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Tales Of Destiny 2 - Review
By: Kenrick Easley
It's not like Tales Of Destiny 2 deserves any major props. Maybe a few commemorations, but nothing that really sticks out. It's been several months, actually, more than a year since I beat this game, but in the spirit of all this Tales Of Symphonia craze that's been going on, I decided to go on with this. I'll probably go ahead and change that before I finish this anyway..see if you guys can tell.
I've forgotten so many of the aspects of this game, or so I thought, but really, that isn't so. What is there to remember? The story is basically a normal, average fantasy yarn for the most part, those with a agreeable/admirable sense of forplay won't have to look too far to understand and catch many of the plot twists. Tales fans won't have to worry about that; they seldom care about the meaty storyline bits. This is because, well, usually the meaty bits deal with less of the typical story that is executed in RPG's, but more to do with the characters that are engrossed in the situations we're playing them through. Their feelings, their actions...caused by these feelings, why they developed those feelings in the first place. It's actually a very refreshing approach.
I was reading a review in NP (Nintendo Power) one day when it hit me one day, actually, today. Look, while the storyline line isn't exactly up to any real margin of spectacular claim, it lays the groundwork for some very nice character development, and more importantly, character involvement. It's something special to make me care about a bunch of sprites in a color palette. This is the kind of thing that'll do that.
The battle system in it's glory will no doubt please Tales fans with it's traditional Linear Motion battle-set up. It'll be a bit of an epic splendor for those who have never heard of it, or known about the series before; like me to be precise. Instead of the normal turn based systems, it's more to do with the player and quick thinking and reflexes than with other RPG's in the genre. Final Fantasy games, and the Lunar series usually deal with a typical set up, the Tales series has a twist; the characters and enemies roam free on a linear set...therefore Linear Motion, and both can move towards each other to engage in their confrontation. It's an interesting, strongly mesmerizing, and deeply epic experience in some cases. Most really when dealing with the harder bosses. Things grow increasingly frantic as time goes on, multiple spells are being cast on the field (line if you want to be specific) techniques and such are being charged, and items are being thrown. It's usually a mad rush when the times get tough to stop the bad guys from casting some deadly and abyssmal fate upon the party, which consists of the young, bottomless pit often called Reid Hershel, and others.
The battle system could be compared most closely to those of the Star Ocean series, mostly the second one since it features a great many things for it's battle system that the game in question also had (which came out awhile afterward, if you care to know) mostly the frantic, maniacal style I spoke of earlier. The characters and storyline, could actually be more compared to those of Silent Hill 2.
Yes, I have officially broken a rule and reached to not only a different genre, but one that many believe have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Which I disagree with, but I won't go into detail right now. Not entirely, of course, Tales Of Destiny 2 would have to be a lot more disturbed and a lot less colorful and light to be completely considered so. What I mean is the setup of the two. Silent Hill 2 consists of a storyline that doesn't matter, it's a nessecary dropback, it's a canvas that lets the characters plights be enabled, be materialized upon it. The characters in Silent Hill 2 in essence, were the storyline. Here, the backdrop is two worlds, much like Tales Of Symphonia except without the apocalyptic vision that entwines them together.
Inferia and Celestia, with the former on top, and the other on the bottom, are both inhabitated by people who fear whatever is on the other side of their existence. The characters and story involve two friends, Reid, a young swordsman, and Farah, the cook and farm girl who usually keeps him in check...or at least his belly in check. It starts in a small village, where a stranger from the sky arrives..
From then on, it's the usual fare, "great epic adventure" or something. Epic perhaps, whether it's good is up to you. For the sake of not spoiling everything, it's got a few surprises, but the friendship and development of the characters and the element of friendship that's so instrumental to the Tales series (bottom line: I've never heard a Tales game becuase of some great storyline, in fact, it's always something besides the storyline) is what's really the front piece.
It's a long adventure, however, so it's a good idea to get this game if you don't have something to hold you off for a month until Star Ocean III comes out or if you don't have a Gamecube like I don't to get Tales of Symphonia. It's also choke full of numerous little sidequests and things to keep one interested, there's plenty of dungeons to endure, and challenges to revel over. In fact, the challenge is still pretty hard to get through even in Normal mode. No matter what, the item set is always brought to a total of 15, no more than fifteen of any item is allowed. While this does annoy me a bit, it adds a bit more of a strategic move on the player; it adds just that more emphasis on how important a healer is in your party.
The visuals and battle system are amazing. The music, however, could be considered a tad bit forgettable. It's still a good listen however, and after a year of playing other games, I couldn't remember every piece. The thing is, I can remember a piece from Grandia which I played long, long ago, and can't remember this. The only thing that sticks out is the awesome second battle theme. The boss theme also, but like all of the music here, it mostly feels like it, and everything else delivers. You get the sense of urgency to defeat your foe in a fast and hasty manner, but you don't really feel like there's anything truly beyond that. Don't play this game for the music, but realize that it sets the atmosphere very nicely for the scenes and towns and numerous dungeons and such. The world map theme's are nicely done as well I believe. Whoever developed this score doesn't exactly feel right just going with regular flutes and instruments, it's comprised of some techno and such, and of the typical fantasy fare like the world map's theme, the final dungeon's song is a good example of the somtimes conflicting but interesting mix when thought of with a good degree of the other songs in the game.
From the screens, you can probably tell that the game is made in a 2D set, which works to it's advantage to no end. The world of ToD2 is vast, and above all, incredibly beautiful in my humble opinion. It's traditional and true to the series, which has always looked very well done. The art is compelling, how that is, I don't really know, but it's always hooked me. It's just so plain pretty. It's just that pretty. Like baby in a candy story pretty...or something.
There's really nothing to speak against the translation or the menu systems. It's all rather simple, it's all relatively simplistic to achieve any thing you wish that the game allows. The battle system lets you set your chosen or favorite techniques and pull them off at the touch of an R1 button, and the translation is void of any major troubles. I don't remember a single time I saw a grammatical mistake, or any Engrish, at all. Working Designs? Did you have something to do with this? The voices are actually pretty well done also, I didn't find a truly annoying one, or anything that stuck out against the character. Except for perhaps Meredy, but I think that might have been purposeful, and it's not bad, just kind of...kiddish and strange in a way.
I don't hold anything against ToD2, mainly because it doesn't really wish to be more than it needs to be, or wishes to be, or seems be. It starts off in a normal paced, calm adventure, with a dash, just a dash of some urgency in some points, and ends the same way. It's not all that original, except of course for that battle system, and the story is something that doesn't take a whole lot of thought to figure out. In the end however, I found it to be an extrememly enjoyable experience, and sometimes, the best RPG, or any game for that matter, isn't something with great expectations or a big budget, or any big wigs, but something simple, and perhaps the exact opposite.
Not to say there aren't any big wigs in the Tales series. ;)
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