Monday, February 28, 2011

Game Diary: Budget RPG Bonanza

It's time once again for my weekly game diary, and with pay day just having been and gone I have picked up a few new games over the weekend, all of them RPGs. I played a few hours of each, so this article will mostly consist of my first impressions of them.

First up, we have MagnaCarta II - nothing to do with the real historical document, but rather a quasi real time RPG with a Korean art style - something you don't see a whole lot of. I'm betting I haven't seen everything that the battle system has to offer, having only just got out of the first town and completed a few quests, but there's an interesting chaining system in place and you have to be careful not to leave your characters open for reprisal when they go into an "Overheat" state, which leaves them temporarily defenceless. I'm afraid I don't find the main character particularly like able, and the opening few hours of the game are somewhat slow as well, which means that this game will be placed on the giant RPG backlog pile for a while, until I get through some titles which are obviously higher quality all round.

Next, I was browsing through the selection of PSP games in my local Gamestation, and what with the announcement of the NGP and the general lack of interest in the system these days, most of the games are now extremely cheap, so I managed to find a few RPGs that were £5 each. First up in Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon, which is a spin off from Natsume's farming sim as the subtitle would indicate. I do find this series quite addictive, and this one in particular is very nicely presented and has a much greater emphasis on the storyline than most in the franchise. I think of the three games that I picked up, this is the best of the bunch.

Finally the other PSP RPG came down to a choice between Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light and Dragoneer's Aria - both developed by Hit Maker. I wasn't too sure which one to pick up between them, but looking at the back of the box, Dragoneer's Aria was the more recent of the two and had better graphics. It turns out that RPG Fan and RPGamer consider it to be the lesser of the two games, but I've actually had a pretty good time with it so far. I was taken by surprise by a battle with some random monsters who wiped out my party and undid over an hour of progress, however - and at that point I put it down. I am in the mood for a handheld RPG though - first I need to finish Dragon Quest IX as I am so close to the end. There's a fair bit of grinding needed before I'm strong enough to defeat the last few bosses, however. Then there's Radiant Historia which should be on the way to me by now.

Other than these three games, the only other one I've put significant time into this week is Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I have been enjoying the plot, which is based upon the huge Civil War event that shook up the Marvel universe a few years ago, and it's fun to play a more action oriented game for a while. My character of choice is Wolverine, because of his regenerative abilities. It makes him pretty hard to take down in a fight. I did also try playing as the Fantastic Four for a while, with my character being Ben Grimm, but I don't like them as much as the X-Men.

That's pretty much all for this week - I didn't get much further on Shadow Hearts: Covenant this week I'm afraid. I remembered exactly why I gave up playing it the last time around - the dungeon layouts are long and complicated, the battles are pretty tough, and the random encounter rate is fairly high. Despite this though it is definitely a great game and I will persevere. OK then, watch out for my Tales of Vesperia review which I am nearly done with - I just have to rewrite some of it which I think is a bit too wordy at the moment.

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