It may not be called Monster Hunter but you know, it’s pretty darn similar. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either, as Capcom’s supremely popular franchise has brought countless hours of entertainment to handheld lovers. And now, with Ragnorak Odyssey hitting the PlayStation Vita next month, there’s every reason to hook up with like-minded friends and go out questing for the sake of loot, cash, and of course, the respect of your allies. A lot of flashy attacks and a fair amount of customization and depth helps, too.
Essentially a multiplayer-oriented title, the latest from Game Arts lets you play with others via ad hoc or online play. You can choose from one of six available classes: Swordmaster, Hammersmith, Hunter, Cleric, Assassin, and Mage. As you might expect, your style of play should dictate your choice; if you’re more of a straight-ahead, tear up everything in your path kind of adventurer, you’ll probably go with the Swordmaster or Hammersmith. But if you’re more about stealth, strategy, distance attacking, or learning the arcane arts, you should try experimenting with the other classes. You gotta weigh the pros and cons.
For instance, while the Hunter, who uses a bow, has the highest attack speed and range, he doesn’t do much damage per strike. At the same time, being away from the fray helps him a lot. The Cleric offers a combination of healing and support spells along with some decent melee damage, while the mage is actually capable of dealing melee damage as well alongside the standard ranged magic attacks. However, as is typically the case with any magic-based classes in an RPG, the Cleric and Mage’s hit points and defense ratings are super low, so you’ll have to be extremely careful. But don’t forget the “action” part of this action/RPG.
This one goes beyond the traditional role-playing scope and implements combos for the fighters, so you’ll have to press the correct buttons in a string of attacks in order to properly execute. There are all sorts of great skills and abilities to learn, but you’ll have to master the mechanics as well. Then there’s the added depth of cards; before each mission, you can equip cards that will alter a character’s base stats or offer other combat-related bonuses. Each character has a limit to how many cards he or she can equip. It sounds a bit like online perks, doesn’t it?
As for Vita-specific features, the game will take advantage of the unit’s touch capabilities. You can drink potions by tapping the appropriate icon during battle, select and expand the map, and send emoticons simply by tapping the screen. You can do all of this with the standard buttons as well, but the touchscreen commands should work fine. In general, you’ll probably want to play with other people, but provided the constant slaying and looting doesn’t get too repetitive, it should be a blast to play all by your lonesome. We’re hoping for another quality addition to the Vita lineup.
Ragnorak Odyssey is slated to launch on September 11.
8/3/2012 Ben Dutka