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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2011
Second in series from Aksys games, this is actually a prequel to 2010's Agarest War, though no knowledge of the first is needed. That game had a rather troubled existence and bungled release depending on which console you used or were willing to pay for imports. This time we're all on the same page at least, and it's good to see that Aksys pieced everything together properly. This 3-star review is from a feeling of being completely underwhelmed, and in no way do I mean to imply that as a fan of things in-genre that I regret my purchase or didn't like it/have fun.

The premise here is, for all intents and purposes, the same as the original-- a rather epic (in length) adventuring campaign with a sizable cast of quirky characters and villains that spans generational gaps. This is achieved via the offspring of the original protagonist, and you get some ability to mold through your actions. Good versus evil, light versus dark, all that good stuff. Character offspring is the "hook" to the Agarest series, where decisions made in dialogue raise and lower virtual affection levels of heroines in a way akin to a stereotypical Japanese dating sim. Awkward for some players, certainly, but there are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. The story progression is mostly the same regardless (see below), so just enjoy.

The other major selling point on the series, for better or worse, is a rather intricate battlefield system that will certainly cause some head-scratching amongst new players. The basic JRPG phase/turn system is mixed up with action points and varying action combinations. Team tactics play a large roll and using combined skills of all types add extra damage that's an absolute must as things get harder. There are ~150 skill combinations in total and over about a hundred abilities to learn, where every character can use a different set. It requires thought, forces the player to think ahead, and unless in a situation where facing very weak foes at high levels there's no one simple way to complete a fight... so no real slacking off allowed.

The learning curve isn't bad on standard difficulty, but that's partially because of the massively high number of total battles. There's the oft-inept "auto" battle mode, which is supposed to give the player a break on the easier stuff, but it's impossible to properly express the stupidity of the AI and it rarely saves any time and/or effort.

Here stands a large point of contention for me at least-- even though the hope is for combat to never really be entirely the same and for players to use all sorts of fancy attacks, it all feels so, so familiar as you move ahead. Drone-like, in fact. As you'll be fighting hundreds of times against what are essentially the same 20 types of baddie, it can become very draining. The sensation of "can we get on with the story now?" can become overwhelming at times. For players of the first, the combat system is almost completely unchanged and has only a few minor tweaks. Nothing particularly needed a "fix", so in that regard everything still works fine.

A minor reward from all the combat is that story scenes are fairly lengthy, are all fully-voiced (though in Japanese only), the narrative at least somewhat compelling (by video game standards), and characters develop some actual personality. The overhead world view is a rather nostalgic 2D wandering, and the moving character models in 'cutscenes' are still a major throwback to the 16-bit days and I find it rather endearing, even if astonishingly outdated and limited by the studio's production budget.

Another now-heavily recycled piece of the game is the equipment and upgrade/synthesis type. It's tried and true over several games now, and though there's nothing wrong with the user-friendly upgrading system, some kind of innovation or variation would be desperately welcomed. The interface is bland, items are notoriously hard to find materials for, and names of weapons and armor are a near copy-paste from the past.

Add things up and the end result is almost exactly that of the first Agarest with zero fundamental changes, and only a handful of surface adjustments. The sheer length of the game exasperates this all, though it does make the game a pretty good value assuming at least one play of 40+ hours. I'm not per say disappointed, but I may have hoped for more. Zero is by no means a "bad" game for RPG or strategy buffs, but it lacks a spark of something that would help to call it truly "special".

For anyone that enjoyed the first, there's no specific reason why they should stay away from Zero, at least if they know to expect virtually the same game with new scripts and fonts. For new players, it's a strategy challenge and a game where one full run through the storyline could feel rewarding, but split up your sessions. Going back to the "dating" bit from before-- though it's not like you can't finish the game if you choose certain options, just playing on normal mode without much extra thought gives, well, a really lousy ending, and the assumption is that you'll start a NewGame+ on "Extra" (difficult) for the more eventful stuff. This isn't new for JRPGs, but you're left flying blind here most of the time.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is a great and very long strategy RPG with turn based combat. The enemies are varied, well, at least their colors look different for the various levels of the same monster, and that is nice. Battles also use different types of enemies, making the battles a little different each time. In combat, the first phase is move and the second is battle. However, characters and monsters will move in the second phase to use their abilities.

POINT SYSTEMS
XP = Experience points needed to level up, fight battles to get them based on the monsters
AP = Action points for movement and skills, character specific and can be enhanced with items
EP = Enhancement points used to upgrade equipment, given from battles based on the monster
TP = Tech points needed to purchase items from the Adventurer's Guild, given from battles based on maximum hit count
PP = Party points may be used to train any character's stats, given mainly from events
S-slots = Special slots on armor and enhancement items, convert other items to get these bonuses, examples STR+12, AGI+17. These do not affect level up.

Learning how best to use Extended Areas is crucial as this allows many characters, up to six, to gang up on an enemy. Also important is getting Overkills in order to get the best drops from the enemies. The Tutorials do well to explain these things but it is up to the player to become proficient with them.

Character development is a big part of the game. I like performing character development. I usually train Vitality for about 10 levels on all characters to increase their Health per level. Using Party Points, PP, helps in this regard. I concentrate on about six characters. Eventually all characters need to be levelled, however.

Creating a character is somewhat confusing. You choose five soul cards with two souls per card and a class (Warrior, Battle Mage, Sorcerer). You also choose your attack types. For those, I always go with Power-Power Light-Extra. The last two skills will not become available until level 45 when characters make a class upgrade.

Some people create a really great 1st Generation character only to find their 2nd Generation character is cruddy. Here are some insights on how this works:

Choosing Soul Cards at the beginning of the game will give the character 10 souls. Class choice adds 15 more souls, and special Event choices during the game will add a few more souls. Then, choice of bride will mix things up and give a 2nd Generation character. However, you get what you get, there area no soul card choices for 2nd Generation (or 3rd). If you choose the following cards you will get a great 1st Generation Battle Mage: 5, 24, 2, 19, 8. This will give the following stats and rankings: STR 16-B, VIT 10-A, AGI 16-B, INT 16-A, LUK 20-A, AP 17, MOV 4, weapon Sword. This will create a great 1st Generation character HOWEVER it will make a HORRIBLE 2nd Generation character!!! That is because this character has too many Dagger, Spear, Knuckle and other junky weapons (unless you like knuckle or dagger) and will also give horrible stats and rankings in STR and VIT no matter who you marry for 2nd Generation.

Instead, go with this: Cards 1, 5, 12, 21, 23, stats and rankings = STR 13-A, VIT 13-A, AGI 13-C, INT 11-C, LUK 13-B, AP 17, MOV 3, weapon Sword, as well as lots of Sword souls. The lower AGI can be overcome just by training. If you marry a certain warrior in 1st Generation, your 2nd Generation character will have S-S in STR-VIT and use Sword! The other stat areas are not too bad, either. Picking up another Gun, Dagger or Spear helps AGI, as well. Having a 4 MOV on the main character is a luxury not often needed. The AP is still 17, and that is nice! Also, equipment upgrades make more of an impact on attack, magic attack, and defense. Characters also get AP from equipment upgrades.

Training your stat areas is important in the long run, but in the short run Item Upgrades are far more useful. A warrior should not be training INT, anyway! As for Sorcerer, I was not able to make a 1st Generation Sorcerer that can use Staff, you get Scythe, instead. However, marrying the Mage girl, as a Sorcerer, will give a Mage for 2nd Generation, either with Staff or even Sword & Staff.

The game dialogue is in Japanese, but there are English translation dialogue boxes to read for the events. Frankly, I did not mind the language, I don't know Japanese, but it was no big deal to me.

Save Before Every Event In Case You Want To Re-choose Your Choices!!!

***** SPOILER Hints: *****
Converting Choziramaru = fiberglass.
During the first Vacation Day, go to the Shop when no one is there to get freebie items.
During the first Vacation Day at Night, go to the Adventurer's Guild when no one is there to get free PP and a 10% TP discount!
***** End Spoilers Hints *****

Record of Agarest War Zero is a lot of fun. The game is at least 80% battles. I really liked this game. Oh, and there are LOTS of Items to be had!!! This is a good game.
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on January 21, 2015
Good storie and good gameplay but you need to be into the turn base combat to really like this game but thats not the reason to play this game it's the story it's vary story driven
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2014
The Agarest series reminds me of the Growlancer: Heritage of War game.
I like it very much, but less fanservice would do wonders to it... But that's just my opinion as a girl.
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on August 8, 2014
Excellent! Thanks.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2014
I like the strategy RPGs, and I bought this one because I wanted a game with almost no story, that I could just slide in my console and battle without wait. I was quite wrong, if you strip your RPG out of any story, it gets boring after some time. I might give it a try again some time.
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on November 21, 2014
Love it!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
I bought this for my mom and she loves it. She has a PS3 in her room. She's an avid gamer.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
I bought this, foolishly thinking it might be a fun little tactical RPG. What I got was a game that LOOKS like a tactical RPG on the surface, but it's really just an exercise in lining up your mans on the glowing squares ("extended areas"). Nothing about any of it makes any actual sense; you're just fiddling around with a bunch of arbitrary positional bonuses that have no relevance to any kind of real tactics or strategy.

Not only that, but the initial character creation is done completely in the dark -- not even the slightest hint what any of it means. Seriously, you might as well just make your choices in your dark. It doesn't matter, though, because the differences are minimal and arbitrary. The game is going to be the same pointless follow-the-highlights tedium regardless of what you pick.

The graphics are weak (PS2 quality), and the special effects -- though they try to be "epic" -- are amateurish and cliched. Note to effects designers: when you try to make every single move look epic, what you end up with is none of it looking very interesting after the first fight.

Also, the story is super slow and boring. And I have a pretty high tolerance for silly stories. I won't even get into the relationship stuff, which to some, I suppose, is the meat of the game. I'd be fine with that if the battle gameplay were even marginally worthwhile, but it's not, so I feel comfortable dismissing the rest of it out of hand.

I hate to be a hater, I really do, but some games are just not good. This is one.
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on April 24, 2015
5*
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