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Summoner 2 - Review

Lady Looks Like a Harmonixer

By: Michael Beckett


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 6
   Originality 8
   Plot 7
   Localization NA
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Average
   Time to Complete

30-40 Hours

 
Overall
7
Criteria

Summoner 2
 

   Over the course of reading some of the other reviews written on various sites online, I have noticed one connecting trend, one phrase that seems to link all the reviews together. They all say, and this is nearly verbatim, that Summoner 2 is what an American made game should be. I disagree. I think Summoner 2 is what an RPG should be, period. Summoner 2 provides a solid plot along with a wonderful - and on a console, somewhat rarified - chance to do some honest-to-goodness role playing.

   Combat is, I think, where people honestly start to love this game. The combat system is reminiscent of Summoner, but without all that stationary-attack-linking garbage. Fights in Summoner 2 are short, brutal, and often quite difficult if your allies are set to the wrong AI scripts. At any rate, your party is limited to three characters at a time, and you can choose to be any of the three - this adds massive amounts of replay value, which I'll get into later. For the moment, suffice to say it allows a single player to roleplay all of the available characters, at least a little bit. Summoning is significantly different from the first Summoner. Rather than calling monsters forth, Maia becomes the creatures she summons, Shadow Hearts style. Lots of fun.

   Interface, on the other hand, is not a lot of fun. Menus are a bit sticky, and why do we have to switch command to a different character to use a potion on him? Without a mage in your party, you're pretty much without restoration in a fight. Control is a bit strange, with movement split effectively between the right and left analog sticks - the left stick can move you backwards, forwards, et cetera, but the camera stays in one place, regardless of how you move. It's very easy to simply turn around and stare the camera in the face. Thus, in order to keep the camera behind you and giving you a decent field of vision, you must hold the left stick forward and use the right stick - the camera control - to maneuver left and right. What was wrong with simply fixing the camera behind the player and putting in a "look" feature?


Monster design is quite unique for Summoner 2.
Monster design is quite unique for Summoner 2.  

   Okay, music and sound. Both of these things have been getting progressively better in RPGs, much to my delight. Voice acting in Summoner 2, I'm quite happy to report, surpasses even those of the more illustrious Square games. The music, composed by newcomer Franky Vivid (if that's not a pseudonym, some parent somewhere deserves a good smacking), is so background as to be nonexistent. What can actually be heard of the music is, in fact, quite good. I just wanted more of it. Final score: not bad.

   Despite being a sequel, Summoner 2 manages to bring its own brand of originality to series. Frankly, the designers could have just taken the old battle system and dumped the new characters into the appropriate slots, but the fact that they didn't speaks well for the future of this series. Summoner 2 manages to be both a highly original game and a true sequel to Summoner.

   The same thing holds with the plot. I would have been disappointed had the plot simply been a gaiden (japanese for side-story, for those of you unfamiliar with the word) of the original Summoner, or if it had been a Final Fantasy style sequel, set on a different world. The plot of Summoner 2 takes place on a continent to the south of Medeva, the location of Summoner. It has to do with a prophecy laid squarely on the shoulders of a young queen named Maia. Said to be the Goddess of the Creation Lahara reborn, the prophecy demands that she heals the World Tree, Eleh, which was shattered by the Storm. The Storm appears to be an incarnation of chaos and destruction. Frankly, the fact that it has a creation myth at all impresses me. The designers and writers who created this world obviously put a lot of thought into not only the physical layout and general history of the world, but also its spiritual and mental aspects and the people involved. There is one flaw with the plot, and that lies in the characters. None of them are particularly developed, perhaps outside Morbazan and Iari, but their character arcs aren't really all that believable. In the end, though, the relationships between the characters will win you over. As with most of the rest of the game, the plot's good points far outweigh its bad points.


Maia needs some full-body Blistex.
Maia needs some full-body Blistex.  

   Summoner 2 was designed and published in the USA. I think I speak for everyone when I say I hope future RPGs made in the US are of this quality or even greater.

Side quests are a main feature of PC games, which Summoner 2 is obviously designed with in mind. With a truly monumental number of optional side quests, Summoner 2's replay value is amazing, quite aside from the fact that you are not stuck controlling Maia; any of the eight playable characters are readily available to play, each with their own unique set of commands and method of control.

Graphics are nothing terribly special, but they do convey the feel of the world well. The environments are very realistic and detailed, and go a long way towards immersing the player in the game's reality. Character design is a bit… well, frankly, and Krobelus' gray-silver skin aside, character design looks almost sci-fi. Modern design just doesn't seem to fit all that well into a fantasy setting. The end package isn't enough to make it a bad game, not by a long shot, but it can get on your nerves if it's the sort of thing that bothers you.


The ability to permanently control various characters really adds depth to Summoner 2.
The ability to permanently control various characters really adds depth to Summoner 2.  

   Difficulty on Summoner 2 is considerably greater than most modern-day RPGs - it is actually conceivable that you might die more than twice if you're not careful. Time to complete is around thirty to forty hours, so it's not overly long, even with the side quests.

   In the final analysis, Summoner 2 is not without its faults, as no game is, but it rises above these faults with a wonderfully executed plot, massive replay value, and some high quality voice acting. If Summoner 2 is any indication as to where this series is going, then I say long live the Summoner.




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