DS

North America

Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard

by David Trammell - June 17, 2008, 10:53 am PDT
Total comments: 11

8.5

It's more of the same, but that's a good thing.

After playing Etrian Odyssey II, I looked at my review of the first game and was tempted to simply copy and paste it with a couple of minor changes (off course, I’m being facetious). Although there are a few significant differences, EO2 is a relatively straightforward sequel. While I don’t agree with all of the design changes, Etrian Odyssey II should still please fans of the budding series, while providing a good entry point for those who missed the first game since there’s no continuity between the two storylines.

The core gameplay in EO2 remains the same as it was in the first game. You start by creating several characters (name, class, portrait, and skill assignments) and taking them into the dungeon-like forest. You can stick with five characters for the whole game, or you can create several extras and swap them out as desired for different situations. As you explore, you’ll use the touch screen to notate the important features of each level. New weapons and armor are still unlocked by bringing the body parts of defeated monsters to the shop in town, and you still get one skill point per level with which to customize your party members. Now and then you’ll encounter a character that furthers the minimal story, and of course, the dreaded FOEs (boss-like enemies that stalk around visibly, as opposed to the normal randomly-encountered enemies) are back to bring an untimely end to your adventuring.

On the surface, every facet of EO2 is improved over the original. The mapping tools now come with more than twice as many icons, multi-colored paint for the floors, and a few other little changes that make mapping a better experience. Every character class but one is now available from the beginning of the game, and the one that isn’t becomes available very quickly this time around. If you assign your skill points poorly, you can reset them by sacrificing a mere five levels (to the first game’s ten). Controls have been refined, and an auto-battle feature has been added that speeds things up considerably (it’s useful when finishing off enemies, or killing weak enemies). The 3D graphics are noticeably more detailed than last time, but this does introduce slow down in certain areas. The addition of temporary waypoints on the third and fifth floor of each stratum eliminates a lot of backtracking. Overall, the changes are definitely for the better.

FOEs now come in several flavors. There are ordinary FOEs that simply patrol a predetermined route, red FOEs that chase you, blue FOEs that can fly over certain obstacles, and purple FOEs that only show up in the 3D view. You’ll find yourself avoiding these creatures almost completely this time around. They tend to be much more difficult to kill until you've surpassed them by several levels. They also no longer give experience points, so the only reward for going back to kill them is a chance at some rare monster parts (useful for making some of the more powerful equipment).

It’s difficult for me to evaluate the challenge of EO2 compared to the first game because of my pre-existing experience with its rules. It doesn’t help that both games can be significantly more or less difficult depending on the party you choose, the skills you develop, and whether or not you run from too many fights (which help you gain the necessary experience to keep things from getting out of hand). As with the original, there are ways to play that make the game much easier than it would be otherwise.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that the dungeon is still divided into strata. You’ll only see a significant change in scenery and background music when you reach a new stratum (every five floors). This isn’t so bad when the scenery is pleasant and the music is compelling, but I doubt everyone will like every stratum. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anyone won’t want to gouge out their eyes after five minutes in the fifth stratum.

Ultimately, Etrian Odyssey II lives up to its predecessor while including several incremental improvements that make the gameplay smoother. However, owing to the incredible amount of customization available to your party, it’s hard to say whether or not you’ll find the challenge and pacing to be just right or way off, especially the first time through the game. However, those who enjoy the game will find that, like its predecessor, EO2 can be very rewarding to replay using advanced party configurations. All in all, Etrian Odyssey 2 is a fine sequel.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 8 9 8 10 8.5
Graphics
8

The 2D artwork is even better than before (although still generally lacking animation), as is the 3D art. Unfortunately, there is a bit of annoying slow down in certain areas that wasn’t present in the original game. A bit more visual variety would be nice.

Sound
8

I didn’t enjoy the music quite as much in the sequel, but it’s still quite good by ordinary standards. The sound effects aren’t anything to write home about.

Control
9

The interface is even better than before. Almost everything I questioned about the original controls and map interface has been improved.

Gameplay
8

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the gameplay in EO2 felt slightly inferior to that in the first game. Maybe it's just that the novelty has worn off and the developers didn't come up with enough new tricks. Yet, EO2 is still very compelling and well worth playing for fans or those interested in trying the series for the first time.

Lastability
10

As with the first game, EO2 is long and has incredible replayability. The character class roster has expanded from 9 to 12, and there’s still post-game content (new places to explore and things to fight, even after the “final” boss).

Final
8.5

Etrian Odyssey II really doesn’t do anything more or less than I would have expected from a sequel. If you enjoyed the first game, or were interested in it but couldn’t find a copy, you should definitely pick up EO2.

Summary

Pros
  • Exceptional amount of control over party structure and character development
  • Intelligent challenges
  • The draw-your-own-map feature is even better than before
  • Very long with good replay value
Cons
  • Only one save file
  • Some slowdown in the 3D view in certain areas
  • Too easy to over-level when preparing for stratum bosses
  • Unchanging scenery for five levels is a bit much
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

KDR_11kJune 18, 2008

The first one just came out here, should I wait for the second? Well, if I were interested, I'm not too sure I'd want to play it.

I hate having to create a character or party before playing the game and knowing how stuff works...

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusJune 18, 2008

Overall, it doesn't sound like your kind of game.  Although, the resting option helps a lot (especially in the second game) because you can easily reset your skill points and rebuild your character from scratch.  So, yes you have to design your own party and characters, but you can find out how stuff works and fix your poor decisions a few times during the game.

KDR_11kJune 18, 2008

Well, it's not a game-killing dislike but I think it's bad design, just like switch puzzles where you have to get a certain combination without being told what it is and stuff like that. Though I guess it could result in rerolling too often and getting too sick of the early stages to really play the game much...

I love the first one but I haven't gotten very far into it, though I've been considering getting the new one just to be able to save while in the dungeon.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusJune 18, 2008

suspend you mean, it's not an ordinary save

I know, I wanted to know that I could put the game down anywhere I was in the game without having to rely on sleep mode, which I often forget I left it in and pick it up a few days later with the battery in the red.

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusJune 19, 2008

It's amazing it can sleep for that long, I've never tested it that far.  I guess I shouldn't be shocked since even the CPU sleeps (waking for a few instants per second to see if you've opened up the DS).

The other bad thing about sleep mode, at least on the DS lite, is that the power switch still works while the system is asleep. If it gets knocked in the right way the system shuts off, and loses anything I was saving.

KDR_11kJune 19, 2008

Oh wow, never had that happen with my phat.

Another issue with sleep is that you can't play another game. Big annoyance IMO, having a game rely on sleep means you can't play anything else on the DS until you find a save point.

vuduJune 19, 2008

Quote from: Rize

It's amazing it can sleep for that long, I've never tested it that far.

Off topic, but I've had my DS in sleep mode for over a week several times.  When I open it up the power light isn't even red!

RizeDavid Trammell, Staff AlumnusJune 19, 2008

Like I said, I should really know better.  I'm doing my Ph.D. research on wireless sensor networks which use a sleep wake cycle (they wake up for a few milliseconds every second) and manage to live for 6 months to several years on a couple of AA batteries.  I'm sure the DS is doing a very similar thing when in sleep mode (although the game maker has to program it deliberately so some home brew games don't put the CPU to sleep, they only turn off the screens... and even that only happens if they do it manually in the code).

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Genre RPG
Developer Atlus
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard
Release Jun 17, 2008
PublisherAtlus
jpn: Sekaiju no Meikyuu 2: Shoou no Seihai
Release Feb 21, 2008
PublisherAtlus
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