Agarest GoW 2 is the latest title developed by Compile Heart to be localised and published in Europe by Ghostlight (Persona 3 portable, Agarest GoW Zero) , although the localisation work was largely done by Aksys (Blazblue in the US)
The first thing you'll notice about this collectors edition is how how rediculously well made and put together it is, if anyone can do extra goodies, it sure is Ghostlight. You will recieve a hard cover A5 artbook with has a lot of concept work (the good stuff) and is very well put together, the art cards (6 of them) are of good quality but not especially useful I guess. The A3 poster is nice, if a little small, and I can't help feel disapointed it isn't like the double sided poster from Agarest Zero, it also comes folded, not ideal ofcourse. The case is very nice and rather than having a lid you can just slide the contents out and it all fits very nicely, unlike Agarest Zeros ludicrusly tight fit. Now onto the game itself...
Its Complie Heart, so you can expect PSOne graphics with the odd HD artwork and texture and a chugging frame rate, this at times is an appaulingly ugly game, but the art is nice (although it is no where near the standard set by Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2, also by the same developer) Sometimes though the visuals are pleasent enough, later in the game, and the world map has a nice pastel style, even if it looks like it was ripped from a PS2 game, character sprites are NOT HD, not matter how much Compile Heart wants you to believe they are, but there good enough.
The music is inconsistent at best, but is mostly very good, battle themes are great but not as good as previous games in the series but thankfully the music in various menus has drastically improved. The only audio dub is japanese, with english subs, most voice acting is solid but some characters speak too quietly and the music overpowers them.
A massive improvement over previous games by Compile Heart but not fantastic, the story is both personal and on a much grander scale and works well and the games pacing is surprisingly good throughout. The characters are very mixed, and this is what I found dissapointing, none of them have much of a personality, theyre given a steryotype and they stick with it... thats it. Agarest Zero had a few standout characters but I can think of only one for this game, Mervina, but she comes in to the mix late on.
Long story short if you loved either Cross Edge or Agarest Gow/Zero, or both, you'll adore this game, the battle system is fantastic (perhaps a little too many serperate systems making it somewhat confusing, even by the time you've Platinumed it) the world exploration adds a nice simple diversion and the visual novel elements are something I could get lost in for all eternity, rubbish characters not with standing. The minigames (which are rather sexualised to say the least) are terrible though, all it basically translates to is button mashing and pot luck *sigh* and you need to do them to get the true ending, whats worse (or better) is that one of the 3 mini games is only possible to suceed in with Playstation Move (Not something I have so I can't coment on whether these bouts of teadium are any better with Move, I doubt it though) I should also not that this game isn't for the faint of heart, it has numerous difficulty spikes (on normal at least) and can get repetitious leading to some frustratiing moments, but these are far outweighed by moments of glee as you overkill a boss and know you're going to recieve a very valuable item for doing so, or when you rack up huge combos into the hundreds.
This is a long game, to complete it on the true end path on normal difficulty took me roughly 80 hours, a further 20 or so may be required to earn the Platinum trophy. there is new game plus and 3 difficulties plus upcoming DLC, so you are getting you're moneys worth here. Also for those wondering, the Platinum is very easy to obtain and can be done on any difficulty, just prepare for a long hual and follow a good guide.
So overall this is a very good game, I'll admit as a fan of anything japanese I may have been a bit generous with the score, but to be honest I think anyone whos even considering buying this is in the same boat as me. I just hope that having a release so close to Tales of Graces f doesn't take away from this games sucess, as in my opinion its actually the better game... now wheres Agarest 3?