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A long overdue write up

  • sbester
  • 09/01/2012 01:42 AM
  • 1408 views
Introduction

While I loved the first game in this series, I wasn’t able to complete my playthrough of this game last year like I wanted to (due to school). Now that school is finally over with forever (crossing fingers), I was able to finish what I started. I did, however, have to replay it from the beginning. From here on out, I will be comparing it heavily to its predecessor, in an attempt to examine how the creator and the series as a whole have progressed (if at all).

Plot and Dialogue 4/5

The dialogue is a vast improvement over its predecessor’s. While it still has its problems, such as stilted or awkward conversations, it’s pretty easy to get into and it doesn’t force you to dig into an archive of long, uninteresting mythology or backstory. The spelling and grammar is also much improved, although it does need work.

Each chapter is a bit longer than the chapters of the previous game, so a good amount of story and gameplay are involved in each. The structure of the unfolding plot is well done on the whole, but don’t expect to be engaged in any high levels of suspense or wonder. Still, each chapter fulfills its role as a separate story arc, and the advancement of the plot really does lead somewhere eventually (if you can stick with it long enough, the lingering mysteries will unfold).

You begin as Daron, a young man that everyone in his village seems to like. All we really know about him is that his lover is dead, and he is currently trying to stop monsters known as “knoll” from hurting the residents. Similar to the first game, all hell breaks loose very suddenly, and we are right at the center of it.

Graphics and Design 3/5

The game uses RMXP RTP, and while it isn’t used in the most flattering way, the layouts are where the design of this game really shines. Having little things in your way can mean the difference between life and death, especially when you’re having spells casted on you and need to get to your enemies as quick as possible. While everything is very straight forward, repetitious, and less than beautiful, it is extremely functional for the type of gameplay you’re working with. The smaller maps serve as nice break points to catch your breath too, which I really appreciated. All in all, the level designs fit pretty perfectly.

As with the first game, you also have additional graphical goodies along the way. There are meters for character health and MP in the top right corner of the screen, making it easy to know when you need to replenish either (which is almost always). Still, there will definitely be players who are less than wowed by the repetitive nature of the maps, and the boring use of RTP.

Sound and Music 5/5

Taken from all over the place. RPG players should recognize a lot of it, as it is taken from FF games, Xenogears, Zelda, Seiken Densetsu, etc. It all fit pretty well.

Once again, sound effects are used with utmost care, and it will helps for slash precision because it lets you know when you’ve successfully pulled off a strike.

Gameplay 4/5

Slashing through enemies has never been so useful! It works both as an attack, and a dodge at the same time! While virtually identical to the fist game’s battle system, the craziness has been slowed down just a tad (XP’s regular walk speed is slower than that of 2k3). Personally, I don’t like that. I felt much less in control of how far my movements were going (upgrading your reach felt like it did nothing every single time), and getting through the game with a slow and low powered character was kinda difficult. However, where moam balances this out is the ability to strike faster. In other words, when your hero is blocked from slashing completely through an enemy, you’re still able to (in a sense) double attack. It just amounts to some extra tapping on the spacebar, but it works pretty efficiently.

The upgrade map, where you can choose new abilities or additions for Daron, is only somewhat improved. There’s more to it in terms of exploration and gameplay, but there are less options to upgrade your fighter. Even when you progress further and have more upgrades available, I found I really missed having extra HP points available to me (and right from the beginning, no less).

As someone who beat the first game, I have to say that I didn’t find this game any less forgiving. In fact, it’s worse in that respect. In chapter 3, I was bombarded by a huge group of enemies, the number of which I hadn’t encountered until nearing the end of the first game. It can get pretty cramped, and having spells cast on you throughout can make it very difficult to progress. Sometimes 3 monsters will cast a spell on you at the same time, and you die instantly. And the boss in chapter 9 casts a spell where you can’t move every like 3 seconds or less (SERIOUSLY) and if you’re anywhere near her, you die. There’s no getting around it, no matter how well you’re doing. Luckily, with save points all over the place, you don’t have to watch lon scenes before redoing things. Nevertheless, it becomes quite annoying.

It isn’t all hack and slash this time either. There are various minigames throughout, including a cool timing attack game where you have to block cannon shots with your shield while running through a little maze. Not only are these interesting, but they’re pulled off with great precision as well. I was also surprised to see some optional quests too, like saving children one by one from swarms of giant spiders.

My two big complaints, and the reason I downgraded the score, have to do with the controls. I’m not trained to use spacebar, x, q, w, and shift in unison, and I don’t know anyone else who is either. It’s a major pain in the ass, and a bit of a disappointment. The second thing is that XP is just really not the best engine for this game. Even when I have nothing equipped at all, my character seems to move half as fast as I could in the first game, and this makes some of the minigames (like running away from a group of dragons) quite frustrating. XPs lag really shows with a faster paced game like this, and I found myself having to tap QWQWQWQW before either one would work sometimes. Too many enemies onscreen is too many enemies.

Lasting Impressions 4.5/5

There is some great replay value to be had here, which adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay (in comparison to most rm games). I enjoyed this game immensely, and I feel it is a decent successor to a game I loved. On the whole, I did feel like the overall control was a little hampered down by XP’s engine, and it felt just a tad bit tedious when compared to the first title in the series.

Overall 20.5/25

I wanted this game to be leaps and bounds better - a vast improvement over the original. While there were some improvements made over the first game, I can’t help but feel there were a couple steps taken back as well. The controls feel clunkier, and can be unresponsive due to lag, and the trial and error process that was fun before ends up becoming mildly frustrating at times instead. However, there’s no denying that a great effort was made this time around to make every single chapter unique (in terms of gameplay and strategy), and moam was very successful in this way.

I did enjoy my experience with it, and I have high hopes for the remaining two installments. If you’re easily frustrated and aren’t one for challenges, I’d recommend staying away from this (so please, no more crying under my review like last time). Otherwise, give it a try.

Posts

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I really appreciate your honest review :) And I am totally stoked for you to play Under World 3. I feel like that is my best game I have done by far.
Thanks! I'm pretty stoked for it myself, given what I've seen and heard.
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