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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
© 2002 Fresh Games