Friday, February 3, 2017

Mercenaries Saga 2 (3DS) Review

Mercenaries Saga 2 is a strategy RPG, much in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics.  So much so that it looks similar.  However, it isn't a copy, and if you draw inspiration from another SRPG, you might as well start at the top.

Battlefields are divided up into small squares that your character can move around on.  If you have played any other grid-based SRPGs, then you will feel right at home with the battles in Mercenaries Saga 2.  Each side takes their turn in alternating order, so being faster won't get you more turns.  Your characters can move and then take one action, be it an attack, skill, or using an item.  Unfortunately, you can't do an action first, and still have your move, like some other great SRPGs (although there is one character who can get that as a skill).

MP starts at 0, but units recover some each turn (based on their MPR stat that you can't see), so mages and healers stay useful throughout the fight.  Though, sometimes the close-range fighters struggle to gain any useful MP until late in the fight because heavy armor has a MPR penalty.  By the end of the game, you have 10 characters, but can only take 6 with you into battle (save the last two fights), meaning the later characters likely won't be used much.

At the end of each battle, all surviving characters get a portion of the obtained skill points.  These are used to buy new classes, skills, and power-up skills you already have.  It's a nice system that lets you power up any character brought into battle (and doesn't retreat), regardless of how many enemies they killed.  This is great for the healers, and helps balance out how easily the mages can destroy foes.  They will still be ahead in levels, though.

Once you reach level 10 or 20, you can class change your characters.  Each character can use all of the skills he or she has purchased, regardless of class.  Changing classes can easily be done in the menu.  You will have to re-equip their stuff, though.  Two of each character's high classes are locked until you exchange special items for them, but these will keep through playthroughs.  Overall, it's a great job class system, since you get the benefits from all your classes, and can pick whichever one you want for look or stats!

There are 32 story battles to go through, and almost as many free battles.  Each story level can be completed once per run, but the free battles can be completed as many times as you want.  I'd recommend doing most of them anyway, since you will want the extra experience, money and skill points from them.  Yes, it is grinding, but it's pretty quick, so I don't mind it.  It took me over 20 hours to get through the story mode, which included doing almost all of the free battles, too.

The game also has a very good new game+ mode.  You won't keep your levels or normal equipment, but you keep your money, skill points (although you have to re-allocate them), and magical/unique items.  If you get enough of the powerful and rare stuff, you can still power through a chunk of the game, even if your level is low.  You also unlock extra free battles and can challenge a higher difficulty once you complete the game.  Since there are two endings, it would be worth it to go through again.

Mercenaries Saga 2 is not as deep as other similar offerings (not limited to the 3DS), but is still very fun.  It offers good replayability, a great price for the content, and I would heartily recommend it to fans of grid-based strategy RPGs.

The Good:
Fun and well done SRPG with hours of content for a tiny price.  The skill and class system is pulled off very well.

The Bad:
Story is a bit bland.

The SaHD:
It can be a real pain to find the hidden weapons, so just use a guide.

(Mercenaries Saga 2 was purchased by the reviewer)

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