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2: Immortal Souls
Score: 8.7 / 10
After playing Otogi 2: Immortal Souls and
then re-reading my review of the original I find that I have pretty much
the same opinion of Otogiís sequel, only more so.
Everything about Otogiís sequel has been cranked up a notch or two Ė six
playable characters, bigger and more spectacular enemies, destruction on
a wide scale, more game modes Ė but the story and presentation often
made me feel like a I wandered into a foreign art house film, somewhere
in the middle of the reel and find that there are no subtitles. What
Otogi 2 fails to make clear to my poor Western mind, it more than makes
up for by sheer action and pyrotechnics.
The hero from the first game, Raikoh, returns from the dead at the
self-sacrifice of a small group of warriors and sets out to banish
demons and purify each game environment (as far as I can figure). To
face this challenge, Raikoh has the
ďassistanceĒ of six other warriors that run
the usual gamut of gaming character stereotypes: the tank-like Kintoki
that can throw enemies to the agile but weak Sadamitsu to the wizard-esque
Suetake who has access to the most powerful spells, and so on.
Predictably, Raikoh is the balanced character and probably the one that
will get the most use.
As in the first game, before each mission you
have the chance to equip your characters with an array of weaponry,
visit the shop for spells and accessories (keeping that light
role-playing game flavor), and pick a character for the next mission.
From Software did something extremely smart with the character roster:
Itís unlocked right from the beginning. (Though sometimes you canít pick
a character for a mission.)
The characters donít control much differently from one another. Though
their attributes and abilities are different, the control scheme stays
consistent. This eliminates any frustration that might have been present
if a new setup was required learning for each character. And just
because itís simple that way, that doesnít make the combat any less
engrossing or fun. Unleashing a wicked combo mid-air for almost a minute
at a time never gets tired Ė a problem that the original suffered from
to some extent.
Part of the reason the combat never gets tired is the great visual
package From Software has put together. Most everything has a
mystical/magical/dream-like quality with plenty of eye candy,
particularly with some of the spells. Otogi 2 seems to feature more
destructible elements in the environment Ė you just canít help by slash
things just for the sake of seeing how they explode and shatter. For the
most part, the action moves at a solid rate without any stuttering but
in some of the more packed environments things do slow down when thereís
a lot happening on-screen. Part of me thinks this was intended to
heighten the drama but the game reviewer part of my brain (that part
shaped like a turnip just to the left of the hypothalamus) wants to say
the engine just canít keep up. Considering that Otogi 2 is mostly
wall-to-wall action these areas of slowdown donít occur that often.
There are instances of the camera being completely blocked by scenery or
other obstructions but because the camera is pretty easy to maneuver
(with the right stick) these instances donít become a crippling problem.
Besides the story/campaign mode, Otogi 2 offers some additional modes
and bonus missions that essentially let you practice with each
Amazingly enough a title that comes to mind when playing Otogi 2 is
BloodRayne 2. Although they differ in many respects (a couple I can
think of right off the bat) stylish action comes through in both Ė but
from Japanese and American backgrounds Ė and both games stand on their
Action fans owe it to themselves to play Otogi 2: Immortal Souls. Donít
be fooled by its art house sensibility Ė this is non-stop action and it
has everything you want, plus a little extra.