As many of you may remember, I really enjoyed Record of Agarest War Zero back when it came out last summer. In fact, I kept playing it for months afterwards… so when I heard that Agarest 2 was coming out in North America so soon, I was excited. And now, I’ve played it for a few days… and I can’t say I’m impressed, unfortunately.
They have taken some steps to improve on the graphics, although they’re still very previous generation during gameplay. The addition of actual cinematic scenes rather than just still-photo scenes does dramatically improve the presentation of the story. And the cinematics do look fantastic. However, despite all that, the story feels a bit forced in Agarest 2. The characters certainly aren’t as interesting as the ones in Zero were, and the world is just dry. The game’s story so far feels kind of out of place with the other two Agarest games, but this may just be a problem of the early game. But overall I’m left feeling like it just doesn’t fit so far.
However, that pales when placed next to the real problem: The gameplay. Agarest 2’s combat is one of the weirdest paced systems I’ve ever seen. For starters, it’s a strategy rpg – which usually means slow pacing and strategy gameplay to let you plan things out and take advantage of your abilities. That’s not what you get here. It’s not fast paced, but it feels like it kind of wants to be. They’ve basically stripped all of the thoughtful strategy out of it and you’re left with a combat system that just feels kind of clunky. You’re reliant upon luck to let you do special abilities, you can’t plan things out, waiting for any turn of the combat is usually penalizing which is weird since SRPGs usually are a lot about using your turns wisely, and sometimes that means delaying them. The lack of any concept of ‘range’ on abilities means that enemies are able to kill whoever they want and there’s really nothing you can do about it. Just overall… it doesn’t feel strategic, but it also doesn’t feel fast paced enough to be exciting… so it just really doesn’t work well. The actual combat system features an action rpg style 4-button command system. When you select to attack, you push one of the 4 face buttons on the controller, and that determines the ‘style’ of attack you’re using. You can equip up to 3 abilities and 3 combo abilities per face button, except ‘x’ which can only have regular abilities, and it just… cycles through the regular abilities as you push the button until you’ve used up your AP. If you get lucky, you’ll have the option to use one of the combo abilities, and these combo abilities are the only way you can change which ‘type’ of attack you use. So basically, it’s just changing which character is attacking and spamming these abilities hoping to get a combo.
Like the other Agarest games, it features no English voice acting and a really disturbing level of eroticism. Unlike Agarest 1 and Zero, I think the eroticism has crossed the line from ‘weird’ to ‘unpleasant’ through the addition of a few rather boring yet almost mandatory minigames. The game features a ‘steam bath’ minigame where you have to perform certain actions to reduce the steam so you can get a good look at the female characters – yes, that’s basically everything there is to that one. The reward: ‘affection level’ which impacts the strength of your main character later down the line. The other two minigames are ‘massage’ minigames where you have to oil up the female characters and then massage away their aches: of course this isn’t a back rub or anything, they’re facing towards you and if you do a good enough job you get bonus ‘touching time’. The game’s words, not mine. The reward for this one: Bonus stats for the character in question. And quite a good amount of them. Gotta love really creepy minigames that you really can’t avoid without hindering your progression, eh? The story is a little bit more disturbing than the previous ones as well, featuring one side-scene where one of the female characters miscasts a ‘charm spell’ and she and one other character… well… basically rape you. It’s off-camera, but it’s pretty obvious what happened… and it’s incredibly disturbing. It’s not even like it’s a sexy risque scene… it’s just disturbing.
This all adds up to an experience that is such a far cry short of it’s predecessor, and really even a far cry short of being a fun game, that I’m really debating whether I want to continue any further or whether I want to just give up and go back and play some more Record of Agarest War Zero.
Hope I haven’t given you any nightmares, and Happy Gaming!
Written by: Sean