Date: 2006 April 22 06:03
Posted by Azure
We take a look at the manhwa styled fantasy RPG Magna Carta. Is it worth your hard earned cash with so many other anime and games out? RPG fans find out.
Magna Carta opens with a stunning cut scene, which strongly reminds me in the intro to Final Fantasy 8. The viewer is transported right into a sequence later in the game providing a nice entry point into the story. Sadly it’s a long way into the game before any of the visuals start to have any significance.
The plot of Magna Carta is set in the much wider context of war. Humans have been driven from their homeland to the land of Efferia. Efferia was already populated by the Yason who were soon at odds with the humans, given it was the Yason who were invaded it’s interesting to note that it’s the humans we follow specifically the mercenary group ‘’Tears of Blood’. Like Final Fantasy X to which this game strongly resembles there’s a will-they-won’t –they romance between mercenary Calintz and amnesiac priestess Reith. This strong plot based game play means that there’s plenty of in game cut scenes, whilst normally I enjoy plot heavy gaming in Magna Carta it can drag a bit especially when nine out of ten times it seems that the voice actors have no intention of matching the lip flaps at all. Whilst this is also a problem in similar RPGs like Shadow Hearts and Final Fantasy those games don’t seem to suffer to the same extent possibly because in those games pre-rendered FMVs are used for all the crucial moments. The story itself is enjoyable though suffers from plot pacing problems augmented by the game play.
Magna Carta is largely comprised of path based dungeons on pre rendered locations as has been popularised by Final Fantasy, there’s a good mix of interior and some gorgeous exterior locations broken up by a series of towns. The paths are inhabited by visible monsters who in all honesty are difficult to avoid. Instead you can choose to walk slowly and increase you area of awareness meaning you can sneak up on opponents and gain a valuable head start in battle.
The towns are linked by these pathways so in theory it’s possible to go back to search for hidden items or finish sub quests. Irritatingly though the game follows the plot so much that if characters state they have to hurry somewhere they’ll refuse to go back to previous locations. This became a problem with the Blacksmith’s mini quests. In each town a Blacksmith has a quest you can complete in order to obtain special weapons. Unfortunately you many only participate in one at any time with no way to cancel a mission, so if you can’t go back to a blacksmith who set a mission you’re stuck –though it is really rewarding when you do find a rare item and it’s worthwhile giving it a shot.
The battle system is a fairly unique combination of other games. The player is able to move characters around real time charging up chi when still which is used to attack and use items, only one character may be moved at any one time making it an odd hybrid of turn based and real time. It’s also tricky moving multiple characters around so most of the time I found myself fighting a battle with just one character. Attacks are executed by inputting key combinations as they pass a certain point on an attack ring, much like Shadow Hearts judgement ring. Magna Carta’s ring whilst being clearer (you hit the key symbols beamani style rather than sections of a pie chart) is less forgiving if you miss a symbol you loose that attack. It’s tricky to learn but means battles are much more interactive experience. The game has it’s own take on elemental attacks too. Each characters attack styles are dominated by different elements of chi, which are used up when attacking. The amount of types of chi available is dependant on the environment for example a cave dungeon had lots of earth chi. This means in certain areas some characters attacks are limited and much emphasis is placed on using the right styles in the right area. The chi can be altered by locating chi lanterns, which effect the local area, their dominant chi can be altered by inserting an item with different chi. There’s also more management with a dating game style system which is activated at save points. By talking to each member and giving them the right gifts you can improve relations which effects how well they work in battle. It’s a nice touch, though a pain if you don’t pay attention. This isn’t the first game of it’s series in it’s native Korea and I distinctly felt I was supposed to know more about the characters which would have helped though in all honestly like many ren-ai games it’s obvious what you’re supposed to say.
What really stands out for Magna Carta are the visuals. The characters have distinctive manhwa looks thanks to Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim. The costumes are bold and little outlandish but give the game it’s own style. Though do be warned some of the characters are very androgynous, and it’s only in the cut scenes that their genders were confirmed.
Like many generic manga or in this case manhwa Magna Carta has many imperfections that make it much harder than it should be to progress through. Despite my criticisms I can guiltily admit I’m enjoying Manga Carta hugely, and genuinely want to know how it all ends a contradiction perhaps but I recommend you play it for the visuals and most importantly for the story.