I play a PC game, I go in knowing that there’s a good chance that I’m
going to have to patch the game because my hardware configuration just
doesn’t jive with the title out of the box, or, unfortunately, the
publisher rushed it to market and the thing is a buggy pile of crap.
Now here I am with the PS2 version of Grandia, and boy was I
surprised to see a console game that was so horrifically technically
flawed that it makes most of the buggy piles of crap I’ve played on
the PC over the year look like works of art.
The game suffers from slowdown that drags the game to a
stuttering sluggish mess, clipping, and worst of all it has a tendency
to freeze up, requiring the PS2 to be reset.
The gameplay is still intact, but the technical problems present
in the Grandia II are so great that you’d be better off tracking down
a Dreamcast for cheap, then snag a copy of the DC version of the title.
It’ll cost about the same or a tad more, but at least you’ll
get a version of the game that works properly (not to mention you’ve
got a whole new library of games at your disposal).
The PS2 version of Grandia II is simply not worth getting.
The story is your typical “stop a great evil from reemerging and plunging the world into darkness” fair. There is a lot of character interaction and sub-plots to help add meat to the narrative’s bones, but most of what there is here is very hard to take seriously because it is so very, very clichéd. How many times are we supposed to put up with the honor-bound young priestess out in the world for the first time, or the wisecracking hero, or the gigantic, brawny, but loveable warrior. It’s standard comic book stylings, but it’s also another sign that developers really need to work on fresh, new story lines.
the art in Grandia II is reminiscent of the first game, with plenty of
detail to soak in and some fairly unique monster designs.
Character design also holds more variety than the norm, with more
types of characters seen wandering around than the usual sets of default
villagers and such that we often find in the genre.
What kills the graphics is the absolutely terrible slowdown that
plagues Grandia II. It’s
particularly bad in the cities and in the larger, more heavily populated
dungeons where the visuals can sometimes grind to a slideshow.
On a console this sort of thing is unacceptable, it’s to such a
level to make Gradius III on the SNES look silky smooth by comparison
(that’s a bad thing, a very bad thing).
Dragging the games
visual technical merit down from god-awful to “AH! MY EYES! WHAT IS
THIS!?!” is the clipping that shows itself again and again just while
walking around, but more noticeably when watching some of the spell
From an artistic standpoint, the visuals are pretty decent in a
comic book manner, but the technical problems totally ruin it.
isn’t so bad though. The
voice acting is actually tolerable for the most part, unlike most other
games. It doesn’t stand
above what else is out there in terms of acting, but at least it won’t
leave you rolling your eyes in disgust, wishing they had not even
bothered. The sound effects
are pretty nice with a tinge of an old school 16-bit flair to them from
time to time for a change of pace.
Music though was a bit disappointing.
There are some 80s styled guitar licks in the soundtrack that
just rub me the wrong way, but helping to cancel this out are some
decent orchestral tracks.
One other aspect of the game that needs addressing is the freezing that was encountered while playing. This had to be the most frustrating thing about the game. Grandia II uses save points, so you can’t save wherever you please. So, if you have to go through a two-hour sequence in the game, then all of a sudden the game freezes you’re stuck trudging through those same two hours again. The freezing problems just lead to playing in fear, worrying that you’ll have to repeat long sections in the game. This should never happen in a game.
It’s disappointing that these problems exist, this could have been an okay game. It had all the elements necessary to make most console RPG fans very happy with decent character and monster design, a pretty spiffy battle system, and some alright voice acting, but the technical flaws in the game, plus a weak story keep it from getting very far. If you really want to play this game, look into the Dreamcast version, this one should be avoided.
- Mr. Nash
(April 15, 2002)
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