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Grandia II (Dreamcast) artwork

Grandia II (Dreamcast) review

"Grandia 2 benefits strongly from the lack of competition on the Dreamcast. It's just that simple. If Grandia 2 was on the Playstation, it would be dwarved by other, better role playing games."

Grandia 2 benefits strongly from the lack of competition on the Dreamcast. It's just that simple. If Grandia 2 was on the Playstation, it would be dwarved by other, better role playing games. However, on the Dreamcast, Grandia 2 is one of the best of the role playing game genre... Since there's only one other decent RPG, Skies of Arcadia.

In Grandia 2, you play the role of Ryudo, a young Geohound. A Geohound preforms odd jobs, most of which revolve around slaying some sort of monster. After retrieving an item for a merchant, your next job is to guard a whiny, prissy, prudish young nun named Elena while she performs a ceremony at a nearby temple. However, when things go horribly wrong, you're thrust into the middle of intrigue and scandal.

The story starts out promisingly, as Ryudo makes fun of every other character in your party regularly. This a welcome change from typical heroes, such as upbeat Zidane from Final Fantasy 9. However, it becomes disappointing about one-third to one-half of the way into the game, as plot twists and turns can be seen a mile away to any experienced RPG player. What starts out promising quickly becomes ho-hum, as the plot is predictable and the character development stagnates.

The saving grace of Grandia 2 is a highly innovative gaming system. It's a modified real-time system; your actions directly influence enemy attacks and behaviors. There's the traditional menu commands such as magic, however, there's enough monkey wrenches thrown into the works to make the system used in Grandia 2 just different enough.

The most radical change in Grandia 2 is the action bar at the bottom of the screen. Characters and enemies are both on it, and are able to choose an action to perform when their turn comes up on the bar. After selecting their action, it takes some time to launch the attack, depending on the proficiency of the character in that skill.

However, with two new commands, combo and critical, you can delay or even neutralize an enemy's attack. Combo is Grandia 2's version of a straight attack. Choosing it causes your character to launch a multi-hit combo of two or more hits. Each hit slightly delays the action on the action bar for the respective enemy. If you select critical, your attack eliminates the enemy attack, and substantially knocks back their attack meter. It sounds a bit confusing, but after the first few battles, it becomes second nature.

Likewise, magic and skills are handled in different ways than from different RPG's. Magic is learned by equipping orbs, each of which contains a different spell. The spells (and consequently the orbs) are powered up by MP points, which are earned after each battle. Similarily, each character's special moves are powered up SP points. SP and MP points can also be used on books, which allow you to assign stat bonuses to your characters. It's another way that Grandia 2 seperates itself from the pack, and the game balances SP, MP, and gold earned rather nicely.

However, all these nice little benefits don't matter too much, since the challenge factor in Grandia 2 is next to nilch. At no point in the game do you have to level up, or even buy equipment; almost everything you need can be found lying around, or claimed off of enemies. Enemies don't do enough damage to pose a consistent threat, and healing spells heal far too much. Grandia 2 can be beaten in just a shade over twenty hours.

Graphically though, Grandia 2 is a treat. Bright, detailed backgrounds and character models are prominent throughout the game. Indeed, if there is one word to describe the graphics, ''bright'' would be it. Everything seems to be beaming. It's a welcome change from the ''Doom and Gloom'' present in the majority of RPG's.

Musically, Grandia 2 is a nice ethereal treat. Most tunes are light and airy, heavy in orchestrated music. Sharp effects are abound, as each ''clang'' of the sword or axe can be heard. Definately one of the game's strong points, and an additional music compact disque is included in almost all new versions of Grandia 2 sold.

Overall, Grandia 2 is a fairly entertaining game. A subpar plot is saved by an excellent gameplay system, along with very good presentation values. Seeing as it's one of the few role playing games for the Dreamcast, and that it's also only twenty to thirty bucks even with the extra soundtrack CD, you can't do wrong by at least giving it a shot.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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