Ragnarok Odyssey ACE Review – PlayStation 3 / VIta

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It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been all that long since I got my first action packed taste of the Vita exclusive RPG title Ragnarok Odyssey. As a big fan of the original release, I was extremely happy to hear that it would be making a jump to console this year although in an enhanced form with the release of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE for the PS3. For those that enjoyed the original game, Ragnarok Odyssey, on Vita should not be discouraged either as the Vita version of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE also hits retail and the PSN store on the same day. As I’ve already covered the original Vita version, I’ll be focusing more on the PS3 version and the advancements that were made to bring us these new versions.

Ragnarok Odyssey ACE still has the same lackluster story that its senior version does though with the notable addition of all new areas and one major dungeon, the Tower of Yggdrasil. For newcomers the story revolves around the conflict of humanity against a race of giants from the Sundered Lands. Originally separated by a wall of mountains, Rune Midgard is under attack and Fort Farthest and adventurers like you are the only thing keeping the giants and monsters at bay. One of my favorite things about Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is that the overall theme of the game is based upon Norse mythology and takes place in the same world of the MMO Ragnarok Online. A couple of the new giants added to this adventure even have roots in the lore surrounding Yggdrasil, the World Tree.

Players start out by choosing one of the 6 character classes: Sword Warrior, Hammersmith, Assassin, Mage, Cleric, and Hunter to play as. As a fan of ranged fighters, I dove in as the Hunter focusing on keeping the enemies at bay. While this class can function solo it’s great for multiplayer parties offering long ranged support. When going up against bosses I found that I didn’t quite have the power of the more physical or elemental classes to defeat them myself as a hunter. The cool thing about Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is that you can change your class after a certain point in the game if you need more of an edge in a difficult quest like the original title. There are other options as well to help you in battle and I’ll cover them shortly.

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The story is progressed through quests that have you visiting different locations to defeat monsters or collect required items so not being able to finish a quest yourself prevents you from moving forward. At first they start off relatively easy, where you are given a half hour to take out so many enemies. This is actually more than enough time for even a solo run but there are times were you are only given 15 minutes to get to a boss and defeat him. Time isn’t the only factor in quests as defeats affect the payout or more importantly the fail/clear status on a quest. You are given 3 lives per quest but you should also make use of Ragnarok Odyssey’s other features to help you out if you plan on getting very far in the game.

No matter what job class I chose the important thing that I had to remember is that Ragnarok Odyssey has no character levels. Unlike most RPGs, including PSO, you gained experience for defeats and quest completions. You base attributes such as health however are raised across all classes however after certain key points in the game. Here it’s not just about the player’s skill but in the gear they’re using. Each class has their own outfit to call their own but these armors actually provide nothing more than skin coverage at first. As you progress you will have more outfits that can be purchased to aid you like the Thief outfit which has a stat built into it to benefit the Assassin class. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE uses items in the form of Cards to provide stat boosts and skills as well.

For instance you can equip a particular card to add poison damage to your weapons but at the cost of a lowered maximum HP. You can always add other cards to a point that could potentially offset that disadvantage however. You do have to use some strategy when using cards however as you outfit can only hold so many cards thanks to a card’s slot cost. Some cards only use 1 slot but the rarer the card the more slots it may take up. You can upgrade you outfit for a cost to accept more cards throughout the game however. The newly added ACE skills which add more depth and strategy to the game are incredibly useful. I also love that you can add little items to your characters such as a pair of glasses or a knight’s helm to add a bit of a personal touch to your character. Doing this requires that you have the required resources to make them and the same goes for refining weapons which is not as easy it might seem.

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Refining weapons or making accessories is done by collecting the resources while out on quest. While you can look at the list of requirements at the shops you unfortunately are not given any indication as to where you can find said items. You basically have to be lucky that you find it in the many trips you’ll make to the various locations or hope you are even luckier to be in the right area to find it. That’s probably one of the only faults that I really have with Ragnarok Odyssey. If you thought the stronger giant-killing weapons in the base game were cool you haven’t seen anything yet until you gain the ability to use Halomonas weapons. These magical weapons can be grown and altered to suit the player by completing custom orders. I haven’t seen something like this since the days of Fable III which I though was cool even then.

All the armor and skills in the world won’t mean jack though if you can’t fight though. As mentioned about there are no character levels so getting through Ragnarok Odyssey ACE requires the player’s skills to get through it. The combat system found within does do a good job of assisting you here and there thanks to a target lock system and a competent though somewhat difficult camera system. While the original game was only available on the Vita’s versatile hardware Ragnarok Odyssey ACE’s transition to PlayStation 3 made it without really any hitches along the way. It did take me a little bit to get the feel down as the DualShock 3 controller affords the player with extra command configurations during combat. Some changes were made to the HUD along the way giving the presentation a much cleaner look without sacrificing user input especially in the area of chatting and item usage.

The Vita version of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE in particular gained the advantage here as the Item, ACE Skills and Dainsleif icons were moved and positioned on the outermost edges making activation via touchscreen much more efficient in the long run. They even moved the chat and emote selector to the bottom edge of the screen out of the way so as not to be easily hit on Vita play sessions. The Vita version also has the edge on local multiplayer as it has the added Ad-Hoc mode so that you and your friends can game on the go.

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Graphically, Ragnarok Odyssey was quite impressive on the Vita’s OLED screen. ACE carries that tradition in both the PS3 version and its mobile counterpart. I was worried that the PS3 version would suffer when it was converted to be shown on a much bigger screen and in some areas it is noticeable though the developers were able to pull of pretty sharp visuals despite some parts lacking depth like tree foliage. The character models look great and with over 20,000 different options available you’ll probably never find a doppelganger throughout your adventure. Ragnarok Odyssey will instantly come off as a game that might not take itself serious with the various heavily anime inspired hairstyles and funky hats but that’s part of the charm. Most of the environments found in Ragnarok Odyssey are beautifully created though not quite as good as the new CGI opening video before the title screen. The original video which is also spectacular is still present in Ragnarok Odyssey ACE.

The original Ragnarok Odyssey already had a lengthy campaign and plenty of content to keep any RPG fan happy, but the developers decided to take things to a whole new level with Ragnarok Odyssey ACE. Largely added to the game is the Tower of Yggdrasil which is a staggering dungeon filled with 400 randomly generated floors to challenge alone or with the aid of the newly added mercenary hiring system or other real players. For those who can’t team up with friends or other players online you can now enlist the aid of mercenaries to help you get through some of the tougher quests including boss fights.

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The real fun though, much like Ragnarok Odyssey ACE’s, parental roots is to play with other people in fast paced and satisfying combat. Thanks to a few new features this can be accomplished far easier than before. Ragnarok Odyssey already had a solid online community when I reviewed it and ACE is no exception now that you have not one but two systems interconnected via Cross-Play. PS3 and Vita owners of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE can now play together via the online multiplayer in the game’s Tavern. I ran several long runs with a full party and for most of the time everything ran smooth with only a few dropped connections throughout. The developers also realized that if you’ve got a good thing going with a team it’s painful to leave the party to upgrade weapons or buy items. Looking back at my previous experience with the original game that’s exactly what you had to do previously for anything beyond potions and cards. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE however solves that problem in one fell swoop as you can now use a set of pipes within the Tavern to do any upgrades or buying and selling of goods without even leaving the Tavern or party which is awesome.

GungHo already had a fun and enjoyable game the first time around with Ragnarok Odyssey and I know a lot of people probably sunk a lot of time into it as I did. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is perfect for newcomers to the title as it contains all the original content including DLC from the original game as well as the refinements and added content that comes with this enhanced version. Though current owners may find themselves wondering how they can get in on the fun. While there is no discount for current owners you can import your save files from Ragnarok Odyssey into ACE and pick up where you left off. A few things can’t be transferred over as I found out but it sure beats starting over again.

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To sweeten the pot if you purchase both the PS3 and Vita versions of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE you can make use of the Cross-Save feature so you’re never far away from your current progress. This does require signing into the PlayStation Network each time to save or load the game to and from the servers though, so you need to do it before you leave the house with your Vita or hop on some free Wi-Fi while on the go. An important thing to note is that if you purchase any DLC you have to make sure you get it and download it for both the PS3 and the Vita versions or it is impossible to load the save if it recognizes content is missing from either version if you choose to use Cross-Save. Luckily purchasing any DLC once will reward you with both versions so there’s no worry of double dipping on content.

Every year you see developers rereleasing their titles in bigger and better bundles but very few actually redefine a game like Ragnarok Odyssey ACE does. While it offers brand-new content for both newcomers and current fans alike it also redefines the interface and mechanics to make it a lot more enjoyable experience both by yourself and online. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE still shows as one of the better titles on the Vita and now it’s even better with PS3 cross play capability and loads of hours of new and existing content to keep you busy for the long road ahead. If you’re already a Vita user then you probably already know how much fun this game really is but if you’re not quite ready to join the PS Vita bandwagon the PS3 version of Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is definitely a fun and worthy investment.