Just an opinionated fan of rpg's and gaming in general who likes to rant about first world gamer problems because there are so many.
My blogs mostly consist of reviews/rants of games of all generations, particularly rpg's. I try to blend my reviews with both facts and opinion so that people can see from my own experiences and decide for themselves. i will also tend to review older titles because i still believe that there are few people out there who haven't played these awesome titles and deserve to give them a chance.
Oh and as for some negative's you might point out, i don't put images in my reviews/rants because images are a pain in the neck to obtain and they never seem to work properly. Plus i can't spell for my life and my grammar is terrible.
Baten Kaitos has some serious flaws, It's like a fancy sports car with no brakes, sure it looks nice, and it drives pretty fast and works well for the most part but when push comes to shove and you need to brake, the car goes flying into a wall. This is how i felt playing Baten Kaitos, first of all lets get all the issues out of the way before go into the good points. First of all, this game has some insane difficulty spikes, one minute you kick a boss' ass without even trying, this happens for 75% of the games bosses. Eventually you will find yourself up against a ridiculously cheap boss in which the game gives every single advantage to them.
It really doesn't help that the design choice for the gameplay was a card game battle system as there are always random elements in card games. It's as if the developers just flat out hate the player and intentionally want to irritate them. I think the people who have played this game already know what boss I'm mainly talking about here. Lets put it this way, the final boss of this game is what the final boss of Tales Of Xillia would be if it was actually challenging and i will tell you right now, the final boss fight is simply put trial and error, if you find yourself with no healing magnus when you need it, you're screwed.
The next issue is that the combat can feel really slow, battles can get really tedious quickly, especially when you have to fight 3 enemies in a single battle (seriously why the hell is there no aoe magnus?). It's easy to say that the battles really pan out the game time and eventually you will get fed up with them, quit and return later when you feel like trawling through more battles. Thankfully and here is the first good part right here, the combat system is innovative, the character management is deep and the battle music never gets old. It is this that kept me from leaving the game on the shelf like i did with Tales Of Vesperia, i will get to it later.
Back to the bad bits, the characters are terrible, well most of them, i felt like Kalas was quite interesting but the rest, they simply didn't have any reason to be there and have no personality. Sure there is the memorable Mizuti and Xelha is somewhat important to the plot but every other character is bland and pointless. Oh and before you start the game, do yourself a favor and turn off the voices, though they will still irritate you in battle, it will save you from all the pain and torment they will bring you in the otherwise interesting story. The voice acting itself isn't the problem, it's the audio quality that's the problem, it's a mess. The voice actors aren't all bad for the most part, it's just two characters in particular that stand out from the rest and that's Xelha and Lyude. Put simply Xelha's VA is way too flamboyant, it's bad. Lyude's VA is cringe material, he has the most robotic voice acting i have ever heard since Lymle from Star Ocean 4.
I think these video's make a good enough gameplay demonstration
Now onto the good parts, The battle system uses an innovative card based battle system which forces you to think before you act but you have to be quick about it. Quick thinking is the key to Baten Kaitos as you are timed for each turn and have to pick the best combination of cards from your hand. The lack of options keeps you on your toes and you have to be ready for anything. Using the right combination of cards will reward you with prize, a percentage bonus to damage/healing based on how many cards you managed to combo together. To make a combo, you have to either get a straight, a pair or use cards of the same number, the latter offers the least rewarding bonus whereas a straight gives you a more considerable bonus.
Later on in the game, if done correctly, your damage will soar depending on how many cards made it into the combo but be careful as if there is even a single card out of place, you mess it all up. Another thing to note is that weaknesses and resistances perform an important role in this game, using a resistant element can drastically lower the damage you deal whereas using a strong element will greatly increase the damage, this is standard JRPG fare on steroids and if you're new to JRPG's you might find this a bit too convoluted, which it can be at times due to the way the damage summary presents itself but soon enough you will be able to grasp how the game works.
Nothing says "i kicked your ass" better than a final straight sunrise!
The character management is different to most rpg's as there is only one equipment slot of each character, but don't let that put you off as each character has their own deck of cards that they can use in battle, it's up to the player to modify this deck to make it as versatile as it can be. There are all sorts of different magnus with many differrent effects, some might seem useless at first glance but some can be used to make special combos. I will have to admit that i never tried them, so i won't be able to cover that in the review. Some magnus change over time leading to some unexpected changes to your deck which you have to be careful of. Food in particular tends to rot over time, so you'll have to be constantly modifying your deck every now and again. If you like character management, you might consider this a challenge, if you don't, you will probably consider this a nightmare.
There are tonnes of magnus to collect giving completionists plenty to do. There is also a star map to complete which requires you to look all over the world for each constellation magnus. Doing so will reward you with conventional magnus. Sadly Baten Kaitos has no new game + option so it will be difficult to collect every magnus.
Another thing to note is that Baten Kaitos loves to throw the unexpected at you quite frequently, if hitting an enemy with a burnt fish isn't enough for you, get ready for some interesting surprises in the future, thats all i will say. The games quirkiness is one of it's charms along with it's unusual art design, or particularly the locations you will visit, nothing says unconventional better than Baten Kaitos.
The pre rendered backgrounds are very detailed, particularly the world maps. Sadly many of the world maps are linear due to this but the art design more than makes up for this. There are many interesting and detailed locations that come close to Valkyrie Profile 2's standards, with a bit more graphical quality, this game could look amazing (HD remake please Namco).
The music is composed by Motoi Sakuraba so you can expect some enjoyment out of that alone many people consider Baten Kaitos to be one of his most definitive works. Put simply if you love Motoi Sakuraba's work, this game is a must play for you. If not, this game might change your mind. There are plenty of dynamic songs in this game as you would expect from Sakuraba as well as some really great calming tracks. Put simply, the soundtrack is excellent.
The story starts off quite slow, it mostly follows a recurring plot device which couldn't be any more predictable. It's not until the second half of the game where it actually starts getting interesting. Thankfully it really does get more interesting in the second half but until then, it's pretty bog standard stuff, the characters don't really help the story move well but the unique setting and the games charm keep you interested. I can easily say that i enjoyed playing Baten Kaitos overall mainly for it's charm, music and engaging battle system, the story was pretty interesting too when it got round to it. I'd only recommend this game to players with lots of patience and time but if you have the time and patience, i honestly think you will enjoy this game as there is a lot to appreciate and lone about it.
Another feature the game tries to include is player interaction via the guardian spirit. The problem is that this feature feels rather lacking as your choices don't appear to affect the flow of the game and often throws the "But Thou Must" trope, sometimes even when it seems unnecessary, where the game could have added some impact on your choices. Your choices are important though as they allow you to use guardian spirit attacks more frequently which are essentially the most powerful attacks in the game. I wish they let us impact the story though with our choices, why do you think people love Mass Effect?
Overall, Baten Kaitos holds much potential, i hope it doesn't seem like i'm making out that this game is bad because it's not, it has tonnes of interesting concepts that just need a little more TLC to work better. Sadly though i was unable to play the sequal due to region lock. I say if they were to make another Baten Kaitos game, it should be on the 3DS. That way we no longer have to scroll through magnus using the control stick, it is that problem that made me mess up so many combo's. Instead we could tap the cards we wanted on the touch screen. Make it happen Monolith!
Imagine video games without music, it has happened before, but not everyone has seen it. I'm mainly talking about single player titles here. Music has existed in videogames since the 80's and back then, music was often a rarity, in fact i would consider them to be little jingles rather than music. It wasn't till the 90's where Music became an important part of gaming either for being memorable or just simply absorbing the player into the game world.
So is music really that important? I would say yes. In what way is music important you ask? Well it depends on what genre of game it is. If it's a shooter, music can be used to enhance the adrenaline feel. The same goes for racing games, especially F-Zero. Music can make you feel empowered and awesome, kinda like drugs really. This makes it an important component of these type of games.
On the other hand, is music really all that important in these type of games, sure maybe racing but in a shooter it can sometimes feel mundane, as if it didn't really need to be there and only serves as a distraction from the experience.
So what is music important for? Thats easy, Adventure games and Platformers are notable but the most important genre for music has to be RPG's. Now sure you can say adventure games are a tie breaker for this but considering the fact that i hate them, i'm going to focus on RPG's for the most part. I think everyone can agree that some of the best videogame soundtracks can be found in RPG's, particularly JRPG's. Now thats not to say that other genres have bad music but lets face it, music is the deciding factor of any RPG these days. You could say that it has been taken for granted but i believe that RPG's have the task of enveloping the player in a world and to do so, it takes more than great art design and storytelling, music speaks louder than both of them put together, thats not to say that it's any more important than the other two but it's definitely an important fundamental component.
Of course some games excel in music more than others and usually it requires someone with a specific talent to pull off a particular game. I don't think there's a particular "best" game composer, each one has their own specialty and style that befit specific types of games. It is the developers responsibility to find the right composer for their game and to do so, they must not only be passionate about video games but also music. I find that many developers slip up on this, completely ignorant as to how important music is and how much of an impact it has on it's game. I often have the tendency to listen to my favorite JRPG music whenever i play a WRPG because JRPG music usually goes better with the scenery and gives me a much greater feeling of adventure than listening to what is usually the same song over and over again on a loop (pretty typical trend for WRPG's there).
To me, music is the strongest sense of immersion there is. This is why i can never get into games like Skyrim because lets face it, Dragonborn is the only song that stands out in that game, the rest of it is pretty much the same loop over and over again and it sometimes fades out which is annoying. I want music for every single location and i want it to loop over and over until i reach a differrent location. This is why i often value JRPG's greater than WRPG's. The only western composer who seems to appeal to me is Matt Uelman because his music is iconic, don't lie, it is.
But nevertheless, the trophy has to go to JRPG's, as i have already mentioned before, Valkyrie Profile 2 has my favorite soundtrack of all time and i will tell you right now, listening to Valkyrie Profile 2's soundtrack to any WRPG makes the experience so much better as the music of that game captures everything that WRPG's try to emulate, the entire immersive experience.
Now let me hear your thoughts, is music just a distraction? Or is it an experience in itself. I personally can't listen to mainstream music at all and generally any non videogame music doesn't interest me but i think since all of us are gamers, we all have that one game which has music that we can remember and i believe deep down that pretty much everyone will agree with me on this. So really the only variation is that there are gamers that listen and appreciate only gaming music and gamers who appreciate not only gaming music but music outside of gaming, stuff that hasn't really appealed to me. I suppose video game music has a differrent purpose to conventional music and has to go the extra mile to capture the scenes and emotions the game is trying to produce.
Ok just tel me your favourite videogame soundtracks people and post music because we all know you want to do that and it is satisfying. I will contribute to this as well because i don't want to be the odd one out.
lets just go with this for now... it's my top 10 RPG battle themes
The feeling of expressing your opinion over the internet surpasses all others.
Do you find SRPG'S boring? Do you get tired of watching silly automatic battle sequences every time you engage an enemy? This is the game for you. Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume mixes the strategic game play of Final Fantasy Tactics with the action of Valkyrie Profile so well that it never gets boring, battles are always intense and fun and you never get tired of them. This is coming from someone who dislikes SRPG's and finds them boring due to the fact that the game play takes too long. Covenant Of The Plume speeds things up a bit with it's formations and link attacks.
The game play in Valkyrie Profile COTP is unique as unlike most games, if you send in a single unit/character against an enemy, you're going to get slaughtered, you have to strategically position your units so that they can support one another and ambush your enemies with a pincer attack but beware they will do the same to you, and quite often no doubt so be on your guard and be aware of the enemies formations, one false move can mean death and death is never good. One of the biggest additions is the sin system. Every scenario has an objective and a sin quota. Your goal is to complete the objective whilst acquiring as much sin as possible which is easier said than done. Fail to obtain enough sin and you will be punished and will have to face a realmstalker in the next scenario and they're really tough. If you manage to fulfill the sin quota, you will be rewarded with bonus items for the trouble, the more sin you acquire with each scenario, the better the rewards.
In Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume, playing piggy in the middle is a dangerous game
To acquire sin you have to overkill an enemy unit. After an enemy's hp goes to zero, every hit afterwards will go towards sin acquisition, you can get a maximum of 100 sin per unit, do not waste the opportunity to overkill an enemy, the rewards are too good to pass up, especially if you're following the A path. Sin acquisition can seem quite taxing at first, especially if the objective requires you to protect a particular character but it is this challenge that makes this game an enjoyable experience. To get the most sin in a scenario, you must overkill every single enemy on the battlefield by 100 sin and whilst you could go straight for the enemy leader, missing out on the sin bonus could make later battles much more difficult as not only will you have to fight a realmstalker but you will also miss out on the valuable sin bonuses which give you a huge advantage in later battles.
On the contrary, if you're looking for a challenge you may opt to disregard sin acquisition and deliberately fail to achieve the sin quota in order to collect the chains which drop from the realmstalkers. Doing so may take multiple playthroughs of a game though as you will miss out on a lot of important loot that you will need if you hope to stand a chance against the realmstalkers. You will need to do multiple playthroughs to obtain them all however and since the realmstalkers are really strong, it is recommended to save them for a second playthrough should you wish to fight them as you can carry over all of your equipment gained from the first playthrough. In any case, acquiring the chains is completely optional and they are merely bragging rights rewards as they serve no purpose other than to prove that you've beaten them.
Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume is not the successor to my favorite rpg of all time, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, it is more of a SRPG spin off of the series which primarily follows the first game in the series Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth however there are a few returning elements from the sequal such as the voice cast and items. The combat in Covenant Of The Plume hails from the first game as there is no ap gauge so you have to be careful as characters have a limited number of attacks depending on your weapon, some weapons have special attacks known as soul crushes, the glorified limit break style attacks which return from Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria which can be used by filling the heat gauge (which gets filled by performing combo's). Performing combo's in Covenant Of The Plume is pretty easy compared to other installments in the series and anyone can get into it and enjoy it without it being too difficult making it accessible for anyone.
The story follows Wylfred, the first male lead protagonist who appears to be the most unhappiest character in videogame history, he makes Cloud Strife look like the happiest man on earth, his friend, Ancel is the complete opposite and is optimistic and always in high spirits, the only thing they have in common is that they both have swords and they both kick tonnes of ass. Wylfred is sent into battle along with 2 other mercenaries to protect the keep and get paid a hefty fee. Unfortunately, Wylfred gets killed in action but is soon resurrected by a crimson plume, when he awakens, to Ancel's amazement, they both return to the keep and earn their pay before getting mocked by the older, more experienced mercenaries, Ancel shrugs it off ans they both head into battle again (there's no shortage of battles in this game believe me). During the battle, Wylfred gets a call from Hel (no not a phone call, and hel is a person) who tells him to use the plume's power on Ancel to make him stronger so they can defeat the enemies, Ancel kicks their asses before his life is claimed by the plume. Wylfred then sets out to avenge his father's death and slay the Valkyrie from the first Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth.
Great... another fetish trope >.>
The story carries on from there and the best part is YOU choose the path you want to take. Do you want to be a vigilante and fight for justice? Do you want to be a completely neutral mercenary who battles for money and has no concern about anything else? Or do you want to be a sadistic killer who charges into battle to satisfy your bloodlust? It's all up to you. Depending on which path you take will depend on the characters who will join you, Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume has a very unique cast of characters for a JRPG. Unlike the generic angsty teenagers (come on, do we really need more Wylfred's?) of most JRPG's. Covenant Of The Plume offers a more mature cast of characters, ages ranging from 12 to 60, yes you heard me, 60 (well i think there might be older actually)! Best of all, the oldest character in the game fights with his bare hands, now thats age for you, as far as Auguste is concerned, age just makes you more of a badass. Theres also the cynical scotsman, Gwendal who always manages to be entertaining with his amazingly fitting voice (considering this is a norse mythology themed game). Theres also Roienbourg. He might have alzheimer's but he can still kick a ton of ass.
The storyline of Covenant Of The Plume is dark and gritty, centered on war, mercenaries, military houses and political quarrels as opposed to supernatural forces, time travel, collecting einherjar etc. The gods take a back seat in this game and let the mortals play out the story themselves (or do they?). Nevertheless, the story gets the player easily attached, especially if they have played the first 2 Valkyrie Profile games. There are some very emotional scenes in this game, akin to the first game, especially the A ending which i obviously won't spoil. You also do not need to play the first two games in the series to understand the story, this is a prequel to the series and is considered a spin off.
Medieval trash talk at it's best
Oh yes that's right, this game has multiple endings and lots of replay value. Unlike the first Valkyrie Profile where you had 2 garbage endings and one satisfying endings, Covenant Of The Plume only has one garbage ending (2 if you count the one when you use the plume too much) and two satisfying endings. Obtaining the endings, while not as hard as the original Valkyrie Profile, is still quite a pain, you shouldn't need a strategy guide but just look at it this way, if you want to get the A ending, completely ignore the next paragraph but read it anyways so you know what you're supposed to ignore.
Or you could just...
Another feature of this game is the plume, during battle, you are able to sacrifice one of your units to make them insanely powerful for a single battle (basically making your character unstoppable and the battle a cake walk). However, once the battle is over, they are dead PERMANENTLY and that is the least of your problems if you want to get the best ending, using the plume twice or more gives you the C ending which is garbage, using it only once gives you the B ending and to get the A ending you cannot use it even once.
Dying makes you the ultimate badass in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant Of The Plume
I beat the game first time on the C path, stopped playing out of rage due to the horrible ending. I later returned, started a new game (not a new game +, which is by the way, a feature in the game) and took the A path. As painfully hard as it was, i managed to get through it without the plume. It was as fun as it was challenging but one mission in particular where you had to protect this mage from an ambush of monsters was frustrating as hell.
The Graphics are sub-par, it doesn't push the DS to it's limits but it has some great cgi cut scenes. The graphics themselves could have been better though the facials are surprisingly detailed, ironically this is a vast improvement over Silmeria which was near perfect in every aspect of it's presentation and it's art design ruined only by the characters' facials (you can even see the characters Adams apple's). This game on the other hand lacks the presentation of Silmeria but at least has the decency to improve on a few things.
Diplomacy is for the weak, at least according to this guy
Once you beat the game you unlock the Seraphic Gate, the infamous fourth wall breaking bonus dungeon with difficult bosses and humorously awkward dialogue. The Seraphic Gate has been present in just about every Tri Ace game in some form or other and often contains cameo's. Covenant Of The Plume has by far the best Seraphic Gate of them all. Why you ask? Because it turns one of the most serious games into a lulz fest. Having Wylfred as your lead makes this all the more fun as he is just way to serious, it's about time he was made fun of though to be honest he doesn't get all that much attention compared to the other characters but he still has his moment in the spotlight after a certain awkward scene.
The only real let downs of Covenant Of The Plume are that it isn't really a true successor to Valkyrie Profile 2 (Make Valkyrie Profile 3: Hrist already!!! heck even Hrist makes a comment on this in the Seraphic Gate "where is my leading role!?"). Also due to the limitations of the Nintendo DS, the music doesn't do the previous games justice, most of it is actually remixed from the original Valkyrie Profile (kinda sucks that they didn't remix any of the songs from Silmeria which arguably has the best soundtrack of the 3 but you take what you can get). In any case Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume is still a satisfactory game nonetheless and is really fun to play, if different. I just wish there was more exploration, sadly SRPG's lack this which is why they don't appeal to me much.
THIS IS NO TIME TO BE MAKING INNUENDO'S!!!
Replay Value: 10.0
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is my favorite RPG of all time, possibly my favorite game of all time, but i shall not be too biased, there are obviously some flaws here and there that i managed to dig out and the game is definitely not for everyone. Valkyrie Profile 2 is a game for hardcore RPG fans at heart and if you are not a hardcore RPG fan, you won't be able to appreciate this gem. Likewise to gamers who just don't care about looks. Valkyrie Profile 2 can simply be summed up as a classic car which has collected dust for several years in some rich guys garage and despite all this, remains polished, fueled and ready to go but we all know not everyone likes classic cars.
No matter how hard I tried I could never get into the first Valkyrie Profile and i kinda gave up on it altogether. Valkyrie Profile 2 could be considered a great example of a possible re-vamp of the original Valkyrie Profile which fell flat on it's face not because of it's content (which is great i might add) but because of the maze of choices that were thrown at you combined with it's action timer which the game gives, though it may be an interesting concept, it hinders the game greatly to the point that the player gets frustrated and under pressure when trying to get the "real" ending which extracts the fun out of the game and without the option for new game plus.
This means that making one mistake can screw you such as leaving a dungeon, missing a scene or even following the plot. The main problem with Valkyrie Profile is that the game doesn't give you a direct path to follow making it near impossible to get the "real" ending and trust me, it's not worth playing for the other endings, and if you get those endings, prepare to be disappointed. Another thing that screwed me over was the materialized points. When i reached the final dungeon I was given 20000 materialized points to spend only to find out that after I spent it all I was completely skint and unable to buy items because enemies don't drop them, so I was completely screwed which led to a major game trap since i was level 19 and unable to fight any encounters and/or beat the final boss, only to throw away the game and never to play it again.
Anyways I later found out that there was a sequel and out of curiosity I saw some game play and decided to give it a try, that was one of the best decisions I ever made, the game literally improves every single aspect of the original game whilst keeping its traditional style. It's a completely different style to the original with a linear, easy to follow plot despite its complex theme. Though some may not understand some of the main plot elements of the game if they haven't played the first game, they can easily be picked up by simply watching game play videos since the original game is simply not worth playing without a guide.
Despite it's more linear approach, Valkyrie Profile 2 feels a lot less streamlined and open perhaps not in exploration but in the game play.. First of all, you can return to pretty much any dungeon you like which you will probably need to do if you want all of the seal stones. Also, with this you can actually grind in Valkyrie Profile 2 unlike it's predecessor, which allows the game to be more easily accessible for new players and grind-o-holics such as myself as there is a massive stat range which starts you off fighting with a bunch of weaklings with limited attacks but by the end of the game your guys can be come unstoppable gods. But the game doesn't give it to you, you have to work for it, depending on how much of a life you have you may wish to put more time into this game as it can be somewhat amusing to take down a super boss in 1 hit especially after the countless game over screens you had against them in the past. There are also lots of items to collect and a few side quests here and there, there are also seal stones, a new feature which affects the area or the party with certain conditions ranging from stat changes to exp bonuses though be careful as there are also negative seal stones that can harm your stats though you can put them in a dais which allows them to rain on the enemies parade, though these seal stones are often more useful later on in the game.
The presentation is simply breathtaking, there are no other words to describe it. The choice to keep the levels side scrolling was a good idea. There is so much detail in the pre-rendered backgrounds and many different effects going on (particularly wind effects and lighting). Pretty much every dungeon and every town paints a picture with it's backdrop, Valkyrie Profile 2 is a work of art in motion as you move, the backdrop moves with you and you end up finding yourself in a living breathing 3 dimensional world... with a 2 dimensional perspective. To me, none can match the brilliance that is Valkyrie profile 2's art design, it is why i love side scrolling levels in the first place, the limit of exploration makes me want to jump into the backgrounds and see what's beyond the horizon, because they're so well designed and it entices me to explore even more. This is what games such as Skyrim fail to achieve. By giving people free reign, you are ruining their sense of appreciation for the little things. If you can just journey around the world and see it for yourself then there's no point in adventuring at all. To me, the greatest adventure is in the mind and i know not everyone can agree with me, this is why Valkyrie Profile 2 is such a well painted picture because it doesn't just give you a world to explore, you have to find a world of your own to explore in the Valkyrie Profile universe.
Ok i'll stop being too preachy about this, this is getting silly.
Another thing to know is that the game seems to have an obsession with particle effects, they're everywhere, sure i know it's a JRPG and this sort of thing is expected but not on this level. The particle effects add a lot to the game's art design, so it's all good though sometimes i think the game goes a little overboard with them.
This sure looks like a great place for a picnic
Nooooo it's the Thunder Plains all over again!!!
If the art design wasn't enough to pull you in, the music definitely is. The music in this game is simply magnificent, one of Motoi Sakuraba's best works in my opinion though some Star Ocean 2 fan out there is bound to disagree. Whilst the first game focused on more dynamic tunes, this game has wide variety of different melody's on show each one being great in their own way. Each piece excels in its category giving this game a great all round score at least one of the songs will catch your ears and will stick in your head for hours on end, especially if you liked the music from the first Valkyrie Profile. Every town, every dungeon you visit has an iconic tune, i've yet to find one song that i didn't like in this game.
I find the reason why the music in this game is so captivating is because it feels as if every song goes beyond the boundaries of conventional video game music, at first you're enjoying a simple melody but then it grows into something amazing and then it grows into something even more amazing and then it slows down and reloops. This is the typical trend for many of the songs in this game and even though they're not all memorable (usually due to the better songs shadowing them), they're still all enjoyable. It is for this reason why the music in this game is simply perfect and why it is my favorite soundtrack of all time, simply nothing can compare to me because of my tastes but no matter what your tastes are, as long as it's not rap music or dubstep, i guarantee you will love the music in this game as much as i do because like i said, Valkyrie Profile 2 has plenty of variety and isn't afraid to try something different. If you aren't a fan of Motoi Sakuraba's work, you should at least give this game a chance. The sound effects work quite well too and complement the heavy particle effects this game uses quite well.
The art design couples with the music perfectly making games like Odin Sphere look like a complete joke especially considering that it's presentation is it's selling point. Ironically the game was released a year after, both games follow Norse mythology also. I smell a hint of inspiration from Valkyrie Profile 2 right there, sort of speaks for itself really. Even to this day, Valkyrie Profile 2 is still comparable to most modern games in terms of presentation, it could very well hold it's own on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (HD remake please Square-Enix).
The platforming aspect of this game is rather gimmicky with the occasional trapped chest/puzzle etc but it seems to operate well enough for the most part though it's a bit too easy, personally I'd rather remove the gimmicks and replace them with obstacles found in most platformers (the saws from Super Meat Boy anyone? Ok thats maybe a little over the top). Some of the seal stones assist with the platforming element allowing for super jumps and multiple photons (bots of energy which turn your enemies into crystal and allow you to switch places with them allowing you to traverse certain areas of the dungeon which are otherwise inaccessible) and some dungeons have special gimmicks unique to said dungeon such as lightning pillars and elemental towers which shoot elemental magic at you dealing damage to your party. There are also damage floors to watch out for such as lava and poison, some floors can slow you down such as swamps and there are also some areas that require seal stones to open them.
The combat in this game has improved a lot from the first game. It is a wait time battle system which is very similar to most roguelikes such as the Mystery Dungeon series in the sense that the game moves simultaneously with the player. Battles take place on a 3D battle area In which you expend AP to perform actions, whilst moving around/waiting refuels it, similar to the rage gauge from Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time though it affects the entire party and requires strategy to manage. Whilst the combat itself rather lacks variation in terms of moves (due to only 3 or 4 moves per character at once in battle), the positioning and the set up takes a lot of strategic planning which may leave new players spending hours on one boss battle. Though Valkyrie Profile 2 has a wide variety of options and equipment at your disposal to allow you to refine your strategy as well as certain seal stones that you may have thought to have been useless in the past but serve to be somewhat helpful during later battles so you may wish to backtrack to certain areas to obtain them again with your magic crystals.
Despite the few available moves in battle each character has (there is a skill named scramble attack which allows you to spice things up a little) it is still very possible to combo effectively. It all depends on your planning and character set up, what you do in battle is not what matters, it is what happens outside battle that often decides the outcome, battles just serve as a means of engaging in combo's by timing your attacks well and considering there is a huge character roster and that each character has a pretty large move pool, that is all it really needs to be. If you combo effectively, you will be rewarded with magic crystals and gems.
Magic crystals increase the experience points earned after every battle, gems are like little orbs that give you ap. To obtain magic crystals you must attack an enemy with either a launch or a horizontal attack in mid air, to obtain orbs you need to knock enemies down. If you deal enough damage to one part of the enemies body, it will break off, sometimes this can earn you some extra items in the process or stop enemies from being able to use certain attacks but the biggest element of breaking is break mode. Break mode activates occasionally when you break an enemy part and it allows you to attack freely regardless of ap. It is essentially the same as over limit in the tales games the only difference being that they don't let you use any mystic arte style move. However, that doesn't mean there isn't such attack. On the bottom left hand corner of the screen is the heat gauge that fills up with each hit that connects with an enemy, when it reaches 100 you get to preform a soul crush which is basically a mystic arte, best of all, you can chain them by refilling the heat gauge so if you do it correctly, you get to use 4 finishing blows in a row to devastate the enemy.
The storyline is rather unique as it directly follows Norse mythology though despite this the plot structure is rather lacking and can be repetitive at times especially halfway through the game due to a recurring plot element which is poorly implemented into the game. The story makes up for this with its mostly accurate depiction of Norse Mythology and it is told in a far better standard than the last game in which the plot only manages to develop near the end of the game and i say mostly because there are some alterations made in the Valkyrie Profile universe.
The story develops slowly but due to the lack of plot ideas the plot seems a little short though the game play makes up for this with plenty of dungeons to plunder through. The plot starts to expand near the end however and the climax is very well done, one of the best I've seen having referred to the previous game. There are also many returning characters so the story serves as a homage to it's predecessor and doesn't hesitate to please fans of the previous game (though despite all their efforts, it actually failed to please most fans of the original game probably due to the lack of an in depth einherjar system which made up the core element of the story in Valkyrie Profile).
The voice acting is particularly good especially considering the fact that this is a Japanese title (most Japanese games are known for their bad English dubs), which has some of the greatest voice casts on show, some you may have heard in the persona series, in most cases the voice acting adapts to the games theme very well though some of them aren't very well placed though this shouldn't be a disappointment for most since the voices are of a very high standard and are often impressive and really drive the story well.
The main cast of characters are very slim in terms of personality but they get the job done, most of them are key to the plot whereas some are just there to fill in the gaps though despite this there is a fair selection of characters to choose from in battle as you can use einherjar (materialized souls of the dead that heed your every order) though they aren't important to the story they generally have higher stats than the main cast though some aren't worth using and have terrible stats. You also get a little background information about them in the status section but nothing more, just consider them the background cast, as you watch the main cast in the storyline you're beating up enemies with your einherjar in battle.
Another thing to note is that this game has up to 50 difficulty levels which can only unlocked with each play through (complete the game on 1 difficulty, unlock the next difficulty etc). Each difficulty multiplies the enemies stats depending on the difficulty making this game quite possibly one of the most challenging rpg's out there. If you are a perfectionist you will spend a long time on this game. The game also has a bonus dungeon which butchers the games storyline deliberately (typical tri-Ace trend) which provides a real challenge for the dedicated players. The bonus dungeon has 5 floors each packed full of mini-bosses and tough super-bosses and lots of loot. Much of the side content takes place here and the developers worked hard despite having limited resources to make it a somewhat interesting bonus dungeon compared to the conventional bonus dungeons many rpg's implement which tend to be rushed, dry and tedious. Valkyrie profile 2 carries on the trademark super-bosses of the tri-Ace games as well as adding it's own, allowing players to recruit otherwise inaccessible characters in the main story. Sadly most of these characters have already been playable beforehand so you won't find many surprises here except maybe for one but you'll have to wait and see.
There is also a 2 player co-op function which can be accessed in the party screen however the co-operative function is slightly disappointing due to the lack of actions the second player can take in battle as they are unable to move around as their character if they are the party leader which is a shame. Nevertheless this is definitely a welcome add on and can be fun to play with friends so long as you swap the controllers around every now and again to give them a chance to play.
Overall Valkyrie profile 2 is a true gem of a game that you don't know you're getting, unless you read this review, either that or you are going to be disappointed by it if you actually enjoyed the openness of the first game since playing Valkyrie Profile 2 will literally cover up the first game forever as it literally beats it to a pulp and throws the remains into the furnace. As a game however it is without a doubt a great game if not one of the best out there. If you enjoy tri-Ace games but want a change of tone, or are simply a die hard JRPG fan like myself give Valkyrie Profile 2 a try or you'll never know what you missed. This game is nothing less than a masterpiece and even still it doesn't get a perfect rating, why? Because there is no such thing as a perfect game and it is ignorant to think so. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is as close to perfect as we... as i will ever get, probably. If only there was a sequal (one that isn't a tactics spin off)...
Noooooooooooooooooooooo! What have i done to deserve this!?
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is a shitty game that should never have been made, made by the fuckers known as Square-Enix. Now i'm a big fan of Square-Enix and have played all of the final fantasy games and i am insulted, insulted that this pice of shit exists. Square-Enix should hire better developers or something because if this is the best they can do, they might as well sell their company to Activision, because Activision know how to make games.
For starters i'd like to talk about the gameplay, it's bad, really bad. You can only move left and right, what is this? Mario Bros or something? regardless, this game is broken beyond belief. The combat is so unrealistic, you can leap 20km into the air and suddenly a massive dick appears out of thin air so you throw it at enemy for points. Adding insult to injury, the game has one of the worst soundtracks i've ever heard. Every time i press triangle i get these annoying pinging sounds, I WANT TO OPEN THE GODDAMN MENU DAMMIT!
The story is utter garbage, you start off as this stupid bimbo and her invisible friend as you join captain jack sparrow on a quest to find this magical football that could potentially DESTROY THE FUCKING WORLD. So you have to go through 5 pointless filler dungeons which rip off Final Fantasy but instead of collecting crystals, every single dungeon is.... i won't spoil because i don't want some stupid asshole telling me that i ruined their shitty game for them but put it this way, this game is the most repetitive load of crap i've ever encountered in my life and i've pleyed ET E FUCKING T!
Even Shayne Dawson makes an appearance, it must be bad.
Oh and i forgot to mention, the skill system rips off Final Fantasy 9, using equipment to give your characters skills? wow how original/sarcasm. Plus they also ripped off limit breaks too and they're super broken, you can use them every single combo, EVERY SINGLE FUCKING COMBO! Talk about bad game design... My ass could design a game better than this. As if the game wasn't stupidly broken enough, the game gives you this stupid brak mode which allows you to button mash to win, you don't even need any skill, all the game is is button mashing, it's boring and it's stupid, i'd rather go play mortal kombat because at least that game lets you rip peoples heads off and stuff.
Oh and by the way, this game is stupidly linear, you can only go left and right and you can't go up and down so the d pad is completely useless, you just hold either left or right and mopve forward constantly, you can press the square button to shoot jelly beans at enemies which turn them into urine crystals what the hell? If you want to, you can just skip all battles, thats what i did because battles are stupid and pointless in this game just like everything else.
So i managed to get all the way to the end and fought the most underwhelming final boss fight ever, which i managed to beat in 1 minute because i'm uber, then the game just skips straight to the credits because why bother making an ending for this shitty game, it's a waste of money and Square-Enix knew that so they went back to Final Fantasy to make quality games.
uNFORTUNATELY THERE IS nothing good about Valkyrie profile 2 so i'm going to put it in the microwave and burn it because i have no need of shitty games, i'm going to go play games with better graphics, better gameplay and better story because the graphics of this game look like ass.
I'm done with this shitty game and i'm going to put it in my pile of garbage games which one day, i will burn.
Im going to try something new here, i'm gonna talk about games that i haven't finished and probably will never finish and stating my reasons why in hopes of maybe getting some feedback from the community as to whether or not i should give it another chance but mainly to see what people have to say about it. Please note that this is all first impressions as i likely haven't got far in the game so there are maybe a few things i'm missing out on.
So i bought this game because it was dirt cheap, i picked it up hoping for a dark adventure title only to find myself playing one the most dullest games i have ever encountered in my life. Ok so i should have seen it coming, the genre vaguely named "adventure" is a genre that i usually stay away from, quite ironic since i enjoy games which revolve around adventuring such as Gothic 3, now that is a true adventure game, not this... junk.
It seems a lot of people,for god knows what reason confuse the word "adventure" with "puzzle". Sure it could be considered a small scaled adventure as you look through every nick and cranny to solve said puzzle but when i hear the word adventure, i want freedom, i want to explore freely with no boundaries and no limits, i want... Gothic 3. Knowing this, i risked it, hoping that i could at least find some enjoyment out if the combat. Wrong!
The combat in Soul Reaver 2 is abysmal, the way Raziel attacks with a sword is horrifying, like seriously horrifying, the sound effects are completely off, every time i stab an enemy it plays the most awkward sound effect imaginable and don't even get me started on the footsteps. I honestly thought sound effects couldn't get any worse than Grandia 2 (not that thats a bad game as you probably already know if you read my reviews) and i was proven wrong by this game. Heck, combat isn't even required in Soul Reaver 2, in fact it's much easier to just avoid combat altogether, you don't get any particular reward for it, theres no currency, no collectables, nothing. This is what seems to make Soul Reaver 2 feel bland for the most part, the only collectables you find are Soul Reaver upgrades which change it's color. They are nothing but tools for solving puzzles later on i presume, i don't know because i got as far as obtaining the first Soul Reaver upgrade in the area where moving through swamps is an absolute nightmare.
The level design is as bland as it could possibly be, there is no detail whatsoever, seriously i went in this temple to get the first Soul Reaver upgrade and it was the most bland level design i've ever seen in my life, they could at least have put some clutter or something rather than just nothing but bland brick walls everywhere and a puzzle device. Oh and i forgot to mention, if you haven't already guessed, i hate puzzles. I have never beaten a Zelda game for this reason despite the fact that i have 3 of them (ocarina of time, minish cap, twilight princess) none of them i could finish because i got stuck on one puzzle or i just got lost and don't know where i need to go. It is thing like this that bore me very quickly when i play games and i was expecting this but i was at least hoping for something... more.
Sadly this game appears to be nothing more than a bare bones puzzler kind of like portal only with combat as an extra feature that can be skipped, and i ended up skipping most battles due to the fact that the combat was horrendous. I can officially say that i have never beaten an "action adventure" title in my life despite owning several of them. I just don't see the point in trying to play them because i'd have to look up a guide to find the answer out anyways and what is the point in that? I might as well just go on youtube and watch all of the cutscenes, save me hours of wandering around aimlessly looking for a way past this barrier that the game has put in front of me. I don't know about anyone else but this isn't fun to me. I was going to write a rant about puzzles in games but my pc cut off mid way so i decided to not bother. I think this would be a more fitting time to bring this up.
Now i know what people are going to say "play the first Soul Reaver". Now i have considered this but considering the fact that i dislike Soul Reaver 2 and i dislike puzzles, i didn't really think it would be a good idea, i hear it's more open ended but then again i still hate puzzles with a vengence. I did buy Legacy Of Kain: Defiance with it which was also dirt cheap but i haven't even touched it yet because i want to play through soul reaver 2 first so i know the story. Maybe Blood Omen 2 might be differrent, perhaps i could check that out but otherwise, this series might not be for me and i should just forget about it's existence.