Record of Agarest War review
(Despite the Xbox 360 boxart here, the PS3 version is reviewed… there’s no PS3 boxart so I went with the closest thing)
Remember Cross Edge? It came out last year, and it was hated by critics and gamers overall. But I still thought it was a very fun game, there were just a lot of hurdles to jump over before really getting to enjoy it, hurdles which the average gamer or reviewer just didn’t want to bother with (which is quite understandable). And then there’s the fact that it was incredibly badly optimized, with pixelated/blurry 2D graphics and relatively long load times (even when the game was installed).Â It was still a fun game, with a really good battle system and lots of fun leveling systems.
This year we get Record of Agarest War. Made by the same company, and it has a lot in common. So maybe this is this year’s “Cross Edge” in a sense. It’s been out for a while now, I just took my sweet time playing it and finally getting to review it. But, from the little research I made, I found that it got more favorable reviews than Cross Edge did.
So read on and see if it really deserves the slightly more favorable reviews!
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Aksys Games
Date of Release: April 27th 2010
Platforms: Playstation 3 (PSN downloadable game only), Xbox 360 (Disc-only)
Genre: Turn-based Strategy RPG (with dating game elements)
Rated T for Teen
This is made by Compile Heart, who also made Cross Edge, so it’s very similar in style. It’s anime-ish, with a medieval-like background and environments. It doesn’t look unique or really interesting for that matter. The characters are 2D, and their sprites are fairly good… or at least crisper and sharper than they were in Cross Edge. The environments are pretty boring. Overall it’s a slight step up from Cross Edge. And the big sprites during conversations are quite nice quality too.
The sound quality is okay. The music always fits the situation, the sound effects are okay, and the voice acting is generally solid, though some of the voices aren’t too great… It’s not overwhelmingly awesome, nor is it terrible, but there’s really nothing to say about it. Though I will say that a lot of the sound effects, especially for menus, are taken directly from Cross Edge.
The story is kind of enjoyable. At first, it involves a man named Leonhardt, who dies in battle while protecting an innocent little female High Elf. While dying (or after dying, it’s not too clear), some women comes by and tells him that he can come back to life if he gives her his soul, and the souls of all his descendants from now on, in order for him to help her accomplish her goals of saving the world from evil. This plays an important role in the story, obviously, as, after a number of hours of gameplay, you’ll be changing main characters for one of Leanhardt’s descendants. Each Generation has its own small plot, usually having to do with politics and rebellions and evil taking over certain parts of the world and all that fun stuff. Since the main character’s descendants have to continue his contract with the woman, each Generation ends with the main character for that Generation choosing one of the 3 girls who are, for some reason, possible “soul-mates”, and they get a children together, which leads to the next Generation. Which girl you choose has very little importance story-wise, though it does affect the next Generation’s main character’s stats, as well as the character’s appearance.
Speaking of girls, this is the “Dating Sim” aspect of the game. As you advance through the game, you get conversations with other characters. Sometimes, you have dialogue choices, and those choices affect what each of the “soulmates” in your party thinks of you. It also changes your “Light/Dark” meter, which I didn’t really check what it did since I just went through trying to always be “Good”. At the end of a chapter, you choose one of the girls, though only the ones that like you enough are going to be options.
Since there’s 5 individual stories, I won’t comment on them all, but they do have similar feels, and they all tie in to an overarching plot which is quite interesting. The cast changes quite a few times through the game, so there’s a good variety of characters and personalities for the player to experience. There are a few characters that carry on from some Generations to the next though.
Oh, and there’s a True Ending as well, which requires playing the game a second time and doing certain choices through the game to get a different ending. It’s annoying and time-consuming, but, if you’re really into it, I guess it can be worth it to get that new ending (and it is required for a trophy/achievement).
The fighting system is a very simplistic SRPG battle system. You have a grid, which is almost always the same size no matter the battle, and there’s never anything that involves elevation like other SRPGs. At the beginning of every turn, you move all of your team (this requires AP, 1 for each movement), and then then enemy moves his. Then the turn order for which character acts first is determined by the speed stat. Each character also has “Extended Areas”, which are represented by a glowing border around tiles at different ranges around the currently selected character. Getting other characters in another character’s extended area will be important later on. Being in another character’s extended area “links” the 2 characters togheter. You can basically link all the characters in your party together if you place them correctly.
On a character’s turn, he’ll have a few actions he can do: Using skills, using items, or ending their turn. Ending their turn keeps the AP they have left and adds it to the number of AP they gain at the start of every turn (each character’s AP can go somewhat higher than their base amount, so it can be a good idea to build up lots of AP when fighting strong enemies).Using abilities is what you’ll do most. After choosing a target within range, you’ll be able to choose what attacks to do on it. You can only use each attack once every round of attacks, but, if your character has remaining AP after attacking, you can do more rounds of attacks, until their AP is empty. If 2 specific attacks are put one after another, they combine to form a stronger attack (for example: 2 Double Edge attacks become Quadruple Edge). Character’s also get SP, which is given when other characters die, or when they get hit (from what I’ve seen). When they have enough SP, and if they have enough AP at the same time, they can launch special attacks.
If you are linked with other characters when using skills, this is where things get really interesting. Instead of just attacking with the character who’s turn it is, you can attack with any character who is linked with him. No matter if the characters are in range of the enemy or not either. This can be used to chain attacks to deal massive damage to single enemies, or to move characters around the battlefield faster. Also, combining attacks to make stronger versions of attacks works with multiple characters to, so, for example, if 2 characters select Double Edge in a row, they’ll do Quadruple Edge as a team. Special attacks that use SP can also be combined.
Hitting an enemy enough Breaks it, making the enemy weaker, and enabling certain special combination attacks to deal more hits. Dealing enough damage will kill an opponent, but you can continue attacking after that to deal even more damage and overkill the enemy. Enemies have chance of dropping items when dying, but have more things that can drop when it is overkilled.
There isn’t much more to talk about here. It can be a bit deeper, but it really just uses all those basics, and it’s up to you to make strategies. It’s a fun battle system, and it can offer a good challenge if your equipment isn’t up to par, but it’s generally not really hard if you prepare properly (or if you use DLC).
Well… remember Cross Edge? This game has EXACTLY the same leveling systems. It literally has no differences. This is the laziest thing I’ve ever seen in a game. So, here’s a short lowdown since I don’t want to write the same thing a second time.
There are various types of equipment: weapons, armors, accessories… you can also equip different attacks if the equipped weapon has enough slots, and some equipment have slots which can be used to equip certain stat boosts.
You get various types of points here. Experience points, TP, EP, PP and Gold.Â Experience levels up your characters normally, and, upon leveling, your character gets some basic stat boosts, and extra points to put towards any stat. TP is used to buy items in a certain shop. This ranges from recipe books to materials to weapons. The same shop where you can exchange TP is also where you get tasks to complete, like getting certain numbers of certain items, or dealing high numbers of damage, or high numbers of hits, or killing certain types of enemies… Each of those give you extra items and points.Â EP is used at the blacksmith to upgrade weapons and other equipment. Each weapon can go up to level 5, and then you can convert the item, which turns them to material or certain other types of items.Â PP is basically the same type of point you can assign to character stats as you get when the character levels up, except they can be used on anyone in the party instead of just one character.Â Gold is used partly to buy stuff, and partly to build items at the blacksmith’s shop. If you have the recipes for it, you can make any item if you have the required materials and the required money.
Yeah, I went and oversimplified everything, but that’s because they literally copied the systems from Cross Edge. There’s nothing new whatsoever in the leveling systems in this game. I don’t know why they decided to recycle the everything from Cross Edge, but that made me much less interested in progressing through the game as I was with Cross Edge, since I’m basically experiencing the same game twice.
(Yes, I am aware I skipped a few things, but they’re not really needed to play the game… like the marionette shop)
While Cross Edge was blasted like crazy, this game comes along and is basically the same thing with a different battle system, and reviews are a lot more positive (still not SUPER positive, but still better)… It makes little sense to me. It might be because it’s much better optimized than Cross Edge. There are barely any loading times and the graphics are higher-quality… But gameplay-wise the leveling systems are all the same, no exception, and the battle system, while very fun, isn’t exactly as good as in Cross Edge.
But anyways, Record of Agarest War is a very interesting game, though the whole “it pretty much exactly copies Cross Edge” thing made me less interested in fully playing it, which is why I took so long to review it. I mean, I already played Cross Edge, why take some of my time to play it again?
Granted, the battle system is completely different, and it’s well done and fun to play. The Generations system, which is pretty much like a dating sim, gives some variety to the game and a little bit of incentive to play through the game more than once.
If you haven’t played Cross Edge, this is worth checking out, but, if you did already experience Cross Edge, I’d suggest you wait until the game gets a discount on the PSN or in stores if you’re in for the 360 version. Yeah, that’s weird… the 360 only got the game on disc, while the PS3 only has it as a downloadable game.
Pros and Cons
- The battle system is really simple, but really fun
- The generation system is interesting and adds a little bit of variety if you plan on doing multiple playthroughs (which is required to get all the trophies/achievements)
- Leveling systems and such are just as good as they were in Cross Edge… since they’re the same thing
- No more endless searching on the map like in Cross Edge, the map here is a lot easier and less time-consuming to use
- Very time consuming (good value for your money)
- There’s a lot of recycling… multiple sounds and game mechanics are taken directly from Cross Edge
- Very time consumingÂ (the game takes around 40-50 hours to finish, which is asking a lot to have to replay this)
- The free DLC makes the beginning of the game really easy, and the paid DLC (some of the cheapest ones, I didn’t want to spend a lot on it) makes the rest of the game too easy(one of the cheap weapon packs has the best sword in the game)… yeah, I know it’s optional, but I just thought I’d throw that out there
The Save Factor
The game costs 45$ on the PSN, and the Xbox 360 version is around 60$ (with a few extras). I’d say the Save Factor for this one would be 30$.
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