Monday, February 24, 2003

Legend of Legaia 2: Duel Saga

Genre: Role Playing Game
Platform: Playstation 2
2002 Fresh Games, EIDOS Interactive. Screenshots courtesy of Amazon.Com

Legend of Legaia Strat Guides
Legend of Legaia Video Games
Legend of Legaia Toys
Legend of Legaia Music (OST)
Legend of Legaia Item Shop
Cover Description:
A magical crystal that supplied infinite water to the small village of Nohl is stolen. When a solar eclipse drowns the land in an evil light, monsters become plentiful and powerful, placing the village's very survival at stake. Lang, a rookie member of the Nohl militia, must fight his way across unchartered lands to recover the crystal and restore peace to the land he calls home.

A notch better than the first. >>> by skysenshi

While not up to par with other PS2 titles such as Suikoden III and Wild Arms Advanced 3rd, Legaia 2: Duel Saga can pretty much hold its own. It is certainly better than its predecessor, the eternally tedious Legend of Legaia, in many ways. This game is like a combination of Legend of Mana, Suikoden, Wild Arms, and various other games, just for the sheer amount of activity you can actually do. But let's start with the basics first…

Story and Characters
Come on. Don't tell me you totally buy that cover story about this being an adventure for the sake of the village. Of course it's more than that. It's always about saving the world, isn't it? The story is classic RPG cliché, with characters that are also classic RPG cliché. You have the well-balanced main character (Lang), the sickeningly sweet female mage with ridiculously low HP (Maya), the ultra slow beefcake with lots of strength (Ayne), the monk-like barehand fighter (Kazan), and the beautiful kick-ass female fighter who will never get a decent love life (Sharon). The only thing different now is that the main character is very 21st century. In other words: a whiner with a penchant for shoujo-esque spiels. We are friends. We save the world. We have hope-slash-love-slash-courage! You've seen this trend in Final Fantasy X, Suikoden III, Kingdom Hearts and Wild Arms 3. Gone are the days where lead characters' dialogues are composed mainly of ellipses. Sigh. We did wish for leads that actually talk…now they talk too much.

They talk. In Japanese and English. I have a major problem with the dubbing, though. Between Kazan's bad accent and Sharon's shrill voice, I have a mind to press MUTE every time their turns come up. One major gripe: the background music sound exactly like the ones used in Legend of Legaia. I can even remember exactly where in Legend of Legaia those sounds are used. If there are new original BGM in this game, they are very few.

The visuals, however, are very good. Not Final Fantasy material, but getting there. Lang actually looks like this cute Filipino actor/model named Richard Gutierrez. Sadly, if you're looking for FMV sequences with better detail, you won't be finding them here.

Ah, here is where the huge difference between the first Legaia and this one lies. They're no longer stingy with cash and experience points. The mini-games aren't frustrating, either. Many of the mini-games, though, seem to be lifted from other titles. Like for instance, the planting and harvesting of Legend of Mana, the puzzles and tools of Wild Arms, the auctions of Final Fantasy IX, the cooking, hot springs and room decorating activities of Suikoden, etc.

They've added a camping feature, where you can chat, cook, combine weapons and armor, replenish your status and save. Cooking here is quite addictive because you get to mix so many different ingredients that you buy from markets and whatever concoction you've cooked at camp affects how you perform in battles. Yes, the enemies here are still quite tedious to defeat, but with cooking, you stats increase temporarily, depending on the dish. I'm one of those people who go around the world map just to collect recipes from different villages. Yum!

Speaking of the world map, this is one of the best features that Legaia 2 has to offer. Yes, like other PS2 RPGs, the map is still quite similar to Legend of Dragoon's. You can't explore because you can only go to specific points in the map. What's better in Legaia 2's map system ('course, anything is better than Dragoon's tedious walk-everywhere-even-when-I've-been-through-this-route scenario) is that once you've passed a mountain/dungeon to get to a village, you don't have to go through that mountain/dungeon again to go back to that particular village. It's like having an auto-teleport so early in the game.

Other activities worth mentioning are the Guild Quests where you are hired to take on various mundane and difficult tasks for a price. There's still a battle arena and a casino you can visit to while away the time. You also get to have nicknames, which I think is lots fun—save for that time when I got labelled a Pervert for peeking on my other party members while they were taking a bath.

Battle System
Like I mentioned earlier, you have "tools" in the game. This is similar to Wild Arms' in that you use these to get further in your quests, e.g. break boulders, light faraway switches etc. These are actually your Origins, the summons in the game. You basically use them in and out of battles this way. You have only one specific Origin per person and you don't have to go around the world to get other summons.

The battle system is still basically the same as with Legaia 1. You have combos, which are called Arts. But unlike in Legaia 1, where you have to guard to charge up your Art Points (AP), you just have to use regular/ordinary Arts to charge your gauge here. Your AP decreases whenever you use Super Arts, Hyper Arts, Mystic Arts, and Variable Arts. This is still better than the first Legaia because you don't lose your turn here. You deal damage while charging. In addition, you don't even have to lose AP if you use the right combination of attacks.

Areas That Need Improvement:

  1. Mazes - I don't know why some game developers still insist on putting too many forks and dead ends inside long and winding dungeons. It's not cute. It's annoying. The latest Final Fantasy, Suikoden and even the usually maze-infested Wild Arms series have stopped doing this. Legaia should follow suit.
  2. Save Points - Are scarce. If you encounter very few save points in long and winding dungeons with absolutely infuriating encounter rates, you can't help but get frustrated.
  3. Shortcuts - This would've been useful for summons and combos. This was my main complaint with the first Legaia and they hadn't fixed it here. Other games give you the option to not see full summon sequences because there's no point in seeing the same thing over and over again. With the Legaia series' case, it's the combos you want to cut short. Sure, it's cool to know that your character can do a 20+ hit combo, but do you really have to see every hit in slow motion?

Legaia 2 is a fairly short game. I actually finished it in 4 days, complete with leveling up and the best weapon and armor available. It's a good game, certainly better than the first installment. Enjoyment is actually a guarantee…just make sure you don't play Suikoden III first.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate - Difficult
RATINGS: Gameplay 9; Battle 10; Story 6; Visuals 7; Characters 7; Sounds 5; Replay Value 7

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