Honestly I totally forgot the sequel was on its way so I have only played through it recently. It begins simple, as RPGs are inclined to do -- your character, Lang, boldly rushes off to find the man who stole his town's magic crystal, without which the townsfolk cannot survive. Naturally, you discover that the thief and your character are closely linked and things move along nicely from there. It's really nothing groundbreaking or mind-blowing but the writing is excellent and the characters are very appealing. The script makes a ton of room for interpersonal relations rather than just plot-driven dialogue, and the characters who join your party swell with individuality and style. Cut-scenes unfold during battles and while traveling where your characters interact with each other, giving the whole dynamic of their interplay a more realistic, human feel. The voice acting is very well done, nothing underdone and nothing overdone.
My favorite part of the game is by far its battle system, although as with the first game, you are either going to find it numbing or impressive and absorbing. To echo another reviewer, this is a rare RPG where I *look forward* to combat. For other people, perhaps it boils down to patience -- the battles take a long time, with even simple random encounters requiring several _minutes_ to complete as the combat becomes more complex. Frankly, it started to irritate me a bit as the game was nearing the finale, but not to a point where it denigrated my opinion of the game.
It's worth the forbearance to accept its time-consuming nature. In Legaia 2, you do not simply select "Attack" -- you input individual combat actions. Certain combinations yield special combat arts, with more powerful ones requiring more actions. For example, one of Lang's early skills is Shadow Split, done by entering L, R, U, and L again. Normal attacks build your power, which is consumed by your arts. As your characters become more powerful, they can execute more actions and therefore more special attacks. Early in the game, you might only be able to unleash one moderately powerful special attack per round, but later you will be able to unleash two or even three super-powerful battle techniques, or various combinations of weaker ones. For example, if Lang has fourteen attack blocks, he can execute Thunder Sky (DLDRU), True Moon Slash (UDDU), and top it off with Sky Fang (UDRLU) all in one round, assuming he has built up enough power to do so. And don't forget that you get three characters in your party concurrently, and everyone has over 20 special arts (except Ayne, I think). Factor in Variables (arts requiring two characters), and clearly combat becomes an elaborate affair.
It's worth the complexity, as the battles tend towards difficult and a good use of your arts is essential for some of the harder battles. Regrettably, many RPGs these days design elaborate battle systems although it seems trivial when the games are so easy. Legaia 2 doesn't have this problem.
I spent a little over 50 hours with the game, carefully hunting for secrets, of which there are plenty (a big plus!). If one is wont to skip over the myriad extras, you would probably finish the game in about 30 hours. A good length, in my opinion.
Then there is the dumb pleasure of seeing huge damage numbers rack up later in the game. (Remember in Final Fantasy VII when you thought it was insane for the super-boss Emerald Weapon to have a million hit points? When you get really strong in Legaia 2, you can do that much damage in just a few rounds!)
The music is topnotch -- evocative and worldly. Sound effects are AWESOME -- much better than the synthesized c'rap most RPGs use. Graphically the game is pretty sharp, with towns and most of the dungeons being very imaginative and well done. Characters models are very well animated, and there are some terrific boss designs.
So...if you are into the battle system, you really should pick this one up. Just as Legend of Legaia was one of the best RPGs on the PSone, Legaia 2 is one of the best on the PS2. If you never played the first one, you may want to rent this to see if it is your cup of tea. An excellent game, and one that I wish I had picked up when it first came out.
What did you think of this review?