This is nothing more than a bargin-bin piece of trash.
Record of Agarest War 2
Developer: Idea Factory
Since one of the core functions of the game is to get married to a female party member, the “dating” aspect is also mishandled. Most of the time it boils down to a canned response or a choice made by Weiss and his offspring that will have party members like or hate you more. It reminds me of the sliding affection system found in Dragon Age: Origins, but this time, instead of it being a tool used to open up characters and learn more about them, it is used to strictly increase the chances of having a happy marriage. Apparently, a happy marriage gives the next generation protagonist, Schwarz, higher stats overall, but for those sickos out there the bad endings to the romances, the ones where it is a forced, loveless marriage, still exist as well.
Did I mention that rape is implied in those bad endings too? Yes? Well then, moving on…
Of course, there are other ways to improve your relationship with your companions, and what better way to do it than a bathhouse mini-game? Two of them, in fact, one of which involves massaging your teenage-looking friends with oil, bananas, and ice cream (because why not?) and another that has you moving the control sticks back and forth to generate steam for your towel-clad partner. Oh, and did I mention that both of these mini-games are PlayStation Move compatible?
Look, I get it. I really do. People like fan-service; they like scantly clad women, children in bikinis, and young, fresh-faced protagonists who look like they came right out of Bishonen Central Casting. They want to play mini-games that involve soft-core massage sequences with a cat-girl, and they live out their fantasy of making love through computer simulation, and see the fruits of their labors in the next generation. I get it, but the problem is the excess. Agarest War 2 is all style in terms of its fan-service, meaning it’s the reason, I feel, at least, people actually play this game. They want to see all of this because they know there is nothing underneath to keep them going. It sure as hell is not for the uninspired story or the rather bland characterization, and I doubt the combat would placate even the hardest of the hardcore RPG players out there, so at this point, what is left to really root for?
But the presentation issues continue in terms of the graphics of Agarest War 2. The animation on the characters portrait was actually a nice touch, and in HD the characters look pretty good. Yes, the fan-service is obvious, but at least the art direction is somewhat grounded in a sort of real world here. Random cat-girl character aside, the portrait animation is the true star of the show in terms of strong graphical capabilities.
What is not a star of any show is the sprite animation, which chugs along like a parody flash game straight from Newgrounds. The sprites have jerky, springboard movements and even more shockingly, cause stuttering during the battlefield sequences whenever a bright flash of some special attack occurs. Its just downright laughable to see that this was what Idea Factory and Red Entertainment thought HD looked like. What’s worse, many larger monsters, especially boss battles, contain fully 3-D creatures with barely any noticeable detail on them for you to kill. It just reeks of pure laziness to me, and while it may be tradition to keep things grounded into a more simple or “retro” style in terms of visuals, both developers dropped the ball on this one.
Sound design does fare a bit better. The game is a Japanese port with no dub attached to it, so many otaku purists would appreciate the original Japanese voice over work with subtitles in the text. I fully admit I am not up to date on my Japanese, but it did feel like the actors involved handled their roles amicably from my perspective. Music was also surprisingly catchy and well done, albeit the opening movie accompanying the main track was too over the top to be watchable for a second time. At the very least, the sound team did their job, and did it well in keeping the tracks light and goofy most of the time.
If you really want the god’s honest truth, Record of Agarest War 2 is perhaps in my personal top ten of the worst games I have ever played, right next to Superman 64 and Limbo of the Lost. Its combat system is a shambling mess of features with no real substance to it, its promising storyline is hopelessly boring, its visuals are inexcusable, and its blatant fan-service is deeply questionable. Top this all off with a game that clocks in at around 40-50 hours and only three generation of protagonists instead of five like the previous titles, and I doubt that even Agarest War fans would be quick to embrace this title. Honestly, if you are fan of this game, all I can say is that I’m glad you saw something that I didn’t. But for me, this is nothing more but a bargin-bin piece of trash.
Record of Agarest War 2 was provided by the publishers for review. It was played for a total of 29 grueling hours, finishing mid-way into the second generation before I just stopped caring. The game is a PS3 exclusive.
One of the most depressingly awful games I’ve ever played.
“One related achievement is called Ecstasy Time.” – ESRB
Why don’t you have a seat over here?
Posted By Austin Yorski about 1 year, 1 month ago
“One related achievement is called Ecstasy Time.” – ESRB
Posted By Austin Yorski about 1 year, 5 months ago
Why don’t you have a seat over here?
For a few days now I have been dreading the completion of this review. It was a struggle to go through, not because of the contents of the title at hand, but because of the difficulty in portraying said contents in the correct manner. I would love to save a lot of time in this review and just come out and say Record of Agarest War 2 is a horrific mess of a game. Hell, I don’t even want to bury the lead here, I just want to warn fans of RPGs to stay away from this title to the best of their abilities. It’s not even worth the over 1800 words of typed out here. But I have to be professional.
So believe me when I say that I resisted the temptation to make this a one sentence review. Draw your own conclusions on that comment.
|PROS||Interesting story idea, character portraits well drawn, adequate music.|
|CONS||A clusterf*ck of mechanics, excessive fan-service, inexcusable graphical setup.|
|WTF?!||Bathhouse mini-games with a move controller… obviously that was the focus, right there!|
Right off the bat, the game throws at you several instances of torture for your retinas. From the opening movie scene to the criminally short and incoherent prologue, we see this mish-mash of ideas compiled into a compacted heap of a game. For those new to the Agarest War series, the game is essentially an RPG on a timer, where one of the main sub-quests is that the protagonist needs to enter a relationship with a female partner in order to proceed to the next generation. In theory, the concept is a marvelous one, as it has a continuing storyline that can be shaped by your actions and the connections you make with your party members.
In practice, it becomes an exercise of repetition and regurgitated banality. It also doesn’t help matters that the characterization in Argarest War 2 is lacking in some cases; granted the storyline also suffers from its own trivial clichés. Agarest War 2 stars Weiss, a swordsman with amnesia who apparently killed a god out of some form of revenge. The death of this god created an event known as the “Day of Light,” which enveloped the world in a blinding flash and then unleashed a horde of monsters and demons from its wake. After being told of this by an agent of the divine named Eva, Weiss is tasked with fulfilling his new destiny: to become the “Vessel” of the power of the god he murdered to atone for his actions.
I fully admit, the plot is not the most original idea in the world, but it does bring up some very powerful and interesting theological themes and questions, something that few games even attempt to do without being too self-referential. That said, Agarest War 2’s execution of this story is mishandled severely. It is mostly due to the dialogue delivery; while it is a subtitled Japanese game, the actual subtitles and translation is fairly poor, with all of the dialouge being clunky in terms of “speech patterns” and having this tendency for explaining things out for the player, rather than just showing it. It also doesn’t help that almost all of the characters never get a feeling of growth or really convey any sort of emotion at all due to their rather one-note personalities, which makes reading the game akin to a poorly written fantasy novel above all else. It also bogs the story down to a sluggish crawl due to the taxing cutscenes that play out.
The actual combat is also a mixed bag because of the unnecessary complexity it brings to the table. Instead of following the more traditional, six men on the field tactical-style combat that was akin to a Growlanser type of game, Agarest War 2 has decided to scale back the unnecessary movements, borrowing elements of the combat found in Cross Edge. Attacks are now button combos that do different amounts of damage, and field movement is now no longer a feature. Most combat situations will have you attack with one of the four field characters at a time, effortlessly mowing down mooks and mobs with ease or little thinking, making this more of an action-RPG than anything else out there.
But where it gets confusing is the whole skill system that is set up in-game. The skill system is divided into four sub-categories for each button on the PS3 controller, and to unlock special moves or skills you need to essentially grind, and combine skills with other characters to achieve them. So to set up characters, you need to level up and add skills based on the characters proficiency with skills, a total of twelve extra attributes to pay attention to as you grind it out. Add to this a unnecessary skill learning system that throws even more wrinkles into character growth and optimization, and you have one of the most broken, unorthodox and downright bloated character progression trees I have ever seen.
And that is just one aspect of the whole “role-playing” part of the experience. Formations give benefits to attacks, and allow for combo attacks between two or more characters on the field, while “overwaiting” the clock in battle reduces wait-times for attacking. Original skills are special moves activated by the L and R buttons to do massive damage when they become available. The list of features in what should have been a simpler combat system is pretty much endless. All of this is unnecessary too, as all of these features of the combat system basically amount to little to no use for a majority of the game. Even in some boss battles there is no need to go in-depth with the combat mechanics, because it’s just easier to mash a button with two-three characters attacking at a time. And the sad thing is, I doubt even fans of Agarest War or Zero will even appreciate the changes made, which makes the combat aspect an even bigger quagmire of feature creep.