One of my favourite games on the Nintendo Gamecube would have to be Phantasy Star Online. Unfortunately these days Sega seems determined to deny Western gamers some PSO goodness. Phantasy Star Universe was scrapped after a lack of developer support, the PSP Phantasy Star games have been removed from the PSN store and Phantasy Star Online 2 has yet to be localised despite appearing in Japan back in 2012. Anyone looking for some good action RPG fun must therefore resort to searching elsewhere. For Vita owners I would personally recommend Toukiden: The Age of Demons, but if you are seeking an alternative that can be played on the PS3 Ragnarok Odyssey ACE isn’t a bad choice.
The game is set in the same universe as Ragnarok Online (a grindy Korean MMO) and has players protecting the land from hostile giants. Story wise Game of Thrones has nothing to fear from Ragnarok Odyssey, so I wouldn’t blame players for skipping through most of the dialogue and jumping straight into the action by picking an available level from the guild’s quest counter. Before that however you need to select a starting class to play as. Given that I am a coward, who doesn’t enjoy getting smacked, I picked a hunter that can safely pelt enemies with arrows from a distance. Some of the other options available include clerics that can heal, spell casting mages and warriors who wield swords that make Cloud Strife’s two hander look like a butter knife.
Most of the levels involve traipsing through a zone and completing whatever objective has been assigned to you. Guild missions range from collecting items to killing a certain number of enemies. Executing an attack is as simple as pressing the triangle or circle buttons. If you are a skill-less fletcher, like myself, you can survive by bashing triangle on the controller. Anyone with a bit more finesse can however string together a combo of circle/triangle inputs to perform knockbacks or fire multiple projectiles at once. Eat your heart out Legolass! Although the combat can get a little repetitive, at times, it is good fun especially when confronting the larger enemies, which require learning their attack patterns to best.
As with most games of this ilk the appeal comes in beefing up your character, which is accomplished by equipping the cards that defeated monsters sometimes drop. These cards are far more powerful than the nudie deck I use to play poker (although less arousing) as they boost a character’s attack, health and defence in addition to conferring them with special abilities. Crafting materials can also be harvested from fallen foes and used at the town stores to increase how many cards your gear can equip. Offensive items can be improved in a similar manner although there are a few special weapons that can only be strengthened by completing tasks such as clearing a particular level or defeating a specific boss.
My rating for Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is a four out of five. It’s good fun for anyone seeking a Phantasy Star substitute. My only complaints with the title are its graphical quality, which are borderline PS2 standard. Despite only being an enhanced version of Ragnarok Odyssey I have to say that I have enjoyed playing ACE far more than its predecessor. The gameplay tweaks they have implemented make all the difference and having access to all of the first game’s DLC is a nice touch. The biggest improvement for me however is that you can now play through the story with AI companions. This makes things much easier for solo players like myself who have no pals to play online multiplayer with. Sniff, I am so lonely. I want some chums to quest with in Ragnarok. If video games aren’t your thing we can play saucy Texas Holdem instead!