E3: MagnaCarta 2 Impressions & Gallery UpdateNamco Bandai's sole RPG on the show floor.06.03.09 - 2:20 AM
We had the chance to play MagnaCarta 2
this afternoon with the head of localization for the game at Namco Bandai.
There are no plot or time line commonalities between this new game and the previous Magna Carta: Tears of Blood. No Calintz, no fantasy race conflict plot, nothing of the sort. There is a lot of political intrigue, however, with the opening cut scene showing an encounter during a battle between a princess and some dark, unknown villain.
The game's protagonist is a young male named Juto. Juto joins a rebel group called the "anti-sentinel group," as the game's empire controls these giant monster/machines called sentinels (they don't look anything like X-Men sentinels, trust us). Juto and his entourage (which eventually grows to six people) each have their own elemental attributes. Juto and another character have their own "inner" energy (in other words, physical attacks); the other four characters use elemental magic (fire, water, wind, and lightning, respectively).
The combat system in MagnaCarta 2 is very fluid. Namco Bandai described it to us as a good blend of real-time action and turn-based strategy. Based on the 3D graphics, the 3rd-person perspective, and the real-time encounters with enemies that have an aggro range, our initial thought was "is this going to be a clone of Final Fantasy XII?" No, not at all. The battle system is hinged on a stamina bar. You control one character at a time (the others act on some primitive AI-based settings). Switching control from one character to another, on the fly, is done with the D-pad. And if you want to succeed in battle, you'll be switching characters often.
You see, the stamina bar fills quickly while performing regular attacks and special skills. When the stamina bar fills, the character "overheats," which means they cannot attack. However, using a special skill to fill the bar, and then switching to another character, "chains" the attack, which gives attack bonuses. Multiple chains with skill usage will result in a "chain break," which resets the stamina bars of all party members.
Entering the game's menu freezes the real-time combat. Within the menu, you can switch out your active party members with any of the three reserve members. It's important to have your party set properly for each and every locale. Within any environmental terrain, the four elements' "kan" (Atlus has referred to this as "chi" in Tears of Blood) can exist in different levels of strength. The elemental levels appear in the top-right corner of the screen at all times.
Based on what we played, we don't know whether to call this an Action RPG or a Traditional (turn-based) RPG. But one thing is for sure: this Xbox 360 exclusive RPG, which is planned for a Fall '09 release, will be sure to please fans of Tears of Blood, and will probably bring more fans into the fold. The Korean developer, Softmax, has put a lot of great work into the game's visuals and sound. The localization from Namco Bandai seems smooth at this point as well. We'll have more details on the game, including a definite release date, as they are made available.
Don't miss the new screen shots and character art added to our gallery as well, linked below.