Sony seems to be on a roll this season with the release of another fun Role Playing Game that is quite a sight to see. Dark Cloud 2, the sequel to the popular title Dark Cloud which released during the first year of the Playstation 2, is the game we are reviewing here today.
The story follows a young man by the name of Maximilian, or Max, and a girl named Monica. Max is an inventor who likes to tinker with things–hence he carries around a large wrench which also doubles a… a weapon. The story begins with Max discovering that there is a horrible secret involving his town, and having never ventured beyond the gates of his enclosed city, decides that he will travel beyond the city limits to unravel the truth behind the secret.
Monica is a warrior and a magician armed with a powerful sword and a magical bracelet. She comes to Max from the future to help him on his journey of learning the story behind the madman bent on destroying the world. Players pick up the role of these two, and then actually play as both through the game–using items and weapons particular to both playable characters.
Visually, DC2 is a feast to behold. Smooth, polished, and running at a nice framerate, the eye candy presented to you is probably the strongest feature with this title. Incorporating the recently popular “cell shading’ technique for all of the environments and characters, the models are extremely colorful and polished without being overly cartoon-ish.
For players out there whom may have played Kingdom Hearts this past fall, you can expect the same level of graphics here as you witnessed in that title. This says a lot considering that Square usually holds the ‘best visuals’ title concerning RPG’s. Sony definitely gives Square fans another alternative–at least visually.
Indeed, just as smoothly polished as the characters are, DC2 also contains some interesting vehicles and contraptions which Max the inventor whips up. Unique looking and fun to use, the vehicles are all detailed nicely and add some great atmosphere to the title.
Containing a solid voice cast and a well written script, the story and voice acting behind DC2 is not too shabby. The story line and plot points seem to be well balanced and players will find just the right mix between the action segments of the title and the cut scenes.
Music is done by composer Tomohito Nishiura and it blends in well with the action onscreen. Of note here is the main title theme Time is Changing composed by Nishiura. It is a beautiful, haunting tune which creates a great introduction the beginning of Dark Cloud 2. All music and speech is presented in normal stereo–although Dolby would have been a nicer feature.
Most RPG’s contain enough play to see a gamer through 70 hours or more. Dark Cloud 2 boasts upward of 100 hours of play and this is partly attributed to the fact that there are two playable characters to take through the story here. Playing as either Max or Monica, each have their own weapons, items, and semi-branching story lines to follow.
Since Max is an inventor, he carries with him an eclectic assortment of items such as his huge wrench which doubles as a weapon, and a camera which he is able to take photos of the environment. These photos can then be combined under the inventory system to create new items and weapons. This is a refreshing new feature which can create some bizzare results, and players will probably spend a significant amount of time toying with the feature to achieve varying items.
Monica plays more like the standard RPG character with her huge sword and magical abilities. She really knows how to take care of herself during a battle, and she can upgrade her weapons and abilities throughout the game to create better magical attacks and stronger weapons. Because Monica is in possession of a magical bracelet which enables travel through time, she becomes the portal to transporting Max and herself to different eras.
This leads to some unique environments and some interesting enemies. DC2 actually moves along at a good pace thanks to a battle system which enables the player to fight in real time–right there on the map. This is a great feature in the fact that it allows players to battle, pick up the goodies, and then move on to another area. Once battling and exploring has been done for an area, the characters can use the fruits of their labor to upgrade their weapons or even repair them with special powder.
Every RPG has its share of mini games and Dark Cloud 2 is no exception. Players can fish, golf, and even participate in a race to gain items and goodies. Added onto an already solid gameplay experience, it is easy to see why a gamer will probably be spending upwards of a 100 hours or more with this title.
Graphically, Dark Cloud 2 is a pleasure to view and thankfully the battle system, inventory control, and compelling storyline add even more depth and focus to this well planned out RPG. If you are a fan of the genre, or enjoyed the first, then purchasing Dark Cloud 2 is definitely in order. If you are new to the genre though, there is no better title to start out with than this one.