Pseudo-Monster Hunting On Your PS3
While Capcom arguably invented the entire monster-hunting genre when they debuted Monster Hunter on the PS2, it was really on the PSP where the genre took off. Since then, Capcom’s taken their ball and walked out of Sony’s backyard and over to Nintendo’s. This has been good news for the 3DS and Wii U and bad news for the Vita and PS3. That’s why publishers like Tecmo-Koei and even Sony themselves have stepped in to try to fill the gap. Game Arts managed to do so in 2012 with Ragnarok Odyssey and now the expanded version of that game, Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is available both on its original home on the Vita and a new $40 PS3 version. While it’s still not as good as Monster Hunter, you don’t have much choice if you’re craving this kind of gameplay on the PS3.
A Less Efficient Port
Like Arkham Origins Blackgate or Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, it’s obvious when played on the PS3 that this was a game designed for less powerful hardware. The low polygonal nature of the world and simpler (if higher resolution) textures all point to a game made to be played on a small screen, and it doesn’t hold up well on a large, modern flat screen TV. It doesn’t help that even amongst its peers on the Vita, Ragnarok is the least impressive game from both an art direction and technical standpoint. Obviously, a monster hunting game is more about the actual hunt than the looks, but PS3 players with no experience with this game need to understand that this is a port and not a highly optimized one. Don’t expect the same loving care that Square-Enix gave to Final Fantasy X and keep those expectations in check.
Graphical weaknesses aside, the strength of Ragnarok Odyssey Ace is in the meaty gameplay, and it is here that Game Arts still mostly lives up to the promise of the original Vita version. This is the same game, only now played with the comfort of a DualShock 3 and it packs a ton of extra content not available in the original base game. There’s also cross-play and cross-save compatibility so players willing to buy two copies of the game in two different formats can keep their game going between PS3 and Vita versions. Additionally, there’s an option for players to transfer their original Vita game data over to this new PS3 version if a high powered, highly geared character already exists. One surprising factor about this console version is that in some ways, it actually feels a little less efficient to use than the Vita version. The touch screen on the original version was used for both potion consumption and communication, but now these functions have been assigned to the L2/R2 triggers. It actually feels less responsive than the simple touch on the Vita’s smaller screen, but it’s hardly a game breaker by any means.
As with any monster hunting game, the big draws here are the fighting—and salvaging of components—of monsters, and the company of friends. PS3 players obviously lose the ability to play the “ad hoc” mode of the original Vita version with three other friends in the same room, but can take their game online on the PlayStation Network. Veterans to Ragnarok Odyssey will find the same gameplay, simply with much more added content on a bigger screen. People who are new to the game will find a bright, colourful world of third person, monster hunting, co-op action waiting for them that can potentially suck hours of their lives if they get pulled into the seductive cycle of short hunts leading to weapon and armor upgrades.
Ragnarok Odyssey as a PS3 game doesn’t hold any significant improvements or surprises over its Vita sibling. But for fans that want to play on a bigger screen or simply those who are starved for a Monster Hunter style game on the PS3, it provides a decent—if graphically unimpressive—outlet for scratching that itch.