Review by MasterVG782

"Another great addition to the PS2's RPG lineup.."

Although I never played the first Dark Cloud, I've heard enough mixed opinions about it that made me hesitant on buying this one. Fortunate to my local gaming store, I'm a RPG fanatic, meaning I get a majority of the RPGs that get released stateside (I'm not hard to please, either). Luckily, I got to play a demo of this game and I was impressed with what I saw.

Yet another game that employs the technique of cel-shading. I hear much from people about its overuse, but I enjoy the style. The visuals in Dark Cloud 2 are simply amazing, from the characters to the backgrounds to the enemies you fight. A great amount of colors add to this visual enjoyment. Simply put, a gorgeous game.

What's a RPG without a good story? Your character, Maximillian, starts out by going to a circus in his town. While at the circus, he overhears something he shouldn't have heard. This eventually leads to the ringmaster chasing Max for the stone given to him by his father. A good start, I must say. The true nature of the story comes out a little later, and I must say I like it, though some might think it's a bit cliche in its overall nature.

The battles in this game are in real-time, meaning the enemies are always on screen and you fight where you are located at that moment. You only fight with one character, though you may have a couple in your party at one time and you can switch back and forth between them, unless noted otherwise in the game.

All the dungeons are split into floors and you must find the Gate Key before you can advance to the next floor. Once you are finished with a floor, you are free to choose the next floor, go back to a previous floor or go back to town. Also, on some floors, you will have to fight a boss. You have a lot of freedom. Not only does your character has HP, but your weapons do as well, which is a measure of their durability. The more you use it without fixing it, the more it deteriorates. Gone though, from the first one, is the weapon actually breaking, leaving you weaponless. A great concept implemented into this game.

A new concept to this sequel is that of the Innovation System. Your character (Max) can take pictures of various objects throughout the game. You can get some ideas for inventions from books and stuff in towns and such places, and if you take pictures of the items described in those ideas, then you might possibly be able to make something new to help you.

****SOUND & MUSIC****
Though the music isn't anything special, it's not bad enough that I put the TV on mute and listen to other music. When you clear the floor of a dungeon of all monsters, you get a nice sounding and peaceful track that plays. I must say that the English voice acting for this game was done well and there isn't a voice yet I've heard that I don't like.

I can see some replayability coming in this game, though not a lot since it seems to be a lengthy game. Sometime down the line though, I can picture myself replaying this game after already finishing it, since it's a fun game to play. Sometimes, the enemies in a particular dungeon can be tough, since I have already died numerous times within the first two dungeons, though I haven't really experienced any trouble with the bosses thus far. It appears to be the case that the regular enemies are harder than the bosses, which is the case with some RPGs, but we'll see.

A great action RPG that improves greatly upon the first Dark Cloud, removing some annoyances (from what I've heard) from the game. Also, since it's a Sony game, the price tag of $40 makes it that more appealing. I'd definitely say this game is a BUY.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/08/03, Updated 03/08/03

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