Tag Archives: Jeff Johnson

Cracking the Case: Record of Agarest War

I am possibly going to offend many JRPG fans today.

It’s not because I don’t like role playing games from Japan. I have a collection of RPGs dating back to Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior on the Nintendo. RPGs from both sides of the pond have found their way into my game systems and on my television set for nearly three decades.

The reason many fans of JRPGs are likely to come after me in droves is because I am about to open fire on a game that has been applauded by fans of RPGs, strategy games and war stories alike.

Today, I’m Cracking the Case on Record of Agarest War by Aksys Games.

Not to be confused with the old anime/manga series Record of Lodoss War, Agarest has seen some success in North America. Enough success that the developers have ported both its prequel Record of Agarest War Zero and its sequel to North America.

Like I said, I grew up with RPGs, but fell in love with strategy RPGs. Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics have been revisited time and time again in my house. Its reached the point where I can avoid picking up any strategy games these days, in hopes that I will find a successor to the Ogre Battle series.

Will Agarest War be able to compete with many other successful franchises it share roots with? Let’s find out.

WHAT THIS GAME DOES RIGHT

This game has an addictive battle system.

Agarest War Battle System

The game’s battle system is its strongest point. Each battle allows you to take six members of your army into the fray, each capable of using their own moves. These moves, when synced up with other members of the party, creates devastating combos, capable of doing tens of thousands of points in damage. The first time you break the nine thousand point mark, they even reward you for it.

Its over 9000.png
WHAT!? Nine thousand!?

The game even keeps track of your highest combos and ranks you compared to other players online, providing more motivation to achieve bigger combos.

This game has loads of characters.

The game’s storyline takes place over five generations, each introducing more characters into the mix. By the end of the game, so many characters join up that it can be hard to keep them all straight.

Agarest War Characters.jpg

That’s not including the monster capture and breeding system, which lets you create some unique and devastating characters for your team relatively early in the story. I was able to create a level 90 monster in generation 3, about halfway through the game. The top level you can get is level 99, effectively creating the equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the battlefield.

It’s like the game gives you the opportunity to create Thundergod Cid from Final Fantasy Tactics, just for the hell of it.

Orlandu Final Fantasy Tactics
Orlandu Cid = Gamebreaker

This game has a unique generations system

In most games, your main character is a product of your decisions. This game takes that statement literally.

Each generation’s main character is based on the decisions of the hero in the previous generation. One choice in particular, as the main character decides who he wants to… umm… sleep with.

Agarest War Marriage System
Say what??

The term for it in the game is ‘soul breeding.’ Basically, you have three women in each generation that you can marry to give birth to the next hero. Each time creates a unique character, with certain strengths and a different design that will be carried to later generations.

Agarest War Furry
Talk about variety!

WHAT THIS GAME DOES WRONG

This game needs to fire its writers

I’m not sure what Agarest Zero or Two are like, but if they kept the same translators from the first game, things don’t bode well for the rest of the series.

Picture you are having a conservation with the most rigid and repetitive person on Earth.

Shia Labeouf 2
Shia Labeouf will do!

Now imagine that this person has soul bred with every person in the game and you have Record of Agarest War. Conversations are repetitive, characters speak like an English major trying to speak French and dialogue in one scene will often have no flow or connection to any other scene.

I realize this series has a medieval setting with its own set of gods, but other games have done settings like this before and actually have good writing. Chrono Trigger pulled off 600 A.D. with no issues at all and both remakes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre also did so nicely.

My complaint with Agarest is not period writing; this is lazy, repetitive garbage trying to be masked as period writing by eye-candy characters.

Shia Labeouf
In other words, a Shia Labeouf movie.

This game has stiff and wooden characters

Writing plays a lot into this and while I’ve already fired a shot off the game’s bow for that. But if you have ever played this game, how many characters ca you actually remember without looking at a Wikipedia site? And I don’t mean what moves you use or what they look like. I mean their background story and what contribution they actually had to the story.

Agarest War Contribution
That’s not the kind of contribution I’m talking about…

Granted, not all of the characters in this game are bad. Some are actually enjoyable, like Winfield. The problem is you can see what’s going to happen to most of the characters about a mile away. Character design doesn’t help here. One of the early party members, Vashtor, is a clear example of that.

Vashtor Agarest War
Clearly not evil… The shoulder flames say so.

The game loves wasting your time.

This game is a perfectionist’s Hell. If your goal is to collect every single item in the game, just stop now.

Agarest introduces us to the most convoluted system for getting new items and new abilities that I have ever seen.

There is item crafting, which revolves around its own point system to level up items. To get the points, you have to get into endless battles.

Crafting Screen - Record of Agarest War

Once an item is fully leveled up, it can be broken down into its base parts, which can be used to build new items.

These new items require additional items to build them, which can only be found by beating certain monsters who have a random drop rate for items, or capturing monsters and turning them into items through their monster breeding system.

Once you build a new item, you can either use that item in battle or trade it in, with additional items, to get new abilities for your characters.

Those abilities can also be built up through constant repetitive use, which means more battles.

Sounds like a great system, right? Prepare to be disappointed.

The amount of points some items require to level up are just ridiculous, based on the amount of points you get per battle.

Also, the game includes Oops items. That’s not the actual term for them, that’s the only way I can describe this. Every now and then when you give the OK to build that weapon you’ve been working for hours to get all the materials for, the blacksmith screws up and builds an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ITEM. Sometimes, that item is either worthless or an item you already have.

If you didn’t save, you’re out of luck and back to the drawing board.

And to add further frustration, you can’t buy that item you’ve been trying to build in the stores. The shopkeeper only stocks items you’ve ALREADY BUILT. As if you are the only person building weapons and armor in this freaking place.

Explosion
No picture can explain my rage for this game…

You basically have two options. Either spend half of the time you will be playing this game building things, or spend your actual money on DLC items that make the game a cakewalk. Either option is fundamentally wrong on a level of game design. (I went with the DLC, by the way.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I would suggest renting this game first to see if you like it or even download a trial version, but neither option is available. This game seems to be hard to find on disc and there are no trial versions through XBox Live. Your options are to pay whatever price the XBox store is asking for or not to bother at all. My choice would be the latter.

Avoid this game, classics like Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics do what this game is trying to do much better. Heck, even Disgaea is a better choice.

If you’re only looking for eye-candy, check out Catherine or the Dead or Alive series. Less effort needed there.

 

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Reviews with Gold – Prominence Poker Peril

Here are some things you should know about Prominence Poker on XBox One if you intend on picking up this free game.

Key word… FREE. Be careful here, guys. There`s a lot of ways you can spend money here that you can easily do without!

Thoughts of the Day – Save Monopoly’s Scottie Dog!!

I want the Scottie dog to be part of Monopoly history for years to come.

But Scottie’s place in the game could be at risk with the ongoing Vote Monopoly contest, with 65 different pieces in the running to be a part of the board game.

I’m all about keeping the Scottie dog in the game of Monopoly. That dog is a champion, much like other great dogs… Like Lassie… Beethoven… and the Littlest Hobo.

Help me keep the Scottie dog in the game through http://www.votemonopoly.com. Support the cat too while you are at it!

Gameplay in this video is from Monopoly Plus for the XBox 360. Filmed using the XBox One’s Game DVR and Upload Studio.

GameOn First Impressions – Sonic Speed Energy Drink

We’re trying something different on GameOnGNT today… literally.

Its a taste test video, as I got a chance to pick up a whole bunch of video game related energy drinks from Calgary at the start of the summer.

So I figured why not drink every energy drink and film the results?

We’re starting things off with the Sonic Speed Energy Drink… ITS BLUE!

Thoughts of the Day – Does the Frame Rate in Star Fox Zero Matter?

There’s been a lot of talk around frame rate drops in Star Fox Zero lately.

Apparently, the game runs at 720 p and 60 frames per second, but occasionally drops to 40 frames per second.

My honest opinion… Who the Hell cares?

In all of my years of gaming, I’ve never heard so much talk about frame rates then I do now. Having grown up with Nintendos and Ataris, I really don’t give a crap about that and don’t think it should matter.

What does the game play like? Does it have a good story? That’s what should matter!

What do you think?

Thoughts of the Day – Could Final Fantasy XV Be Better On PC

Developers behind Final Fantasy XV believe that the game could be better on PC, as opposed to consoles.

That being said, developers are also saying they would likely re-build Final Fantasy XV from the ground up if they put it on PC.

My thoughts? JUST RELEASE THE DAMN GAME ALREADY!

Thoughts of the Day – What to Expect From Calgary Expo 2016

We’re three weeks away from the start of this year’s Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and I’m once again looking forward to the event.

Calgary Expo is one of the biggest comic conventions in my area, covering all things geek culture. Video games, card games, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, its all there to be found!

While I am disappointed there will be no wrestlers included in this year’s Calgary Expo, I am looking forward to many of the guests announced.

If you’re going to Calgary Expo this year, what are you looking forward to most?

Jeff’s Gaming Journal – My History with Super Mario Bros 3

What a wonderful and magical game Super Mario Bros 3 for the Nintendo was. Seriously, who HASN’T played this game?

Mario 3 really is one of the greatest games of all time and I have a long history with it.

Bear with me, I’ve got a lot of story telling to do this time, involving video game tournaments and my days in college.

Lets talk about Super Mario Bros 3!

Onward to Adventure – Pokemon Red and Blue – Which Pokemon Should You Start With?

Today’s episode does not focus on the debate between Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. While the starter debate is always a good one, that’s not what we’re talking about here today.

I’m talking about which Pokemon you find on the first couple of routes that you should keep around and build up?

Today, Pokemon like Rattata and Nidoran get their chance to shine!