4.2

Magna Carta: The Phantom of Avalanche (Import) review
The new military torture method

The good:

Final 20% of the story
Reith is somewhat interesting

The bad:

Characters
Backtracking
Repetitive battle system
Camera angles
Loading times
First 80% of the story

Summary:

Have you ever been sitting at home, wondering what you could possible do to pass the time? All your friends are busy, so you can’t hang out with them. You have no paint in the shed, so you can’t throw it on your bedroom wall and watch it dry. Furthermore, your backyard is plagued with dirty sand, making it impossible to watch the grass grow. Fortunately, a solution was invented in 2004 by a bunch of Japanese nerds who were stuck indoors suffering from the same problem outlined above. This solution is called Magna Carta: Tears of Blood, and for about $50, you’ll never have to worry about being bored, as this game will force you to find a new hobby.

To be fair, only the first 80% of the game made me want to beat myself over the head with a plank of wood. If you unfortunately share my philosophy that an RPG MUST BE FINISHED, then your head is in serious danger of being whacked repetitively with a 4x4, or better yet, the Magna Carta DVD. Below is a breakdown of the games enjoyment progression. If you’re still not convinced to stay away from this game, then keep reading. I’ll tell you why.



Story....story.... It’s actually the best part. Uh... and by best, I mean slightly less horrifying than every other element of the game. It’s true that the first 80% is horrid. The final 20% of the story was what the entire game should have been like. In summary, there’s a never ending war between the humans and the Yason. You take the role of Clatisha..... I mean Calintz (you’ll understand later), who is the leader of the Tears of Blood, a special military unit tasked to eventually save the world. Early in the game you meet a young girl, Reith, who has lost her memory and you’ll soon become aware that there’s more too her than there initially seemed. The game is full of twists and turns, but until the final 20%, they’re all a bore. Some things may seem illogical and confusing at times, but most will make sense if you ever, god forbid, finish this game.

Now for the horrible cast of characters. First, I’ll introduce Calintz, the transsexual with absolutely no fashion sense. Yes, he’s the one to the left in the picture below. Being the main character, he isn’t too badly developed. His appearance just makes me feel like Hulk Hogan every time I see a full body shot. On the bright side, if you’re questioning your sexuality, play this game. Things may seem clearer.



The other main character, Reith (picture above), is actually quite interesting. She has no memory of herself from the start of the game, and discovering her origins and who she really is can be exciting at times. Apart from these two, the rest of the cast are pitiful excuses for main characters. All others, bar Raul, are horribly developed and have little to no back story. Haren for example is apparently bad ass and it seems that whatever you do illogically annoys him. To top it off, the voice acting of many characters makes me want to burst my ear drums, such as Haren... I really don’t like that guy....

In general, the enemies are alright. One of them looks like Marilyn Manson, which is pretty cool. I’m really not going to go too much into it because perhaps the biggest plot twist of the game is related to an enemy. This twist is definitely something I didn’t see coming and although I would never put myself through the game again, it would be interesting to see how this character acts at the start of the game, now knowing the truth.


Now onto the weak points which are in summary, everything else. I’ll start with the world. Basically, the Humans and Yason are at war, and have divided themselves into distinct regions. Throughout the game, your party will travel to many locations, mainly in human territory and for 95% of the game; the only way of getting from A to B is by foot. Oh, did I mention that once you get to B, you more than likely have to travel back to A again, by foot, with respawned enemies? But wait, there’s more! Quite often, you have to go back and forth TWICE with DIFFERENT parties, ONE AFTER THE OTHER. Let me outline the most irritating part of the game. If you pass this part without throwing your PS2 out the window then you’re a better man than I. Imagine a lengthy 5 part dungeon which has so many teleporters that it’s almost impossible to actually know where you’re going. Top it off with very difficult enemies a lack of save points and you have yourself 3 hours of hell. You can imagine the relief that I felt when I got to the end. The moronic developers decided that this wasn’t enough torture. Immediately after reaching the end, you are forced to do it ALL OVER AGAIN with a weaker party. This is Involk Castle, and is certainly not the only point in the game that makes you want to use the Magna Carta disk as a coaster for Jack Daniels that you will inevitably become addicted to after playing this game. Most of the game is back tracking, and back back tracking, and back tenfold tracking *GASP*. Just let me take a few shots of Jacks before I get onto the next part.

The battle system..... Originality and superiority do not go hand in hand. It is quite complex, and explaining the mechanics would give me arthritis and be boring for the both of us. Basically, you can select three party members to fight, and only one of them has to attack. In fact, it’s quite pointless to have more than one member attack in a battle because each time a character does attack, they gain access to a stronger move. This means that attacking 4 times with your strongest character will allow him to use level 4 moves for the rest of the battle, while attacking once with each character will only unlock their level 2 move. In summary, if you want to win, make one character powerful, and attack with him until the enemy is dead.

This battle system really makes party member selection pointless as you only need one strong character. What’s worse is that 2 out of the 10 (odd) playable party members are in a league way above the rest. You would be stupid not to use these two characters for every battle and every attack. The developers of this game clearly do not understand the word balancing. This system really needs to be refreshed so that your other party members don’t just stand around watching while Calinitz slays every single enemy out there. You can see the basics of the battle system below.




Camera angles! It’s like telling a 3 year old to film a Hollywood blockbuster! You can see the enemies on the field, and it’s up to you to avoid or initiate combat. The camera is fixed, and when you are walking down screen, it is IMPOSSIBLE to see what is in front of you. This includes the enemies. Since you cannot see them, you cannot avoid them. If you do, it’s by complete luck. Well now that you’re in an unavoidable battle, at least the camera issues are over, right? Nope, it gets worse. Once again, if you start above the enemy on the battlefield then you’re forced to wander around aimlessly, wasting valuable time, looking for the enemy. This is not fun. Furthermore, it’s almost impossible to run from battle, even if the enemies are 100 levels lower than you. Once you’re in battle, there’s no escaping it.

I’ll leave it there. I’ve gone through the main points of the game and explained how painful they are. As you’ve probably gathered, I did not enjoy this game at all. It was repetitive, dull and incredibly frustrating. The military really should consider using this as a torture device because that how it felt to me. Apart from the final 20% of the story, it was garbage, not even worth checking out. There’s a sequel out right now, and I’m making it my sworn duty to stay away! This series does not deserve a second chance.

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InsanityS Mar 20, 10
Excellent review you've made here. The game really does sound like it misses the point of certain gameplay ideas. Loved the little graph at the beginning.
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