Archive for the ‘PS2 Reviews’ Category.

Mana Khemia 2 ~ Fall of Alchemy ~ – Staff Review

One year, four months, and thirteen days ago I gave my opinion on Mana Khemia ~Alchemists of Al-Revis~, a title I described as “the union of several good ideas other games had but never put together before.” It was a strangely-worded explanation of a strangely attractive game; none of what I played then was all that new or unique, but so many elements came together into a deceptively entertaining gestalt that, frankly, I didn’t care. Mana Khemia was not unique, and I was fine with that.

Mana Khemia 2 isn’t unique, either. And I’m fine with that, too.

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Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria – Staff Review

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria has an impressive set of credentials to recommend it. Possessing a high-energy, yet tactically challenging combat system, an unexpected epic symphonic soundtrack, some truly impressive visuals, and a sharp, well written story, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is a remarkable title which should appeal to a wide variety of gamers. However, those expecting an experience similar to Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth will be disappointed, as most of the gameplay mechanics that made it so unique have been gutted or outright omitted. There are also a few problems with stiff animation, poor lip sync, and a bit of excess deus ex machina late in the plot, but the game offers an entertaining and thought-provoking take on the Valkyrie Profile world to those willing to accept the changes it makes to the series. Continue reading ‘Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria – Staff Review’ »

Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abbadon – Staff Review

When Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army was released in the winter of 2006, it seemed to be a bit of a black sheep for the Shin Megami Tensei series. The game was much more about the alternate history detective story at the core of its plot than it was about the more traditional mythological influences of the series, and although the combat system still focused rather strongly on exploiting elemental weaknesses, the fact that it was action-based rather than turn-based made the game feel quite different from the normal SMT title. Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abbadon brings the Devil Summoner sub-series a bit more into line with the overarching feel of the SMT series, but still retains most of what made the first game interesting. In short, Devil Summoner 2 is a solid improvement on the series. Continue reading ‘Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abbadon – Staff Review’ »

Persona 4 – Staff Review #2

The Shin Megami Tensei series has been around since 1992 and Persona since its 1996 debut on the PlayStation, but it never really took off in North America until the third game. Persona 4 takes up the mantle to build on Persona 3‘s momentum — and does so successfully. Persona 4‘s graphical style and gameplay engine are carry-overs from its predecessor, but the designers have made a number of tweaks and balance changes allowing for less level grinding, better battles, and an enjoyable experience overall that even surpasses Persona 3. Continue reading ‘Persona 4 – Staff Review #2’ »

Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica – Staff Review

Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica is set a year and a half after the events of Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia. It’s a true sequel, though that does not become apparent until later in the game when references to Melody of Elemia start cropping up. The story centers on Croix, a knight of the Church of Pastalia, and a baffling epidemic that has been crippling many Reyvateils, the world’s magical songstresses. As these things go, he has the choice of pursuing one of two lovely Reyvateils — with a third option opening up later — in a quest to help the goddess or overthrow her.

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Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories – Staff Review

When Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+ in Japan, the little extra bit that gave it the plus was a PS2 remake of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which was originally released on the GBA.  Sadly, we never got either Final Mix in North America, but at least we get the remake of Chain of Memories as Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories for those of us that never played it on the GBA or just feel like going through Castle Oblivion again. Continue reading ‘Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories – Staff Review’ »

Persona 4 – Staff Review

Hot on the heels of Persona 3 FES, Persona 4 invites players to another year of school in Japan. Slightly modifying and improving the mechanics of its predecessor and mixing in a well-written murder mystery to boot, Persona 4 is a very solid game. The biggest problem it contends with is that it has a hard time setting itself apart from Persona 3, as it borrows more than its fair share of game mechanics from the previous game, but can’t quite manage to tie everything together the same way. Still, Persona 4 is an enjoyable, challenging title with a lot to recommend it. Continue reading ‘Persona 4 – Staff Review’ »

Odin Sphere – Staff Retroview #2

In a period when many developers shy away from trying new things and instead hold to tried and true formulas for RPGs, games that wander off the beaten path are few and far between. Odin Sphere is one of these few. The game suffers from significant slowdown in some areas and a less than original battle system, but it also offers gorgeous graphics and a deep, memorable storyline. It’s a game that’s taken chances, and most of these pay off to create a game that, though not without rough edges, is a breath of fresh air in the genre. Continue reading ‘Odin Sphere – Staff Retroview #2’ »

Persona 4 – Staff Import Review

When moving from a bustling city to a quiet rural town, one would usually expect life to become more peaceful, but this isn’t the case in Persona 4. Instead, the main character’s arrival is followed by news of a scandal, and later, a murder. Rather than worry too much about that, he quickly makes a few friends and hears an interesting rumor regarding TVs and rainy days at midnight. While investigating, he and his friends instead find a connection between this strange phenomenon and what has now become a string of murders. Discovering that they may have the power to help the would-be victims, they set out to prevent as many casualties as they can while solving the surrounding mysteries and attempting to catch the culprit. Continue reading ‘Persona 4 – Staff Import Review’ »

Suikoden V – Staff Retroview

With six games to its name in North America (five regular games and one spinoff: Suikoden Tactics), the Suikoden series had been a staple of the RPG genre — if a bit of a dark horse. Suikoden V is a solid addition to the series as well as a great place for players who’ve never tried the series to get their feet wet. And while the game may not appeal to those interested in a highly complex battle system, Suikoden V is an absolute gem for story gamers, and offers memorable characters, a rich plot and a chance to experience a conflict that moves beyond the typical black and white save-the-world plot of many an RPG. Continue reading ‘Suikoden V – Staff Retroview’ »

Persona 3 FES – Staff Review

Under normal circumstances, when a Japanese company releases an expansion for a game, the rest of the world is left out of the loop. Thankfully for us in North America, Persona 3 FES is a rare exception to the rule. Offering a number of changes to Persona 3, FES adds some nice bonuses to the initial package, while adding on a good deal of new content and doing some overall re-balancing. FES‘s changes range from the nice but inconsequential (new costumes), to the significant (an all-new 30 hour epilogue), to the inexplicable (Mara), but overall, FES is a solid and worthwhile addition to Persona 3.
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Mana Khemia ~Alchemists of Al-Revis~ – Staff Review

Alchemy \’al-kə-mē\ – A power or process of transforming something common into something special

One of the toughest challenges for a game in this day and age is the concept of “unique.” It’s a very nebulous term; you can take it to mean “going where no man has gone before,” or perhaps “something kinda familiar, but twisted beyond recognition.” Perhaps Mana Khemia is not a truly “unique” game. Every element of its gameplay feels like it’s been done before… but can a patchwork not be beautiful of its own right? The contrast of many fabrics may come together to create a beautiful work, just as the union of many existing concepts in game mechanics can join to create an excellent experience.

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Rogue Galaxy – Staff Review

A fair review of Rogue Galaxy would involve overuse of the words ‘juxtapose’ and ‘contrast;’ the former meaning to place things side-by-side for comparison, the latter meaning comparisons with stark differences. Vocabulary lessons aside, Rogue Galaxy is plagued with both spectacular highs and criminal lows; a fantastic presentation that is brought low by the foibles of the role-playing genre. What could have been an epic space opera winds up feeling like the same anime nonsense we’ve seen before, and what could have been a truly memorable game is resigned to the ‘flawed, but still good’ category. Continue reading ‘Rogue Galaxy – Staff Review’ »

Digimon World Data Squad – Staff Review

It all begins with a typical mission on a sunny digital island. The hero, Marcus, is here to defeat a trouble-maker and return it to Digiegg form. It turns out that Marcus and his Digimon, Agumon, are members of DATS, the Digital Accident Tactics Squad. DATS’s goal is to keep things peaceful between the real and digital worlds. Due to the rising number of disturbances, the heroes will end up taking on Creepymon and a number of other powerful Mao Digimon as they attempt to restore the peace. Continue reading ‘Digimon World Data Squad – Staff Review’ »

Mega Man X: Command Mission – Staff Review

Last week I finally picked up Mega Man X: Command Mission (hereafter referred to as XCM) again after quite a long hiatus from the game. The last time, I’d gotten about halfway through and ran into a boss that quite literally could kick my collective Reploid butts four times over. I restarted it due to losing the story after so much time, still not sure if I could enjoy it enough to make it all the way through. Continue reading ‘Mega Man X: Command Mission – Staff Review’ »

Soul Nomad – Staff Review

Long ago, a powerful warrior and grim reaper of sorts by the name of Gig appeared, along with three mighty beings known as World Eaters. Together, they wrought devastation upon the world thanks to their superior power and otherworldly abilities. At last, some hope came when Gig was sealed away within a sword. Of course, there was still the not-so-small problem of the remaining World Eaters. This is where the hero of Soul Nomad and the World Eaters comes in. He or she, depending on the player’s choice, takes up the sword that Gig was sealed in, gaining some of Gig’s powers. However, these borrowed powers come at a price. The more the hero takes advantage of them, the closer Gig will come to being able to take control of their body. Given that the hero’s mission is to hunt down and defeat the remaining World Eaters, all while getting caught up with the motives of various factions, the offer for more power is going to become awfully tempting at times. Continue reading ‘Soul Nomad – Staff Review’ »

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 – Staff Review #2

When the world is in peril, unlikely heroes will sometimes come forth in order to combat the threats that have emerged. Typically, these heroes venture far from their homes, leaving behind their ordinary lives when they take on the persona of a hero. This is not the case in Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3. Having recently transferred into Gekkoukan High School from some distant region, you, the hero, will need to do your best in order to balance saving the world with academics, social lives, and other day-to-day activities. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 – Staff Review #2’ »

Growlanser: Heritage of War – Staff Review

A continent, sealed off from the rest of the world by powerful barriers, has been plagued by amphibious creatures known as Screapers, causing humans to be pushed inland. This isn’t the end of the troubles though; the land has also begun to decay forcing humans to turn on one another over scraps of land capable of producing crops. Tired of these wars, two orphans by the names of Seldous and Vanette have begun to scour the world, following the legend of a civilization that was able to bring peace and prosperity to the world. Though peace is the ultimate goal, the world is war-torn and full of warriors with their own goals in mind. With the threat of the Screapers and wild monsters as well, the heroes will be going through a lot of battles as they progress towards their goals. Continue reading ‘Growlanser: Heritage of War – Staff Review’ »

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Staff Review

Author’s Note: Due to some unpleasant wildfires in Derek’s part of the world, we’ve had to postpone some of the reviews that were going up this week. In the meantime, we have some Halloween treats for our readers, so stay tuned!

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner marks a bit of a new direction for the series, using a far more lighthearted tone and lighter level of difficulty to move it ever-so-slightly closer to mainstream RPGs. The game uses a story set in a recognizable period of history to present a unique and intriguing take on the series universe, but its new combat system, which exchanges the complexity of the Press Turn system for a simplistic real-time system, means that the game is somewhat less engaging than previous entries have been. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner works best when the disparate elements of detective story, alternate history, and mysticism come together, but the somewhat clumsily-applied combat system hampers the overall effect. In the end, those with an understanding of the history involved and an appreciation for the mythology intertwined with it will get the most out of Devil Summoner. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Staff Review’ »

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 – Staff Review

The staff would like to apologize for the extreme tardiness of this review. Due to recent disputes over the ownership of certain reviews, we felt it necessary to afford ourselves a certain amount of protection under the law. Having reviewed the matter, we are confident in our ownership of the reviews in question. Unfortunately, this process took rather longer than we had anticipated. Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to bringing our readers the best in reviews of games both past and present.
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