Review By: J.
a surprisingly good action-adventure role-playing game from
Volition, the makers of the Red Faction series. It
provides a fairly entertaining experience that will satisfy
those who like console RPGs, but arenít big fans of turn-based
The story in
Summoner 2 is interesting enough, it provides the sort of
twists and turns youíve come to expect in a console RPG, and
the characters are just removed enough from traditional
role-playing stereotypes to be fresh. The main story revolves
around a messianic princess and her entourage as they fight to
protect her kingdom and learn the true meaning of her prophecy,
but of course you will find that those two things are easier
said than done.
that your character is a ruler and a holy figure of sorts adds a
unique feel to the game. Kingdom managing duties, however
inconsequential to the ultimate outcome of the game, helps give
players a sense of the power and importance of your role as
queen. Deciding whether a heretic will live or die, whether your
budget should go to building up your military or feeding your
starving people, or whether a statue being built should honor
you or to the young child of prophecy are all in a dayís work
for a princess. After a while you definitely get the feeling
that the future of your people rests in your hands and that you
have a lot of power at your disposal. This may not see like a
big deal, but consider for a moment that most console RPGs put
you in the role of a wide-eyed, small town boy who eventually
discovers his true powers and ends up saving the world. Starting
you out as a gifted and powerful warrior princess is definitely
a welcomed change of pace.
2 isnít going to give Final
Fantasy X a run for its money anytime soon, but it isnít
that bad looking either, it just sort of flip-flops between
substandard, passable, and quality. Some things, like magic
effects, textures, and art design are done very well, while
others, like character models and polygon counts, remain poor
from beginning to end. Level design is a mixed bag throughout
the game; some environments, like the palace, are well crafted
and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, while others, like the
depths of the Prison of Indubal, are just plan ugly. A lack of
technical errors, like draw in, clipping, pop-up, and unstable
frame rates, weigh in the gameís favor, but with so many
things weighing for and against the game, it all falls somewhere
in the middle, earning Summoner 2 and overall
"ok" in the visual department.
visuals may be a mere "ok", the gameís audio manages
to impress on all fronts. The game has a beautiful soundtrack
reminiscent of what was heard in the film The Cell,
and sound effects are crisp, clear, and varied. The game also
has some surprisingly well done voice work, some of the best
heard on the PS2 in fact. Itís definitely better than what weíve
been hearing come out of Capcom in recent years, and even better
than what Square gave us in the blockbuster Final Fantasy X.
One does have to wonder, though, how the main character managed
to acquire British accent in a fantasy world with no British
isle. Oh well, I guess we can let that one slide.
biggest selling point is its real time, squad based combat. At
the same time, though, it is the gameís biggest weakness.
Combat in the game isnít terrible, but it is trying on your
patients. For starters, encounters are incredibly fatal from the
very beginning of the game. The first "boss" character
fought in the game (encountered all of five minutes after
turning the game on) took a total of eight tries to beat. He has
the ability to kill you with three hits if the first hit knocks
you to the ground. This sort of crippling difficultly level
right from the very beginning, a time when most gamers are still
getting acquainted with the user interface and controls, is a
sign of sloppy balancing. If you manage to put up with the game
long enough to beat this guy you will find that although combat
gets easier the more you play the game (and the stronger you and
your party becomes) you can never really rest easy going into a
new area, because most new enemies you encounter have the
ability to wipe out your entire party within seconds of meeting
them. Luckily, though, a save anywhere feature will prevent
needless back tracking after your many, many deaths.
thing that makes combat hard on the old patience is the
incredible stupidity of your party members, compared to the
intelligence of the enemy. When a horde of mindless blobs is
able to create attack formations, heal each other, block, dodge,
and run for cover, but a 300-pound, axe wielding general and a
powerful mage stand idly by while their leader gets killed two
feet away, you know something is wrong with the AI. While Kingdom
Hearts let you completely customize your computer controlled
party members, Summoner 2 forces you to use one of four
settings: Melee, Support, Healer, Caster, and Healer/Caster.
Melee, support, and casters never heal themselves, healers never
aid in the battle, and only two people really do well as
healer/casters. So basically this means youíll be doing a lot
of babysitting during tense battles, switching back and forth
between party members since there is no real autopilot.
Once you get
accustomed to the difficulty and the micromanaging you will find
that the gameplay is rather enjoyable and that the combat,
although not as fun as or as deep as a Dynasty Warriors 3,
is still a welcomed break from turn-based combat. The game
benefits from the absorbing nature of role playing games and the
compulsive urge to always want to see whatís around the next
bend: what new items are to be found, what new characters will
you run into, what will the next location look like, what twists
and turns will the story bring, etc. Once this takes hold of
you, you will definitely be hook into Summoner 2 until it
ends. Sure, at times the gameplay and visuals align in such a
way that it almost feels like your playing a Playstation 1 game,
but even then the game is still enjoyable enough to keep you
twists to the typical RPG formula.
combat is a break from turn-based boring, non-sense.
music, sound effects, and voice work.
- Insane level
- Visuals are a
- Party member
AI is just terrible.
If you are
open to a role-playing game that is different from the rest of the
pack, and you have a high tolerance for death-induced frustration
and so-so visuals, Summoner 2 is a game that will keep you
satisfied until completion.