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Monday, February 18, 2013

Record of Agarest War Zero

A sequel that's really a prequel to its sequel


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Story

The game starts with you, Sieghart, commanding a small group of soldiers with your lieutenants Eugene and Friedelinde as you fight the forces of darkness, however this battle has been going on for quite some time and has come to a stalemate. However, while resting in a small village, it is attacked my some goblins. After the squad defeats them and Sieghart gives chase, he meets a creature known as a Larva and a young mysterious girl, Mimelia. After being killed by the Larva, something happens to Sieghart that brings him back from death, with tremendous power and is able to ward of the Larva. Now Sieghart must uncover who this girl is and what this new power means.


Graphics 

The game intentionally has a bit of a dated feel (an old school look) while in battle and a anime style outside of battle (such as talking with people), which uses more animation than most games. Characters who are on screen will have small, natural movement to them, such as the diaphragm moving, blinking and hair swaying. In battle, characters will exhibit various types of skills and special effects that accompany them look very well done as do the battle fields.


Controls

The controls are, at first, a bit wonky (if you ever played Q'Bert, you may be able to adjust more quickly), as the battle field is not a straight up, down, left right setup. After a few battles though, you'll adjust and other than that there's no real use for anything else. Each character has a certain number of slots that skills can be allocated to, the number of slots depends on the character and weapon (some weapons have additional slots). Each slot has a type, ie. fire, water, wind, earth, physical, dark and more, only the right skill can be placed in the respective slots.

Music/Sound/Voice

For whatever reason, the voices are always in Japanese, there are no English dubs, only subtitles, which I believe are incorrect every now and then (I know what 'Konnichiwa' means, and it's not that). Music is pretty good, about what you'd expect from a JRPG game, dramatic during boss fights and more relaxed outside of that. Sounds are pretty generic for the most part, you'll hear the same 'sword hitting the bad guy' sound many times, but it's not terrible, and when you get injured, your character will make a grunt reminiscent of Link form The Legend of Zelda series.

Other

If you have a save from Record of Agarest War, you can use that to get some nifty items later in the game (not sure what they are as I don't have one). There's also a unique combat mechanism called 'Linking', which is utilized by having characters stand within another characters 'Extended Area' (these are simply smal squares that are unique to each character) and using the command list to pull of several attacks at once, occasionally resulting in unique skill combinations.

Once you've beaten the game, you'll start the next game, or more correctly, you didn't actually beat the game at all. There are 2 generations, what that means is you'll play as Sieghart, the hero, and then play as his child. Your child will change depending on who you decide to.... mate with and what 'combo cards' you have (combo cards are the unique cards you use near the beginning to create your Sieghart and earned through events in game).

After you've REALLY beaten the game, you'll be able to start a NG+ and/or play in the new unlocked dungeon that has much tougher monsters and carry those items over to your NG+. However, if you bought the DLC, only a small number of things carry over, which really sucks and is, in my opinion, asinine (why allow this MS? It's theft!)

Overall

Record of Agarest War Zero is a rather unique feeling game, even if it is a bit tough.

7.5/10.0

Pros
- If you want an RPG for Xbox, there aren't many to choose from
- Looks nice
- Will take a bit of your time

Cons
- Can be a tough game for those who don't like to grind
- Not a fan of the controls in battle
- Battles get repetetive
- If you buy any DLC, don't be surprised if it doesn't carry over from your New Game to New Game+, only New Game+ to New Game+ carries that stuff over