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Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2
Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 is the “Kill Bill 2” to Digital Devil Saga’s “Kill Bill.” So, for anyone not familiar with the series, it would probably be best to first get up to speed by reading our Digital Devil Saga review. The game’s plot is a continuation of the original, which was released only a few months ago to critical acclaim. Though the game lacks any major leaps over the first part, it still provides a worthwhile RPG experience that is better than most better known RPGs to come out in the last year.

Graphically, Digital Devil Saga 2 doesn’t change the formula of the original. The stylized cel-shading is still present and provides a low key, yet powerful presentation. As with the last game, the real “star” is the art style, which is imaginative and very unique for current RPGs, which tend to either want to go the way of realism or anime. DDS2 instead straddles the fence between the two and looks great doing it.

Character voices are still well done and well acted. None of the performances are phoned in, and help to keep the game’s story on track. You actually begin to feel for the characters instead of just flipping through a bunch of dialogue to get to the next battle. Music is just as good as the last game and features a few old tracks as well as some new ones.

Serph and his tribe have finally reached “Nirvana,” the mythical land filled with bliss and removed from the hardships of life in the Junkyard. However, once they arrive, they discover that the haven they fought so hard to get to is actually a much harder life than the one they left behind...

As with the first game, DDS2’s plot is a little different from your standard RPG stuff. Once again, the game manages to provide plot lines that seem to follow conventional RPG standards, only with a philosophical twist that will make you question some of the oddest things, such as the morality of cannibalism or the nature of your relationship with yourself (even if “yourself” happens to be a flesh eating demon). All of the characters from the first game make a return and are now joined by new playable cast members like Sera and Roland, the leader of the underground group, Lokapola. Both characters are tuners (beings who can transform between demon and human forms) and come with their own unique abilities. This keeps them from feeling like a rehash of other characters for the sake of adding new people.

As a bonus for those who played the original (and that should be all of you if you’re reading this), DDS2 includes a number of special bonuses. At the start of the game, your data from the previous game (provided you have a memory card with a DDS save on it) is loaded up and goes through a check list, unlocking a few special items like rare gems and even a character.

Digital Devil Saga 2’s ease of play still depends greatly on how you manage your character’s mantras and development. Newcomers will have a slightly steeper hill to climb, but the system sounds more complicated than it really is. Vets should have no trouble getting back into the swing of things and will really only have problems deciding who gets which gems in the Karma Ring system and with the natural gameplay, which is slightly harder than the first, yet not overpowering.

As a bit of a side note for players using their DDS saved game to unlock items, the game becomes a bit harder in order to balance out with some of the loot you’ll receive. The rare items are worth the hassle, though.

Game Mechanics:
Digital Devil Saga 2 works on the same mechanics as the previous titles, but also includes a few upgrades. The biggest of these is called Berserk form, which joins the last game’s Human and Demon form as a new combat form. Berserk forms are sort of a hybrid form stuck somewhere between Demon and Human form, giving the characters an offensive bonus while inflicting a defensive penalty. Unlike the other two forms, Berserk forms are dictated by the solar cycle (a small meter at the top of the screen).

Other enhancements include new weapons, armor, and a piece of equipment called a Karma Ring. These rings provide additional stat boosts and abilities, and can be upgraded through the use of gems. Each ring has a limited number of slots, so it is important to plan out which characters get which gems.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 is really just more of the same, but in a good way. As with Bandai’s .hack series, DDS2 is the same basic engine with a new story and a few new gameplay additions. If you enjoyed the first, the continuation of the story is a must play while newcomers might want to check out the original before jumping into the sequel.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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