Record Of Agarest War 2 Limited Edition - PlayStation 3
- Revamped Battle System
- Mini games: engage in Playstation Move compatible bathtub Shiatsu and massage mini games
- LE contents feature blow up character doll heart shaped compressed towel and artbook.
- HD Graphics
- Platform: PlayStation 3
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
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Amazon.ca Product Description
Record of Agarest War 2 features all new strategy RPG gameplay, HD graphics and bonus mini games
One day, the world was enveloped by a mysterious blinding light. The destruction it caused was terrible, even as the light itself was sublime in its beauty, and it made those who witnessed the awesome display think of the unrestrained rage and fury of the divine.
The central continent, from where the light is believed to have originated from, went silent, while at the same time demons began to spread throughout the world like a plague. Amongst the survivors of the catastrophe, that fateful day became known as the "Day of Light."
Sometime after the events of the Day of Light, a young man by the name of Weiss, who had lost all memory of himself, encounters an enigmatic woman named Eva, who introduces herself as an Agent of the Divine. It is from her that Weiss learns that he has committed the grievous sin of deicide, and that in order for him to atone for his crime he is to become the "Vessel" in which the power of the divinity he had slaughtered will be stored. For it will be that power that will be used to resurrect the one whose life he stole.
For those who betray the divine will pay for their sins in the space which separates salvation and damnation, as will their progeny...
- Revamped Battle System: Unlike the first two games of the series, Agarest 2 battles are fought with an engaging active grid-based battle system.
- HD graphics: Enjoy your favorite characters, environments and CGs in high-definition!
- Mini-games: Engage in PlayStation®Move compatible Bathtub, Shiatsu, and Massage mini-games.
- New Agarest Universe: Roam freely in the newly designed world of Agarest
Limited Edition Includes:
- Inflatable Felenne Doll
- Exclusive 8" x 12" Hand Towel
- Collectible Artbook
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The plot starts you off in the shoes of Weiss, who has killed a god but lost all memory of the incident. After a chance encounter with a mysterious and buxom woman clad in borderline dominatrix gear, he is informed that he is in fact to serve as a vessel to atone for the sin of slaying a god, and if he fails his task, he must shack up with a woman and create a child that will serve as a new vessel. As the game progresses, you will indeed have to do just that, and through the span of multiple generations, you'll fight hoards of demons, score with some lovely ladies, and uncover the destiny of your bloodline.
Now, this generation spanning is something that has apparently been a focal point of the entries prior to this one, but as a first-time player, I have to admit that it's absolutely fascinating. Depending on how you interact with the woman you choose as your bride, and how you adjust your statistics through battling, your protagonist's predecessor will change. The sheer notion of a piece of entertainment having such an in-depth feature is definitely a sign that there are some things the interactive medium can do that movies and books will simply never be able to. In fact, I feel that this should have been a primary selling point instead of the cleavage and rear ends of the admittedly attractive ladies in the game.
As far as the gameplay goes, it was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While I play plenty of JRPGs, and a decent amount of the occasional SRPG, I found myself kind of lost when it came to navigating the plethora of statistics, menus, and other things. While the core combat system is actually quite good (an interesting mix of turn-based fighting mixed with the speed, action and control of a hack-and-slash game, coupled with a dual-grid system), the amount of effort it takes to plan out what gear to equip and whatnot is just irksome. It definitely feels like the developers were intending to make the game come across as "deeper" by just adding more hoops to jump through than necessary. The experience as a whole could have benefited from some serious reduction in menu clutter.
What makes up for this, in a way, is the very snazzy way battles are paced. There are three or four different types of maps you will find yourself navigated. One is the standard World Map that you run around on to get from one place to another. While you will still encounter random battles, you also have the option to trigger a battle at any time. When grinding for levels, this is an indispensable feature that other RPGs with random encounters should take note of. Having the ability to sit in one place and grind levels until you feel confident enough to progress is a very empowering feeling. The second type of map you'll be navigating are what you might call this game's "dungeons." Bridging areas of the World Map are smaller maps that are divided into several different zones that you progress through in a board game-like fashion. Each tile you progress to instigates a battle, and you can fight as few or as many times as you like. There are diverging paths that feature treasure and other goodies to claim, as well as tiles that will help you meet requirements on the main town's commission board, which will net you spells, armor, and ingredients required for alchemy and blacksmithing.
Speaking of towns, it houses the third kind of map you'll see. It's a menu that you pick locations on, and then go to them. Pretty straightforward, I know, but it segways into the second major focal point of this game: the dating sim aspect. Now, "Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love" set my standard for what to expect from a dating sim/RPG hybrid, and while this certainly doesn't exceed that experience in my book, due to the fairly limited range of conversation, it does almost match it. What it does beat that game in, however, are the production values. Instead of static images, the lovely ladies (and handsome men, if you're into that) are fully animated, living and breathing, all with unique animation that creates an interesting 2D/3D hybrid. This makes the experience as a whole so much more engaging than many other games that try and touch the SW franchise's signature dating sim/RPG blend. I enjoyed getting to know the cast through the interactions, and despite the aforementioned limited conversational choices, it's a defining feature that sets it apart from imitators.
However, while the overall story arc and character development is exceptional in "RoAW2", I have a serious bone to pick with the dialogue. If you're familiar with the worn cliche many gamers hold about JRPGs, about them having seemingly endless amounts of inane banter that is ultimately redundant, then you know where I'm going with this complaint. To be entirely honest, several lines of conversation in this game have bored me to death, and I like to think that I have a pretty large attention span. But it can't be helped. Characters repeat each other's dialogue, and characters making awkward pauses such as, "Uh-!", "Oh, uh-!" or the infamous "...", happens way too often, frequently occurring multiple times in a row with certain characters. I'm not saying the dialogue is awful, but it's tiresome and wears on the nerves after a while, making the experience seem longer than it is. An "autoplay" option helps alleviate the pain somewhat, but only a bit. The story is good, the characters are great, but the dialogue needed some serious work. Also, the font and styling of the text is formatted in a very odd manner. Things are surrounded by hyphens when they should be either italicized, capitalized, or put into quotations, making the emphasis in some dialogue only understandable when the voice actor actually speaks it. Also worth noting is that there is no English voice track. That doesn't bother me one bit, but some may be deterred by that.
Graphically, the game is quite pretty. What really stands out are the exceptional monster designs. Most of the enemies break free of the typical trappings of fantasy RPGs, and some of them are surprisingly frightful to gaze upon. The environments are nice and varied, and the character art is very crisp and appealing to look at. That same overall sentiment can be echoed for the soundtrack, which is infectious and passable enough to give praise to. Nothing too new, but nothing terrible. Overall, pleasant and helps to whisk you off into the fantasy world of the game, which is sometimes too much to ask some soundtracks for. It's always nice when it does happen, though.
With Square Enix focused on running their two main franchises into the ground, and Atlus branching out into new, more varied territory, it's nice to see Aksys putting out a game that screams niche. But furthermore, it's nice to see that some of these games are quite good, such as this one. While "Record of Agarest War 2" will not change your life, it will entertain and thrill you. Futhermore, it will draw you into its own little world, and with games of this variety, what more can you really ask for? This is a solid little game with plenty of nice imagery, a good story, and memorable characters; in this critic's opinion, it's a great title to spend your Summer downtime working on.
P.S.: A couple of notes on the Limited Edition of the game. The artbox it comes in is pretty and well-designed, and is decked out with art that differentiates from that of the cover illustration, so if you're into collecting those like I am, then you'll be pleased to know it will look great on your shelf. Now, the main draw here is definitely the blow-up doll of catgirl Felenne, and trust me, it's every bit as adorable as it looks. What's refreshing is that the plastic used for it isn't the cheap stuff; this thing seems pretty durable, and it's a decent size as well at around 9 inches (10 if you count her cat ears.) As for the hand towel, it has exclusive character art on it, and it is wrapped in a heart-shaped sandwiched between two pictures of Fiona; it reads "A Wonderful Tower Experience." Yeah, nothing sexual about that at all, huh? Speaking of sexual things, there's the art book. Now, I was a little disappointed by the paper quality of the book, because it's really just the same kind of glossy paper used for higher-end instruction manuals. As for the illustrations, well, erm... they'll all pretty dang suggestive. I mean, we're talking borderline softcore pornography, or as fellow anime fans would refer to it as, "ecchi." If you're living with your parents, maybe you shouldn't show this to mom and dad. If you've got a girlfriend, fiance or wife who's easily ruffled, hide this. If you live all by your lonesome, then, well... enjoy yourself, I guess.
A tremendous change to the series is the revamped battle system, which borrows heavily from Cross Edge. Instead of choosing six main characters to fight with and level up, you now choose four characters and everyone levels up equally whether or not they participate in battle. Skills and combo compatibility remain the same, and you can still link characters to perform combos and larger attacks, but the manner in which this is done is very different. It's all planned beforehand in a menu where you assign all your skills to the four face buttons and during that process you can see which combos you can execute. Now, I know I'm only summarizing combat but believe me when I say that it is much, much more detailed than is worth getting into right now. Agarest vets might grasp it easier than first timers simply due to familiarity with the menus and the high level of customization, but if you've ever played (and enjoyed) a Disgaea game, none of this should seem too difficult either. It really does depend on your familiarity with strategy rpgs, or at the very least, your willingness to overcome a relatively high learning curve.
Moving on, then, what truly makes the Agarest games unique is that you get to play through generations of the first hero's lineage, meaning in gen 2 you command his son, and in gen 3 his grandson. Making this aspect even more impressive is that in each generation the hero can choose one of three select women to bear his son, and depending on whom you choose skills, weapon proficiency, and physical appearance will vary. As you progress throughout the story you will engage in conversations and events with the heroines and your subsequent actions determine their affection levels towards you, which also affect the aforementioned stats. A high affection with one lady will yield stronger progeny, that is unless you created the initial hero (Weiss) with abilities that align to the heroine.
As you may assume from that last line, character creation factors into your heroes' play style. You choose from three basic classes (warrior, sorcerer, and battle mage) and then customize that base in various ways that you think would best suit your preferences. This is a similar process to Zero but it seems to be a bit more streamlined and intuitive here. Once you're done you'll get to see your Weiss and be able to go back and change whatever you want in case you're dissatisfied. Some people spend hours on this alone, and admittedly it is pretty fun.
Maps in this Agarest game come in three flavors. A free roam field is a nice departure and is made even more enjoyable by the ability to activate random encounters at the push of a button. The second type is the traditional Agarest layout where you navigate various points on a field by connecting the dots, as it were, but in Agarest 2 this layout has been reserved exclusively for "dungeons" since the world map is now free roam. The third type is town maps, which are really neat this time around. Unlike previous Agarest games which only had four or five points of interest (item shop, blacksmith, etc.), Agarest 2 has several, each with its own purpose in advancing the story and building on character interactions. Not only do you delve deeper into the hero and heroine relations but also the townsfolk, which is really nice, and as an added bonus it even overlaps with side quests.
As for side quests, the title system has evolved into a "commission" system, which is essentially a job list posted by Agarest's denizens. Upon completion of a commission you get useful rewards and occasionally you get to meet the people who posted the job and earn secondary rewards and witness additional character/world development.
Two complaints come to mind, the first of which isn't so much a complaint as a personal gripe, and that is Agarest 2 doesn't seem to contain the same comedic value as the previous games. Jainus, for example, has been toned down incredibly from past games' equivalents, Winfield and Eugene, and there seems to be an overall paucity of humorous events scattered between the "serious" ones. For a series known for its humor this is sorely missed, especially since the story, admittedly, isn't profoundly interesting or groundbreaking.
The second complaint is that the game, upon initial loading of a save file, suffers from horrendous lag. It's inexcusable because not only is this a sprite based game, but also combat is time based, approaching a QTE semblance, which means accuracy takes a frustrating backseat until the game catches up to itself. Lag even plagues the menu screens, which again is inexcusable in a game that derives much of its playability from menus. A simple install feature would fix this problem but mysteriously the developers omitted one, unlike previous Agarest games.
Overall, Agarest 2 is so different from its predecessors yet it retains a lot of features that still make it worthy of its moniker. I don't even necessarily miss the old battle system, as much as I loved it, because the new one is fresh and fun despite being in many ways overly complicated. "Overly" because the game doesn't do a grand job at explaining its mechanics but once you grasp it you'll be switching out characters like crazy and stressing over which skills to learn, and in this case "stressing" is used positively because it is absolutely addictive. And that pretty much sums the game and the series for that matter. Addictive because there are tons of stats, weapons, and characters to manage. The developers have opened up the interactive portions of the game as well, adding more things to do such as bathhouse mini games, while streamlining combat in what might appear to be a better balanced game. Keep in mind, though, this is still very much a hardcore strategy game despite the fresh coat of paint. New players might do better to try a previous entry in the series, but if you're determined to play this one first, try reading my brief guide in the regular edition review, as it will help tremendously to understand the meat of the game (combat). With that said, enjoy!
When Suiko I came out, it was a "Sleeper hit" in the USA. Now it is hailed as a classic, the "holy grail" of the PlayStation era for RPG players. I think Agarest War 2 will be one of the games in the long run. That is, if players are willing to forgive the game for some flaws. I will explain below. Some players love it and some hate it - there seems to be no middle ground on this game. The problem here is that some people don't like what is essentially a mix between 80s and today's RPG equipments, dialogs/story, and etc,. Many players are simply too lazy to read the dialog and story to REALLY get into the game. Others are too lazy to want to customize their characters to win battles with more ease and then grow in levels. RPGs are heavy on leveling and unless you grew up in the 80s and 90s when RPG "grinding" was the norm, you will have a hard time enjoying real RPGs today.
One of the chief complaints about this game is the Japanese voices were never subbed in English. That is a huge problem for me too (and many other RPG gamers), but I always turn off the voice chat anyway, as I rather read the speech-balloons. :) So that is an individual preference. The other complaint is the menus, which are heavy on % hit rations and statistics and such, which seems too technical for some. I don't mind it, as I like to optimize the characters, weapons, and such, but again,l I grew up in the late 80s playing RPGs like Shining Force, Sguining n the darkness, Suikoden, and others, where that is what we had to do to barely make it... nowadays, the games are so easy, they are ridiculous. So when Agarest 2 came up with an "old school" battle system, some people complained about being "too much work" to have to outfit characters properly. The menus are sometimes too much, but not enough to kill this great game for me. And I have not even played the other Agarest War games in the series.
The game has a lot of cool features that far outweigh the negatives. The battle system is basically a blended an RPG battle system, an active fight system with a turn-based RPG combat, and some hack-and-slash action - all blended into one. They also included a "generational" aspect to the game, where you can leave a "legacy" through family, somewhat like Phantasy Star III (Genesis). They really focused on making it more "unique" in that sense. This is also a JRPG (Japanese-based RPG game) and there is plenty of "fan service" (hot anime ladies in tight outfits - some that are hot in the "cute" sense of the way and others that are sleazy). I like the cute ones better, but each to their own.
The game world is plain GORGEOUS. Full anime-style, all beautifully drawn and colored. I fell in love with anime games in the Genesis and PlayStation, so this is these games "on steroids" in terms of graphical color and beauty. Just awesome. You have also an weapon and magic system that is based on gathering items to make them into weapons and such. This is a system that has been expanded in games like the "Atelier" series games or the alchemy games that were out in force on the PS2 and the current generation consoles.
This game also has a date-sim aspect (think True Love on the PC) or Thousand Arms on the PS1... or even Sakura Wars:" So Long My Love on the PS2. Date sims these days have gone downhill whereas they have morphed into plain old Hen-tai garbage that you hit "skip" on chat dialogs and wait for "it". This is NOT one of these cases. You have to play an actual game (not just read dialogs) to grow and beat enemies and as an added bonus, you get to meet the lovely ladies and date them. They are actual characters that require development and interaction with. The dialog has been well-translated into English and they use emphasis (italics, bold, caps, etc) to make it understandable what the tone of the conversation is.
The Limited Edition (LE) comes with "naughty" anime pillowcase and doll and a semi-naked girl towel as bonuses, which I think the wife would frown upon, but it is all good, they can stay in the box. LOL It also comes with an artbook, which is great if you enjoy character development... and cute anime girls in either sleazy and cute positions/outfits. I like the cute/lovely ones, but that is a personal preference type:)
Overall, this is a very good game, save for the few flaws mentioned. You will be drawn to the story, but don't expect a Suikoden II quality and caliber of story. This is still a great game that can be enjoyed thoroughly and I believe it will receive its place in gaming history for RPG fans over time. This is not Suikoden and it sure isn't a Shining Force caliber-story, but the game world, date-sim aspects, and character development will sure pull you in and you will enjoy the game to the end. Give it a try, you might really like it.