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Legaia 2: Duel Saga
By: Holy Dragoon
Sequel to the PSONE RPG Legend of Legaia, Legaia 2: Duel Saga provides an enjoyable gaming experience despite a number of flaws. An unimaginative plot, coupled with lackluster graphics and sound hurt an otherwise decent RPG that does deliver intriguing gameplay (in the form of the exceptional battle system) and a cast of interesting characters.
First, the good. The game definitely provides one of the better gameplay experiences out there. Every character has his/her own Origin (the games summon monster) which each have their own abilities to use both in and out of battle. In battle the Origins provide powerful magic, from powerful fire and lightning spells to healing and support. Outside of battle they play the role of puzzle solver, as by switching between characters you can use different Origin abilities to bypass obstacles. Fire to burn down barriers, water to make vines grow into ladders, and lightning to activate switches.
Equally entertaining is the battle system. Taken almost directly from first installment, Duel Saga's battle system is turn based, with each character allowed to input a series of attacks (using the direction buttons) to combat enemies. It's the random input of attacks that lead to the discovery of Arts, the powerful combos of the game. This leads to the AP meter, which is filled by use of the normal Arts, and depleted by the use of the amazing Super, Hyper, and Variable Arts, as well as the downright spectacular combination Arts that use the character and Origin to beat your unlucky foe to a pulp.
Learning these Arts is a bit of a chore, however, as most require you to continually punch in random sequences of attacks until you hit pay dirt (with the exception of some arts that can be learned through using items or in story sequences). This does get rather tedious as the game goes on, especially when trying to discover the incredible variable Arts, in which you must find the proper combination for both characters you want to use the Art (Variable Arts are essential for some of the boss battles later in the game). But on the whole, the battle system is very engaging and definitely provides a boost to the gameplay.
The game does have its pitfalls, however. The visuals are adequate at best, and they hardly push the capacity of the PS2. They do provide a comfortable setting, however, just don't go looking for any grand effects or over the top spells. The sound can be described in the same way, with Sharon's theme being the only track of note, with the other songs barely even worthy of mention. Depending on the type of player, the difficulty may effect the game as well. While not nigh-on impossible like the first one was at times, Duel Saga is nonetheless a difficult game, with even experienced players occasionally getting thrashed in random battles.
That the plot could have used some work there is no doubt, in an age where everyone is trying to copy the complexity of the Final Fantasy series, a simple plot may have been welcome, but Duel Saga crosses the line from simple to bland, as half way though the game I began craving some kind of development or twist that would galvanize the slow pace, but none came. In the end its just another "save the world from the evil madman" with almost no variation on this old concept. What does redeem this flaw is the characters, who are portrayed with depth and style. The characters are vibrant and entertaining, and their interaction throughout the game provides much, despite being somewhat cliché.
There's the silent mage Maya, the wise master Kazan, and the unreserved pirate Sharon. The lead character, Lang, is not as 1-dimensional as some RPG leads, as he takes part in the party interactions (the Chat command in the camp window allows for party interaction) and comes off as a believable hero. The origins are characters as well, as they are able to manifest themselves and speak, with each having his/her own personality. While hardly a blockbuster RPG, Legaia 2: Duel Saga does provide an entertaining, and overall fun experience. The ability to combine weapons, a mini-game casino, and a hunters guild with side quests add to the game, which clocks around 30-35 hours of playtime. Definitely worth a try even for those who didn't like the original.
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