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Playstation 2






Ubi Soft






T (Teen)



Q1 2002


- Decent character and monster design

- Tolerable voice acting

- Spiffy battle system



- Terrible graphical flaws

- The game freezes

- Clichéd story



Review: Grandia Xtreme (Playstation 2)

Review: Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)



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Grandia II

Score: 5.5/10

When 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.

grandia-ii-ps2-1.jpg (16110 bytes)          grandia-ii-ps2-2.jpg (19161 bytes)

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.

Visually 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 effects.  From an artistic standpoint, the visuals are pretty decent in a comic book manner, but the technical problems totally ruin it.




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Sound 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.


The center of the game though is its battle system.  Like the first it runs on a time meter where party members and the attacking monsters are put on a timeline and they travel up it in accordance with their speed and readiness.  Upon reaching the decision making point in the line players must choose that character’s actions, be it attacking, magic, or using an item.  After this their icon must get to the end of the line for them to perform their order.  However, they can get knocked down the line by powerful attacks, screwing up your strategy.  The one problem that really makes this all for not is that the magic is too powerful in the game.  Be it a spell that hits everyone, a group of enemies, or just one, these arcane attacks can mop the floor with the enemies, so all you really need to do is blast a spell off, then have the melee fighters come in and bat clean up and you're done.  The magic even takes away from the boss battles as it really does a number on them too.

grandia-ii-ps2-3.jpg (16178 bytes)          grandia-ii-ps2-4.jpg (18918 bytes)

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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