"The ACE upgrade introduces new features and more than doubles the original experience, but it’s difficult to recommend the console port to anyone who already owns the original Vita version. "
As an exclusively handheld experience, the original Ragnarok Odyssey was fantastic. The Monster Hunter inspired premise combined with nonstop action and minimal narrative was perfect for play on the go. Now that Ragnarok Odyssey has made its way to consoles, it’s clear that certain titles should remain in their original format. Don’t get me wrong; Ragnarok is still a solid adventure. Monster Hunter fans can easily lose hours upon hours slaying colossal creatures and the gameplay is decent enough to attract newcomers. Unfortunately, the pacing is designed for brief play sessions. Ragnarok is best enjoyed a few quests at a time and becomes repetitive rather quickly once the grinding sets in. The ACE upgrade introduces new features and more than doubles the original experience, but it’s difficult to recommend the console port to anyone who already owns the original Vita version. Nonetheless, Ragnarok’s charm is undeniable and it’s fun being able to take down a creature the size of a skyscraper.
I have to confess, I have little familiarity with the Ragnarok franchise. I never played the popular MMO and spent a very brief time with the Vita spin-off. I am, however, a long time fan of Monster Hunter and the genre in general. I still remember losing weeks playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and never feeling like the game dragged on. I can’t say the same for Ragnarok Odyssey ACE. The setup is uncomfortably similar to MH, which isn’t a bad thing, but Ragnarok’s world isn’t as immersive or interesting. Bland landscapes, derivative monsters, too much grinding and sloppy combat mechanics prevent this big-screen offering from being as impactful as it once was on the Vita.
"Combat is solid but unimaginative. If I wanted to play a fast paced button masher, I’d choose Dynasty Warriors."
As a new knight recruit you’re tasked with ensuring the kingdom’s safety. This consists of taking quests and slaying monsters. The game opens with a semi-decent character creator and the choice of 6 classes. Each class provides specific weapon abilities, but the core combat is made up of simple 2-button combos and upgradable special abilities. The newly introduced ACE skill system lets you equip cards that further expand your moves and stats. Upgrading equipment with more slots means more card combinations, which makes for addictive treasure hunting and customization opportunities.
Combat is solid but unimaginative. If I wanted to play a fast paced button masher, I’d choose Dynasty Warriors. Locking on enemies in Ragnarok is painfully counterintuitive. Up and down on the D-pad locks on to bosses and left and right locks on to other enemies. As soon as the screen fills with more than a handful of enemies, it’s impossible to precisely select attacking foes. The first few hours of Ragnarok Odyssey ACE are a chore. Venturing through the same areas over and over and fighting identical creatures is no fun. By the time the first big boss is reached, there’s no sense of accomplishment or progression. Having a repetitive soundtrack looping in the background doesn’t help either. Only the most devoted Ragnarok fans will find the laborious introduction enjoyable, but at least later quests provide more variety and challenge.
"Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is not a bad game, but a wasted opportunity. While the strengths of the Vita version still linger, the issues that come with porting a handheld-designed experience to consoles are too problematic to overlook."
To fully enjoy Ragnarok Odyssey ACE, it’s best to frequent the multiplayer mode. While you can’t progress missions here, teaming up with a buddy gives the dull levels more energy and excitement. Combat becomes more strategic as you can lure enemies away from injured players to allow for recovery or flanking. While AI companions can be hired for the same purpose in single player, it just doesn’t work as well as with other humans.
Moving to a bigger screen and more powerful hardware should have resulted in better, more immersive aesthetics, but sadly the developers did little to enhance the original’s graphics. Aside from a higher resolution, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE just looks like a stretched out Vita game. The characters are more detailed and the framerate is smoother, but the landscape still feels dated and boring. If it wasn’t for some truly unique creature designs, this may have been one of the worst HD upgrades of the last generation.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE is not a bad game, but a wasted opportunity. While the strengths of the Vita version still linger, the issues that come with porting a handheld-designed experience to consoles are too problematic to overlook. The pacing is choppy, the combat is imprecise and the visuals are incredibly lazy. Simply adding more content doesn’t make up for the lack of refinement and genre fans are better off with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U (which is less than twenty bucks now) or the original Ragnarok on Vita. Ragnarok Odyssey ACE can be fun for a few minutes here and there but doesn’t offer enough variety to hold anyone’s interest during longer play sessions.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 3