Grandia 2 mini-review

Discussion in 'General' started by ice-9, Sep 23, 2001.

  1. ice-9

    ice-9 Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, I spent many hours this weekend finishing Grandia 2 off (DC), thought I'd give you guys a mini-review just in case you're interested in playing an RPG and would like some guidance on which one.

    I liked the first Grandia an awful lot--it was a charming game with great graphics (for the 32 bit generation, esp. on the Saturn). What I liked most of about it were the characters and the sense of adventure the game is so successful in imparting. I honest-to-God actually wanted to *see* what was over the great wall.

    Anyway, that was the first one. So as you can see, I had great expectations for the second.

    GRAPHICS

    Oh, the graphics are great! Don't let the opening scene and the first town fool you...the graphics in Grandia 2 are the nicest I've seen for RPGs, especially the towns. The towns are definitely Grandia 2's claim to fame in terms of graphics...it's unmatched by anything else I've seen. The attention to detail, the character, the colors, etc. The battle areas however, are only average to above average.

    My biggest complaint is Ryudo's character design...I really don't like it very much at all. He looks cheesy and...well, dorky.

    I give the graphics 4/5. They're nice enough.

    SOUND

    Some very nice tunes, some annoying tunes. Definitely above average, and you gotta love the main theme. I'm not sure I like Elena's theme song very much though (the song she sings at Mareg's village).

    GAMEPLAY

    I usually divide the gameplay of RPGs into two areas: battle and story; story because it is such an integral part of RPGs.

    First the battle system. It's great and it's probably the closest thing you'll have to a 3D fighting game type of system. Basically, moves have execution time in terms of when you input the action and when the move hits. Your characters have it and so does the enemy. Thus it is possible to actually counter the enemy (and to be countered) if you manage to hit the enemy while the enemy is executing the attack. You can even cancel it with a critical attack or a special attack. When you hit the enemy, the enemy "stuns" (i.e. it's guage does not move), giving time for your friends to gang up and hit the enemy some more. The battle system also makes use of movement and spatial attacks. You can run around and your positioning makes a great difference. Some special/magic attacks have a circular damage area, some are a straight line, some hit all, some hit one, etc. Essentially, the bottom line is that Grandia's battle system has many concepts we fighting fans are familiar with and are miles away better than anything else out there, FF included (haven't played PDS yet, so can't comment on that).

    I have no big complaints about Grandia's battle system; the only minor one that i have is that I wish there was more variety in the special attacks (Tenseken and Flying Tenseken? Woo-hoo). The magic attacks were on the whole good; some animations were annoying but none were excessively long (AHEM FF8). Most look great, although only a few were outstanding.

    What you guys will probably like most about G2 is that there are NO RANDOM BATTLES. Battles are incurred when you meet enemies walking around that you can see. Thus you can avoid them if you want and enemies are finite in a given area. If you're like me, I hate to explore without knowing what's there; I'm always afraid of missing something. G2 fits this personality perfectly because you can clear the area first (and built up your stats) and then proceed to explore at your leisure for treasures.

    Oh wait, I DO have a big gripe with G2's battle system, but that's mainly the battle areas. G2 is just not much of a dungeon crawler at all; the vast majority of the levels are very straightforward, no brain required stuff. It has the requisite switches and stuff like that, but they are laid out in such a way that it's impossible for you to miss it. Very linear stuff. The ironic thing is that because there are no random battles and enemies are finite, Gamearts should've made the stages/dungeons much more difficult, in a mental puzzle-solving sort of way.

    Anyway, aside from those things, the battle part of G2 is fine.

    Ahh, now the story, the first Grandia's strongest suit. Unfortunately and ironically, the story, the presentation of the story and the flow of the plot (and thus the flow of the game) are G2's greatest weaknesses.

    The story is not strong in plot. There's just not very much in there to make you want to keep going forward, to make you want to see what happens next. There are so many ways in which I thought they could've made the pull stronger by making things more suspenseful...I can't think of an idea right now off the top of my head but there were many instances throughout the game where I thought: "OK, they could have really built suspense here if they did this instead of just showing/telling us that." That sort of thing.

    The second annoying thing about the story is that its full of themes and morals...way too many. It's excessive to the point where you feel like the game is made for some naive 12 year old; its mish-mash of messages just makes the point of the story way, way waaay too confusing. You should never have more than 2 or 3 key messages, and G2 has half a dozen. Sure, the themes are related, but reality often works that way and good storytelling does not drown the reader.

    One thing I really, really liked about the first Grandia was the extensive dialogue and character development. Grandia 2 has extensive dialogue...but unfortunately it's mostly predictable, one-dimensional and repetitive dialogue. After you speak with one townsperson, yuu practically know what the rest will say. It really discourages you from bothering to talk to everyone, which is in direct contrast with the first Grandia, where I would take the time to talk to all the characters in the game.

    Also, the main characters do undergo change and the usual emotional trauma, but the thing is that the characters are also very predictable. They are very much run-of-the-mill, cut out of cardboard stereotypes. You just know how they're going to change. OK, I'm exaggerating, since the description applies mainly to Ryudo, Elena and Millenia. Tio, Mareg and Roan are more interesting. Mareg especially, since he embodies G2's driving theme.

    Overall, the story of the game is very disappointing. A somewhat interesting ending does save it a bit, and the game story does start of strong, but the middle bit really kills it. Probably the biggest complaint that can be leveled at G2 is that it just doesn't feel "epic" at all...as the player you feel you have very little control, and there's just not much of a "world" to explore (at least not in the Skies of Arcadia sense).

    The battle system is great, the story under-performs, but enough of the good outweigh the bad. I give the gameplay 4/5. For the "casual" RPG looking for an easy time, G2 is a great choice.

    And boy is the game easy. I only got 3 hits from the last, last boss. I only had a character dead twice, the first time because I was lazy and didn't bother to cure and the second time on the last boss (first form) that was surprisingly strong. Seriously, my characters were just too damn strong towards the end of the game, but then again, when is this not true for any RPG (Emerald and Ruby Weapons excluded).
     
  2. ice-9

    ice-9 Well-Known Member

    My God I wrote an awful lot today. Anyway, I guess I'm making up time ahead of time...gotta a midterm this week and you shouldn't see me posting anything.......much.
     
  3. AnimeJoe

    AnimeJoe Active Member

    So do you think an RPG playa hata like myself can get far in this game, despite sucking ROYALLY at RPGs in general??

    Would you rate it as one of the easiest and shortest RPGs evar????????????


    and how dare you write just one sentence about the music! You're supposed to provide a Game music freak like myself 6 whole paragraphs about the game's music :p
    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by AnimeJoe on 09/23/01 02:33 PM (server time).</FONT></P>
     
  4. ice-9

    ice-9 Well-Known Member

    Easy -- hmm, it could be a little more difficult for the total non-RPG person, but once you get the concepts down it's hard to lose. But I do think it's beginner-friendly due to the lack of random battles; keeps people from getting too frustrated.

    Short -- it took me 40 hours to finish the game, and I talked to townspeople but did not make a conscious effort to talk to everyone. Game is also short on "secrets" and lacking in side quests, as far as I know.

    Music -- kakaka, I never know what to write for the music portion of reviews.

    You may like it, but the story and flow of the game isn't the greatest. G2 I think is a good game, but it is not the typical "good" RPG.
     
  5. Chanchai

    Chanchai Well-Known Member

    I loved Grandia 2, but I'll admit I love the first Grandia a lot more. Grandia 1 was pure adventure and well, the game that totally had me nostalgic about Grandia was Skies of Arcadia. Just so much fun.

    Anyways, about the battle system, I loved Grandia 2's battle system. Probably the least boring battle system I've ever played in a console-style RPG. However, it gets boring when you do what I did and basically power up your Cancel-Special Attacks to the max. Once that happens, you can win just about any battle without getting hit (which is usually the joys for me in G2's battle system), but WITHOUT EFFORT. Fighting the battles and not getting hit was fun until it became way too easy... At least for me.

    What I like about the GameArts RPGs is probably where they make their games less of a Role Playing Game and more of a "follow the characters' story" game. I'm guessing this is generally a no-no for some RPG theories since the goal is to Role Play--not that you really do that in console RPGs imo (though it's so great how much you can do in Skies). For me, it's one of those things I like that GameArts does, but something I like as an exception. However, going by this method, the games tend to be linear and G2 is very linear. Again, I don't mind, but I'll admit it takes away a lot of the replayability and extensive exploration that a lot of console RPG players would want. However, what I like about Game Arts' approach of less role-playing and more story-follow is that it's an excuse to really put personalities into the characters--whether you relate to them or not. Hence "follow the characters' story" type of game as opposed to RPG. You love some characters, hate others, but you at least feel for a lot of them. However, there is one major flaw in character design in Grandia 2.... I didn't have a problem with Ryudo, his character is the artist's concept and he had a personality. The problem was Skye, his bird (did I get that right?). In the beginning, you start to get to know Skye, past that, you forget he exists until he pops in every now and then. What's the problem? He's on Ryudo's freaking shoulder the whole game and has a personality, but you still forget he exists! Seriously, 80% of the game, it's not Skye that's there, it's a wooden bird that Ryudo carries along. The developers seem to have forgotten he was even there except when they wanted him to explain certain things or maybe 5 times in the game bring out his cute witty back-talk on Ryudo.

    Other than that, I took an interest in the characters... Ryudo with his insulting ways (well... for much of the game anyways--go talk with a lot of townsfolk and you'll see what I mean; part of what makes Grandia 2 what it is is actually just talking to people for the helluvit--talking only to advance the plot will only give you the plot and a decent amount of character work, but it won't reflect as much of the character design as playing the game and just sinking into the world and talking). There was also Millenia who just acts out on a whim. Elena the bible humper/wosrhipper of all that is "good," who finally travels the real world and faces obstacles and help of both good and evil--experiences that cause conflict within. Roen, the mysteriously (not really imo) mannered youth with a strong will. The indiginous Mareg whom follows a noble heart and sees things with a focus on nature. And finally Tio, a machine trying to figure out its ghost.

    Anyways, I honestly enjoyed the story of G2. It wasn't all that unpredictable, but the experience was fun, the characters were themselves and I loved that, and it was made to be observed as a quest. Many will probably not be pushed to go forward as Ice mentioned was the case for him, but I guess I was one of those who just wanted to talk to the folks, experience the battles, take humour in the ways the characters acted out, and relate with the various perspectives of each character.

    A nice story that reflects the writers' views on faith: source, quantity, strength, direction, placement, lost & found, renewed, action & reaction. How these qualities of faith, or lack therof, affects these characters and those around them in the world these writers' and designers have created. For sure, not everyone will believe what this story tells, but those that can relate to it will probably enjoy it quite a bit and I think many will enjoy at least some of the characters. In the very least, Grandia 2's story is aiming for something not many other console RPGs really stretch for (for they would lose a universal appeal in doing so--but I think many PC style RPGs may have touched on these subjects long ago). It actually represents something that isn't really universally agreed upon. And without really imposing upon anyone--we're just watching a world through some characters' eyes and dialogue.

    -Chanchai<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by Chanchai on 09/23/01 07:00 PM (server time).</FONT></P>
     
  6. SummAh

    SummAh Well-Known Member

    Jeff bought up a good point abt Grandia 1....the sense of adventure is always there...it's very unlike all RPGS where u start the game with ' oh thy world is doomed...prepare for evil to rule the world....must find teamates to combate evil...must find ultimate weapon to combat god...must level up to fight evil...etc etc etc'

    Grandia 1 starts off as a mini adventure...and when Justin first leaves the port...U cannot help but become 'Justin' and really go out and just find urself an adventure...

    It's just a great feeling that no other game has ever given me.

    <font color=red>~~~ 'Flock off feather brain, or u can stick around and find out the hard way!/versus/images/icons/mad.gif~~~'
     
  7. AnimeJoe

    AnimeJoe Active Member

    <blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>

    Music -- kakaka, I never know what to write for the music portion of reviews.

    <hr></blockquote>

    You're supposed to write many paragraphs explaining how the music made you feel, whether you sing it while taking a shower, do you record the music onto audio tape and blast it away in yer car :).

    Do you hum it while walking? ;) :)
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Dragon Quest 7, now that game has the most sense of adventure, than many other RPGs.
     

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