Review by Syonyx
"Fantastic story, schizophrenic gameplay"
D2 could be said to suffer from a personality crisis. Is it a survival horror? Is it a first-person shooter? Is it an adventure game? Is it a movie? Is it a hunting simulation? Who knows? All I know is that, despite its schizophrenic tendencies, it’s interesting to play, though definitely not for everyone.
Fantastic. Weird, mysterious and seemingly convoluted, but fantastic, at least for fans of sci-fi/fantasy. It involves mysterious cosmic forces of life and death, people mutating into plant monsters, hope and despair, and clones. If you’ve ever played a Kenji Eno game before, you’ll be right at home. The characters come from other of his games, in name at least, but exist in a completely original story particular to this game, so you don’t need to have played any others to get this one. The story is brought out almost entirely through dialogue, and as the game advances, the characters become pretty fleshed-out, and many of the story’s themes are played out in a lot of different ways. There are many mysteries, and you often don’t know who to trust, or often what the hell is going on, but most answers come in time. It’s definitely worth taking the time to listen to the characters and think about what’s going on.
Okay, so the game starts on disc 4. What? Oh well, what can you do. Anyway, here’s how most of it goes: Long story cut-scene. Switch to first-person view indoor exploration, but only along certain pre-set paths. Basically, you can only look at things that are of interest to the game, so you won’t waste your time trying to examine things, like flowers on a table, uselessly. Also, this makes it easier to find the things that you need, because the view will only stop on places and objects that are significant. Now, you go outside, and switch to third-person view. You get a full view of Laura, the main character, and can control her movements completely. You may hunt for food if you spot animals around. You run around in the snow, using a map as a guide, and get into “random” battles. I put random in quotations because these battles are initiated at very regular intervals. These battles take place in first-person view again. Laura can’t move her body from place to place in these fights, but she can swing her gun around wherever she wants. You cannot escape from battles. Eventually you reach the next destination intended by the game, and maybe you’ll get another long cut-scene. Every so often you’ll encounter a boss, which you’ll fight in first-person view again, and then another cut-scene. Enter any interior environment, and it’s back to first-person-view exploration again. Talk to other characters to initiate more cut-scenes.
So playing the game, you’ll encounter long periods where you have no control over the game. Even when you do have control, it’s only to propel you to the next no-control segment. It’s a stretch to make the game your own. You have some choice in weaponry, once you find more than one gun. You also have choice in whether, where and when to hunt for food. But other than that, there are no side-quests, and you have to go to places in a certain order to trigger cut-scenes and advance the game. Despite all of this, I still found it fun. Battles could be challenging and satisfying when you take out an enemy super-efficiently by exploiting its weak spot. Hunting improves with practice, though it can get kind of cheap when the animals magically sense that you’re zooming in your scope on them. Boss fights are the highlight of the gameplay. Each one is quite different, and quite gross. The bosses all have lines of dialogue during the fights too, particular to who they were before they blossomed into monsters, and some of it is pretty funny.
So people looking for heavy action might be disappointed in this game, but RPG fans and anyone with an open mind to a creative game will find it interesting to play.
High-quality Dreamcast caliber stuff. The people are realistic, the monsters are grotesque, and some of the outdoor views are kind of breathtaking. On the other hand, outside everything is covered in snow, which makes it way too easy to draw. You run through endless bland snow-covered paths and fields, sometimes getting a glimpse of a sunny sky or majestic mountain peaks.
The movies and cut-scenes all use the in-game character models, so the look of the game is consistent throughout. This is important, so much of the game depends on these cut-scenes. My only complaint about the look of the characters is Laura’s stringy hair, but this is a failing I’ve noticed in a lot of games on different systems. It’s hard to make realistic, flowing hair out of polygons, I guess. The character’s faces do a good job of conveying emotions, but their body movements look stiff a lot of the time.
The game’s music is nice, and was written by Kenji Eno, the director and writer of the game. It’s kind of upbeat and not too repetive. It reminded me sometimes of the music from Parasite Eve. Music isn’t used throughout the game, but rather accentuates certain scenes, such as a rapid snowmobile ride, adding to the cinematic feel of the game.
Sound effects abound, from Laura’s crunching footsteps in the snow, to monster’s wounds gushing out blood in a nice juicy way. Sound contributes to the gameplay as well, as when bird calls alert you to grouse for hunting. The voice acting is quite good, and carries the emotions of the script well. Dialogue is sometimes delivered a bit too slowly, however, but it draws attention to the themes that come out of it.
One thing about the sound, however, involves the Dreamcast hardware itself. It’s loud in this game. During one scene in particular, the motor runs and screeches constantly, making it necessary to turn up the volume on the TV to hear the game properly. This goes on for several minutes, for some inexplicable reason.
Well, there are no secret areas or sidequests. Leveling up is pretty inconsequential to the game. The story is revealed in full the first time through. I can think of only two good reasons to replay D2: for the boss fights, which are quite entertaining, and for the story. Playing through a second time lets you pick up and explore some of the themes and plot elements better, and helps you catch on to some of the mysteries. You’d have to really have enjoyed it the first time to do this, however. I did, but I know that I’m weird.
A lot of hard work went into writing the plot and dialogue to this game, so in this respect the game is above average. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure what to make of the diverse nature of the gameplay. I enjoyed playing the game, but is very strange and convoluted. If you’re looking for good action, stay away. I would recommend it only if you’re up for something different. It is a very unique game, the likes of which we will not see again anytime soon, for better or for worse
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/04
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