Review by PlatinumSaysHi
A Niche of Enjoyment
Record of Agarest War 2 was the latest RPG I managed to get my hands on. I was not sure what to expect from it having not played its predecessors- plural because this is the third game from a line of series titled Agarest from Idea Factory and Aksys Games. It is a sequel to the initial Agarest game that began the series. It is a strategy RPG with an anime-inspired design that is palpable from the opening and forward.
The game begins with a scene where two individuals are confronted by an entity deemed as god. By vanquishing it, it will set of a spiral of events where the hero must search of exactly what had happened on that fateful moment. Your character Weiss loses all recollections of the event and becomes informed only through individuals whom he will be able to meet along the way. One of these individuals is Eva who is the most knowing of all of the situation- telling Weiss that he had confronted god and therefore must fulfill a journey spanning generations for sake of atonement. For this purpose, he is to become a "vessel" that shall only be supported by its "pillars". Now here's the fun part, the so-called pillars are actually girls who will join you during your journey and are each a potential wife. Because the journey is to span generations, your offspring with your chosen pillar becomes your new playable hero upon entering each new generation which in turn will have a new set of pillars. There are ramifications as well as rewards for proper planning for your offspring which all the more adds to this game's unique premise.
I have not played the other Agarest games, but I was able to play Cross Edge in the past and if I had to find a base line for comparison, I would choose that. Now that only holds true however from a superficial perspective because as I played Agarest 2, I began to see it as its own special experience. It is an RPG, but its strategic elements are Agarest's selling point. Battles are fought via two opposing planes of control similar to Cross Edge; one is for the heroes and the other for enemies. A leader must be selected beforehand however, a leader can fluctuate to your heart's content assuming the proper requisites are met during battle. Your leader determines the over all form of the formation as well as the benefit that your team within the formation will be fighting under, ie. Attack up. Attacking is heavily reliant on AP or action points. These determine how much capable actions you have left. These can be combined with one, two, or three others allowing for a full all-out four character assault. The AP available for each attack is the sum of the AP stored by all the characters chosen to participate within that phase. As for what moves or combos your characters can learn, they are set beforehand via the skills menu. Here is where Agarest 2 outshines Cross Edge and that is through the flexibility of the skills you can acquire. You are not constrained to skills unique to one character, instead you can select any skill and teach it to a character. The catch however, is that skills are categorized in tiers, and only one skill can be attained by each character from a given tier. This is all hard to take in, but it really is not all that complex. The skills can be designed to produce flashy combos mid-battle upon getting a "guard-break"- relinquishing an opponent of its guard meter. Lastly there are ultimate strikes which is an ALL OUT final strike as well as character specific and team specific special attacks which are comprised of of a mini-cutscene.
Gameplay outside of battle has you doing sidequests or commissions. There is something to look out here for in that within a generation, your heroes' actions are limited to 9999. Everything you do from completion of a sidequests to progressing the story will add and sometimes decrease your current number which starts at zero. Once it reaches 9999, commissions become locked, and you must move on to the next generation before you can undergo commissions again. Just think of it as your lifespan. The traveling aspect is relatively intuitive as there are teleport stones scattered about allowing for easy access to the various continents the world of Agarest has to offer. Story progresses from finding waypoints marked as EVENT while commissions usually involve the gathering of rare materials and the defeat of rare enemies. All this is for a purpose that will allow your journey to be more meaningful and add to its enjoyment as the game gets easier as you do the commissions.
The music was decent throughout my playing experience. Battle music will eventually become monotonous as you grind for materials etc. During the latter portions of the game, I used my own music actually during battles. That's not to say it is bad though, more than anything it speaks of the frequency of encounters in Agarest 2 which was one complaint I had.
The game was slightly difficult for me on Normal. The trophies are mostly tied to story progressions and sidequests so doing them will naturally result in trophies unlocking. There is a True-End trophy, but due to its elusiveness I was not able to attain it.
My experience with Agarest 2 was well-spent. I enjoyed the depth in attaining skills and assigning them to your favorite characters. The whole offspring concept was my favorite aspect of the game over everything else. Not only was that something that I never had experienced before in an RPG, it was a core mechanic in Agarest 2 that contributed greatly to a system that determined my offsprings' statistics and weapon of preference. It was not just fluff added for sake of fan-service, it was a key mechanic that I truly had to plan for if I wished to mitigate the revamped difficulty that each new generation introduced- which I did. Minor negatives that prevent me from yielding a perfect score was the frequency of battles. The use of serum powder did so little to provide me my moment of respite and it seemed that going into my menu to use it took more time than fighting weaker fiends. Another thing I did not like was that sometimes the dialogue became ambiguous to the point where once it ended, I was at a lost for where I am to head next. It happened more times than not. Regardless, this was a solid buy for me and I utterly loved the cast of this game. My favorite character was Aina who gets a 10 from me, but overall the game gets an 8 from me.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Record of Agarest War 2 (US, 06/26/12)
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