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ups: stunning graphics, challenging new battle system
downs: slow storyline, not-so-great voice acting

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Magna Carta: Tears of Blood Review
game: Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
three star
posted by: Amanda Bateman
publisher: Atlus
developer: Banpresto & Softmax
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ESRB rating: T (Teen)
date posted: 09:31 AM Tue Nov 15th, 2005
last revision: 09:34 AM Tue Nov 15th, 2005

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Click to read.You can\'t judge a game by its cover, even if the cover is plastered with beautiful artwork by Korean artist Hyung-Tae Kim. I can\'t say that Magna Carta: Tears of Blood is one of the greatest RPGs I\'ve ever played, but it is certainly different.

In fact, after playing it I didn\'t know what to think. I wanted to say that I liked it, then loved it, and told all of my friends about it. I also wanted to say that it might have been a waste of time. Magna Carta: Tears of Blood dances that middle line.

Disecting the game, Magna Carta is a traditional medieval fantasy adventure involving the ever-popular RPG backdrop - a war between the species. Humans and Yason have been locked in war for years, fighting for control over the land of Efferia. Yason are no different from humans, aside from the fact that they have strangely-shaped ears and a Vindi (a strange tattoo) somewhere on their bodies. Calintz, the main character, is the leader of a group of human mercenaries called The Tears of Blood. Along with his comrades, Calintz is driven by a thirst for revenge. When he was young, the Yason devastated his village, leaving him hungry for a chance to get payback. After an unsuccessful attempt to cast a powerful blow against the Yason using Forbidden Magic, Calintz is separated from his friends and falls into a deep cavern in Yason territory. It is here that a strange, beautiful girl named Reith revives him. Soon after regaining his strength, Calintz learns that Reith has a bad case of amnesia, and he promises to protect her and try to help her regain her memory in exchange for her help.

The rest of the story is revealed little by little as you travel through Efferia. Things won\'t start to get really interesting until you\'ve completed about ten hours of the game. During this slow movement, you\'ll be burdened with a plot device that quickly becomes very repetitive. Reith will begin to run away from your party when you stay at inns, and you\'ll have to rescue her from the Yason who pick her up. After traveling to the next town or location, the same thing happens again. Once you\'re past the running around and rescue missions, you\'ll learn more about the characters, the history of Efferia, and just what the Magna Carta really is.

Magna Carta has a very interesting system of gameplay. A little into the game you will have two separate parties of characters to work with, but most things remain the same aside from different goals and objectives. Those who dislike random encounters will be happy to hear that most monster encounters in Magna Carta can be avoided. As you travel, you will be able to scan ahead of your path and see monsters sitting in wait. There are instances where you can be surprise attacked as well, if you go to kneel and recover without getting a good look at the surrounding area. Though battles are avoidable in most cases, it\'s best to try and sneak up on enemies and defeat them for the experience. Once you defeat all the creatures in an area, they stay away until you leave the area and return later.

When it does come time to battle, Magna Carta\'s Trinity System comes into play. The Trinity System is a real-time battle system that uses a three-button input instead of simply just selecting a spell from a menu. If you get the timing right, your character will successfully attack their enemies using a spell from their equipped scroll. The more you use a character, the more powerful the spells will be in consecutive attacks. However, you also must take into account the leadership bars as well as the Chi in the area. Characters cannot attack their enemies until the leadership bar has filled to a certain point. Chi is the life and energy source in Magna Carta, and the substance the characters use to execute spells. If a certain type of Chi needed to execute a spell is emptied, your character will be unable to attack, leaving them open to an enemy barrage. Luckily, talismans can be found or purchased which will assist you in battle. Changing Chi lanterns with talismans can also give you an advantage by increasing the amount of a certain type of Chi in the area.

Your success in the game also relies on the bonds you share with your party members. Every once in a while it is good to talk to your party members at save points. If you select good responses to their questions and statements, their trust in you will increase. If they disagree with your response, their trust in you will decrease. It seems like a simple concept, but when other characters listen in on a conversation, one person\'s trust may rise while another\'s may fall. Each of the characters has an entirely different personality, so it\'s best to try and choose a response that is the most beneficial. You can also woo your friends by giving them gifts, which can be found or purchased in shops. Selecting an appropriate gift improves trust, while giving an inappropriate one will reduce it. Trust is important to battle, as the closer your party members are to Calintz (or Reith in some cases), the better they will perform.

Fortune telling is also an interesting and sometimes helpful addition to your party\'s performance. If the fortuneteller sees sunny skies, your luck will increase. If she sees stormy weather, the character will not have the best luck, and will have to be extra careful. Luckily this gamble can be reversed for a small fee if the results of a fortune telling are not acceptable.

The graphics in Magna Carta are beautiful by default, and are fun to admire as you wander Efferia fighting monsters and locating secrets. Some of the monsters in this game could be dubbed \'too cute to kill\', until they approach and zap away a third of your health points. There was only one place in the game where I experienced any sort of loading lag or slight pixelation of the graphics on the screen, and it wasn\'t anything terrible or earth shattering. The audio is wonderful as well; nothing spectacular, but a very good effort. Magna Carta\'s background tracks are strangely hypnotic in a way, but are traditional RPG-style arrangements that fit well with the game\'s mood. Magna Carta: Tears of Blood is fully voiced, but the dubbing leaves a lot to be desired. This is mostly due to poor portrayal of the dialogue. (If you\'ve played the fighting game Bloody Roar 4, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood is a few steps above it.)

Should you go out and get Magna Carta: Tears of Blood? It\'s entirely up to you and your tastes. If it sounds like something you might enjoy, you probably will. If it\'s not your cup of tea, don\'t fret about missing anything. If you\'re in the middle like I am, it all depends on whether or not you have the money to spend and the means or will to go out and get it. It\'s a nice addition to a library of games, and if you\'re looking for a way to spend your free time, then by all means give Magna Carta a try.

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