For months, the artwork of Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim have circulated online, perking substantial interest in his works. Having worked on character designs for the Korean PC strategy-RPG, War of Genesis III among others, his latest gaming endeavor would garner even more international attention than his previous accomplishments. In development for several years, Magna Carta is a flamboyantly beautiful, anime-styled 3D RPG for Microsoft Windows. Created by Softmax with the artistic direction of Mr. Kim, Magna Carta: The Phantom of Avalanche promises to deliver console-style role-playing on the PC.
The world of Magna Carta is rendered in real-time using Softmax’s "Asura Engine": an advanced polygon graphics mechanism. The Asura Engine supports the industry video driver standards of OpenGL and Direct 3D, using advanced techniques such as mip-mapping and specular lighting. The end results are impressive displays of lifelike characters, fluid animation, and diverse locales. The spell and environmental effects also seem to borrow from the efficiency of the engine and are flashy displays of light and shadow. Thankfully the high polygon count preserves the awe-inspiring designs of Hyung-Tae Kim, as his creations appear faithfully reproduced in a three dimensional environment. Unfortunately, Magna Carta promises to hoard system resources and the advertised minimum PC requirements may not be sufficient to experience the beauty the developers may have intended.
The acoustics of Magna Carta include a fully orchestrated soundtrack, voiced cinematics and even features an original ending theme song. The music is wonderfully composed and masterfully executed, though the breadth and scope of the score remains a mystery. Softmax’s decision to include voice actors for story-driven sequences was thoughtful; adding more depth to what promises to be an engaging storyline.
Magna Carta: The Phantom of Avalanche chronicles the adventures of Calintz Jerevinan. After 10 years abroad, he returns to the kingdom of Shuldemir to protect the exiled Princess Juclecia Sebine Re Elcritian. When the crown prince Shurenlord Reopold Re Elcritian, her adolescent half-brother, invites his newly discovered sister home, the wheels of fate begin to turn. Calintz hopes that by protecting Juclecia on her voyage, he will find the man who was responsible for the murder of his mother and father. The drama that unfolds promises to be both complex and compelling, the concepts: universal. How far would you run to hide from the truth? How can anyone comprehend the fragile concept of "self"? What happens to a mind when the truth and "self" are mutually exclusive? These revelations of being amid a climate of political unrest and decay promise to be be pervasive throughout.
Magna Carta promises to emulate the simplicity of console control, despite being playable via mouse and keyboard, with a classic RPG GUI and intuitive layout. The combat system is hybrid of turn-based strategic movement and real-time combo actions.
How successful will Softmax’s attempt at bringing the classic console RPG experience to the PC be? That depends on the quality of the product. Using a state of the art 3D engine surrounded by fantastic art direction and an engrossing drama, Magna Carta shows vast potential; though the PC audience might not be so receptive to Magna Carta’s console influence. PC RPGfans have never seen eye-to-eye with their console contemporaries, and Softmax’s latest creation may pay too much homage to Squaresoft’s moneymaker to be taken seriously. Bringing the flavor of a console RPG to the PC is an ambitious goal, and Magna Carta promises to achieve the impossible, though sadly no US release has been announced.
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