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Magna Carta: Tears of Blood (PlayStation 2) artwork

Magna Carta: Tears of Blood (PlayStation 2) review

"So you're looking for a new and unusual RPG. "

So you're looking for a new and unusual RPG.

You may find what you're looking for here in Magna Carta: Tears of Blood. But the real question is, is it worth wading through some technical difficulties for a more unique gaming experience?

That all depends on your level of patience.

For the most part visually appealing, Magna Carta utilizes the unique character design of Hyung-Tae Kim capture our attention with eye-blindingly vibrant costumes. Gorgeous outfits aside, or effeminate hero Calintz and 'his' sexy hip vented pants are probably responsible for bringing in many of the female fanbase including myself.

Despite it's visual flare Magna Carta is...somewhat lacking in the sound department. Mute your TV and turn up the radio because that's really the only way to play the game with any decent sound. The music is bland and missable, and if that isn't bad enough, the voice acting and lip synchronization is like trying to watch a badly dubbed anime where untalented and inexperienced actors read cue card with no previous knowledge of the script. The battle lines are mind numbingly repetitive and poorly executed as well. To add insult to injury, the beautifully rendered opening cinematic is set to possibly the worst pop song wannabe ever written, ambitiously titled 'Tears of Blood'.

Ignoring (or enduring) horrible voice acting, we move on to the battle system, the core of any RPG. Once you get past the learning phase the battle system becomes a delicate balance consisting of timing your attacks on a rotating trinity circle in sequences of X and O, observing the elemental 'Chi' of an area to decide what party members and attacks will be most effective or even unusable, and choosing which party member of a type (i.e. swordsman, mage, healer) will get to use the one of a kind scroll to learn a new style of fighting.

Despite a somewhat frustrating system of exploring that forces you to choose between running through an area, which severely reduces your range of awareness and sets you up for enemy ambushes left and right, and walking with your sword out, which increases your range of awareness and allows you to ambush enemies, the dungeon exploration is fairly seamless and, other than slow walking, fairly strategic. While many might complain that in Dash mode, Calintz is unrealistically near-sighted, I consider the fact that, while dashing in real life you might not notice something until it's right on top of you, right? However, as previously stated, you can avoid the enemies getting the drop on you by stalking at half the speed with sword poised, giving you increased awareness range, allowing for easier treasure chest detection and the ability to ambush enemies allowing you a 'free hit' first strike period.

If gameplay is the heart that keeps an RPG alive and kicking when nothing else does, the story line is the soul that makes an RPG more than just fun to play. Magna Carta boasts a story that will last 50+ hours with little to complain about. True to classic RPG story telling, the characters themselves aren't tremendously unique or outstanding. We have our essential, emotionally constipated main character who learns to open up over the game, our amnesiac and incredibly naive female lead who depends on the main character, an 18 year old boy who looks like a 12 year old girl, a meatshield who denies he ever once had things called 'emotions', an incredibly busty mage babe with no outstanding personality, a playboy who can never hit it off with the ladies, and more. The only characters I found to be especially interesting or attention grabbing, were the ex-mercenary on a search for her missing husband,and the voiceless 16 year old girl who looks about 11.

Apart from characters, the story itself isn't revolutionary, but it is enjoyable. In a world where humans were constantly at war with each other, a small fleet of ships set sail to find a haven of peace and ended up drifting ashore on the continent of Efferia where they promptly set up base. After more than 50 years during which the humans have been expanding, the elf-like magic wielding natives called the Yason have banded their tribes into one nation in order to defend what little they have left. It's reminiscent of colonists vs. Native Americans, no? You find yourself controlling the members of a human mercenary band called the Tears of Blood who all have personal vendettas against the Yason. Ah racism and prejudice at it's finest. Still, there are enough unique plot twists and interesting developments to set it apart from most cliche stories.

The bottom line comes down to this:
If you're looking for a unique game that attempts new things but could use some tweaking, buy it. Just make sure you have a lot of patience.
If you can't handle a few unpleasant quirks in an overall good product, or, don't have the patience for a slower paced story line, then this game isn't for you.

Personally I found it to be new and refreshing, with few things to truly complain about.

Lavieta's avatar
Community review by Lavieta (April 03, 2007)

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