Review by ploder44444
"An essential purchase for any SRPG fan"
I am writing this review from the perspective of someone who has never played the first Disgaea.
STORY 7/10 - Good
There are many worlds in the Disgaea 2 universe known as 'Netherworlds.' Such worlds are routinely taken over by Demon Overlords and their inhabitants enslaved. Disgaea 2 is set in the world of Veldime where the 'God of all overlorlds Zenon' has taken over and cursed all the human inhabitants (bar the protagonist) turning them into demons and thereby stripping them of most of their conscience and memories. Playing as Adell you set out to defeat this diabolical Zenon to free your family from this curse.
Despite the somewhat grave situation described above Disgaea 2 is very 'humorous'. In fact the story is quite kitsch and there are a lot of references to RPG cliches made throughout the game. This may sound fun but after a while it begins to grate and I was left wishing that the game would take itself a bit more seriously. Just so that you get an idea of Disgaea 2s variety of humour: one of the playable characters is a floating frog called Tink who speaks with a heavy French accent. There are also explosive penguin type creatures who say 'dood' at the end of each sentence.
The story also meanders and is a bit short. It just about manages to hold it together to provide a surprise ending that actually ties everything together though. The other downside is that you are allowed to create a wide variety of character classes, but they are generic 'types' since the game only has plot development for around 6 of your characters.
GRAPHICS 7/10 - Good
Disgaea 2 is composed of 2D anime sprites set on rotatable isometric tiled maps. The text, special effects, character portraits and anime style cutscenes look great, but when the game zooms in on the sprites in story mode they do look a bit pixellated. For the playable sections of the game you can always zoom out which lessens this effect. So if you like 2D graphics then Disgaea 2 won't disappoint, although I do feel that it doesn't use the PS2s full potential.
GAMEPLAY 9.5/10 - Superb
This is easily the best aspect of Disgaea 2. Being a strategy RPG you basically take turns to move your characters from your base panel across the map and wipe out the enemy. The maps are made up of squares and each unit has a movement range which unsurprisingly, increases as you level up. There are a wide variety of character classes to create, although a lot of them are just palette swaps. The controls are simple and I think anyone could pick them up and be playing within a few minutes. You should be aware that Disgaea 2 is almost entirely menu driven, i.e. you have a hometown where you can jump around/buy weapons/armour/items/heal and you choose where to go by talking to a non-playable character. There is no walking around after you select the location to travel to, just a cut scene and then you are dropped inside the isometric battle map.
The good thing about Disgaea 2 is that weapons/armour/items are all different. They can all be leveled up to improve their stats to a certain degree. This provides flexibility in that you can just choose to sell your old stuff or spend time upgrading it. Leveling up your stuff is done through 'going into it' AKA 'item world' This is accessed through an NPC. It basically amounts to going through random maps and each floor cleared raises the level of that item. Each spell and character special ability can also level up independently.
Another interesting aspect of Disgaea 2 is the 'Dark Assembly', a senate type menu and voting map where you can pass bills to increase/decrease monsters levels/get new maps/unlock new characters/reset back to level one and even become a senator yourself! There are odds to bills being passed represented as a percentage and when voting is done you see all the NPCS shouting out their 'Aye' or Nay' votes on an isometric map like the battle maps. If you fail then you can beat up the senators to approve your bill or give up! There is a little more to it than this but it is definitely more than just a gimmick.
The 'Dark Court' is accessed through the item world of subpoena items you accept for having too high level/HP etc. It is an honour for Demons to commit crimes! You are given felonies by Prinnies in the Dark Court and these increase the experience points you get and make items cheaper in the shops. Also more than just a gimmick.
Just to make things more interesting there are coloured areas on the maps known as 'geo panels' which inflict status effects depending on what 'geo symbols' are places on them. Destroy the symbols and set off colour changes and you may damage anything on those panels as they explode.
The only negative about the gameplay is its repetitiveness, but this is also its greatest strength (sounds weird I know) There were times when I wanted to do more than move characters across boards, yet it is satisfying. Disgaea 2 also lends itself to bouts of pick up and play as most maps can be completed in under 15 minutes. The only other minor niggle would be with the default camera position which was a bit too zoomed in for my liking. It can be changed but I couldn't find away to stop it from resetting every turn.
SOUND 7/10 - Good
I didn't find the music annoying (which is always a good start) but there was rarely anything that stood out and made me want to listen to the included CD. The Etna theme was good in an outlandish type of way. Another great thing is that you can switch between Japanese and English voices at any time from the menu. This changes not only the story dialogue but the shouts the characters make in battle. This stops things from sounding too repetitive.
LONGEVITY 9/10 - Superb
The story mode is not really that long and can be completed in under 30 hours. What happens next depends on how much you like Disgaea 2s gameplay. You are either going to be bored with the repetitiveness and not want to do the extras (which will boost the play time to 100+ hours) or are going to be spending a lot of time leveling up (max lvl 9999!) seeing all the endings and going into the random item world dungeons. Overall I would say that Disgaea 2 will last you many months if you like these kind of games although you could sample a reasonable amount of the game in around 40 hours of play. Disgaea 2 also includes a New Game + which carries over all your levels/stuff/abilites.
WILL I LIKE THIS GAME?
If you don't mind or love leveling up, love customization and anime style light humour you will like Disgaea 2.
VERDICT: 8/10 - An essential purchase for any strategy RPG fan.
*The PAL version of this game comes with a 'best of' soundtrack CD. The PAL version is a good conversion and runs at the full American speed with only a small black border at the bottom.*
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/23/07
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