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Tales of Destiny II

Publisher: Namco Developer: Namco
Reviewer: FIGHTER! Released: 09/19/01
Gameplay: 85% Control: N/A
Graphics: 75% Sound/Music: 69%
Story: 70% Overall: 79%


Two worlds, two different races, separated by time and space are about to collide... While this sounds like a cheap script by George Lucas, I'm serious here, these two worlds are literally about to collide! In Tales of Destiny 2, heroes from both worlds must come together to wage a battle on the dark force that threatens to make their worlds an Eternia sandwich! The story begins in the land of Inferia, a land ruled by a longstanding kingdom, which has been without war for over 500 years.

The story's main hero, Reid Hershel, is a self-trained hunter/swordsmen whose only dream in life is to live quietly and continue to stuff himself day after day. While out on a food run in the forest, he encounters the cliché female childhood friend, Farah Oersted, a farmhand who just happens to pack as much punch as Bruce Lee after studying in a temple of monks. While conversing in the forest lookout tower, a strange light appears in the sky and invites itself to smash through the lookout tower holding them both. After Reid picks himself up, he discovers Farah beside a wrecked flying craft and a young girl, Meredy as well as her furry Pokemon reject companion Quikie, before the craft explodes. I suppose she didn't put the tray into a full and upright position before landing.

Unforunatly for Reid and Farah, Meredy can only speak in a strange foreign language (no habla Inferian). Can they both succeed in helping Meredy with her mission? Who's causing the threat to Eternia? Can Reid ever dress like a male (he's wearing a halter-top for crying out loud)? Tales of Destiny 2's 1-4 player gameplay alone makes the game worth a look; read on to find out why.

Let's start with the story. Your entire quest is mostly just you searching for the Great Cramels, elemental spirits who seem to have the power to keep the two worlds from colliding. While it's an interesting framework, they really don't do much with it, and 80% of your time is nothing more than a hunt for these guys. Now, if your characters were interesting, this might not be too bad, but they really don't develop at all. Everyone is so clichéd and predictable that you could care less whether they lived or died… all except Max. Max packs more heat then an LA Swat Team, and has the personality and self-control of THE TICK. If there were any good points in the game, they were thanks to him.

Anyway, aside from the cookie-cutter cast and bland story, there are also a few loose ends left unanswered in the ending, plus a real lack of back story. In short, the story is nothing you can't find in your average RPG.

Music falls under the same category. While there is a decent variety in music for different areas, including multiple boss and overworld themes, none of the stuff is that good. Every song fits the area and sets the mood, but none of it is so complex that an amateur couldn't have composed it. Expect some RPG filler that really isn't worth getting the soundtrack to. However, the sound score is only hurt for just having typical music. What really elbowed it in the ribs was the VA.

The director of the voice acting needs to be loaded into a cannon and blasted into space for the job he did. While playing this game, I would have bet money all the voices where done by a computer, but sadly for the rest of us these human beings still posses a voice box and are willing to use it. ToD2 characters speak MANY of their lines, but sadly they never seem to change tone. This leeches the emotion from any scene they may be in and thus hurting the story. Reid for example, would have the same tone of voice if you were to rocket kick him in the crotch that he would from stuffing himself full of his favorite food.

Thankfully, like you would wish for your parents, the VA comes with an OFF button. The text is good enough on its own, to be honest. As for the usual sound effects, there really weren't any worth mention.

They could have made it 3-D… polygonal… they have the technology… but Namco went along with the traditional 2-D spite based graphics, which thankfully were eye pleasing. The map, however, is a decent 3-D environment, which is a great improvement over its prequel, which was badly structured and grainy in appearance.

The outer world is well composed with a map for easy navigation, which is wonderful considering you're going to hoof it for a large amount of the game.

The game provides not only a well-drawn anime opening, but a number of full motion video cut scenes throughout the bulk of the game. Sadly, the FMVs are short and limited to early system quality environment introduction scenes or a 5 second explosion of some sort, the best of which was a semi-interesting ending scene.

ToD characters have taken a note from Charles Darwin and have managed to grow legs proportionate to their torsos and heads that can be supported by the normal human frame. In other words, they've done away with the super-deformed characters and gone with a more human-shaped cast. The characters' clothing looks for the most part human and fits for its times with a few exceptions. Reid apparently feels that his sports bra is all the rage for swordsmen, but Keele manages to dress right according to his class. Don't all magic users dress like altar boys? While the 2-D graphics and colors make a strong stand against the current wave of games hitting the market, I would have loved to see good 3-D combat which brings us to the yummy meat and potatoes of the ToD2… gameplay.

While the rest of the game's qualities where relatively lukewarm, Tales of Destiny 2's gameplay proves to be hotter then the first model PlayStation after two hours of gameplay. Tales of Destiny 2's main strength is within its 1-4 player, 2-D fast action side scrolling combat system. As I mentioned in the story, you spend most of your time searching for the greater Craymels, which all reside in dungeons varying in difficulty. Nearly all of these dungeons are near nicely sized towns, which provide all of your basic RPG norms: weapons and armor, inns, food, items, and the occasional NPC required to move the story along.

Now the world of Eternia is lacking serious pest control, so it's naturally filled with a good sized variety of monsters that don't exactly like you. In battle, one to four of the game's characters are thrown into the side-scrolling battlefield. While playing solo with your preferred character, you're going to have to be concerned with keeping not only yourself out of danger, but your other party members as well. Surprisingly, ToD2's AI system is not only effective, but customizable as well. You can program your friends to do anything from attacking the weakest enemy with regular attacks, or focus on the farthest, strongest monsters with their most point consuming special attacks.

There is a wide variety of battle "personalities" you can assign your characters. Depending on what you program them to do, magic using allies will heal you depending on how healthy you are. These settings range from curing any minor poke or prod to waiting for you to be nearly gone before doing anything about it. While many creatures are capable of getting off a number of shots at your party, the main threat comes not from the strength of monsters but the number of them. The tide of the battle can quickly turn if you take repeated hits from both sides, and even the weakest attack can interrupt a vital attack or healing spell. And they are not shy about outnumbering you.

Another added bonus: if you feel your battles are getting easy (do you feel lucky, punk?) you have the option of cranking up the difficulty of monsters from your menu at any point.

Melee attackers like Reid and Farach gain special moves from practicing physical attacks like thrust, slash, punch or kick. Repetition of these skills will teach you new moves once you reach a certain point on each move's usage meter. A bit to my disappointment in Reid's case, many of his "new" moves are merely upgraded versions of his old attacks or combinations of two previous ones. Not to say they're ineffective, but a bit more variety wouldn't hurt. Also, a few characters like Max have to reach certain points in the story to gain their special moves.

The magic system is a bit more complicated though. Basically, it involves collecting Greater Craymels and locking them in either Keele or Meredy's craymel cage. Once a Craymel is inside a cage, the cage's owner can fuse him with Craymels in the other cage to get spells. Over time, your Craymels gain levels, and the higher the level, the more fusion possibilities there are. Each spell has its own element associated with it, as do the Craymels, and whichever character holds the Craymel with the base element gets the spell. Of course, moving either the base Craymel or the fused Craymel causes you to lose the spell. Each cage can hold up to six Craymels, and since each Craymel can be fused more than once, you can end up getting a nice variety of spells for both characters.

ToD2 contains a fair number of mini games that are either woven into the story or are completely optional. Either way the mini games are very mundane and prove to be of little or no value. Stopping a train in time to deliver mail or keeping Meredy in the spotlight while she busts a move isn't very exciting.

Like in the previous Tales games, Reid and his friends have the option of packing a lunch before fighting evil for the day. But this time around, your party must learn to cook their food before they eat it. To solve this culinary problem, the party is assisted by the Great Wonder Chef, who would have ousted Emeril if it weren't for his odd tendency to disguise himself as flowers, piggy banks and other miscellaneous objects for the party to discover. After finding the wonder chef in his several hiding places throughout Eternia, the party learns how to cook certain dishes. With the proper ingredients, which can be found or purchased, the party can prepare meals that can do anything from restoring health and magic power to removing bad statuses and adding favorable ones.

Overall Tales of Destiny 2 is average, pure and simple. With only good gameplay to make note of, it's safe to say this is definitely for the fans of the series. Fortunately, it's worth the rent if you're into multi-player RPG combat! Multiplayer combat is good...but not as good as Swords!

FIGHTER!

The characters now have more voice acting.

The battle system is much like in ToD, but there are some changes.







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