Legaia 2: Duel Saga

Legaia 2: Duel Saga

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/6/2002 for PS2  

At its core Legaia 2 is just an amalgamation of the console’s most widely popular RPGs. You’ve got portions of Star Ocean, portions of Final Fantasy, portions of Suikoden, portions of Harvest Moon and of course, portions of the original Legend of Legaia. From the opening sequence to the game’s menu system, much of the elements are highly recycled and make the game exude that feeling of déjà vu that has often been associated with writers who have run out of ideas.

In case you’re wondering why a Sony made game is being published Stateside by Eidos then the obviously haven’t experienced the series. It will only appeal to a very niche audience, namely those who are interested in Japanese RPGs. In short, if you’re a fan of games like Duel Hearts and Tales of Destiny then this game is right up your alley.

The storyline is pretty straightforward, you assume the role of Lang, your generic hero with the clichéd “mysterious past.” His village is attacked by an equally mysterious stranger who steals the Aqualith, the stone that provides the town with water and sustenance, so of course Lang makes it his duty to retrieve the stone. You’ll soon discover that the stranger and Lang have a common trait in the form of a birthmark, one on his chest and one on the stranger’s hand. Thus we have the foundation of your generic run-of-the-mill RPG plot that doesn’t deviate very much from the mold and thus, does very little to intrigue the gamer. It’s the same recycled plot that we’ve seen replicated numerous times in previous RPGs.

Perhaps the largest attraction of the first Legaia was the excellent battle system that incorporated some fighting game elements into the mix. Thankfully the sequel continues this tradition by incorporating the same system into the game’s battle sequences. If you need a good reference point think back to Final Fantasy 8, remember Zell’s special moves that required you to input a set of commands in order to pull them off? What’s nice is that as you progress you’ll learn more and more maneuvers, many of which can be chained together to form more powerful maneuvers. The only thing that truly separates Duel Saga from the competition is the excellent battle system that is initially excellent, but eventually loses its impact as you realize that the game too heavily relies upon it. In the end the system is a great addition but the overuse of it waters it down so heavily that you can’t help but grow tired of it. By the 2nd or 3rd hour of gameplay I found myself using the included ‘auto battle’ option that puts the control of the fight in the hands of the computer while you go make a sandwich.
What really hurts the game is that not a single line of dialogue is spoken. You’ll have to read each and every single word that the characters say, I felt that this hurt the impact of the game’s few somber sequences. It’s really difficult to empathize with the loss of a village’s most valuable asset when the characters themselves aren’t convinced that it’s such a big deal. I want to hear the impact that it has on them, not read it. The music is a strange mix of some sorts, featuring some a nice assortment of beautifully composed symphonic tunes in some areas, and a mix of jazzy upbeat tunes in others. It’s a mixed bag of some sorts that doesn’t really cater to one audience or another.

Again this game isn’t really a technical marvel by any respects, the player models (of the NPCS in particular) are heavily underdeveloped and feature some pretty weak animations. They fare much better in the fighting sequences but they’re still sub-par. The environments look plain and barren, especially in comparison to much older RPGs like Final Fantasy X. They’re not bad by all means but the game essentially looks like a mildly beefed-up PSOne game.

What is nice about Legaia 2 is that it’s immediately accessible to nearly every RPG fan out there due to its striking similarities to the competition. The storyline isn’t too heavy or thought provoking and the combat system is simplistic enough for anyone to get a grasp of. In a lot of ways I’m reminded of Midway’s Shadow Hearts, there’s nothing really wrong with the game but in the end, it gets lost in the sea of RPGs that do little to differentiate themselves from one another. Pick this one up if you’re looking for a decent RPG but if you can, I suggest you pick up some alternatives as you'll no doubt be experiencing far more dejavu then you'd probably want to.
What happens when you mix and match facets of various Japanese RPGs and throw them in to a blender? You get Sony Computer Entertainment’s run of the mill RPG, Legaia 2: Duel Saga.

Rating: 7.4 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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