutes here.

 

The premise of Ace comes off as equally shallow and simple: you are a new member of a guild and go out on missions they assign you. Said missions involve, you guessed it, hunting monsters. Yup, this is another in a long line of hunting games that are popular right now. Regardless of what the mission really is—gather materials to make weapons, explore a region, conduct research on a race of monsters—it always comes down to simply killing everything that you can. Half the time you don’t even need to read the quest information, as just running around and killing everything will lead to a completed mission. There is no real variety and not much else to really even say. The missions are shallow, and the only reasons they exist are to be an excuse to put you in an area to fight monsters.

 

That’s isn’t entirely a bad thing, though, if a straightforward hack-and-slash is your thing. The action in Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is fast-paced and frantic. As opposed to Monster Hunter, which involves planning and precision, Ace is just about cutting things up in a speedy fashion. Just moving around on the field with the dash option is fast. You can jump high and even maintain your air as you slash away. It’s a crazy fest of attacks, and combo chains. The action is simple enough to be understood b anyone, and satisfying to boot. With knockback and launch attacks you can send enemies flying. Give them a finishing blow to swipe them away (and maybe send them flying to enemies behind them), or smash them up in the air, jump up and start slashing at them as they are now incapable of escape or retaliation.

 

Under certain conditions you can even double jump and glide through the air to fight flying enemies—which is insane. Physics be damned, you’ll find yourself soaring through the air, bashing in birdbrains. This is all really fun. In a way, I almost wanted to forgive Ragnarok Odyssey Ace for its shallow parts, simply because it gives me more time to dedicate to this fun combat. The basic monsters in the game won’t pose much of a threat to you, and are simple enough to dispatch; however, when you fight the bigger more boss-like monsters, these battles really step it up. They will use knockback and launch on you as well and some can tower off the screen. These are interesting fights that involve some more thinking then usual, and may incorporate some different types of play.

 

Sometimes you can target separate pieces of their body (i.e; head, legs, arms, torso) and find a spot that will stun them or make them fall over. This is a great strategy to use in these situations. It’s also a good idea not to forget about your ACE skills (special attacks then can be equipped) and Dainsleif Mode. Dainsleif is an interesting mode that can be activated when your gauge is full, it will drain all your health but attacking enemies heals you. So, when Dainsleif mode wears off, you may actually have more health than when you started. Your strength increases greatly, and it prevents you from getting stunned by the enemy. You’re pretty much untouchable and can lay down some serious damage—it almost feels like getting the star power-up in Super Mario.

 

That said, the shallow aspects aside, there are a number of other noticeable problems with Ragnarok Odyssey Ace as well, and the combat isn’t good enough to make up for these, as they pertain to the combat mechanics themselves. The lock on feature never worked as well as I wanted. After defeating a nearby monster, it often decided to target something far away and moved the camera awkwardly. It’s a pain at times, and honestly you can play without it. I found myself not needing to really even target monsters all that much. However, the camera itself isn’t as well done as I would have liked either. At times, it becomes fixed and you lose control of it.

 

Furthermore, for a PS3 game, the sensitivity of the camera always felt off. In fact, the whole world in general feels a bit off, actually. It may just be the catch-22 of the physics-defying combat, but the world feels floaty. Jumping feels weightless, almost like there is no gravity. This weightless, floaty feeling is reminiscent of some older low-budget PS2 games, and seeing it again in a PS3 game just feels wrong. Additionally, Ace doesn’t even allow you to map the buttons to where you would like on the PS3 controller, which is a bummer given I did not find the default button layout to be that great. Thankfully, you are given six different button layout options, which—while not as great as being able to map buttons yourself—at least provided tolerable alternatives. I found myself playing with Option 6.

 

And then, we come to the game’s cross-platform nature. Being a re-release of a Vita game Ace allows some transferring of your data from the previous version, naturally. It even supports cross-play and cross-save functionality between the PS3 and PS Vita, so if you own both systems and both games, you can play at home on the big screen and take the Vita version out on the go. That said, this is one of those cases where developing a game for both PS3 and Vita leads to some significant compromises. I played Ace on my PS3 and immediately noticed the Vita-quality graphics.

 

Ace is by no means an ugly game. In fact, for a Vita title with as much game content as it has, Ace is rather pretty. But on the PlayStation 3 with a big screen TV, it’s just not up to par. While it looks nice on Vita, it looks like a budget game on PS3, and even more so than usual. The text boxes don’t even look right. The words only fit on the left half of these boxes so at least 50% of it is empty space. It looks like only the box was stretched from the Vita screen and the text simply stayed where it was. This may be a nitpick, but none of the words ever go past the center of the text box and there’s so much empty space, this is something you can’t NOT notice, and honestly it is kind of annoying to look at.

 

Ultimately, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is a middle-of-the-road title, with decent combat and average everything else. I’m honestly at a loss. You could do worse than Ace, but you could do much better as well. If you’re looking for simple combat and a good single player experience, Ace might be worth a shot, provided you’re willing to put up with how average the game feels in general. It may also provide a good gateway into the Hunting genre, considering the ease of its combat. However, if you’ve other hunting-action games before, Ace is a lot like what is already out there and not as good.

 

There’s some decent online action to be had, and some interesting fights, but not much else. There are multiple jobs to chose from for your character, the ability to switch jobs back at the base, an okay-ish card-based skill system, and an average story. If that’s enough for you, by all means, have at it.

 

Food for thought:

 

1. Game Arts worked on this title, and there is even cameo equipment such as “Justin’s Goggles – Cool goggles worn by the legendary adventurer, Justin”.

 

2. Maybe this explains the physics-defying air combos as well, since Game Arts are best known for the Grandia games.

 

3. The floatiness can be seen in some of the characters’ movements as well. If you’re in the mood for a good laugh play, around with some of the Emote Actions the game gives you, especially the “Play Dead” gesture. Tap that one repeatedly and you’ll be treated to your character floating in the air shaking violently. It’s awkward, it’s hilarious, and it’s only something that can be seen in video games.

 

4. My PS3 copy came with a beautiful and full color instruction manual. It’s nice and thick at 53 pages, and it is nice to see certain publishers still spending the extra money on these things.


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  • DanijoEX ♬ the Cosmic Owl

    Interesting review. I’ve had no problem Ragnarok Odyssey’s physics and stuff in the original.

    But I’m holding off on this one until it reaches decent price. I do love action-RPG’s thoug. Right now, i’m focusing on getting Demon Gaze.

  • Dystopiq

    This is basically how I explained the game to people. Generic and average and hoping they can cash in on the Ragnarok IP.

  • Kornelious

    I mostly agree with this, but I had set my expectations low a while ago -_-
    So Ragnarok is a pretty good game.

    My only problem is the cross-save dlc bug that won’y let me play my save on my PS3 version. While only playing it on the Vita isn’t bad I payed for the PS3 version to actually be able to PLAY it….I hope they fix this soon :(

  • tubers

    I’ll wait when it gets to around 20 bucks. Mostly for nostalgia.

    Wish it was closer to the original Ragnark Online in terms of music, costumes, leveling system, attributes and skill-trees (drastically different build types).

    I guess that could’ve been more expensive (music and art license) and time consuming to design the game around with but it would’ve likely made the game more unique compared to other Hunting-Action games.. and cash in harder with nostalgia.

    Also, how and what exactly are ACE skills? I think the article could’ve expanded on that.

    I thought that was a major addition from the first iteration. I could be wrong tho. I don’t own RO on the VITA.

    • darke

      Honestly the only thing I remember about RO was squishing cute slimes; but it has been a decade since I last played it. :P

      • tubers

        I guess you quited way earlier and that’s fine. Not for everyone.

        RO was pretty big back in our high school, almost everyone my age played it then.

        I even did botting services and everyday was discussion about builds, pvps and adventures.

        We usually wrote down our dream equipments and argued w/c one would fit better.

        There were even hacking and envy dramas.

        Damn shame the Online sequels weren’t as big as the first.

        • darke

          Yeah, I was in university/work already at the time. I imagine it’s a fun game to play with friends but the ‘kiddyness’ of it made it difficult to drag others my age into playing it. :)

          • tubers

            Oh you mean the sprite art? Fair point.

            Never really bothered me before tho. Found it a bit endearing specially the 2D official art xD

            Ugh. I wanna go back :P

            Work? Then that can definitely be hard.

            I don’t think it was uncommon for university students back where I was to be playing RO. In fact, those guys were the ones well versed in hacking, botting and doing MVPs :)

            It didn’t really had WoW as a competition when we were playing it.. stuff like Mu, Kabal, RF and Fiesta Online.

            Sorry. I dragged on for quite a bit. I just felt very nostalgic :P

  • ReidHershel

    If I’m buying this, what version should I get?

    • Tinye

      Just depends what you like to play on imo. It works really nice on the Vita but I can also see it being really nice on the PS3 – IMO Vita is more convenient to load and start up than my PS3 so I opted for the Vita and I don’t regret it. It really does work good with the Vita.

      • nonscpo

        Do both have online?

        • Tinye

          Yes, it’s kinda cool, when I go online I can see who’s playing on what, the psvita or ps3

  • http://youtube.com/miyabigaming 禍津水樹 (MagatsuMizuki)

    My friend said the Vita version of the game lags the PS3 version

  • Crevox

    Original game was alright, I played it through. Gets pretty repetitive after a while, but near the end, you get boss rushed by all kinds of interesting new bosses and fights. I don’t regret finishing it.

    Ace sounds like an improvement from what they’ve said about it, but I just can’t justify another purchase.

  • Bojan Njegomir

    What about new Grandia?! :)

  • AlteisenX

    I have the original version, and its definitely beautiful to look at on the Vita. Sadly I don’t like these types of expansions for games so I doubt I’ll pick it up anytime soon, but once it drops I might be more interested.

  • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

    I don’t disagree with the overview [granted I've played only RO and not this revision but I doubt they are any different] but I can’t help but wonder: how come the swallow story [if it can be even called that] and character generator was never mentioned in MH? I mean, last I checked, they are both equally shallow yet nobody complains about shallow plot/characters/character generator when it comes to Capcom’s game~.

    • darke

      That “Capcom” thing is probably the reason? It’s not as if Capcom’s most notable games have plot (Street Fighter) or have plot you want to remember and often times want to deny it’s existence (Resident Evil).

      Though honestly it’s probably because Monster Hunter is so well known to be essentially plot-less, people have given up hope of them even trying. :)

      • ZEROthefirst

        Don’t diss RE’s story, you know the team was thinking very clearly when they had Chris punch that big boulder out of the way in the volcano.

        • darke

          >.<

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Maybe because Monster Hunter is laser-focused on certain things and does them extremely well, as opposed to trying to do a bit of everything and being merely “okay” overall.

      If they do commit to exploring a new feature or direction, they put effort into it. For example, they never really bothered with story until Monster Hunter 4, but once they did begin exploring the story a little more, they went to the effort of giving you multiple villages, which is a big deal.

      The same goes for new weapons. They don’t toss new weapon types in there without really going to the effort of shaping the entire game around them. MH4′s Insect Rod is an example of this. The entire game is more vertical now, and I’m sure they designed the verticality and the Insect Rod side-by-side. After that, they went back and updated all of the older weapons with new abilities to take advantage of verticality, too.

      Basically, people play Monster Hunter for its polished combat (whether solo or co-op), the gradual feeling of powering up, and loot. And it’s always been very good at all three of those things. As long as that remains the case, people aren’t going to complain, because that’s what they want from MH.

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        I don’t want any of that from MH.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          Maybe you’re playing the wrong game then? As far back as Monster Hunter 2, it’s always been about the process of failing, getting better, overcoming hurdles, creating an awesome equipment set, and then going through that same process all over again.

          MH’s reward has always been in the form of knowing you’re getting better and acquiring the resources to create more cool equipment.

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            That’s exactly why I don’t play it but like the similar games that get made because of it.Though I can’t really say it’s a genre starter.

          • konsama

            Of course it’s not a genre starter, but is the ONE that made the MMO style games popular and made a boom for hunting games, you can say all you want about PSO being the real pioneer and stuff, but PSO isn’t a hunting online styled game, it’s an ARPG. (that’s no actually aimed at you, but people love to bring PSO as an excuse to digress MH from its “overrated hunting game spot”)

            And yes you are totally free to prefer other games like toukiden or god eater instead of MH, but just saying “I don’t want any of that from MH” without any elaboration, especially when Ish reply wasn’t directed at you is totally fitting of a troll bait, which might have actually worked if i use my own reply as example.

          • Hikari Langley

            MH does have faults, like not having an actual story for the longest. And a really shoddy character creator. Mostly why I stick to PSO.

          • 하세요

            I actually like how MH isn’t big on a story. It gives more focus to the monsters themselves. I can see why others want a story though. For me, I want to slaughter. Less text, the better.

            The character creator is limited, but that’s mainly because you’re coated in armor 90% of the time. Very few sets have pieces that expose your whole face and hair, especially if you chose a male hunter.

            PSO2 has a “Hide Armor” feature like other games so you can still see your character, so it actually matters there.

  • Spirit Macardi

    “Heck, the west even got Ragnarok the Animation, an anime based on the franchise courtesy of FUNimation.”

    Good lord, and I had just about forgotten that piece of crap existed… It started promising, then basically turned into medieval Evangelion…

  • xkumo

    Aren’t decent and average pretty much the same thing?

    • Anewme…Again

      No, decent is a bit better then average.
      If let say average is worth 50%, decent would be worth around 60%.

  • Tinye

    I really like Ragnarok Ace – I prefer it over PSO2 atm. Idk why but it just meshes with me really well. Everything is pretty simple and straightforward and I enjoy the combo moves and classes. It’s really nice on the Vita that’s for sure.

    • The Watcher

      No Trolling plz

      • Ferrick

        i don’t think that qualifies as trolling

        • darke

          It make sense too since Ragnarok Ace is basically action-MMO mechanics without the MMO part.

          I certainly don’t like PSO since it dropped the offline singleplayer game.

      • Tinye

        Can’t tell if serious… >.>
        because I was serious

  • harmonyworld

    I played the first game and I had fun with online play!
    Me and 3 others were just going dungeon to dungeon and goofing off with the emotes XD

  • Loli Summoner

    Hmmm, I might try this out. I have nothing to play on the ps3 until mugan souls comes out.

  • leingod

    I really, really “wanted to want” this game, but after playing the first one… I can’t really bother with Ace :/

  • ZEROthefirst

    While I don’t like Odyssey Ace, I don’t hate it either. When I tried the first one for the Vita I honestly went into it with an open mind, but found it was just yet another company’s attempt at a PSO, MH, GE, etc. etc. clone trying to capitalize off of a popular franchise (I haven’t played any Ragnarok games before this, I just hear people bring it up all the time). While it felt different, it really didn’t deliver anything spectacular imo. I beat the games story in about 10 hours (somewhere between 10 and 11 hours so probably like 10 1/2 hrs.) and played online a bit for about another 10 and I can say the only reason I played as long as I did was just to get some really easy trophies.

    There’s no weapon or armor crafting system or even a decent skill system, the combat is about as fast paced as GE, but MUUUUUCH easier and the re-skinning of bosses and monsters is worse than MH with them having almost un-noticeable differences between them aside from color (some bosses I couldn’t tell when it was one or the other they were so lazily similar). I would mention how poor the online mode was done in terms of lag in the first game, but I’ll assume they fixed that with the PS3 version (I don’t want to spend $40 for this though so I can’t guarantee that).

    If you’re looking for that Monster Hunter’ish game for the Vita I would recommend Toukiden, or Soul Sacrifice. I would gladly recommend God Eater 2 as THE top choice for this category, but it’s import only at the moment and I don’t think we’ll hear anything about a localization for it until the online patch is done. There’s also Phantasy Star Nova but that’s going to be an import later this year. I wanted to like Ragnarok Odyssey but after the first game I really can’t recommend it as even a place holder game for something better. This is just my subjective view on this game as I’m a big fan of this genre, and Odyssey just doesn’t deliver.

  • Kumiko Akimoto

    Well decent combat is good enough for me

  • Mugenakuma

    As a long time Phantasy Star Online/Universe, and Monster Hunter Fan I can say that RO Ace is actually quite a bit of fun. It’s far from perfect but any fans of the above games should really enjoy RO Ace. I especially love how lighthearted and enjoyable the overall game is. The option to listen to 100′s of various tracks from RO Online, the first RO game, and various remixes of Ragnarok series songs while running quests makes grinding that much more enjoyable too. Lastly the multi-player runs great and having cross play makes it even more likely to always have players to run with (I have the Vita version.)

    • WyattEpp

      Based soundTeMP; their output still hold up in my playlist even now.

      • Mugenakuma

        Yup and Basiscape and Salamander Factory also did remixes. :-)

        • WyattEpp

          If we’re getting into remix territory, Mintjam’s arrange album and Scinicade’s INNOCENCE are totally my jam.

  • darke

    In a semi-unrelated note: Given the top picture, there really needed to be a “Stop! Hammertime.” pun somewhere in the article.

  • The Watcher

    So essentially it’s the same game

    • Ferrick

      with skills and extra content yes

    • tubers

      I think you can also recruit 2 mercs/AIs during combat unlike the 1st game but I’m not sure since the article didn’t mention it.

  • Kayseur

    I suppose I could grab this one for cheap, knowing that there’s not much to expect from it. Regarding this kind of game I’m more of a PS fan (granted I only truly played through PSP and PSO2), but maybe it could make me kill some time before PSN.

    I’m fine with a “pick-up & play jumping right into action” game, especially on a handheld. I can imagine how unfitting it could feel for a home console though.

  • lordsofskulls

    picked it up and have no regrets ;3 but i didnt play original. So i gotten PS Vita version just for music cd. and i do see it being alot better on PS Vita visually but i do feel lil hurt that PS3 has a manual and PS Vita version doesnt. Kinda wish they created manuals for PS Vita Games…

  • http://hanzoadam.tumblr.com/ Hanzoadam

    I liked the 1st one and I’ve got my eye on this one,

    though saying that I never finished the original

  • Bob Slim

    I been having a ton of fun with this this game I dont care what no 1 say,
    Going through the tower is fun and the boss battles is no joke, like that black dragon man hes hard

  • J_Joestar

    A friend is trying to get me to play this with him, though i don’t have a PS3 or a Vita and this review isn’t making it seem like a game worth buying a console/handheld over…

    is the cross-play local only or are the online for the Vita and PS3 versions also in sync with each other? (don’t have any PS systems so i don’t really know much about their online stuff)

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