Lord of the Copycats
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The best way to describe Lord of Arcana is a smorgasbord of great games all thrown into one.
You're a great Slayer that joins the Slayers Guild to hunt monsters either by yourself or with four friends. Ok, so that sounds a little familiar right? What about collecting parts from the enemies you kill to forge new weapon, armor, and magic items? Alright, now let's take it a step further. When fighting against any of the bosses in the game you can feel free to target other parts of their bodies such as the wings and tails to destroy them and get extra carves from the boss. That's right; it's a Monster Hunter clone. Right down to the time limit and three death count qualifications to fail a quest.
Now while I did just call it a clone of Monster Hunter I should tell you that there is more than just that to be found in the game.
Being a game produced by Square Enix, it probably isn't a surprise to anyone that the game has a leveling up system. It's pretty basic; you start at level 1, the more monsters that you kill the more experience you get. No real surprises here. It is also worth mentioning is that all the items in the game share names with items from the Final Fantasy series, from Hi-Potions to Regens and Elixirs. All the items will do exactly as you expect them to, yet again no real surprises.
The final game that I'm going to say Lord of Arcana "borrows" from is the least expected, God of War. While fighting bosses the only way to defeat them is to initiate two different cinematic battles that rely on quick reflex button pressing to kill the creature. While I know that many games have used this idea God of War is the one that comes to mind for other reasons than just that.
The game is a dang bloody mess! Those cinematic battles that I was just talking about are the best examples of this. What better way is there to slay a certain dragon king (that I'm sure Final Fantasy and D&D fans know well) than to jump into the air toward our beastly friend and stab our BIG FREAKING SWORD into his chest and then promptly slide down his abdomen as if we were a pirate and his chest a sail and while this scene plays out blood flies from every open wound on the boss, even going so far as to splatter onto the screen? There is no better way. I think you see my point here. The game has some over the top kills that succeed in making the player feel awesome.
My only real complaint about this is that every creature in the game only has a single kill animation in this manner. So while the kills do look over the top and amazing you'll soon find yourself bored with the animations for the smaller enemies.
I didn't get to test out the multiplayer in this game, but much like the portable Monster Hunter games you can take online quests by yourself. With the rest of the game playing the way it does I'm confident that multiplayer will add a nice little chunk of game time to those who choose to use it.
The game's story isn't really anything to rave about. It's about as generic as can be with twist so obvious Shyamalan himself wouldn't even think it was a good idea. I can't lie when I say that I was disappointed about this. I love the Monster Hunter games but find that the lack of story always leaves me wondering more about the world. So here I thought "A Monster Hunter style game by Square? This is exactly what I wanted!" Well I guess this is that old saying of you can't have your cake and eat it too.
The graphics in the game are about what I've come to expect from the PSP, a little choppy looking but overall not bad. This is one of those rare cases though where the game's animations aren't really hurt by the graphics. They still feel fluid and look great.
The musical score in the game is good. Entering a battle I actually found that I was excited by the music and it helped to fuel my ability to get drawn into the game. This is exactly what a musical score is supposed to do and so often developers just slap generic music into games, so kudos on that!
If you're looking for a title to tide you over until Monster Hunter Portable 3rd then I can't think of a better one. Overall this game is solid, while there isn't really anything new and innovating, feel safe in the sense that you know what you're paying for and what you will get.
I give it 3.5 gems.
Billy loves nothing more than leveling and grinding through a good RPG. And he knows that Time Waster is not a negative term when it comes to games. : firstname.lastname@example.org.