Review: Record of Agarest War 2 (PS3)
Record of Agarest War 2 is a far more streamlined and straightforward game to the previous game in the series, and in this case that’s a good thing. The systems running behind the game are far less abstract this time, and as a result the game itself is far more accessible.
The combat is, of course, the focus of the new systems and it’s greatly enjoyable. Characters and their opponents are arrayed against one another on a grid. In turn-based combat, they then take turns duking it out, as is the case most other JRPGs. The trick here is the positioning of the units. Characters that are within certain formations on the grid can partner up to do increased damage, and this is the key for defeating the toughest enemies. Some attacks will pull characters out of their formations, though, meaning they can’t be used in those formation attacks.
Outside of battle Agarest War continues the genre’s love affair of numbers and statistics. There’s a lot of different weapon effects and characters to keep track of, and tweaking a party to its optimal power takes a great deal of strategic thinking. Because the difficulty spikes are at times staggering, it’s important to get the party balance right, otherwise this game does have the potential to be really (really) frustrating. Perhaps understanding that frustration, there is some free DLC for download that comes with some resource boosts for people that do get really stuck.
Where the combat system brings new innovation to the series, the other (more famous) half of the franchise returns largely untouched. When you’re not in combat in Agarest, a great deal of your time will be spent playing through what essentially amounts to a dating sim. In practice that does mean that this game features a lot of dialogue (all spoken, and is largely the reason this game is a 15GB download). A lot of that dialogue is, as usual for otaku dating games, trite, but the somewhat more serious tone of this game does lead to the odd moment where the various themes the story explores are genuinely compelling.
not as off-the-wall insane as Mugen Souls or Hyperdimension Neptunia, the sexploitation is a little less frequent or over-the-top than is usual for this developer.
On the other hand, because the game has a serious tone and the characters aim to characters players relate to, rather than offering simple comic value, the impact of the sexploitation is higher. There’s some moments in this game that will make most players uncomfortable with the game. This is Compile Heart’s style, of course, but it does need to be mentioned for people that haven’t played these games in the past.
That aside, this is a really wonderful little RPG. It’s got all the elements that make the traditional JRPG fans happy – a lengthy plot with some interesting characters, some nicely tuned combat that is deep without being too abstract for its own good, and a nice challenge that experienced gamers will get right into. It goes without saying that no Compile Heart RPG can be recommended to everyone, but it’s a safe bet for the usual crowd for these games.
- Matt S
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