The original Dark Cloud for the Playstation2 was something of a sleeper hit, but it had enough of a following to warrant a sequel, which is coming out later this year. Dark Cloud 2 is a bit different from its predecessor, specifically in the graphics department, as this sequel will be cel-shaded.
The overall look of Dark Cloud 2 was very cartoony, with lots of contrasting colors that were just a bit too bright and dramatic. The characters had a lot of anime style cues and looked really cute. The environments appeared very large at first, until the realization set in that exploration is incredibly linear, at least in the level I played. However, despite the difference in style and taste, the game was very strong graphically from a technical perspective, and overall looked very smooth.
Gameplay in the demo was limited to some random battles, which were thankfully few and far between due to the unnecessarily difficult combat. Incredibly slow and cumbersome, combat in Dark Cloud 2 was about as fun as a visit to the dentist. You can lock onto an enemy by pressing the circle button, which encloses the opponent in a window, showing various stats. However, the lock on system makes it somewhat difficult to properly use your weapons, and if you choose not to lock on, landing a hit on your foe is just as difficult.
Hopefully, the issues that Dark Cloud was plagued with at this year's E3 will be fixed before the game releases later this year.
5/28/2002 Ryan Hartmann