Grandia 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, DC
Publisher
Ubi Soft
Developer
Game Arts
Genre
RPG
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Animated Violence, Mild Language
 
Grade
The Good

• Excellent combat
• Pretty good scripting and voiceacting
• Skills/magic system are nicely done

The Bad

• Story is fairly run of the mill and the quest is linear
• Suffers from glitches and slowdown

 
Grade
B-

Grandia 2 is the tale of Ryudo, a Geohound (mercenary), and his talking hawk, Skye. The story begins as the two are hired to escort the princess Elena to a ceremony. When something odd happens at the ceremony, Elena is cursed by the Wings of Valmar, part of the ancient diety Valmar, who is considered a force of evil. From this point, Ryudo agrees to take Elena to the Cathedral of Granas, where she can hopefully be cured. Along the way, they come across a variety of allies and towns likewise cursed by pieces of Valmar. Grandia 2 is packed to the brim with the standard moral and religious plays that litter the common RPGs nowadays.

While the story itself is fairly run of the mill, one of the strengths is the script. Conversations are written out fairly well and Ryudo just makes me laugh. He's got that rough charm that very few heros in RPGs recently have. He's a man after my own heart. To go along with the story is the occasional voice-acted scene. Fans of anime will find most of the voices familiar. While the voice acting is done well, I will have to admit that it often feels disjointed. Only occasional scenes actually get voice acting and there seems to be no standard reasoning behind why the scene gets a vocal treatment.

Where the game really stands out is when you go into a dungeon or travel from town to town. There are no random encounters. Monsters walk about on screen and you can avoid them if you wish (although, some times that's harder done than said). Dungeons are more than walking from point A to point B, although some of the switch hitting does seem to lack any puzzle qualities. And there's combat, which provides a fresh breath of air for those who tire of the "stand in two lines and pick options while waiting your turn" of most RPGs. Grandia 2 uses a time-based combat on an area where you characters can move about, attack, dodge, counter enemy attacks and even cause enemies to lose their attacks. A lot of the battle is based on timing your attacks to land before the enemy's do. Instead of just pressing a button to keep attacking, you will often need to plan your attacks depending on when the enemies get their next attack.

Along with the exceptional combat is an skill and magic system that allows a bit of development freedom. After defeating enemies, you gain not only experience points and gold, but Magic Coins and Special Coins, which can be used to purchase either the character's special attacks, skills from books, or spells from Magic Eggs, which need to be equiped to be used. This variety of options allows you to make character's faster, stronger physically, or loaded with powerful magic. The player can choose to attach a variety of useful skills to boost HPs, strength or even the power of certain magics.

This review can't be complete without mentioning the graphics and the conversion from the original Dreamcast game. Graphically, the game looks decent. None of the graphics are going to wow you. The cities are fairly large and decently detailed. CG cutscenes and special effects are done Well, but nothing too over the top. In comparison to the Dreamcast version, though, the game looks rather mediocre. Also, the PS2 version does seem to suffer some minor, yet nagging bugs. When finishing a battle, the experience gained screens turn transparent for a few seconds and then return to normal. Also, certain spells and attacks seem to lose or gain textures and effects during the animations. One of the biggest problems is the presence of slow-down when just walking through a town or during a conversation. Often, if there are more than a few moving (or sometimes standing) characters on scene, the game slows to a sluggish pace. When this happens, the whole game goes into slow-mo, leaving the player begging for the end of the scene or a way out of the town.

Grandia 2 also suffers from the dreaded linearity that has been the roadbump to so many other RPGs. The game progresses by walking from one town to the next, with the occasional forest or dungeon to travel through. There is no overworld, but rather a map from which the player chooses the next location to move to.

All in all, Grandia 2 is a decent RPG with a refreshing battle system. If you own a Dreamcast, avoid the graphic problems and get it for that console. If you don't, at least rent the PS2 version first. The slow down and graphical glitches aren't enough to ruin the game, but don't help in making it a "must-buy". With a more inventive story and less linearity, Grandia 2 would be a much better game.

- - Vane

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