What a tragedy it is for me to be sitting here and writing this review. More often than not I choose to keep my opinions about games to myself, (after all, they are only opinions) but occasionally something some gross and distasteful comes along prohibiting my tongue from further silence. Grandia 2 is by far the most disappointing PS2 game to be released so far in 2002, and it would not be stretching to say for the rest of the PS2's life cycle. In one fell swoop Game Arts and Ubi Soft have lost credibility with me as a fan. Grandia 2 for the PS2 is the shabbiest port of an RPG ever made and cannot even be mentioned in the same breath as its Dreamcast cousin or even that of its PORTED PlayStation predecessor. As an obvious attempt to make a quick buck off of RPG suckers like me, Grandia 2 will go down to be the most disrespectful port of a game ever.
Before I continue with my complete and utter destruction of this game, let me start by saying there are still some very nice things about Grandia 2. The excellent fast paced battles of the first game have returned and have received a great deal more depth thanks to the innovative 3D camera. A nice spell and attack system gives each character a little customization and individuality to make the fighting quite enjoyable.
Unfortunately this is where anything good about the game comes to an end and where Grandia 2 is utterly trounced by numerous problems. Usually, since graphics are a different beast and not really relevant to gameplay I try not to mention them here, but in this case the two are so closely intertwined that I cannot make such a distinction.
Those of you who have played the Dreamcast version of the game know that the battles were aided by the blazingly fast graphics on screen that created a sense of excitement and action in battle. Well that is totally destroyed in the battlefield of the PS2 version by poor frame rates whenever something gets a little hairy. Instead of moving at lightning speed the characters respond at a snail’s pace, interrupting the sense of urgency and realism of the battles on the original. A little slow down can be expected when things get too hectic but this is just inexcusable. Battles will become much more of a chore than they should and you will find yourself dreading them as a boring part of the game. The rest of the gameplay is fairly straightforward and not really innovative. You fight, collect items and money, fight some more, etc. I realize most RPG's are set up this way, but there has been enough innovation the last couple of years to help this problem along. Oh well.
Grandia 2 on the Dreamcast was a texture monster and clearly showed just how beautiful Sega's little system could be. The brightness and color of the original just seemed to scream out at you and really compelled you to play such a charming-looking game. Alas, this is not so on the PS2, not by a long shot. Grandia 2 has to feature what are, hands down, the worst textures of any PlayStation 2 game. Blurry, drab and dark are good words to describe them now, but after playing I'm sure you could find some yourself. Many times during the course of the game I found myself wondering why I was playing a PlayStation game only to realize that I was actually playing a PlayStation 2 game yearning for forgotten times.
Seriously, these graphics lack any sort if qualities to make you think it is 128bit. This may have been ok back in 97 on the PSX, but this is 2002 and I've seen BGDA and FFX, so I know what systems are capable of. I realize ports don't come out as well even on superior systems, but there is no excuse for this. Add in some bad aliasing and poor character animation and you have got yourself one ugly looking game.
You know I really used to like Ronnie James Dio and other 80's metal heroes, but I had to accept that their time had come and gone. Why, then, does GameArts not recognize the fact that horribly synthed guitars and screaming vocals have had their time, however short, in RPG's? You'll find yourself thinking you are battling Flash Man from Mega Man 2 instead of playing a next-gen RPG. Really, it's that bad. The voice acting IS a lot better than the first American release but that isn't really saying much. Still it is tolerable.
Grandia 2 was never known for its great story, but it is adequate and keeps you wanting to play. Even though it’s quite predictable at times, it still reads fairly well and is much more conducive to thought than that of the translation of the first Grandia. While nowhere near the level of Final Fantasy X or Chrono Cross, it does at least get the job done. The humor seems to have come across the sea intact, but it is much sparser than that of the first Grandia.
If you have played Grandia 2 on the Dreamcast, don't buy this game. If you have not played Grandia 2 on the Dreamcast, do not buy this game. If you really must buy this game, do so only so that you may burn it and throw it at GameArts’ HQ to let them know how disgusted you are with their lack on effort on this port. In other words, stay far, far away from this game, as it is a complete waste of time, money and FFX playing.