Record of Agarest War 2 review
It's a shame when a video game can elicit both incredibly positive and ridiculously negative feelings within a gamer in just a matter of hours. Such is the case with Record of Agarest War 2, an ambitious effort that attempts to create a compelling JRPG experience. While the game most certainly manages to do exactly that, Agarest War 2 also suffers from flaws so glaring that you'll constantly ask yourself if you even want to get through the rest of the game. I know I asked myself that question numerous times during my play-through.
You play as Weiss, a dude suffering from a nasty case of amnesia after slaying a raging god. Unfortunately, killing such a powerful being comes with a price. The world is pretty much ending at this point, and it's up to Weiss to fix the problem. The story starts off fairly okay, but then it just spirals into a convoluted mess of long-drawn out character interactions and long-winded dialogue sequences. Seriously, there's a lot of spoken dialogue in Agarest War 2 (all of it in Japanese), so be prepared for that. I made the mistake of playing this game late at night a few times, and I had to stand up off my chair so I wouldn't nod off. It's not that the story isn't slightly interesting, because it is at times. The problem is that there's way too much talking and not enough action.
This line of dialogue was preceded and followed by several walls of text.
Where Agarest War 2 shines most is in its battle mechanics. The game takes an interesting approach to tactical RPG gameplay, giving Weiss and the party of characters he meets along the way plenty of methods for attacking enemies. While engaged in battle, you can press one of the four main face buttons to initiate some offense. Before you can really dish out the punishment, you need to break your aggressor's guard. After you do so, you have several options such as continuing the same attack, juggling your enemy in the air, and perform powered up combos. The battle system in Agarest War 2 is definitely engaging and highly satisfying. That's why it's a shame that the story bits get in the way.
Progression consists of traveling between towns and dungeons. Along the way you'll be thrust into several random encounters. A lot of folks have reportedly had an issue with this because all of the randomized battles can become a nuisance. Personally, however, I wasn't bothered too much because I felt that these battles kept my party at a consistently decent level whenever I encountered stronger enemies in dungeons.
When Agarest War 2 isn't talking you to death or providing you with bits of rewarding combat, it tasks you with maintaining relationships. Characters in your party will frequently talk to you, asking you questions along the way that will either improve or hinder your relationships. You can't please everyone, though, and your responses have a direct impact on your bonds with people. Additionally, Agarest War 2 throws some dating sim elements at you. The female characters you encounter on your journey play a major role in the game's story as you're essentially trying to woo them as part of the whole "save humanity" deal.
At least battles are interesting.
It's not all conversations, though. Agarest War 2 features some sexy interactive mini-games. Without spoiling too much, there are sequences where you'll have to give the ladies a massage using various oils (and sometimes even ice cream). You follow that up with cleaning the characters up (cleaning 'em up good!), and you can even use the Move controller if you want. You know, anything to put that blasted peripheral to use.
Agarest War 2 takes place across several generations, which means you get to play as a variety of characters with different personalities. It's fun seeing the world unfold and different character interactions shaping the countless bonds you'll form. Unfortunately, it all goes back to the dialogue, which is constantly overbearing and can get ridiculously tiresome. I almost feel as though the developers should have toned it down on all the talking, because that's seriously the main aspect that kept me from enjoying Agarest War 2 as much as I could have. And while you can skip story sequences, doing so means you're pretty much playing a story-less RPG and missing some pivotal plot details.
Visually, Agarest War 2 is pretty boring. While I can appreciate the anime-esque character models, it bothers me that these games are still relying so heavily on static backgrounds and characters that move ever so slightly while conversing. Damn it, add some more cutscenes to your games, JRPG developers! The overworld and battle screens are equally unimpressive. I definitely dig the stocky, cartoony look that the characters sport during these instances, but their surroundings are just plain drab and absolutely dull to look at.
As far as sound design is concerned, Agarest 2 is fairly underwhelming in this department, too. There are no grand themes, and the soundtrack is just there to provide you with music to play the game along to. There's nothing that really stands out about it. As previously stated, the game features Japanese language voice-overs, so prepare to do a lot of reading if you don't know the language and want to understand the story. I suppose that's better than having to listen to horribly dubbed English voice work.
Agarest War 2 is a game for JRPG nuts. This title will not appeal to causal fans of the genre because too many flaws hamper the experience. For as interesting as the combat and relationship systems may be, there's an overabundant amount of dialogue that really interferes with the experience. Agarest War 2 is also too messy as far as its presentation is concerned. If you can ignore its glaring flaws, this RPG may provide you with some reasonable entertainment. Just don't expect anything too compelling.
Oh yeah, there's also this. Seriously, what the hell, you guys?!
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