What happens when you combine acation adventure, dungion crawling and simulation game elements?
Seffora wrote this review on .
The Dungion crawler is almost as old as RPGs themselves and have appeared in many different forms through the years past. The most common are games like Diablo focusing on hacking though hordes of monsters ranging to games like Zelda with more focus on puzzel solving. Dark Cloud 2 is a differnt breed of dungion crawler that is rich in depth, action and exploration. The result is a game that takes the dungion cralwer, a genre of RPG that has become increasinly stale, and evloved it into something more.
Dark Cloud has been compared to Zelda even before the first dark Cloud hit store shelves and the fact is it really isn't anything like Zelda. the comparison will always be there I guess because Zelda set the bench mark for Action/Adventure games in the same way most every FPS will be compared to Halo. The fact is Dark Cloud is not Zelda and if you want a Zelda game then go buy a Gamecube and a copy of Wind Waker.
Probably the only real part that resmebles Zelda is the combat engine, although it still has a very differnet feel. It takes advantage of a lock-on system, a system made popular by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This has been the best lock-on system I've seen since that game. Many action/Adventure games have attempted a Zelda style Lock-on system since 1998 but very few of them have ever pulled it off well and more often it can make combat more frustrating and awkward. Dark Cloud 2 differs in that the lock-on system works and works well. Combat can be quite varied aswell. while locked on to the enemy you can block, attack with one of the two weapons you have equiped (one melee weapon and one long range), evade enemy attacks with a back flip, and all that sort of stuff you would expect in a game of this type. When you start out the game it can be a bit frustrating since as you fight you don't gain any experiance like in a standard RPG which means as the enemies become more powerful you don't (in a traditional sense). It's not untill a several hours into the game that you start to collect the items used to upgrade your charactors HP and Defence stats.
Building your charactors:
Other than the few stat boosting items you collect the real customization comes from building weapons; there in also lies your real strength. As I said before you don't gain experiance but as you combat monsters you do collect experiance points, but rather than having your charators level up the experiance goes straight to the weapon you used. Once it levels up you are awarded a number st popints used to synthasise items into your weapons. By doing this you upgrade their various stats that range from attack power and durability to adding affects like flame. After you upgrade certain stats to a required point you can "build-up" your weapon which gives it some stat boosts and changes its appearance. After that point you can continue to build up more stats with more items and build it up into even more impessive forms. Sometimes you will reach brancing points where you can "evolve" the weapon into one of two possible new forms which can alter the end result of what your weapon becomes. On top of all this your weapons also have WHP which is basically its durability. WHP works like your own HP. As you attack your WHP will ware down. You have to repair your weapons (done with a particular item) before it's WHP reaches 0 and it breaks. The result is you having to keep track of your own HP as well as the HP of two weapons wile also leveling them up for the purpose of transforming them into more powerful forms.
The broken world
Not too far into the game you also start to customize the world around you, to an extent. To say you built thwo entire world would be misleading since you don't have direct affects over the dungions. What you do build are several villages across the world which plant the seeds to help repair the broken future. Essentailly you get empty plots of land in which you are given basic guidlines on what to do (in the form of goals) that are needed to progress through the game. Things like haveing a sertain person move to your town to open shop which will have an indirect affect on the future and help repair the broken links in history. To do this you must go to the only remaining city in the world, your home town, and recuit people to immagrate to your villages. These people can also be added to your party and although they can't take part in battle they will give you suppost bonuses like recovering WHP of weapons that are not equiped or improving the chances of better pick ups from monsters. They all also sell a special type of goods that can be helpful in the adventure or in building your towns.
The dungions are where you will spend a good number of hours in the game. they are all pretty basic and randomized to help keep them from becoming overly repetitive so you're not always running though the same few floors every time since you will revisit a lot of these dungions several times. the basic formula workds like this: You visit a dungion which is about a dozen or so floors of randomly generated mazes full of randomly placed monsters and treasure. the goal is to find the key to the next floor by killing anything that moves so you can move on to the next floor. There will be the odd non-combat floor which will usually have story sequences or the odd puzzle to solve and the end always contains a boss fight. Once you've reach a certain floor you have access to any floor you've been to and can freely leave the dungion and save between floors. Also each floor will have a number of special requirements such as killing all monsters in 4 minutes or only using a gun to attack which can earn you medals.
How's it look?
The game takes advantage of Cell Shading (just like just about every gave Level 5 has made) and it looks quite good and is animated well. There's no real pop-up or fog to speak of and it even has a cool little bluring effect for obects that are in the distance (which can be turned off if you wish). The frame rate is also good. The only compalint is the dungion envirmnments can be a little boring but at the same time look the way they should. The sewers look like sewers and the forest looks like a forest.
Movie quality acting?
The music is fine but can get a little repetitive seeing as you will hear the same combat theme for many many hours. the acting is fine and a lot of the voices you will remember from other games I'm sure (or amnybe even the odd TV show?). t's not exactly an oscar winning prefomrance but they get the job done. The boss themes are porbably the most entertaining songs in the game.
A solid if not great game. It takes the stale hack'n'slash dungion crawler formula and breaths new life into it with a profound level of depth by adding elements of Action adventures games as well as some sim game elements. That coupled with great production value makes for a solid experiance that any fan of a truly involving Action RPG will appreciate.