Just over three years ago, Enix revealed that it would be working on a game with key ex-members of the Ace Combat and Resident Evil development teams at Namco and Capcom, respectively. The following months saw Square and Enix merge while the game was quickly revealed for North America. In Japan, the title was called Drag-On Dragoon, though most North Americans will recognize it as Drakengard. This title combined action and role-playing elements, all while creating a story that would engross many gamers in Japan, North America, and Europe when all was said and done. Two years after the original title was unveiled in Famitsu, the magazine revealed that Drag-On Dragoon 2 would be released in 2005. In November, gamers in North America were surprised to hear that not only had Square Enix passed on localizing the game, but that Ubisoft would be publishing Drakengard 2 in both North America and Europe.
It has been 18 years since the events depicted in the original title took place. The seals on the goddess have been strengthened and her pain and sense of burden have been increased along with them. Players take the role of Nowe, a young knight of the seal, as he sets out on a journey that will take him far across the world. During his quest, he'll meet up with quite a few different people that will join him, including the antagonist from the original game, Manah. Once she was set free from the cult of the Watchers, Caim took her under his wing for training. Caim, now 42-years old, has lost his eyesight but has sensed a darkness returning to the land.
Battles take place nearly exactly as they did in the original title. There are ground, mid-air, and high-air battles with the latter two being on Legna's back. Legna is a blue dragon that raised Nowe when he was younger. Ground battles take the form of large-scale battles pitting one of the player's characters against a horde of enemies. There will be other party members that will eventually become available; however, players must have certain weapons in their possession to call out their comrades. Party members in this game that are not active are not on the battle field. Air battles take two forms. The first are mid-air battles where players can see enemies on the ground and can fire at them. But this goes both ways, as enemies on the ground can also fire back at Nowe while he flies above them. During these battles, players can mount and dismount their dragon at will by pressing the Select button in an open area on the world map. The second is high-air battles where players are fighting air-based enemies such as dragons and ships, as well as objects such as towers that are attacking.
There are more weapons in this title than can be found in the original. Players will once again be able to add weapons to their inventory to take into battle with them. This time, however, players will have to figure out which characters they want to be able to bring in as well. So, if players want to be able to bring in Eris, for example, they'd need to have spears in their inventory.
Each weapon in the game has its own strengths and weaknesses, just like each character does. Players will need to keep track of who they're using in battle and the weapons they tend to use as well. Each character levels up independently, so players will need to keep an eye on each character's level before deciding who to bring into what could be a tough level. Bringing a character that could die in a few hits isn't exactly worth the time of bringing them along.
"Fans of the first title's originality will also notice that the composer continues to try new things with the music."
The music in Drakengard 2 is composed by Aoi Yoshiki, who was part of the team that worked on the original title's soundtrack. Many people will notice that this soundtrack has a few changes from the original. First, the game utilizes a live orchestra to create a larger sense of feeling in the game. Fans of the first title's originality will also notice that the composer continues to try new things with the music. Currently there is no word concerning the vocalized songs in this game. Whether or not they will remain in Japanese or will receive English adaptations will have to be seen when the title is released later this month.
One thing that hasn't really changed much at all since the first Drakengard is the graphics engine that runs this title. Players will once again notice that textures don't really stand out, and the draw distance while on the dragon might have even gotten worse. Many times, players will find themselves running into groups of enemies without warning unless they are paying attention to the radar in the upper corner of the screen. This radar will also be what continues to keep players on course as it points them right to the enemies. This tends to make larger areas easier to navigate without getting lost.
Players won't need to wait long for Drakengard 2 in North America as Ubisoft has revealed that the game will be shipping to stores on February 14. Currently, the game remains on schedule to ship in Europe in March; however, the publisher has been even more quiet about the release there than they have been here. Stay tuned later this month for the full review of Drakengard 2.