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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | Grandia 2
    Grandia 2
The Dreamcast's second high-profile RPG makes for a fun (if familiar) adventure - Review By XianMrtyr
Page 2/2

This town's seen better days.
That's not to imply that the characterization in Grandia 2 isn't good already. In fact, Grandia 2's translation far surpasses that of the original Grandia. While the translation team mostly comprises the same people who worked on the original, the credits also list a new set of Dialogue Writers. I suspect that these are the people I have to thank for the fantastic, witty writing featured throughout the game. There are very few grammatical mistakes, most of which are somewhat esoteric (I only notice these things because I'm psychotically obsessive). The translation is well served by voice-overs that, for perhaps the first time since Panzer Dragoon Saga, are not embarrassingly amateurish.

In fact, all of the game's sounds and music are very professionally composed and created. The music, while nothing outstandingly memorable, suits its scenes well -- it's put to good use to set the atmosphere of the scenes. The sound quality is fantastic: in battle, the sound effects for attacks and spells are impressive, and each of the characters has a Lunar-esque spoken line to accompany his or her magical attacks. The battle music I could do without, though. I've never been a fan of 80s-style, hair-metal guitar solos, and unfortunately, the battles are thick with them. I'll simply say that even this guitary nonsense is still well crafted, although I don't think I'll be in much of a hurry to buy the soundtrack. The voice actors are reasonably good (and that's not surprising -- these people actually ARE actors, not just folks the company pulled in off the streets), but their delivery at times leaves something to be desired. Millenia is a generic sassy, spirited young girl, and her voice pops and squeaks until it grates across your nerves like nails down a chalkboard. The voice actor pulls this off admirably, but the characterization just doesn't live up to the quality of the actors. Ryudo is a snotty, rude jerk who... well, maybe it's time for me to jump over to the "Bad" section now...

  • The Bad
    Ah, that's better. Now then, where was I? Oh yeah -- while the writing is fantastic, intelligent, and grammatically correct (that alone puts it ahead of the original Grandia), the characters themselves are somewhat less stellar. The main character, Ryudo, is rude and unpleasant, in a way that makes me think the translators wanted a roguish, Han Solo-esque antihero, but couldn't quit pull off the "endearing" part. If you were just presented with the written text, you might not get such a negative impression of him. However, hearing Ryudo's tone when he speaks removes all doubt -- he's just an ass, no two ways about it. By the time the game attempts to make him sympathetic by expressing inexplicable feelings for Elena, whom he'd only just met, it's far too late; I just couldn't care about him or his problems. Elena is more interesting, but she's still just a caricature -- a privileged, but innocent, young girl with a bit of an aristocratic attitude to overcome. Skye is the wiser sidekick, the one whose advice the main character constantly ignores. Maybe it's just me, but I can't care about such cookie-cutter characters. This wouldn't bother me much if the story weren't also filled with cliches and predictability, but... it is. I love the Grandia world for providing a sense of history, but I'm sick and tired of RPGs wasting time explaining that the land is suddenly plagued by monsters. Reluctant heroes aiding waifish maidens just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

    See? He's an ass. A rather amusing one in this instance, but...
    While Grandia 2 improves upon the original in many ways, it reproduces a problem I clearly remember from the first game. Basically, the character pathfinding during battles is atrocious. Because the characters run around, getting into position for their attacks, all at once, they will often, especially in crowded battles, have to move out of one another's way. Several times my characters have had to run back and forth, trying to get past another character, only to run out of movement for that turn and not be allowed to attack. It's a minor annoyance; it doesn't happen often, but man, did it piss me off, just watching two characters try to run around one another while they're getting pounded by monsters.

    Another minor annoyance (I'm all about pet peeves): there's no first-person perspective mode in dungeons or in towns. Now, the original Grandia didn't have this, so there's no reason Grandia 2 should have it, either. However, some of the dungeons are designed so that, no matter how you maneuver the camera, you can't quite get a clear view of the scene or the monsters therein. This doesn't make sense -- why shouldn't you be able to see everything your character can see? If there were a first-person perspective in the same style as Skies of Arcadia, players could get a better idea of the dungeon layout.

    Most of the problems with the game are small, niggling concerns that shouldn't detract from most gamers' enjoyment. However, all of these problems were slightly magnified in my mind, because I expected Grandia 2 to show more improvement than it did. Grandia 2 suffers from too little innovation, too little change from the original formula. Grandia 2 is a pretty long game (62 hours here), but there isn't much room for exploration. There aren't a lot of secrets, and a dearth of side-quests cuts down the life of the game a bit. Combine this with a predictable story -- sure, there are twists along the way, but I guarantee that you can predict even the plot twists before they hit -- and generic dungeon puzzles, and you're left with a somewhat straightforward, if uninspiring gaming experience. Thank goodness for the fantastic battle system.

  • The Final Word
    If you can see your way past an obnoxious main character and a fairly linear gaming experience, you'll find a lot to enjoy in Grandia 2. The battle system surpasses that of any other RPG on the market, and you'll be going out of your way to hunt down innocent little monsters and deliver them to their final reward. The minor and incidental characters are all significantly more amusing and interesting than most of the major characters, and most of their dialogue is light, funny, and everything good RPG dialogue should be. It's a shame that the story is so straightforward; the game could stand to give players a little more freedom (or at least a little more reason) to explore the world Game Arts has created. While Grandia 2 succeeds in sustaining the quality of the original, it does little other than give an amazing facelift to the game that was first introduced on the Saturn. However, that's enough to warrant a purchase for most RPG fans; let's just hope the inevitable sequel shows a bit more innovation.

    Developer: Game Arts
    Publisher: Ubisoft
    Genre: RPG

    Highs: Excellent combat system, great graphics, decent character design, a passable attempt at voice acting.
    Lows: Plot lacks originality, uninteresting main characters, occasional pathfinding issues.
    Other: 1 Player, VMU compatible (9 blocks), VGA Box Compatible.


  • Intro (MPEG) - The intro has some decent CG and music. [Big (14.8M)] - [Small (8M)]
  • Gameplay 1 (MPEG) - Millenia appears, complete with questionable voice acting from all involved. [Big (18.8M)] - [Small (10.1M)]
  • Gameplay 2 (MPEG) - Two battles, with a little walk between them. [Big (16.6M)] - [Small (9M)]
  • Final Score:

    (out of a possible 10)

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