Does this Monster Hunter-eqsue game make a good case for itself or is it monstrous in all the wrong ways?
Publisher: XSEED Games
Genres: Action, RPG
Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment America, Inc.
Posted By Shaun K. about 8 months, 4 weeks ago
Ragnarok Online is one of the biggest MMOs to ever come out of Asia, with publisher Gravity Co. claiming a subscription base as high as 25 million at the height of its popularity. While that number is somewhat dodgy for a variety of reasons, not the least of which because its based on the total lifetime registered users of the game versus active subscribers, the game was unquestionably a monstrous hit, both in its home region and here in the United State. So its no surprise that is has also since gone on to spawn countless spin-off games and ancillary tie-ins such as animated TV show and a popular comic series. The game even has seen a full sequel launched recently in Korea and Europe after years of development, one which replaces the original RO‘s sprite based graphics with a fully 3D engine instead. And so it makes sense that the latest spin-off title for the series, Ragnarok Odyssey for the PlayStation Vita, would take a similar graphical approach as well.
Something of a mix between a more standard 3D action-RPG and a Monster Hunter game, it has been known for sometime that popular niche publisher XSEED Games (whose most recent releases include The Last Story and Way of the Samurai 4) would be bringing the game to the US. And while we are still waiting for an exact release date beyond ‘sometime in October’, the publisher today has at least revealed that there will be a special ‘Mercenary Edition’ of the game hitting shelves alongside a standard edition. Priced at fifty-dollars versus the standard edition’s forty-dollar price tag, the ‘Mercenary Edition’ of Odyssey will include a soundtrack CD, a Mercenary Guide book with art work and strategies, a pack of 10 random Monster Cards, and special packaging to hold it all.
XSEED also has confirmed that all previously released free DLC for the game, including the Multiplayer Pack that added cooperative online play and Near functionality to RO post-release in Asia, will be included on the on cart for both versions of the game. This means that up to four players will be able to battle giant monsters together via both ad-hoc and online modes from the word go here in the US. Check out the just released first US trailer for the game below:
Ragnarok Odyssey is due out sometime in October in the US for PlayStation Vita. Stay tuned to Blistered Thumbs for continuing coverage of the game and be sure to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.
Source(s): XSEED Games.
Looks like XSEED Games is bringing another gorgeous special edition to the US.
Posted By Shaun K. about 8 months, 4 weeks ago
Looks like XSEED Games is bringing another gorgeous special edition to the US.
As the name of the game would imply, Ragnarok Odyssey is set in the same universe as the popular MMO-derived property Ragnarok Online and indeed was even developed by the same people responsible for that game, GungHo Online Entertainment. Drawing visual inspiration from the game’s currently Korean-only sequel, RO (for the purposes of this review that abbreviation will only be used for Odyssey, not Online) is a third-person action-RPG that uses the Monster Hunter formula as its template. This is hardly the only Monster Hunter clone to come down the line, but it is the first one for the Vita. The question then is does Ragnarok Odyssey make a good case for itself or is it monstrous in all the wrong ways?
|PROS||Gameplay, Controls, Visuals, Audio, Online play|
|CONS||Repetitive at times, Camera can be wonky, So-so story|
|WTF?!||An enemy whose main attack is green vomit|
The game’s story is simple and to the point: players take on the role of a new recruit to a band of mercenaries who protect the last bastion between their land and an army of rampaging giants, which come in forms ranging from humanoid to more animalistic types. All too soon the player finds his or herself the last, best hope for stopping the onslaught of humongous and pissed off monsters. So it goes. In essence, the story of RO is hardly going to win any awards for originality or even presentation (most of it taking place in text conversation between the player and a handful NPCs). Then again, it is also more story than most Monster Hunter games bother with, so there is that much going for it. While a minor overall narrative, Odyssey’s story is still one that nonetheless does the job it needs to do–namely, giving players a reason to go and beat the snot out of an army of giant monsters.
If the narrative for Ragnarok Odyssey is not the stuff of legends, at least its gameplay does an admirable job of picking up the slack. There is no point in being coy about it: this is a Monster Hunter clone through and through and MH fans will feel right at home in RO. From the third-person perspective to the focus on tracking and slaying various gigantic beasts either alone or in groups up to four, much of RO is immediately familiar. Even smaller elements of RO recall MH, such as the use of a stamina meter for physical actions like running and a heavy focus on collecting various pieces of loot and materials for the purposes of crafting and/or improving one’s gear.
Yet, if the basic outline of Ragnarok Odyssey draws heavy comparisons to the Monster Hunter brand, there are still some areas where it departs from its inspiration as well. Unlike in MH, for example, the stamina system in Odyssey (called AP to be specific) constantly regenerates at a high speed when not in active use. This goes along with the fact that Odyssey on the whole forgoes the more deliberate pace of the Monster Hunter games for something quicker and more athletic overall. As a part of this, combat takes place as much in the air as on the ground, with the game even giving players an air dash to go along with their ground roll. Boss battles in particular unlock a special ability that let players basically stay airborne nigh indefinitely (not unlike how flight works in Neverland, for those who have played the Kingdom Hearts series) and oftentimes it is only from a higher altitude that these enemies become vulnerable to attacks.
Players can even make use of the game’s extensive combo system in air and it is that very system that also marks another major divergence point between Ragnarok Odyssey and the Monster Hunter games. As with most action-RPGs, RO features its own diverse set of classes which consist of the Sword Warrior, Hammersmith, Assassin, Mage, and Hunter. In addition to the varying amount of HP and AP for each class, a particular class also brings its own set of unique special attacks to the table that are activated by combining the standard and strong attacks in various combinations. So the Mage can summon various elemental attacks while the Assassin plays up to the more athletic nature of the class and so on and so forth.
All of these abilities are unlocked from the get-go and figuring out which attack or set of attacks is most useful against which enemy or group of enemies is a big part of the overall RO combat system. The strong attack can also be used separately from combos to send enemies flying backwards (where they can crash into obstacles or even other enemies for further damage) or upward (whereupon holding down the strong attack button will automatically send the player skyward for further combo and damage opportunities). Additionally, holding down the strong attack allows players to charge up their ultimate class skill which can range from the devastating area-of-effect attack of the Hammersmith to the healing magic of the Cleric.
As I said earlier, these attacks are all unlocked from the beginning of the game and this plays into another aspect of RO’s combat system: its approach to leveling. Unlike most action-RPGs, killing enemies does not net players experience and indeed the game forgoes an experience system altogether. Instead players grow more powerful one of three ways: they complete a chapter of the game for a significant boost to all stats, they find/buy/make new weapons or gears, or they change up their line-up of cards. In fact, the cards could be considered a subset of equipment and weapons, but their overall importance to game earns them their own separate spot. That is because cards bring with them a wide variety of enhancements ranging from simple stat bonuses to more esoteric abilities like increasing air time for jumps or letting player attacks damage enemies twice for every single blow. Cards can make or break the game for players, but they do have some catches as well.
For one thing, many of the most powerful cards in Ragnarok Odyssey also confer some sort of negative effect to go along with the positive. For example, if a player wants a thirty percent increase in attack they may have to suffer an equal decrease in defense as well. Similarly, the ability to add poison to one’s attacks also weakens one’s own natural immunity to poison as well. So players have to be smart about what combination of cards they use (and there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of these cards in the game waiting to be found from slain enemies and/or bought and traded in the store) not to mention that players can only equip so many cards at a time depending on their current outfit. Thankfully, Odyssey was clearly designed from the ground up to encourage player experimentation, a fact further reinforced by the game unlocking the ability for players to switch classes at will between missions once they reach chapter two. So if the life of a Sword Warrior is growing stale for a player, they can always trade the sword for the bow of the Hunter and see how the other half lives.
It is a good thing the game does this too, because one of the bigger weakness of RO in its first half is its reliance on the same handful of stages again and again. Eventually the game world does open up more and even these aforementioned earlier missions tend to at least feature different enemy sets and objectives. Still, those adverse to repetition of any significant measure should probably give the game a second thought. Then again, the same might be said about many action-RPGs, particularly those in the Monster Hunter mold, so it is a weakness hardly unique to Ragnarok Odyssey either. The camera also can get a little wonky at times, especially when the game’s iffy lock-on system is used. It is not a frequent enough of an occurrence to be a real game-breaker, but there were at least a couple times where the camera did directly lead to my death.
One aspect of Ragnarok Odyssey where the game unquestionably stands head and shoulders above its counterparts, at least as portable iterations go, is in regards to online multiplayer. Mainly because, to date, no portable MH game has actually featured full online play. But even with no direct competition, this aspect of RO still shines. Over the course of around five hours of online play only occasionally did I encounter lag or slowdown and for the most part the netcode struck me as solid and well implemented. Although RO can be played solo, group play tends to be even more engaging and exciting, especially during the title’s signature oversized boss battles. The only major annoyance about this mode is that a group can only take on missions that have been unlocked by everyone in the group, but this is not a significant road block to a good time when all is said and done.
Visually, RO is a good, but not great looking game whose graphics, for the most part, get the job done. Just as with the game’s narrative, the graphics of Odyssey are hardly the stuff awards are given out for, but they do at least help paint an appealing world that is enjoyable enough to explore. Aurally, the game is equally decent, although the lack of voice acting does bring down the story to some degree.
Overall, between how well the different classes work together and the inherent quality of the game’s overall gameplay, Monster Hunter fans (particularly those of the online persuasion) looking for their fix on the Vita can breathe a sigh of relief with the release of Ragnarok Odyssey. Admittedly, I am not sure how much appeal the game will have for those who tend to shun the MH formula outright, but there is no question that GungHo Online Entertainment has produced a title with great appeal to those who love spending their time hunting down giant monsters. Between online play and some unique features, Ragnarok Odyssey might be a Monster Hunter clone, but at least it is a quality one overall.
A review code for this game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. The reviewer spent approximately 30 hours playing the game.
Also, feel free to follow the reviewer on Twitter @bigred_13 please if you feel so inclined.