Legaia 2: Duel Saga Review
Although there have been many RPGs on the Playstation, very few get the attention that they really deserve. Legend of Legaia definitely belongs in this category. A clichéd but fun story coupled with an interesting battle system, a long satisfying quest, and strong aesthetics best summed the game up. Legaia 2: Duel Saga is the second entrant into Sony's Legaia series and quite frankly is a surprisingly strong title that does have several weaknesses.
Legaia 2's graphics are rather mediocre when compared to other games on the system. This doesn't inhibit the game though as the characters are pleasantly modeled and quite expressive. Character movement is fluid and feels quite natural. The battle animations are great to look at and the spells are nice (although not mind-blowing). The backgrounds throughout the game are rather sparse but nice in a quaint and simplistic way. On the other hand, this frugal style of graphics leaves the game moving at a rock solid 60 fps throughout the game (with one except for activating Hyper Arts, most notably Kazan's Earthshaker.). A very welcome change and it makes the game quite easy on the eyes. Technically, the game's graphics aren't a marvel but it does the job fairly well and exudes a rather homely feeling to it.
Gameplay in Legaia 2 is a big mish mash of ideas from all games. There's the combining of items to form weapons and cooking from Star Ocean, the campfire chats like in Grandia, the "tools" from Wild Arms, and so forth. Dungeons in Legaia 2 are designed well enough that they aren't lengthy nor are they terribly short, just the right length in all cases. The Origin actions in the dungeons also add a little spice to it instead of just running around like in most RPGs. There's also a whole boatload of things to do in the game including lots of mini-games and side missions.
The core of the gameplay though is the Tactical Arts System. Returning from the first game, the TAS consists of inputting different combinations of attacks (up, down, left, right and in the case of Maya, the elements) to string together to form "Arts" (i.e. Super moves). Most of the arts have to be discovered and trying to find the correct combinations for the arts is quite fun if not a little tedious at times. There's a certain satisfaction in putting together a string that does 20+ hits and does 100,000 points of damage. The game itself is rather mid-range in terms of difficulty. Not too easy for well-versed RPG gamers and not too hard for beginners.
As far as story and characters goes, it's all relatively clichéd. Yet, this doesn't stop the game from being fun (notice a common thread yet?). The plot is cookie-cutter material but is presented in a pleasant manner. This is very much the same for the characters. All standard arch-types for characters, it doesn't stop them from being a somewhat interesting cast with a nice dynamic.
Audio is a rather interesting category for Legaia 2. The sound effects and music are rather good especially the music which is composed by a trio of composers, Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and Xenogears), Michiru Oshima (Ico, Legend of Legaia, and the Arc the Lad anime), and Hitoshi Sakimoto (The Ogre Battle series and Final Fantasy Tactics). Although, the music doesn't stand out like other game series, it is rather pleasant and adds nicely to the atmosphere. Far and away, the worst aspect of the audio is the voice acting. Painfully bad for the most part, it grates and grinds against your ears like a metal on metal. Kazan is only the fun part to the dubbing because he sounds just like the master in those poorly dubbed martial arts flicks of yesteryear. Heavy accent is just downright funny.
If you were to sum Legaia 2: Duel Saga up in two words, it would be "plain" and "fun". Everything about Legaia 2 screams generic but despite that fact, the game proves to be a fun romp. A solid title, Legaia 2 is worth the time if you aren't looking for something fancy or flashy. Home-brewed goodness at its best.
11/11/2002 Anton Cao