Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Ace in the Hole?

Ragnarok Odyssey was released in October of 2012 to less than stellar reviews, on a system that is scraping to find quality games–the PS Vita. XSEED Games has decided to give the game a second chance, hoping to make things right with Ragnarok Odyssey ACE . This upgrade includes more monsters, new skills, a four-hundred floor tower to tackle and a few more changes to keep the action moving. It’s a huge injection of content, but there are still flaws both major and minor in the gameplay mechanics and user interface that needed to be addressed and sadly were not.

Let’s start with the positive improvements, and jump right into combat. The fast-paced, combo and chain heavy system allows you to pummel waves of monsters, launch them in the air, beat them while suspended there, then drive them into the ground. There are six classes to choose from, each wielding an exclusive weapon type and sporting their own tactics. Sword Warriors are well-rounded melee fighters, Hammersmiths are slow but can crush crowds with a swing of their drill hammer, Assassins lack strength but make up for it with speed and agility, Clerics have high defense and healing powers, Mages unleash elemental spells and Hunters strike from afar with precision bow skills. Each class is interesting enough, though they all have a hard time functioning without support.

The problem in the original game was that missions either had to be tackled solo, or through local or online multiplayer which unfortunately lacked a populous community to find help. Grinding levels isn’t an option since you don’t gain experience, instead having to upgrade your weapons and equip randomly dropped skill and stat boosting cards to your outfit in order to have a chance against tougher foes. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE has two new features to help combat this handicap. First, along with the PS Vita, the game is also available on the PS3, with full cross-play functionality, which hopefully will increase the pool of players to join up with on missions. However, should you prefer playing solo, you can now recruit up to two AI controlled mercenaries to tackle quests. Thus my Cleric is now complimented with the heavy hitting Hammersmith and sniping Hunter, allowing me to focus on keeping them healthy while throwing in a few mace strikes here and there.

Playing in a group, whether alone or with friends, is by far the most enjoyable route, and now there is a real feeling of team synergy with the inclusion of ACE skills. Up to four of these useful powers can be equipped, tailored to specific classes. Most of them provide powerful attacks, buffs, and healing, some of which embolden the entire group. They eat away at your AP meter and have cooldowns, but you’ll be constantly watching for them to refresh, since they are immensely useful and fun to watch.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Screenshot

The biggest update has the be the Tower of Yggdrasil, with hundreds of randomly generated floors that keep building the intensity but reward you with rare drops, especially from some mammoth bosses. It nearly doubles the length of the game, but unfortunately is only accessible after you’ve completed the nine chapters of the main story. Thus, if you found yourself trudging through mission after mission without much satisfaction, the extra content certainly isn’t something that will entice you to revisit Ragnarok Odyssey .

There are still plenty of flaws in the mechanics that never got fixed. The menu screens, for instance, should have been navigable via the touch screen, but still require button controls. It wouldn’t be a big issue, except the menu screens are very cumbersome, and certain long lists have no fast scrolling. The Start button still doesn’t pause immediately, having you press a second button before skimming through the menu without fear of being attacked.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Screenshot

The game also hasn’t simplified the quest and loot screens. You’re given a mission but have no indicators as to where to find the enemies or items required for completion. You can sell items directly after completing a mission, but can’t scan through them to check their usefulness before turning them into cash. Upgrades require specific components, but you are not given any indications on where to find them. It’s all random.

Even more tedious are the conversations from the residents of the hub fortress. Sometimes you’re forced to converse with a person or two before you can accept the next mission, which either translates into a boring tutorial lecture or a personal opinion about some nonsensical aspect of the game. Most of the NPCs are meaningless text filler, which makes me wonder why they’re included in the first place. For a game that’s designed for quick missions to play on the go, wadding through conversations is just plain annoying.

The lack of any real merit to your quest is likely the biggest oversight. Without a leveling system, revisiting missions to have a random chance for the weapon or card you’re looking for becomes monotonous, not to mention the fact that you need to check a wiki online just to know where to look. The story is trimmed just to the essentials and the characters are not noteworthy, relieving you of any emotional attachment to the plight of the people.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Screenshot

Some of the visual elements are a hit and some are a miss, but overall I would still classify Ragnarok Odyssey ACE as one of the best looking games the PS Vita. The character models and vast customizations especially shine. All the vanity DLC content from the original title is available, with plenty of ways to personalize your hero. Dyeing outfits and purchasing accessories are interesting (albeit superfluous) ways to spend any extra cash you may have. The animations are fast and smooth, which is one the main reasons combat is such a substantial highlight of the game. However, the cramped environments have the bare minimum of detailing, and act more as simple barriers and alleyways for the various locales.

The music also underperforms, providing the same quirky yet inanely repetitive compositions we hear in almost every JRPG. Giggles, grunts, and combat shouts provide the extent of the voice acting. The only satisfying sounds are the effects during a heated battle when you, your allies, and the monsters are clashing in a cacophony of searing strikes. It sounds chaotic but makes combat all the more invigorating.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE provides almost double the content of the original and adds some successful new features, but fails to fix all the problems. Overall, it likely won’t change the position of fans or critics. If you were wholly satisfied with the first title, then you’ll want to purchase the upgrade. But if you were disappointed before, the new features aren’t enough to incite a change of heart.

Bland environments aside, these are some of the most colorful character models and smoothest animations I’ve seen in a PS Vita game. 2.9 Control
It doesn’t try to integrate every alternate control on the PS Vita, but better use of touch screen and a simpler menu system are areas that still need improvement. Combat controls are fairly intuitive though. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects while in combat are great, but go to the Options menu and turn everything else off. 3.2 Play Value
In battle the new features are a big plus, and there’s a ton more content to tackle, but only if you enjoyed it on the first go around. 3.3 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Ragnarok Odyssey is back with tons of new content – With additional story elements, huge new bosses, uncharted areas, fresh weapons and much more, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE goes well beyond an extended edition as the game has evolved exponentially.
  • Enhanced battle mechanics for more customization and firepower – Weapons can be customized in both strength and appearance, and the addition of new job-specific ACE skills ensures that players have the tools necessary to take on the more powerful giants, dragons, and trickster spirits.
  • Create a battle party even in single-player mode – With the new mercenary system, players can hire their own mercenaries to help take on the toughest bosses without having to find players online for aid.
  • A constantly evolving experience, both online and off – The addition of the Tower of Yggdrasil creates a unique experience each time by featuring randomly generated levels, and post-launch updates will offer new online quests and other fresh content.

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