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Game Reviews & Afterthoughts

Dark Cloud 2 Review
A game with amazing technical and design achievements that falls victim to endless repetition.

 

Game Information
Name Dark Cloud 2
Console PlayStation 2
Developer Level-5
Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre Action RPG
Release Date February 18, 2003
# of Players 1
Peripherals Mem Card

Your company is the developement team Level-5. You just had a hit game on the PS2 called Dark Cloud and obviously there is great demand for an even better sequel. Enter Dark Cloud 2; A game that is superior to its predecessor in every possible way, yet still has enough painful design mistakes that may drive the player crazy. If you thought your weapon running out of durability, breaking and completely disappearing in Dark Cloud 1 was annoying, prepare for more of that bogus fun. Now I may sound like I'm coming off really tough on DC2 or that perhaps I didn't enjoy the game at all. Such is not the case, because the game is quite brilliant in many individual ways. Read on to find out how this game breaks down in each catagory only to realize that it could have been a candidate for nearly perfect 10's all the way down, however it manages to piss you off enough that you would rather take points off anywhere that can be justified instead of add them.

From the screenshots to the left, it's pretty evident that Dark Cloud 2 is a visually stunning game. Now if those pictures don't sell you alone (which I'm sure they will), imagine all the shadows in the forest for example, which drift along the ground. Mist rolls around in some areas and the water/sunset effects are a beauty to behold. All of this happens with almost no screen/fps lag in the entire game, which is quite amazing as well. Load times aren't huge at all for a PS2 game as well. Jaggies? What are those? It seems the cel-shading and graphics engine have virtually eliminated any jaggies that the PS2 was famous for.

Then there is the other side of Dark Cloud 2, the artistic side. The cel-shaded characters fit in beautifully with the lush, vibrant backgrounds. The environments are designed extremely well with a large variety to be seen through the game. Forests, beaches, space areas and castles of multiple types all make appearances. On DC2's release date, it quite possibly had the best graphics for any console RPG ever.

 

Audio Sample
Track 1:
Track 2:

Dark Cloud 2's music selection is really very nice. Most tracks are quite soft and peaceful, with a little guitar leading the melody. The music fits like a glove with the low stress and soft visuals of the game. When playing you get into this fresh mood, much thanks to the music. The 2 audio samples to the right feature the DC2 main theme (track 1) and my favorite area music in the game. Dark Could 2 also has an abundance of tracks to be experienced throughout the game. In total, the game has 77 full tracks of music that players get the pleasure to listen to. This is exactly how RPG music should be.

Learning Curve
Game Difficulty:
Easy
Game Length:
45 Hours

The gameplay of Dark Cloud 2 is just as you would expect for any Action RPG game. You have your character and battle it out through many dungeons/areas in real time. There are many weapons, actions and moves to choose from. Different weapons also have different attributes in terms of speed of attack vs. damage. The menu system is smooth and effective, as is the battle system. There is enough variation in the battles between the different types of monsters to keep things interesting for quite awhile. Have I said anything negative about the gameplay yet? Well perhaps it's time to get to the bad stuff.

So far everything sounds great, until you realize that each dungeon area is completely randomly generated. This won't really bug you at first until you realize that as you progress through the game, in each newer area you are forced to fight your way through more and more random dungeons. Each dungeon level takes about 5-10 minutes to pass and it becomes so rediculous that by the last level you are battling you way through about 40 levels of the same damn thing, over and over and over. Game design like this just makes an experienced gamer want to bash their head against a wall. Why bother creating such an incredible game in every single way and then ruin it by something as stupid as making too many random dungeons. Theres comes a point when games shouldn't be long just to be long, but because they have to be long for a reason. In Dark Cloud 2, it's so obvious that the developement team just wanted the game to last longer, so they threw in twice as many random dungeons as there should have been, a mistake that will literally kill the game for many players. If you are one of the few people that has passed the game entirely, than you know what I mean when I say this games repitition is worse than playing the original pong for 5 hours straight.

Extremely polished and beautiful. Excellent quality in voice acting and cut scenes. The story was quite weak for an RPG though and it makes you wonder why they decided to make it an Action RPG instead of an Action Adventure game. Don't look for a much deeper story in this game than you'll find in a game like The Legend of Zelda - The Wind Waker. That's not always a bad thing, just a thing to note. If the gameplay is fun, which it is, than whynot focus more on the gameplay if the story wasn't anything special from the beginning? Unfortunately as mentioned earlier in this review, they overdue the entire "more gameplay, less story" thing and that makes me want to say this is a must play game, but not a must pass game. If only they cut out half of those random dungeons...someone should really be fired for that mistake.

 

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John Palamarchuk ©2006
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