The secrets of the Junkyard revealed and the mysteries of the Black Sun to expose.
This game is the rare direct sequel in the role playing game world. For the most part, role playing game sequels have either not really all that much to do with the predecessor only sharing a few pieces of mythology or creatures or battle system. Or, if they do take place in the same world, it is another group of characters venturing out in the world usually in a far away future or if it is the same time you may have a character from the original making what is essentially a cameo appearance. There are exceptions to the role as Shadow Hearts 2 was a bit of a direct sequel, but then the third one of those is like the whole cameo example. This game is a direct sequel and it features all the same great characters from the first game and one new character to join your party. It also does a splendid job of explaining why your characters are significantly weaker the start of this game than they were at the end of the first. Shadow Hearts 2 did a nice job of this also. That is perhaps one of the reasons there are so few direct sequels, it does not quite make sense why at the end of one game your characters can blow away the strongest of opponents and then be back at square one. I know I was kind of miffed when Yuna and Rikku were very weak at the start of Final Fantasy X-2 as there was no explanation. They went from beating Sin, the ultimate threat, back to barely able to scrape by. While this sequel is good though, it is not quite as good as the first game.
The story starts out great as you learn very quickly that the gang from the first game were computer simulations rather than real people and that Nirvana is nothing more than the real Earth, which is not a paradise, but rather a living hell. The sun is black and anyone exposed to it becomes stone and this process is known as the Cuviar syndrome, named after the woman who first diagnosed it. Well the gang are on the hunt for Sera as she is missing after they are hurled into the real world and Cielo and Heat are also missing in action. So Serph, Argilla and Gale team up with a group of resistance fighters led by a man named Roland to find Sera and to try to make sense of this new world they have been thrust into. Unfortunately though, along with new allies the group will make new enemies as well as meet an old friend in less than favorable circumstances and they will also learn of the horror the sun can do as Angel from the first game seems to want destruction!
The game play is essentially the same with only a couple of minor differences as you gain new powers using a different grid. Also, during combat if the sun is a max solar noise you get a cool half human half demon hybrid which can end a fight quickly or result in a cheap death. Hence, one of the reasons I did not like this game as much. It is more direct and less riddled with puzzles and such, but there are a lot of cheap deaths going on. Also, the last portion of the game has just too much fighting and not enough story for my taste. Sure, the first one had a rather long last level too, but it just seemed to have more story up to that point. It also had a much better ending as this one ends in very strange fashion as I did not care for the two characters becoming one and stuff as the story at the end seemed to be all Sera and all the characters you grew to like in the previous game and up till the last stage in this one were just kind of there.
So, all in all, it is a good game. I just feel the first game is more complete even though it does end in what is essentially a cliffhanger. The sound in it seemed better too as they put more effort into it or something. Perhaps this one was rushed a bit as when Serph unleashes his claws after battle in the first game the noise is distinct, here it just kind of happens with very little sound. I liked the addition of Roland; however, I like having Heat more. Granted, you can have Heat in your party at the end, I think it depends on what you say when you can do the choice boxes. Still, it is good for the most part, just has some weird stuff that makes the whole junkyard from the first game seem pretty normal by comparison.
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