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Platform: PlayStation 2 Publisher: Eidos/Fresh Games
Genre: Turn-Based RPG Developer: Prokion
Format: CD-ROM Released: 10/11/02

Reader Review
12/09/02
Dave W.
Reader Review

Having recently finished the excellent Kingdom Hearts, I was looking for a more traditional RPG to sink my teeth into. As it turned out, I couldn't have picked a better game than Legaia 2: Duel Saga.

Since I didn't play Legend of Legaia, I wasn't sure what to expect from Legaia 2. I was pleased to find a solid and enjoyable RPG. The game centers around a group of "mystics". These people are the same anybody else except for unsightly birthmarks that grant them the ability to call on "origins"(basically summon monsters).

After three sacred stones are stolen from the Source Forge, it's up to the group of mystics to return the stones and restore the balance of power to their planet.

Gameplay: 80%

The battle system of Legaia 2 is turn based, with a spicy twist added in. It's been given the catchy name of "Tactical Arts System". The basic premise is that a certain pattern of button presses will turn into an "arts" move. There are even four different categories of arts to be used: Normal Arts, Super Arts, Hyper Arts, and Variable Arts. I found that the best tactic to using this system proficiently is to build up the AP (art points) gauge with normal arts moves and then let fly with the more deadly super, or hyper arts. Variable arts are a bit trickier to acquire, but they pack a mean punch when used.

Truth be told, I wasn't too thrilled about the arts system at first. But it gradually grew on me during the early stages of the game. Filling out the characters repertoire of moves makes battles more interesting, as various different combinations of attacks can be carried out.

On the equipment and weapon side of things, Legaia 2 has a rather nifty feature. Each piece of equipment that the character has on at the moment will inflict different attributes. Some are useful, while others will hamper the character in battle. This forces the player to think a little bit before equipping new gear. Also, equipment can be combined with certain items to produce something new and improved.

During gameplay, a third person vantage point is used, but unfortunately, the camera isn't rotateable. Although it was sometimes a minor annoyance, I noticed it sparsely throughout the game.

One last thing to mention about gameplay is being able to cook meals at save points. I never thought that this feature would be of much use at first, but that changed with due course. I found that it was incredibly useful, seeing that it can boost the various attributes of the characters. As silly as it sounds, I was searching for new recipes and ingredients at every opportunity.

Graphics: 84%

Legaia 2 looks good, no bones about it. The various locales visited during the course of the game all look vibrant, especially the larger towns. Dungeons are easy on the eyes as well. From underground ruins, to dusty desert canyons, each one looks pretty. The overworld map is easy to navigate and has a spacious layout. It looks fine, with some nice detail present.

Character designs look fairly decent, but there aren't any that jump out as especially cool looking. Some of the main bad guys look like they've been salvaged out of the "Lame Evil Doer" reject bin. (Doplin and Bubba spring to mind) While others resemble hardened criminals. (Avalon, Velna) Lang's band of merry mystics is a traditional mixed bag of characters. Lang looks like your typical sword-wielding hero. Maya is a timid young girl who starts off the game unable to speak. Kazan has the role of the old, but wise mentor. Sharon is a sassy, treasure hungry ex-pirate. Ayne looks like an overgrown ogre, and doesn't have much to say.

Character animation looks dandy in battle, but outside of fighting, it's a completely different story. It looks smooth and fluent smashing enemies (Maya even busts out some funky looking hand gestures while casting magic). But Lang looks like a robot walking around towns and dungeons and his movements during cut scenes are mostly jerky and irregular.

In a somewhat surprising move, Legaia 2 contains no CG cut scenes whatsoever. Every cinema is carried out with the in game graphics engine, which is fine by me.

Story: 75%

The plot of Legaia 2 starts off at a plodding pace but gradually picks up steam along the way. What begins as a normal day in the life of Lang, (the main character) soon turns ugly. The militia he belongs to, the Vigilance Corps, takes a savage beating at the hands of a mysterious rogue. After he wipes the floor with the Corps, the no-goodnik swipes Nohl's (the town Lang lives in) all-important Aqualith. Nohl depends on the Aqualith to keep its lake full of water and if the lake dries up, the town is pretty much toast. So it's a tad important that the shiny, blue, stone is returned. Like the upstanding citizen that he is, Lang ventures off in search of the precious Aqualith to save his hometown.

Soon after his journey begins, Lang encounters Maya, a young magic user, and Kazan, a wily old timer. The trio quickly develops a comradeship after discovering that they are each "mystics". This is just a fancy way of saying that they can summon an "origin" to help out in dungeons and battles. The group recruits two other mystics: the salty sea biscuit Sharon, and muscle bound Ayne. The backstories of these two are so meagerly under-developed that they seem tacked on and hardly fit in with Lang, Maya and Kazan as believable characters. Lang and Maya's characters are developed nicely, while Sharon and Ayne are extremely bland and remain unchanged. Kazan would fall somewhere in between these two pairs.

Legaia 2's dialogue leaves a little something to be desired. It does make sense, but often times it had the characters sounding like high school history textbooks. While on other occasions, dim-witted morons.

Plot originality is not one of Legaia 2's strong points. Unfortunately the plot is rigidly linear, not giving the player much of a choice where to go next to advance the story. It's also fairly easy to tell where the storyline is going due to basic insight and over explanative foreshadowing. As you might have guessed, the story is simple and straightforward. Even though, the plot does have strong points as well. Characters banding together and overcoming obstacles in their path play an important role, and is always satisfying to witness.

Sound/Music: 71%

For the amount of time the characters are screeching in battle, the voice acting should have been a good deal better. You will have the pleasure of listening to grunting and groaning and/or witty banter -every single time- a) you are attacked b) someone attacks you c) an arts move is performed d) an enemy is defeated e) the battle is finished. This had me frantically grabbing for the remote to turn the volume down for every battle I encountered. It's not that the voice acting is bad, (it's average by all accounts), but the sheer repetition is the main culprit.Other than that, the sound affects are nicely done. Footsteps, rain, and thunder all sound like they should in real life. I especially liked the background noise in the Freecity of Kravia because it replicated the sounds of a bustling town authentically.

Legaia 2's music gets the job done, but at times it's lackluster. It can be hit or miss; at certain times it conveys emotion, while on other occasions it's simply noise in the background. I thought the best music was used during the final boss battle. It was suspenseful and eerie, just the way it should be for the finale.

Overall: 79%

I usually get demolished whenever I get to the final boss. In Legaia 2, it was I who did the demolishing (with zero leveling up). Noting this, I have a hard time saying that this game is tough. The difficulty slowly ramps up, so even RPG novices should be able to beat Legaia 2.

Gamers looking for something bursting with originality should probably steer clear of this title, as it doesn't stray from the tried and true RPG formula. Nothing about Legaia 2 really stands out as a trailblazing achievement or a new, unique concept. Even so, the game is still worth the time it takes to play. Just don't expect to be blown away, because you probably won't be.



Back

© 2002 Fresh Games
Graphics: 84%
Sound: 71%
Gameplay: 80%
Control: N/A
Story: 75%
Overall: 79%

Reviews Grading Scale

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The Arts system in action.

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Love is in the air...

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The graphics aren't exaclty cutting edge, but they get the job done.

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Spell effects are serviceable.

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