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    Grandia II
    Author: Drew Lanclos   Publisher: Ubi Soft   Developer: Game Arts
    Date Posted: August 15th, 2002
    SLRating: SLRating: 7/10
    Bottom Line: A great game gets mired down in a lousy port job.

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    Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6
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    Gameplay

    There's not a whole lot to discuss here, I'm afraid. Most console RPGs tend to put the story ahead of the game, and as a result, unless there's something particularly innovative or unique in a battle engine or character building system, there's conversations, exploring and fighting. You'll do a fair amount of fighting in Grandia II, of course, but that doesn't mean it has to be tedious.

    Similarly to most newer console RPGs, Grandia II uses a pseudo-real-time battling system. You have unlimited time to select your commands and weigh your options, but each of them takes a varying amount of time. Both you and your enemies have varying preparation and execution times, so it's perfectly normal to have a battle where your opponent gets two turns to every one of Mareg's, or Milennia gets three to every one of one of the bad guys.

    The real flavor of the battle system lies in the Cancel/Counter system. In Grandia II, timing is everything. For physical attacks, you have two primary options - Combo, and Critical. Combo attacks generally get two or more hits in per attack, whereas a Critical is a single, stronger attack. All successful attacks reduce the battle readiness of the target, forcing him to take longer to execute a command or come to turn. A Critical, however, if executed between a target's command selection and execution points, will cause a severe drop in the enemy's readiness. Counters occur when one fighter strikes another in the middle of an attack, causing the attack to stop.

    Correctly gauging the timing of your attacks and spells is critical in Grandia II, as it can help you survive battles without taking damage, and allow you to take on even the strongest of bosses without having to blink an eye. Furthermore, spellcasting takes a long amount of charge time, and defending your allies from attacks will ensure that the spell gets cast. If your teammate's time marker gets knocked past the command point, you'll have to start all over again.

    Winning battles results in the usual monetary award, since, as in most RPGs, monsters apparently carry money around with them. In addition, you'll also earn Magic and Skill coins. Each can be used to purchase weapon techniques unique to each character, as well as magic spells contained within Mana Eggs, and skills/techniques contained in Skill Books. The ability to juggle these around between characters means that you can prepare your characters as you see fit, and assign strengths to shore up weaknesses in characters. For instance, if Roan's taking too much damage in battle, you might consider buying the HP upgrade option in your Adventure book, and assigning it to him, giving him an increase to his HP maximum.

    Item management works pretty well, though I mostly bring it up to mention that shopkeeping is both simple and unnecessarily complex. I like that you can choose to purchase single or multiple consumable items at once, but for equippable items like armor, there's a special Equip command which arms you with the new item and places the old one in your inventory. Unfortunately, you can't sell equipment that you're currently equipping, which means that if cash supplies are tight and you can afford an armor upgrade only after selling what you're wearing, you have to take some unnecessary extra steps to get from Point A to Point B. The only game I've seen to intelligently manage shopkeeping like this is Earthbound, ironically enough. Grandia II could also use an "Outfitting" command, like what Final Fantasy Tactics offers.

    When it comes to exploring, Grandia II doesn't give you a lot of flexibility on the overworld map, using a point-to-point travel system. When you're in a particular area, however, you can freely rotate the area using the L and R pads (or whatever you mapped those to on your keyboard). Using these is a must, as you'll often miss treasures and get sneaked up on by critters if you're not paying attention to your surroundings. Enemies are visible, and will seek you out. Sneak up on them, and you'll get a jump on your readiness time in battle. The opposite works too, so don't let them get the drop on you.

    Graphics/Sound Go the the next page
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    Article Navigation

    1. Introduction
    2. Background
    3. Gameplay
    4. Graphics/Sound
    5. Conclusion/Pros & Cons
    6. Rating Breakdown

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