Your name is Ryudo, and you've been sent to protect a young priestess journeying to a distant land to participate in a special ceremony. Grandia 2
, the new story-based RPG, features an innovative battle system that is partially turn-based, partially real-time. The entire game world is rendered in 3-D, with over 1,000 characters to interact with. Audio voice-overs accompany cinematic cut-scenes and serve to reinforce the strong cast of characters.
See if the storyline of Grandia 2
. sounds familiar. You're part of an outcast mercenary class that upstanding folk don't want around until there's trouble. You're sent on a mission alongside an innocent, idealistic woman with whom you don't immediately get along. Forces of darkness, safely contained until recently, have escaped and are threatening a world-ending clash with the forces of light unless you successfully intercede. This is one of the safest templates for console role-playing games, and it pretty much covers the story.
Thankfully, everything else in the game is fresh and provides hours upon hours of fun. The backdrops and character designs are colourful without being flashy, the game has a great pace (for an RPG), and players never have to stand around too long looking for the next thing to do. Even the writing, within its cookie-cutter plot, is smart, well-translated, and occasionally funny.
The game's strongest element, however, is its battle system. Taking the best of turn-based and real-time battle engines, Grandia II forces you to choose your moves carefully with respect to timing and position. The battles are very simple in the beginning, but grow increasingly complex as you fight larger numbers of monsters with a growing party of allies. How you meet your encounters--whether you initiate the fight, are ambushed, or meet head on--affects both the timing of the blows and the positions of the contestants. Battles emphasise counter-attacks and combination blows, but you'll soon find that movement and defence keep you alive against the tougher enemies. Elemental magic, items, and skill books are just icing on the cake. Even if the battles do grow old, the random fights are fairly easy to avoid, and a versatile AI option lets you use cruise control through the rest.
Grandia 2 may be just the traditional role-playing game for which console owners have been waiting. The question of whether it's too traditional doesn't matter, as it offers a better experience than most that have come before.--Porter B. Hall
Note: This review refers to the Dreamcast version of the game.
series is much loved by RPG fans, who have made it a very successful franchise on the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast, and lately Grandia
has impressed PSone owners with it's unique take on RPG themes. Grandia 2
is the first appearance of the series on the PlayStation 2, and places you firmly in the centre of a battle between Granus, the God of Light, and Valmar, Lord of Darkness.
Grandia 2 combines Game Arts' trademark cute and colourful visual style (characters with big heads, no noses, and spiky hair) with an excellent battle system that will delight RPG fans everywhere. Grandia 2 combines the best elements of the real time and turn-based varieties of RPG combat with the introduction of the battle timing gauge, which dictates who is next to attack, and can be manipulated by clever players to gain the upper hand. It's a clever system for a clever game, which is sure to delight RPG lovers, and may convert a few unbelievers as well.