Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle (3DS eShop) Review

Three new reviews in one weekend?! It's too hot this summer for Hell to have frozen over, so something else must be wrong. While I try to figure out what that something else is, why don't you check out SuperPhillip Central's review of Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle, from the same developer of the 3DS and mobile game Adventure Bar Story!

Sort of like Final Fantasy Tactics Lite

One of my favorite games of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics for the original PlayStation. I also enjoyed the two Nintendo FFT games on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, albeit to a much lesser extent. The tactical RPG is one that requires patience, persistence, and a high level of strategy to complete. Those are all things a lot of fans of the genre possess, and they also are needed to complete CIRCLE Entertainment and Ride On's Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle. Originally a Japan-exclusive mobile game, the title appears on the North American Nintendo 3DS eShop, ready to be downloaded by anyone who wants an inexpensive yet priceless tactical RPG for their 3DS.

You play as Claude, captain of His Highness's Order of the Silver Eagle. What starts out with the prince joining the order for a ride through the forest turns into him being poisoned, requiring Claude and his fellow Order members to track down a cure for his rare type of poison. This leads to a much more involved plot and conflict that threatens the entire kingdom. The story in Mercenaries Saga 2 is one that is a little bit dry, offering some humor here and there. The dialogue sometimes delves into typo-city, somewhat detracting from the experience.

Where was Admiral Ackbar when you need him to let
Claude and friends know that they were walking into a trap?
Any good tactical RPG has plenty of maps and battles to take part in. Mercenaries Saga 2 is no different. Here, battles take place in isometric 3D grid arenas just like Final Fantasy Tactics. (You'll see "just like Final Fantasy Tactics" a bunch in this review, so be ready.) You can have a party of up to six characters in most maps of the ten total characters that join your party throughout the game. Unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, however, there is a player phase and an enemy phase, instead of characters on both sides of battle taking turns based off of their agility attribute.

Battles consist of moving along the 3D grid based off that character or enemy's movement stat. Like a typical tactical RPG, attacks are done by heading to a neighboring square of the enemy and selecting the Attack option. It's better to attack from the side or better yet from behind to ensure that your attack will connect. At the same time, being right next to an enemy and attacking means that unless you hit them away from you or defeat them, they will get a counterattack in on you. Before you attack, use magic, or whatnot, the game identifies how much HP the attack is estimated to take off or in the case of healing spells, heal the intended target. Mercenaries Saga 2 also shows the probability of the attack or spell connecting with the target as well.

Experience is earned through successfully completing actions on the field of battle. Even if it's something as simple as healing oneself, experience (usually 10 points) is gained. Each time a party member earns 100 experience, a new level is gained. Generally attacking stronger, higher leveled foes is what is needed to gain the most experience at once.

If you've played Final Fantasy Tactics or one of its two sequels,
then you should be right at home with Mercenaries Saga 2.
When a character reaches level 10 and 20, they can change their class to one of two or four choices respectively. In doing so, their attributes change dramatically depending on which class you choose for them. At the same token, if you don't want to immediately change a party member's class when they arrive at the milestone level amounts, you need not do so until you're good and ready. Changing the class removes all equipment to that character, thus requiring you to re-equip it, which can be a little tedious to do, but changing equipment is a pain-free process that is simple enough to accomplish.

Once Beatrice reaches level 10, she'll be able
to change to one of two classes.
Mercenaries Saga 2 is a linear affair with no world map to speak of. You go from one battle to the next with a menu screen in between, giving you the ability to buy and sell equipment and items, participate in free battles to earn more experience and money, and to change equipment and classes for your maximum of ten party members.

The great thing about battles in Mercenaries Saga 2 is how filler-free and streamlined they are. That is to say that attacks, moves, turns, and spells don't take long at how to use. There are no ten second summon spells that slow the pace of battle to a crawl. The ability to fast-forward through story dialogue also makes repeated play-throughs (as there is a New Game+ option) enjoyable.

Mercenaries Saga 2 establishes itself visually with a washed out look to its colors and a serious anime art style. There are no heads that grow to four times their size when a particular character gets angry at another character. Meanwhile, the battle art consists of detailed sprites similar to Game Boy Advance tactical RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis. Like most of CIRCLE Entertainment's published Nintendo 3DS eShop games, there is no 3D effect to speak of, unfortunately. A shame.

It's recommended that you play with the d-pad and not
the Circle Pad to make your way through menus and selections.
Meanwhile, the music is the weakest part of the presentation package, offering highly repetitive music that loops more often than I would have liked. Still, it's nothing that overly sours the experience. Just don't expect musical masterpieces like you'd find in a Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, or Disgaea game.

If you're looking for an absurdly affordable, budget, tactical RPG, then Mercenaries Saga 2: Order of the Silver Eagle should be a purchase you make right away. It's lengthy at 20+ hours of play time, it has over 30 unique missions, and the strategic gameplay is more than adequate for the price of the game. It's definitely wise to man up (or woman up) and enlist with the Order of the Silver Eagle.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review copy provided by CIRCLE Entertainment.

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