Grandia 2 - Retroview

Grandia 2 - Review

By: Majin Paul

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 10
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 6
   Plot 8
   Localization 10
   Replay Value 4
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Very Easy
   Time to Complete

25-35 hours


Title Screen

   I remember when I first played Grandia. The original. I bought it when it first came out, like I do every RPG. I put it in my Playstation, turned it on, and said 'Not bad.' I played through the game until somewhere towards the middle of the second desk. This is when a new game came my way. I don't remember what game it was, but Grandia was soon placed in my case of video games and forgotten. Then Christmas of 2001 came along. My maternal unit bought me a Sega Dreamcast, after much begging and pleading on my part and that Christmas I received four Dreamcast games. One of which was Grandia II.

   I turned it on and played through the beginning of the game. Your main character is Ryudo, a mercenary (or Geohound as they are called) finishing a recent job. Ryudo is not alone, however. On his shoulder was perched a hawk named 'Skye'. Skye might be considered my favorite character in Grandia II. I thought it was extremely original for the main character to have an assistant that was a hawk. A talking hawk, for that matter. As you walk along after your finished mission, Skye flies off your shoulder and lands on a branch nearby where a ribbon is tied. 'Looks like another job,' he says. And so the game proceeds.

   Most certainly, one of the first things I noticed was the graphics. The change from Grandia to its 'sequel' was astounding. The fully 3D environment really brought the game alive for me. This game harnessed the true power of the Dreamcast, at least until Shenmue came out. One of the sad parts, though, is the fact that the characters have no real faces except their eyes. The exception to this is the beast-man Mareg, who is given a full face. Maybe it's because his body is unrealistic that they were able to make him a 'face' and not have to worry about its quality. Also, the CG/Anime sequences tend to be a little 'dark' and hard to notice. And the quality of characters in CG/Anime is very poor. The sequences themselves are beautiful, just not when characters and voice acting are involved. Thankfully, you barely have to view character CGs. And the graphics are great none-the-less.

   One of, if not the, greatest thing about the original Grandia was the battle system. It's somewhat of a mix of real time, turn-based, and tactical. A bar is shown at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This bar shows miniature photos of the enemies and your characters in battle. Your character's speed determines the time in which his or her picture moves across the bar. Once it reaches about two inches from the end, it brings up that character's menu. You are then given many choices. You can either Attack (and do two hits), do a Critical Hit (which cancels your opponents turn), perform a Move or do Magic. You can also Defend, or Evade. Evade allows you to position your character at another set point on the screen. These multiple choices allow for great judgement in battle. Along with the ability to choose which magical attacks your character learns, the battle system in Grandia II is nearly perfect.

The Extraordinary Graphics Breathe Life Into This Wonderful Game.
The Extraordinary Graphics Breathe Life Into This Wonderful Game. 

   Another one of the great things about Grandia 1 was its voice acting. While not all appreciated it, I most certainly did. So I expected another great job this time around. And Ubi Soft most certainly fulfilled my needs yet again. Some of the game's phrases will be with me for a long time, especially a lot of the victory phrases and special attacks. Also, the voice acting certainly helped bring out the overall mood of the game. I'm not afraid to admit that certain parts of the game made me cry, and this was all thanks to the power behind the voice acting. You'll truly begin to feel your main character's and his ally's emotions thanks to the speakers' wonderful performance. But the voice acting wouldn't be so good if it wasn't for...

   ...The flawless translation. Perhaps not totally flawless, but the translation will positively astound some Grandia II's gamers. From Ryudo's cocky, nonplussed attitude, to Elena's faithful priestess demeanor. From Millenia's valley-girl cadence, to Roan's persistent disposition. And the character 'Mareg', despite being a beast-man, delivers some of the most philosophical phrases since Citan Uzuki of Xenogears. I was, and still am, impressed with Grandia II's translation. I will always firmly believe that one of the greatest things about voice acting is the fact that it forces publishing companies to perfect their story lines.

   Another great thing about Grandia II is the sound and music. I will always remember the first time I heard Grandia II's battle theme. It matches the quality of even Lunar 2's. It sounds to me a lot like a rock and roll song, and it's of very high quality. All the sounds are perfectly placed, from the slashing of Ryudo's blade to Roan's hammer zooming through the air. And the quality of the magic attacks is also perfect. The sound effects help bring the game alive. And the battle theme will stick with you for months to come.

   The control of the game was nearly flawless as well, though it does have a few highly noticeable flaws. During 'dungeon' scenes, you are given the opportunity to turn the camera a full 360o turn. Sometimes, though, the game only lets you move it in a 180o angle for an odd reason. This sometimes made it difficult to travel through areas, especially with buildings or statues in the way. This also happened frequently in battles. Depending on where the camera was positioned in the battle, if you were picking an attack that hit enemies In a Line, it made it difficult to see which enemies it would hit and which it would miss. These flaws, though, are not as bad as I have made them out to be. The 180o camera turn only happens about three times in the game and the camera in battle is usually perfect, at least 95% of the time.

The Control In Grandia II Is Nearly Perfect... Nearly.
The Control In Grandia II Is Nearly Perfect... Nearly. 

   It's very rare that I see true quality in video games nowadays, but Grandia II most certainly helped me forget a lot of painful experiences. A lot of people may call the story 'old-school' but I think that this mix of old and new is perfect. With a story of religion, companionship, and love, Grandia II is certainly a game you will not want to miss out on. Whether you own it for the Dreamcast and just set it aside, or you are waiting for the Playstation 2 or Personal Computer releases, I recommend you purchase this game. It rules. Period.

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