Review by Xander Schaan

"A gem in the bargain bin."

I just dusted this game off and beat it again recently, so I thought, what the heck, why not do up a nice little review and submit it here to GameFAQs? So, here we go.

D2 is the story of Laura Palmer. She’s flying in a plane high over Canada when terrorists attempt to take over the plane. While this attack is happening, a meteor hits the plane causing it to crash. Laura wakes up in a mountain cabin being nursed back to health by another passenger—Kimberly—from the ill-fated plane. One of the terrorists bursts through the door and “blossoms” turning into a monster. It’s monsters like this that will be your main adversaries throughout the game.

Gameplay

It’s really hard to rate the gameplay in this game. Gameplay is broken up into four main styles: in buildings, in the field, hunting, and in battle.

In buildings, the gameplay is a bit tedious. It’s merely point-to-point navigation. To interact with some piece of the environment, you hit A. If there’s nothing there to interact with at that point, nothing will happen. If you can interact with it, you’ll see a cut scene (Full Motion Animation or FMA in the manual) showing the interaction. Every interaction. Even for something as simple as picking up some ammunition, you’ll get an FMA. It gets a little old seeing the FMAs for minor things, but it’s not too bad.

In battle, the game switches to a first-person point of view. You have a choice of various weapons ranging from a weak pistol with a laser sight (boo! And this is one of the last weapons you get!) to a shotgun (nice, but limited ammo) to grenades (smart bomb!). Fortunately, the game offers you two weapons throughout the course of the game with unlimited ammunition. They’re decent weapons, but if you have enough ammo to use the shotgun or G-Bomb (it’s written on the side of grenades), I’d recommend those.

Hunting is fun at first, and it’s very useful. Game is plentiful and gives a decent amount of health. My only complaint is the fact that moose and caribou run around faster than rabbits and seem to be able to hear you lift the gun to your shoulder to see through the sight. Grr…

Finally, we have exploring in the field. This is actually pretty fun. You will face random attacks while you’re in the field, but it’s fun to explore. Plus, if you find an item lying around here, it will zoom in on the item, and you’ll automatically get it. With just a message informing you what you got. It’s nice. No FMAs here. The game also responds quite naturally to your movements in the field. If you run everywhere, you’ll scare the game off before you have a chance to hit it. If you walk, you’re less likely to scare the game and get off at least one shot at a grouse or hare. (Forget the moose and caribou, my best score hunting those is one of each.) Plus, you don’t have to walk everywhere for the whole game; for part of the game you’ll have access to a snowmobile to get you around.

The gameplay styles are varied enough that you’ll smoothly jump from one to the other after a while. I’ll give gameplay an 8/10. It would be higher, but the gameplay in buildings is, as I said, quite tedious.

Story

The creators of this game clearly put a lot of time into the story. You, the player, will, too. This is a good thing the first time through. The story can pull you in and get you totally involved in the lives of these little imaginary people you’re controlling and interacting with. Not many games can show a black screen for a few minutes with just a woman’s voice reading a poem as a song plays in the background; this game does it beautifully. At the point where you get to this moment, it seems absolutely appropriate.

The problem with this game is that, if you play through the game more than once, the story just gets in the way of the gameplay. Some of the FMAs with story that you have to sit through just seem to go on forever, especially at the beginning of the game. Once you get to discs 2 and 3, it’s not so bad, but, man!, is there a lot of story to sit through (and, yes, you just sit and watch it unfold for a good amount of time) before you can start playing the game.

First time through: 10/10
After that: 6/10
Average: 8/10

Graphics and Sound

Here is where the game shines like a thousand suns or a glowing meteor on a hillside. The desolate mountains of Canada are well-rendered and the FMAs, while I have bashed them a little bit, really are quite good. The lips don’t always sync up with the voices (a translation problem, I believe), but the voice acting is top-notch and the faces move realistically and express emotion well. Plus, sometimes with the FMAs there will be little video clips. I don’t mean grainy video clips, either; I’m talking video quality here. The first time I saw it, my jaw nearly dropped, and I wasn’t any less impressed on repeated plays. The fact that they managed this on the Dreamcast simply amazed me.

The sound for the game is good, too. Music is sparse and is used to enhance the mood of the action; it isn’t there gratuitously in the background all of the time. The most common sound effects you’ll be hearing are the sound of the wind whistling as you explore and the crunch of Laura’s feet through the snow. I’m from North Dakota, and the sound of footsteps in snow was done by someone who knows snow. Plus, each step taken in the snow leaves a footprint. Sure, the footprints fade quickly (rather more quickly than they should for the amount of snow that is usually falling during the game), but it’s amazing that the programmers thought to include them. Sometimes Hollywood doesn’t even remember that people or animals walking through the snow leave footprints (see the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, and you’ll see what I mean).

Graphics and sound both get a 10/10 from me.

Replayability

The first time I played this game it took me about 8-10 hours to complete. Part of it is because I just didn’t know where to go. Playing it again, I did it in about half that time.

I’d have to rate the replayability of this game as medium to medium-low. It’s fun, it’s pretty, but the story just isn’t as interesting multiple times.

Final Thoughts

This is a fun, beautiful game. Granted that you’ll probably only be able to find it used these days (I got my copy for $5 at GameStop), I’d recommend it as a purchase. It’s worth the money even if you only play through it once.

Final Score (not averaged, just my gut): 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/25/03


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