“Maximilian is a young inventor with the heart of a hero who always lets curiosity get the better of him. Monica is a skilled warrior from the future and a master of magic who favors her graceful sword and possesses a magical bracelet. One day, Maximilian, who has never set foot outside of his town, decides it is time to fulfill his desire to leave and see the rest of the world. When Monica, a figure from the future, realizes he is danger after he discovers a secret meant to destroy the outside world, she uses time-travel to visit Maximilian in the present world. Together, they embark on a mysterious journey into the future to prevent an evil madman from destroying the world. In the process, they find themselves assisting a diverse group of villagers, battling monsters, restoring the world and unlocking secrets that will lead them to their ultimate destiny.” This is the story behind Sony Computer Entertainment’s new role-playing, adventure game for the PlayStation 2 called Dark Cloud 2.
Dark Cloud 2 is actually the second installment in the Dark Cloud series. This installment brings many new enhancements and features to the game including new characters, an enhanced Georama, a new Invention System, a new battle system, and more variety with new mini games. And of course, the game’s graphics and sound lend to its overall enjoyment. You’ll find that if you enjoy games like Final Fantasy (that provide the same gameplay aspects of a conventional Japanese RPG), you’ll also enjoy Dark Cloud 2. As a matter of fact, some are calling it the equivalent of Zelda for the PlayStation 2, but with even more variety and gameplay.
You play the game by controlling two main characters each with their own unique personality, abilities and weapons of choice. Your party consists of Maximilian and Monica. Maximilian is an inventive young man who possesses a genius IQ and is the lone son to one of the wealthiest families in town. Rather than hanging around the mansion, he enjoys working in Cedric’s Maintenance shop and inventing new creations. Maximilian’s knack for building things comes in handy, as I’ll talk about later. He is also very handy with his wrench when it comes to fighting. Monica is a skilled warrior from the future who visits the present to Maximilian’s time. She skillfully wields a mystical sword and is a master of magic. What is unique about this game is that you can bring along some of the people you meet on the adventure as support characters. Support characters cannot be controlled directly or participate in combat, but they do help with various abilities.
Like most RPGs, you’ll fight a variety of random battles in Dark Cloud 2. And the battle system is kind of similar to other RPGs. You fight battles as a group with each member of the group taking turns. The battle system in Dark Cloud 2 includes combo attacks, charge attacks, pursuit attacks, guarding and other moves. But where Dark Cloud 2 differs is in the fact that although the characters do have a health meter, the weapons are the items that gain ‘experience.’ Weapons have status values as follows: WHP (this is the durability of the weapon and represents the attack strength, which if it becomes zero, the weapon must be repaired in order to be used again), ABS (this is the magic power absorption value), and Synthesis Points (which can be used to upgrade your weapons with better abilities and more power). You can also Build Up weapons by rebuilding a current weapon into a new weapon.
Other features that make this RPG unique are the Invention System and the Georama System. The Invention System is a new addition in Dark Cloud 2. The new Invention System allows Maximilian to carry a camera around the environments and take pictures of anything he sees, in the hopes that he will create inventions that will assist him in exploration and combat. After you’ve taken some pictures you can try to make an invention with the ones that are marked with a light bulb. Your invention will be successful if you select a combination that gives you an inspiration for a new item. The Georama System is back again from the original Dark Cloud, but it is now enhanced with more items, more flexibility and the ability to recreate worlds in greater detail. Rebuilding worlds with the new Georama is now more challenging because you have to rebuild not only the present world, but the future world as well. And changes in one can affect the other.
Compared to the original Dark Cloud, the sequel is light years ahead in terms of graphics and animation quality. Its use of cel shading is outstanding and easily rates as one of the best looking games on the PlayStation 2. You’ll notice plenty of detail in the game’s environments as well as the characters themselves. And the animations are smooth, colorful, and engaging. The music and sound effects for the game are also very good. For the most part, you won’t find too much repetition like in others games where the tunes just keep repeating over and over, which can be very annoying. The voice acting is some of the best you’ll find in a Japanese translation such as this, and even in most video games.
As I mentioned earlier, Dark Cloud 2 could easily be considered the equivalent of Zelda for the PlayStation 2. It really is that good. Dark Cloud 2 makes huge improvements over the original Dark Cloud in terms of graphics, sound, and especially gameplay. If you decide to explore every aspect of the game, you can expect to find up to 100 hours of play here, which definitely gives you your money’s worth and more. I think it’s safe to say that Dark Cloud 2 is one of the best games you’ll find on the PlayStation 2, and I look forward to seeing what will come next in this series.