I didn't play the first Magna Carta on the PS2, so when the game's product manager started to tell me about the new revamped battle system in Manga Carta II, my frame of reference was a little insufficient. But after seeing the real-time/turn-based hybrid in action, I started to get the gist of it.
You have three playable characters in your on-screen party at any given time, and you can switch direct control between them at will. As your characters attack (the other two will run on automated behavior presets), they'll use up a stamina gauge that, when depleted, activates an “Overdrive” state that increases damage dealt by 50 percent. Where it gets tricky is switching to another character while in Overdrive...that creates a chain effect, putting the new character into Overdrive and boosting the damage to 100 percent the original amount. You can only chain it once for a maximum of double damage, but the timing has to be right, otherwise Overdrive becomes “Overheat” and the character has to take a breather before resuming battle.
Magna Carta II English Debut Trailer
I asked what the inspiration was for switching up the battle system so dramatically, and they said the reasoning wasn't player feedback or anything of the sort. The development team just got tired of slow combat that can be common in RPGs and wanted to “try something new.” The same reasoning, coincidentally, was applied to the decision of using Unreal Engine 3.0 and putting it on the 360 for worldwide release (August 6th in Japan, Q4 for the U.S.).
Conceptually, it reminded me very much of Phantasy Star Online, but less loot-intensive and self-contained in an offline, single-player disc. There wasn't time to get into the details, but there will be character classes (melee, ranged, magic, etc.), skill trees, and upgradeable armor, weapons, and accessories for all. Sounds like a good time to spend a late night to me.