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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Role-Playing

 

Publisher

Eidos

 

Developer

Contrail

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Fall 2002

 

 

- A super deep battle system

- Strong character development...I like sacrificing a long list of playable characters for getting more in-depth with a smaller cast

- Good in-game/battle sounds and attention to detail   

- 30+ hours for me and I don't think I'm anywhere close to completion

 

 

- The graphics aren't jaw dropping

- The number of random battles can be tedious

- After seeing the same special art move 100 or so times...it gets repetitive and there is no way to shorten it.  Think some of the end of the game spells used by Sephiroth in FF7.

- Might be too hard for casual RPG gamers

 

 

Review: Grandia Xtreme (Playstation 2)

Review: Kingdom Hearts (Playstation 2)

Review: Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2)

 

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Legaia 2: Duel Saga

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

Consumers looking for solid role-playing games this holiday season will be happy to hear there is a pretty solid line of games.  This is even more surprising considering Final Fantasy XI is still months from release.  But topping the holiday RPG lists are Suikoden III, Wild Arms 3 (both of which are successors to successful games) and Squaresoft's Kingdom Hearts.

 

legaia-2-duel-saga-1.jpg (40584 bytes)          legaia-2-duel-saga-2.jpg (34283 bytes)

 

Straying a little farther from the hype is Legaia 2 Dual Saga, a game that I believe should join Suikoden, Wild Arms, and Kingdom Hearts as the cream of the crop.

 

There are a few things that I prefer to see in a RPG: length, storyline and character development.  I grew up playing RPGs on the Super Nintendo like Final Fantasy 2 and 3, Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire, and Earthbound, which placed a high emphasis on those aforementioned aspects.  I guess you can call me "old school" but the RPGs on the new consoles are impressing me less and less.  Final Fantasy X, for all the hype and high review scores, in my opinion was not up to par with the rest of the series and typified the RPGs of this era -- great looking and loaded with lots of cinematic sequences, but weak character development, a vague, unfulfilling ending, and a linear game route.

 

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Legaia 2 (for readers, I did not play the original on the Playstation in 1997) is a bit of a throwback.  I have logged three weeks into this game, and I still don't think I am close to the ending.  The first thing I can say about Legaia 2 is that it's hard.  I wouldn't say the game is impossible, but you better have some patience to build up your character levels.  Until you get a healer in your group, be prepared to use lots of potions to keep your HP high.  Luckily, after most battles you are given a decent number of items to replenish your lost supply.

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The reason for the difficulty is a high number of random battles.  I wouldn't say it is as bad as Final Fantasy 3, but on more than a few occasions I have said out loud "Can't I take more than five damn steps without getting in a battle?!"  Fortunately, the battle system is deep and fun.

 

Legaia 2 allows the gamer to take multiple hits at the enemy in their turn-based battle system, which is vaguely similar to Chrono Cross; but there are differences.  Whereas CC has percentages and different tiers of the power of the strike, Legaia uses the D-pad to select where you will strike the enemy.  For example, when your turn in the battle arises and when attack is selected, four options are available: up, down, left, and right.  As a result, the overall battle system of Legaia 2 is much, much deeper than not only Chrono Cross, but also most games on the market.

 

Although I didn't find that hitting certain enemies on one particular side was more effective than hitting it on another, if you use the right D-pad combination, it will unlock unique, more powerful arts moves.  I spent a good amount of time in the early portions of the game trying to unlock these art moves, as they are not given to you at the beginning of the game.  You have to find them in a "hit or miss" kind of way by guessing random D-Pad combinations.  As soon as you have a strong list of the art moves, you'll only use them in battle.

 

legaia-2-duel-saga-3.jpg (34173 bytes)          legaia-2-duel-saga-4.jpg (41496 bytes)

 

There are normal arts that add Art Points (AP) to your meter and super arts that take AP away, but are a stronger attack.  There are also even stronger hyper and variable arts and you can even combine arts with another character!  The game obviously has Japanese roots (I can't interpret it, but there is Japanese on the game cover) and I can't help but draw a line with Legaia 2's battle system -- which boasts vivid sounds of slashing swords and many bright flashing colors -- and a game like Street Fighter.

 

Aside from the barbaric slashing and hacking, each character has an origin, which I can best describe as being similar to the aeons from Final Fantasy 10.  They aren't as useful as the aeons, but still add another element to the battle scene.  There is also an emphasis placed on cooking and planting, as they will reward you with various trinkets and items if you invest the time.

 

The storyline is pretty good, but the characters are rather cliché.  I guess I haven't played an RPG that has had outstandingly unique characters, but a brief synopsis of the plot is this: Lang, the main character who at the beginning of the game is perceived as a lazy smart ass, lives in a small village called Nohl, which its very existence depends on this magical water crystal.  Avalon, the token bad guy, steals the water crystal and Lang decides to go after it.  I don't want to get into the details of the story, but there have been a few plot twists and many side quests in the 30+ hours I have logged playing the game.

 

Something I found very cool was the number of dialogue options available.  Although it will be interesting to see on my subsequent runs through the game if selecting a different dialogue option results in a different action, it's nice to see more of a selection than yes or no.  But the options are clearly defined...you can go about being the nice guy, the bad guy, or the wise guy.

 

The graphics in Legaia 2 were not impressive at all at first.  I thought they were similar to the original Dark Cloud, a game that is almost two years old.  But the graphics grew on me.  First off, the entire game is 3D and although the characters look a bit cartoonish and don't boast the level of detail seen in FFX, are differed enough to give each character their own look and feel.  The enemies are sort of hit or miss.  Some of the bigger bosses look really good, but others are pretty generic and jagged.

 

The level of detail placed on the little things in the game is also impressive, whether it be the rippling of the water of a stream, birds flying through the sky, or the swaying of trees.  The same level of detail is placed to the sounds.  The music was decent, but not great.

 

In summary, Legaia 2 is something that I believe the RPG genre on the PS2 really needs: a hardcore, difficult RPG that appeals to the gamers that grew up playing the classics on the SNES.  I don't know if I can put Legaia 2 on the same level as the Chrono Triggers or Final Fantasy 3s, but I believe it is one of top five RPGs on the PS2.

 

- Tim Martin

(December 28, 2002)

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