Dark Cloud 2 (PlayStation 2) review
"Near the beginning of the PS2's release a little-known game by the name of Dark Cloud was released. It was fun, but nothing special made it stand out other than its innovative, yet slightly restricted Georama system. It fell into a pit of mediocrity, and before the American release even hit, there was talk of a sequel. "
Near the beginning of the PS2's release a little-known game by the name of Dark Cloud was released. It was fun, but nothing special made it stand out other than its innovative, yet slightly restricted Georama system. It fell into a pit of mediocrity, and before the American release even hit, there was talk of a sequel.
Great, I thought to myself, a sequel will help strengthen the original's strong points like the Georama system while smiting the boring, repetitive parts like the overuse of bland, randomized dungeons. I was looking forward to this sequel, because I just knew it had to be better than the fairly average original.
I hate myself for that.
Dark Cloud 2, like far too many sequels, is a step down from the original. While the cel-shaded graphics give the game a nice cartoony touch that lends itself well to the lighthearted world, everything goes downhill from there. The story begins intriguing enough, as the young, motherless protagonist is going to a circus to enjoy himself, but then everything just turns out to be, well, stupid. You'll meet a time-traveling girl that disguises herself as a little ticket-stealing boy, a corrupted ringleader that attacks you with a giant clown-themed robot, and countless other oddities that makes the player prepare their "WTF" flag. If done correctly, Dark Cloud 2 would have had the little magic touches that make a game seem great in its sheer wackiness. However, it failed and the antics just seemed random and pointless, although the camera is easy to control and rarely a problem.
The dungeons seem just as pointless. The randomized dungeons of the past make a return here, packed with boring, repetitive monsters that can't seem to avoid giving the player a feeling of "Been there, done that." At least the majority of the music sounds nice as the player hacks their way through the hordes of mindless drones and collecting the random chests with Georama items populating the boring dungeons that finish with easy bosses requiring little to no strategy to overcome.
Which also brings me to my next point. The Georama system (a system in which the player can "build" the world by placing different parts) has been completely revamped from the sequel, allowing the player to create new Georama parts by transforming different items into the desired parts. However, it makes the system needlessly complicated and difficult for beginners to get into, especially considering that players have to perform boring, remedial tasks to recruit villagers to move into the town in question, then they have to micromanage the city and the houses to keep the villagers happy through all their incessant bitching. And sadly, the Georama system must be utilized to get some items the player needs to complete the game, so it's more of a hassle than "feature."
Weapon customization has been enhanced and works well, though it's somewhat frightening how many different forms the developers at Level-5 could find for a gigantic wrench, the protagonist's weapon of choice. The player can also break down other weapons and items to add a percentage of its stats to another weapon by combining them. This allows the player to greatly increase their effectiveness with their equipment, by strategically breaking and upgrading their equipment.
Also, the main character Max has the abiltiy to hop into a powerful robot for additional power, which can also be customized through the game's invention system in which Max takes pictures of things for "ideas" to make new things. However, finding the right pictures to take to get ideas for the best inventions is fairly boring, as pictures of nearly anything can be used as part of an idea.
Speaking of characters, there aren't many. Aside from the hero Max, heroine Monica, and Max's overweight wooden robot, there's not much in the form of playable characters, a significant step down from the 7 quirky characters featured in the original. While you can recruit some helpers to aid you in various manners, the amount of characters you actually control stays drastically low as compared to the rather large diverse amount featured in the past.
The fishing system featured in the original also made a return, and feels like just another thing crammed in at the last minute, just like in the original. Aside from some parts in the game in which the player is FORCED to fish, there's no real reason to stop and become an angler when the fishing used in games such as the Breath of Fire series is much more enjoyable and provides better rewards.
Only play this game if you very, truly loved the original Dark Cloud, or if you're the type of gamer that wants to play a shoddy mix of Zelda crossed with SimCity. With the only things very good going for it being the nice cel-shaded graphics and some of the songs, there's not very much reason to play this game. It carried over the boring randomized dungeons and Level-5 tried fixing something that wasn't broken by revamping the Georama system. Dark Cloud 2 may not be horrible, but it certainly isn't good. There's a lot better out there to play, which should take your time instead of this.
Community review by espiga (March 13, 2005)
Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.
More Reviews by espiga [+]
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