Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Tales of Destiny II (PSX)
You Are: Reid, fairly generic guy, aided by Farah, fairly generic girl; Keele, scholar-type guy, and Meredy, a lively girl from a foreign planet, who doesn't even speak the same language.
Your Goal Is: To stop the Grand Fall, a phenomenon causing the twin planets of Inferia and Celestia to crash into each other.
General System: RPG-like, sprinkled with tons of mini-games. There are two additions to your regular RPG walking around: the Cooking system, which allows you to use ingredients to heal HP, TP, status, etc., but you can only cook once per battle. Also, there's the Craymel Cages; the elementals you collect provide different spells when you mix and match them. For those who've played ToD, the enemy encounter rate isn't quite as nasty, and Holy Bottles do last a bit longer, but you still have to watch your steps. I felt the play control on the field was a bit too abrupt... it was okay in ToD, which was all straight lines, but for an isometric view it really felt a bit strange (and often annoying). One thing I like is the ability to save absolutely anywhere, but you can only restart gameplay from a "load point". You can also "retry" after dying, which means you start at that load point with all the items, experience, and stuff done, but with low HP/TP.
Battle System: Fun and action-packed. You can control any of the four active characters, and the others are controlled by the computer. The AI is far more customizable than earlier Tales games, and you have up to six shortcuts to use for skills as well (two of which don't even have to be for your active character). Like the other Tales games, it's a 2D battlefield with real-time fighting. Spells and items take time to cast/recover, so it's quite a challenge.
Graphics: Bright colors (though not as bright as, say, the Mana/Seiken Densetsu games) and fairly large sprites. Battle graphics are very clear, and the super-deformed style of the earlier games has been canned in favor of a more realistically proportioned one. For one thing, it means there's more room to move on the battlefield. 8-)
Music: There are a few good tracks, but most range from decent to really annoying.
Story: You aren't going to play this game for the plot, which is consists almost solely of the cliched "go around collecting shiny things and save the world". The characters are fairly boring, even with the voice acting (which, while not astounding, is quite solid and has very few really bad lines). The whole idea of Meredy not speaking the language is pretty neat and keeps you occupied for a while, but once they get to Celestia it's kind of odd (why is she still speaking in broken English while everyone else in Celestia speaks fine?). There are only six characters you can keep, and since everyone levels up at the same pace there isn't any real impetus to use the extras.
Challenge: Boss fights are consistently challenging, even on the normal level, and you won't be blazing through regular battles either. You won't get too frustrated, though, unless you're really awful at mashing buttons.
Length: About 30 hours, but on second replay there's a bonus dungeon.
My Thoughts: A fun and unassuming game. The story is really flat, and could have been fleshed out a lot better (and the translation isn't exactly top-notch). The ToD/ToP references were neat, and I liked the new monster/item collection items. Some of the mini-games were cool, most were annoying. I was kind of disappointed that basically all of the FMVs were computer graphics rather than the lovely anime sequences from the intro, which could have really made the story more interesting. (Why do Megaman X games get 20 minutes of anime sequences with horrible voice acting, but RPGs don't have the budget?) But overall I had a lot of fun playing and exploring, and if you're not looking for a heavy story this is a great time-waster.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10