First Impressions: It's about time they started giving us some good RPG games!
In a couple of weeks, Ubi Soft and Game Arts are presenting PlayStation 2 owners with one of the most highly anticipated, highly adored, and highly purchased Dreamcast titles. This game being Grandia II is on its way over due to the popularity that the title received one year ago. For those game players who haven't had the chance to play the Dreamcast version, or may want to check out the improved graphics, and the all-new CG footage within the game, then this sequel may just be the perfect title to ask your parents for this Christmas.
Same as the Dreamcast's story, you'll start out in the game as the character Ryudo, a Geohound (a type of mercenary). Your task as Ryudo is to escort a beautiful Princess, Elena, to a ceremony, so that her goal to halt the return of the God of Darkness Valmar is successful. Just like many RPG games before it, there's much more to the story than just a single trip to stop the ultimate evil, as the characters will end up finding danger, love, and new friends to tag along with them in the journey to save the world. For those Dreamcast owners who are already familiar with the game's plot, you may be interested to know that there is new movie footage -- replacing the in-game movies -- that will divulge the tale with a more visual impact.
So far, the graphics are looking slightly better than the ones seen in the Dreamcast version of the Grandia sequel. But, there is still to be room made for improvements. Each of the on screen character and background models stands out somewhat blocky with a touch of darkness. However, that's not to say that the visuals are shaping up poorly. Within the heat of battle, magical spells are noticeably amazing. In the original, whenever a magical spell was cast, a short FMV footage would take over, in revealing the spell that was produced in full CG style. This function will once again be used in the PlayStation 2 port. From the way the screen just draws you in, forcing your eyes directed onto the imagery, and making you watch what happens next is a truly nice feature to have. Shadow and textured landscape effects, amongst other things, are some of the game's imposing visuals to look out for too.
The graphics, while only a simple upgrade of what was seen on the Dreamcast, will be fashioned with touchups in both in-game graphics, and just as well, in the new FMV movies spread throughout the game. The original Dreamcast version pushed its in-game engine to take the story a little forward each time. And, like how in the Final Fantasy series, how CG cinemas took over from time to time, Game Arts is tacking on 25 minutes of brand new footage exclusive to the PlayStation 2 version, to improve on the story's overall balance. The shift from using the in-game graphics over to the new CG footage seems to be a better trade, both for new and old fans.
On the gameplay front, Grandia II will be sure to sport something a little different from the traditional turn-base attack method. There are no random attacks to be had, as you'll actually be able to detect where the enemy is placed on the screen. Thus, you can always avoid an upcoming battle with your best diversion attempts. Enduring the actual fight sequence, though, with a form of real-time and turn-based attacks, the AI along with your character will move across the screen simultaneously in pursuit after one another. A bar on the bottom of the screen will fill up, and further informs you to decide when you can perform weapon or magic attacks, and use items, which will aid your characters in combat. In light of this sequel being a port, Game Arts has even tweaked the battle times, which now will load a little faster than the original's. This way, the story and gameplay together are going to move at a more steady pace, allowing any gamer to be more "involved" throughout the game's mass.
Once a battle is finally done and over with, your party will be able to collect coins from the fight's finish. With these coins, you can buy new items like upgradeable weapons, and even magic attacks for the scaling difficulty in encounters with all kinds of upcoming opposition. True to the original, this port will also stay focused in its 3D world of exploration. The lists of places you'll come across are different from towns to dungeons. Using the back buttons, you'll be able to rotate the screen in front of you, in order to get the best perspective of where you're headed next. Provided of its true 3D nature, Grandia II might be just an RPG game, but it may also be one of the better RPG games of the year.
As for looking into the sound of the game, along side the enchanting ambiance of the in-game method of sound, there's a full 90 minutes of voice work, directed by the mastermind of Metal Gear Solid's composed dialogue scripts, Kris Zimmerman. The cast of characters in the game will endeavor through their trials and tribulations with terrific voice work. Of course, with the talent of Zimmerman, and the excellence of the in-game score, Grandia II will not disappoint in this particular area of the game.