Origins...twenty years previous...It's got it's high points, it's got its low points, but nowhere does it fall flat.

User Rating: 8.8 | Baten Kaitos II: Hajimari no Tsubasa to Kamigami no Shishi GC
Opening...this thought...tis a solid game. (Also, I'm writing this from the stand point of having played the first one, I'll do my best to write from a fresh perspective, but if you are confused by some of the in-game references, please read a review of the first, or go get the first game)

Alright, what you're in for is a completely re-vamped version of Baten Kaitos: EWLO. Same three character battle setup, same magnus deck, same awesomely vibrant graphics, same world and continents, but different battle SYSTEM, vastly different storyline, new characters, new level and class advancement system.

Ok, that was the nut shell summary of what's new and what's not. Now onto the full review.

The game starts off with a young boy of 15 named Sagi, with you playing the part of his heart-dwelling-guardian spirit, twenty years prior to Kalas and his adventure to put down Malpercio's reborn form. Yet, the storyline in Origins is just as brilliant as the first. Granted with the twenty years previous factor constantly reverberating in your mind, there aren't many things they can do by way of altering how the story has to end, but getting there is an adventure that will be hard to forget. There are plot twists, plot alterations, and complete plot drop offs. There are times where you'll think you've got the story down, only to have your theory dashed upon the rocks of reality. There will be times where you'll stat second guessing your dearest main characters...wondering what their true motives are....wondering what intrigue they could possibly be hiding. Yet through out it all, the storyline goes and does an amazing job of constantly grabbing you right when you're at that point of wondering "what could possibly happen next, to change the road they're heading down?"

The characters become companions just as in the first one; you follow them, you create for them, you create with them, and you, playing the part of Sagi's guardian spirit, actually affect how well your deck flows from draw-to-draw. You're there with them, fully into what is going on. And, if you played the first title, you watch in horror as parts of the first storyline's past suddenly unfold before your eyes...with you just able to watch and not being able to stop it. That is one of the beautiful things about this game....the storyline will have you by the entrails and throw you around like a rag doll with its twists and turns. Yet it won't let you go, just as much as you won't want it to, until you see it through to the end.

It is truly one of the most interactive RPGs of it's time, and quite possibly ever. One of the big differences, and one I think is very good, is the Magnus system has changed. You're now able to upgrade you weapons like you were in the first, but instead of your newly fire-enhanced sword slowly losing it's flame, your upgraded weapon is stalwart and unwavering. The upgraded weapons never lose what you've put into them, which is a nice addition, as there's no more hoping that you've still got the right sword to do the job. If you had the sword, and you've not junked it, you'll still have it when you need it.

Now, the battle system and deck setup is probably the one thing that has the most obvious changes. You no longer have a seperate deck per character. You have one deck to use for all three characters, the difference lies in the fact that you can build many other decks, so you can have a deck specific to fighting fire, ice, dark, or light...you just build it with the appropriate magnus weapons and special moves. This is both a good and bad thing, as you no longer USE the elemental sword of light, you just equip it and use attack cards that will have light attributes attatched to them. The good and bad comes from this: it's good because it cuts down the fighting time for easy everyday battles, and can actually help beat bosses quicker and with more efficency. The bad steps in as the form of non-comprehension, because for people new to the game or who don't quite catch onto the durability of equip weapons, deck building and management can get you lost and in big trouble as you'll soon find yourself frantically discarding cards to get to the attack cards lost within the shuffle.

Another welcome addition to the battle system comes in the form of combo attacks, where you can actually link certain attacks and special attacks together to create a massive chain reaction of pain on a targeted enemy. These chained attacks are called EX combos and are recorded in a specific area of the pause menu to see how you can use them again and build a deck for that single purpose. The other added aspect of battling, is the "relay combo" where you are actually able to link all three characters attacks together instead of a single players EX combo, Relay combos come a lot easier as the game progresses and you start understanding how to accomplish them. This is actually where boss battles and normal battles start taking less and less time.

Other than those main changes, the graphics are still just as brilliant and gorgeous as the first, and granted they reused some of the old renders and cities, but then again, you are still in the same time period, so it's not like they could have changed much. You get to see a few familiar faces and characters from the first one, they make some very interesting cameos, and some even play vital roles in the storyline.

The sound is once again amazing....the scores that they have are absolutely awesome! You'll hear some familiar stuff. For instance, the battle score is very much the same, with a few changes, as is many of the town and city background soundtracking, but if you were a fan of the first one, you'll love it all the more for bringing you back into the world you came to cherish.

The gameplay is as smooth as any Namco or Bandai RPG you've ever played....there are many many side quests to keep you busy, ranging from re-building a city, to helping people find animals, to just giving someone an apple. There are all kinds of things to discover too, upgrade combos, Ex combos, quest magnus combos, and the beastiry...tons and tons of things to keep you busy while you're trying to save the world!

Honestly, if you loved the first one, I can't stress enough how much you'll enjoy this one, even with the changes...you'll have to get used to them and at first you might even fight them, but you'll accept them and start enjoying the possibilities that the changes have opened up to you.

All in all, Origins is a great game, maybe not as good as the first, but definately a great addition to the series and wonderful addition to any gamers library!

Hope you enjoyed this!

Peace and Mercy!

Ty

P.S. I only stress this...for all newcomers and fellow lovers of this game. IT IS DIFFICULT. It is very trying on the area of patience and will tax your wits to the very end...this is due to the uped levels of enemies and fiends...though if played correctly and thoroughly, it shouldn't pose too much of a problem....just follow this simple rule...if you think you've over leveled your party...you haven't.