D2 - Reader Retroview  

Definitely Different
by JuMeSyn

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12-15 Hours
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   Laura Parton has just awakened after sleeping for 2 days. 10 days prior to this she was one of many caught in a plane crash north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Her memory is not yet recovered (being caught outdoors in the Northwest Territories during winter can be detrimental to health), and the situation is being explained by Kimberly Fox, another survivor. Suddenly a man bursts into the cabin Laura has been recuperating within; this man sprouts tendrils from his torso and is about to tear the two women to shreds before being blown to bits by a well-timed shotgun blast from another man. Thus begins D2.

   Soon enough Laura will begin to explore the harsh realm of the Northwest Territories, where plenty of other unfortunates who have ‘blossomed’ (given that their tendrils and larger protuberances are quite plant-like) will randomly assault her. Upon being attacked Laura will do battle with firepower. Initially she holds just a submachine gun, but as the game progresses she will acquire a few grenades, a shotgun, an automatic rifle, and a pistol. The submachine gun and the automatic rifle possess unlimited ammunition while the other weapons are possessed of limited ammunition. In battle Laura must aim at the enemies around her and attempt to blow them away before they rip her apart. She cannot move in battle, instead the X and B buttons will rotate her viewpoint around to take in the circling foes. All weapons require reloading, and this is the bane of the unlimited ammunition; since Laura must pause repeatedly to insert a fresh clip enemies have a chance to recover that the shotgun is less inclined to grant, while the pistol tracks enemies so that aiming is unnecessary and the infrequent grenade kills everything in the encounter.

   While none of this sounds much like an RPG, there are a few quirks to D2’s system that fit it within the RPG parameter. Foremost is Laura’s acquisition of experience from defeated foes that translates into level gains; as Laura’s level rises her HP and skill with weapons increase. Changing weapons in battle is done by hitting the R button, which freezes the action and allows leisurely selection. Hitting the L button in battle also freezes the action and allows for leisurely healing (given that no other items are of use in battle).

   Moving Laura around is a bit clumsy outdoors since she likes to travel in circles instead of going straight back, but a little practice makes this easy to deal with. Moving her indoors is a different and much easier proposition; this takes place entirely from a first-person perspective and requires the player to choose a direction to face then send her there. Item usage is streamlined and easy, though backtracking is often necessary. Picking up items outdoors is automatic, indoors requires an investigation of the place containing something. Controlling the snowmobile when it is available is somewhat annoying thanks to its tendency to get stuck in corners but the much faster pace Laura can move at with the vehicle means the annoyance is worthwhile.

   One other interaction area concerns hunting. Early on Laura will gain a rifle to shoot foolish animals with. Using it is quite simple and with a little practice bagging fresh meat will become second nature. The underlying idea here (that Laura has a portable cooker with her to instantly make the meat edible) is odd in principle but works nicely in practice as a method of bagging fresh healing supplies all the time. One caveat: since when would a hare hold two pieces of meat if a moose holds four?

   Visually D2 looks pretty good for being the first announced Dreamcast game. Admittedly most of the game takes place in the tundra during winter, so expect lots of darkness and snow. The enemies bleed copious amounts of green in battle, which coats the snow in a repellent manner. Character models look pretty good though reading their expressions can be a challenge. Fortunately every piece of dialogue is voice-acted, and well enough to make reading expressions inessential. Not much music is in the game, with those pieces present being far more reminiscent of a horror movie’s score than the typical RPG soundtrack. Plenty of sound effects appropriate to the climate north of Yellowknife are present instead; expect much wailing wind.

   D2 is not a long game, and a good chunk of its length is accounted for with cinemas. Completing it within 10 hours is quite possible. Dying in battle is easy to do considering the speed with which enemies can attack in succession, but so long as the player has been hunting regularly and remembers to keep using restoratives the game will not be difficult. There is no real reason to replay, save to find interesting photos; a camera option allows the player to save anything of interest on the VMU.

   D2’s story is … different, but worth experiencing if for no other reason than to stammer in disbelief (wait until Laura meets her mother). Its actual play is reasonably interesting without being exceptional. The experience is certainly unique among video games; such was to be expected from Warp. Everything is not executed brilliantly and the game will certainly repel many, but it does deliver a unique experience without being a complete botch.

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