Record of Agarest War (Feature Review) Playstation 3

Record of Agarest War (Feature Review) Playstation 3

Finally a strategy role-playing game that makes the cut. There hasn’t been a strategy/tactical role-playing game of this stature in a very long time.  Record of Agarest War takes you back to when role-playing games were role-playing games, but on a deeper level.

Record of Agarest War seems quite simple at first, but this is one of those games where you can’t judge a book by its cover. Perhaps you feel this way based on what you have heard  (you are forgiven if this is the case), but you should take another look. Agarest is one of the deepest, most complex role-playing games to date. It could easily be dismissed as just another Japanese strategy clone such as Disgaea or Cross Edge .

Aksys really breaks the role-playing mold and doesn’t fail on any level (we will go into detail in a few moments about these ground-breaking achievements).

You start by playing the role of Leohardt, also known as the Golden Leo — high ranking commander in one of the Gridamas’es frontier garrisons. While fighting amongst the frontier, Leo runs across Ellis (who is to be the first of many companions) in danger. Here Leohardt questions the pointless murders and innocent bloodshed of people as he watches Ellis, a young female high elf, cowering on the ground.

Leohardt decides that the bloodshed must come to an end, so he decides to rebel against his own people to save the life of this young female high elf. Leohardt knows that his decision will be considered an act of treason against the Gridamas.

This is a choice that he will never be able to live down; a decision that has now caused him to cross paths with the Dark Knight — a battle very few have survived to tell the tale.

Leohardt falls in battle. Near death, Leohardt is approached by a goddess figure (Dyshanna) who promises him the ability, and the strength, to overcome the dark powers that now seek to destroy him. This will come at a price, and a very heavy one at that.

Because of Leohardt’s selfless act, Dyshanna will grant Leohardt a second chance to live and have the power to defeat his ex-comrades in battle at the cost of his Spirit Vessel (Soul). Our hero has the chance to fight again, and to right the wrongs that have been bestowed upon others.

And so your very long journey begins. You travel onward in search of companions and others to help aid you in your quest.

Record of Agarest War is unlike anything you have ever played before (I wish more role-playing games would follow suit with what Aksys has done here). There are a few things that set Agarest apart from the rest. First we will begin with the very complex crafting system they have designed.

The crating system is so vast, you have the choice of designing new weapons and armor, accessories, and even crafting custom skills for your characters. I have seen crafting systems in other role-playing games before, but nothing compared to what has been implemented here.

Crafting and customizing is as simple as finding your local town and heading to your nearest blacksmith. Here you will have the ability to upgrade existing items or crafting them from scratch by dabbling in alchemy. But keep in mind that everything has a succession rate; what you want isn’t always what you get.

While in town, you will find other things to do like visiting the adventures guild to cash in the varies skill points you have earned during your battles, and these points can be used towards other items and materials. In the adventures guild, you can also earn and unlock titles by meeting the requirements of each challenge. Unlocking titles can earn you extra money and items, depending on how prestigious the title is.

You will also find a standard store for basic items that will be needed on your travels.

You will soon gain the ability to capture monsters while in battle, and then use them in your party while you fight. That’s where the next place in town will come in handy. Called the Monster Guild, it can be found in any town you visit. The Monster Guild is a place where you can trade or combine you monster and turn it into something stronger.

A lot of people think that if you’ve played one Japanese SRPG game, you’ve played them all. This is definitely not the case with Record of Agarest War. Yes, Agarest may be a strategy/tactic-style game, and you do move around on a chessboard style playfield, but that’s where it ends.  What makes this game different is that each character has their own extended area. Extended areas are places on the battlefield that will allow you to place another companion that will cause a chain.

A chain is what links other party members together to form a combo, an overkill, or to perform special arts and other art attacks that require other party members to activate. When you are not in battle, you travel on a point-by-point map system. You will only be able to explore new areas if a mission or quest sends you in that direction.  There are blue markers showing you where you have been and the places you have already traveled.

Once you start a new mission or quest. you will see red markers showing you to the next event. By following the red outlined markers, you will unlock a number of battlefields and towns that you can revisit again at a later time.  Each red maker is a battle you must fight to clear a path to your desired destination. Once the path has been cleared, you can freely move about or even visit each battlefield again.

On top of the battlefield encounters on the map, there is a slew of dungeons you will be able to unlock and explore along the way.  What I really liked about the dungeons is how you can return to them at any time, before or after completing them. This makes the dungeons ideal spots to grind experience, collect gold, and even collect items when you don’t feel like following the story.

When you enter a dungeon or quest area, you are no longer on the map. You are taken to a 3D  playfield where you have complete control over where you walk. It feels like an action RPG at this point; you have freedom to explore the entire area. The only thing that separates this area from the others is that you can be randomly attacked while exploring.

The world map doesn’t have these random encounters. Each battle that occurs on the world map is triggered by you, and this even goes for the random events that will also pop up in the world. Some events will appear on the map relating to the main story, while others may deal with party members.

Keep in mind that events can be missed. When this happens, things within the world will change.   The choices you make will affect things (albeit everything), so take heed as they say.

You can even affect your alignment by the things you do and what you say to others. Your alignment can sway between neutral, light, or even dark, and the outcome of your destiny rests on which one you end up with in the end.

Since Record of Agarest War has multiple endings, there is literately countless hours of gameplay available. Since nothing is the same the second time you play, it feels like an entirely new game from start to finish.

With that being said, there is also three different difficultly settings to choose from. If you start over again for a second play-through, you will have the option to carry over all your items and goodies from your last adventure. If that is not enough incentive to start over again, I don’t know what would be.

I decided to save the best features of Record of Agarest War for last. These features make Agarest shine above the rest and they mark a new standard for role-playing games alike.

Aksys has added a relationship feature. This feature adds life to what would have been just another linear story-driven RPG.  As you play, you will encounter female companions that will join your party, and this is where the relationship system comes in. Events and dialog will become available so you can interact with these companions. Your actions and dialog will determine whether these companions will either gain or lose interest in you. In some ways it acts like a dating game simulator.

This adds a very unique feel to the game. Plus, it plays a very important role in the story. Sooner or later, the lead hero will marry one of his traveling companions. This system is called Soul Breed; the main hero in each generation will mate with one of  three companions that he finds attractive. By the main hero falling in love and mating with his companion, a new hero is born to carry on the next generation. This is a necessary part of the story; Record of Agarest War is broken up into five generations, and each generation has a different hero. I find this aspect amazing and exciting.

I have never played anything like this before in a video game. It’s a story that spans generations; Leohardt’s children, their children, etc., will be fighting the very same war that began decades earlier with our first hero.  Watching party members grow up and age in front of your eyes, from generation to generation, is simply mind-blowing. The story is so epic, it should be told over a burning camp fire or herald as a legend in some ancient history book.

I have always been a big fan of Japanese RPGs, but there are very few that grab your attention  and captivate you the way Agarest does. Don’t get me wrong, there are other role-playing games out there worth the price of admission, but they don’t create a world that goes on for generations.

The game really does give the feeling of time passing and the world changing around you, making this a truly wonderful experience to be a part of. Your accomplishments have an impact on the world, and everything you do – and everything you are remembered for – isn’t because of a linear story, but the story you made along the way.

Agarest sticks to the 2D tradition with beautifully hand drawn anime-style graphics that are out of this world. There are 3D elements in Agarest, but the majority of the game is 2D. The cut-scenes are also hand drawn, which helps tie the game together.

I couldn’t find any flaws with the graphics. I have always liked 2D graphics, especially in role-playing games. If you have played Cross Edge or anything similar, you will have an idea of how Record of Agarest War’s art style looks.

If you are not familiar with Cross Edge or games like it, then imagine playing an Anime movie.  Yes, the graphics are that good (they are gorgeous in fact).  There are no other words that can sum it up.

This also goes for the music and voice acting.

The music is a mixture of calm melodies and rock.  The rock music plays during battle sequences, and it sounds great (it adds that extra pick up during battles). The calmer music, which is soothing to the ears, plays during cut scenes and intermissions.

The voice acting is done in Japanese with English subs. There are no English voiceovers, but maybe Aksys will include this option in a sequel. The Japanese voices fit perfectly and the English subs don’t move that fast, making it a very pleasant experience. While the Japanese voice acting and English subs work well together, it still would have been nice if English voice overs were included as an option for those that prefer a choice.

One thing that isn’t in short demand is downloadable content, and at least ninety percent of it is free for the taking. The content ranges from item packs to additional dungeons, and even extra skills. There are a few items available for sale, but the price is around a buck and a half to two dollars. The price is very affordable for those looking to add more spice to this title. The DLC support Aksys has for its titles is through the roof. Judging by the DLC currently available, Agarest will be alive and well for a very long time to come. I look forward to seeing what DLC Aksys has planned next.

Record of Agarest War is available for $44.99 on the Playstation Network. Yes, I know Agarest is a direct download, but the game manual is available from the Record of Agarest War’s website.

You will need about 10gigs of free storage to download and install this title.

And the extra storage should free itself up after the game has finished installing to your Playstation hard drive. You may feel it’s a lot of storage, but you are gaining one incredible role-playing experience that no one should miss out on.

You will be looking at 100+ if not 150+ hours of gameplay easily. This is not including if you’re the type of gamer who likes to explore every nook and cranny; you will be busy for a lot longer than that. The hours you can spend in Record of Agarest War is absolutely endless, and remember: you make the decisions and you define your own destiny.

James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro

Platform: Playstation 3 / PSN
Publisher / Developer: Aksys

Review Score
The 2D graphics are beautiful.
The transition between the hard rock music and calmer music is perfect.
What more can I say that hasn't been said already?
Record of Agarest War is incredible; buy it.
VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
Record of Agarest War (Feature Review) Playstation 3 , 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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