|Mild Animated Violence, Mild Language
| The Good
Pretty good scripting and voiceacting
Skills/magic system are nicely done
| The Bad
Story is fairly run of the mill and the quest is
Suffers from glitches and slowdown
Grandia 2 is the tale of Ryudo, a Geohound (mercenary),
and his talking hawk, Skye. The story begins as the two are
hired to escort the princess Elena to a ceremony. When something
odd happens at the ceremony, Elena is cursed by the Wings
of Valmar, part of the ancient diety Valmar, who is considered
a force of evil. From this point, Ryudo agrees to take Elena
to the Cathedral of Granas, where she can hopefully be cured.
Along the way, they come across a variety of allies and towns
likewise cursed by pieces of Valmar. Grandia 2 is packed
to the brim with the standard moral and religious plays that
litter the common RPGs nowadays.
While the story itself is fairly run of the mill, one of
the strengths is the script. Conversations are written out
fairly well and Ryudo just makes me laugh. He's got that rough
charm that very few heros in RPGs recently have. He's a man
after my own heart. To go along with the story is the occasional
voice-acted scene. Fans of anime will find most of the voices
familiar. While the voice acting is done well, I will have
to admit that it often feels disjointed. Only occasional scenes
actually get voice acting and there seems to be no standard
reasoning behind why the scene gets a vocal treatment.
Where the game really stands out is when you go into a dungeon
or travel from town to town. There are no random encounters.
Monsters walk about on screen and you can avoid them if you
wish (although, some times that's harder done than said).
Dungeons are more than walking from point A to point B, although
some of the switch hitting does seem to lack any puzzle qualities.
And there's combat, which provides a fresh breath of air for
those who tire of the "stand in two lines and pick options
while waiting your turn" of most RPGs. Grandia 2 uses
a time-based combat on an area where you characters can move
about, attack, dodge, counter enemy attacks and even cause
enemies to lose their attacks. A lot of the battle is based
on timing your attacks to land before the enemy's do. Instead
of just pressing a button to keep attacking, you will often
need to plan your attacks depending on when the enemies get
their next attack.
Along with the exceptional combat is an skill and magic system
that allows a bit of development freedom. After defeating
enemies, you gain not only experience points and gold, but
Magic Coins and Special Coins, which can be used to purchase
either the character's special attacks, skills from books,
or spells from Magic Eggs, which need to be equiped to be
used. This variety of options allows you to make character's
faster, stronger physically, or loaded with powerful magic.
The player can choose to attach a variety of useful skills
to boost HPs, strength or even the power of certain magics.
This review can't be complete without mentioning the graphics
and the conversion from the original Dreamcast game. Graphically,
the game looks decent. None of the graphics are going to wow
you. The cities are fairly large and decently detailed. CG
cutscenes and special effects are done Well, but nothing too
over the top. In comparison to the Dreamcast version, though,
the game looks rather mediocre. Also, the PS2 version does
seem to suffer some minor, yet nagging bugs. When finishing
a battle, the experience gained screens turn transparent for
a few seconds and then return to normal. Also, certain spells
and attacks seem to lose or gain textures and effects during
the animations. One of the biggest problems is the presence
of slow-down when just walking through a town or during a
conversation. Often, if there are more than a few moving (or
sometimes standing) characters on scene, the game slows to
a sluggish pace. When this happens, the whole game goes into
slow-mo, leaving the player begging for the end of the scene
or a way out of the town.
Grandia 2 also suffers from the dreaded linearity
that has been the roadbump to so many other RPGs. The game
progresses by walking from one town to the next, with the
occasional forest or dungeon to travel through. There is no
overworld, but rather a map from which the player chooses
the next location to move to.
All in all, Grandia 2 is a decent RPG with a refreshing
battle system. If you own a Dreamcast, avoid the graphic problems
and get it for that console. If you don't, at least rent the
PS2 version first. The slow down and graphical glitches aren't
enough to ruin the game, but don't help in making it a "must-buy".
With a more inventive story and less linearity, Grandia
2 would be a much better game.