Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny - PS2 Review
RPGs are becoming bigger and better all the time, and while they are still generally known to be behind FPS and action/adventure games graphically, itís certainly not the niché genre it was back in the Mega Drive (thatís Genesis for you Americans!) days. Itís interesting to see, taking this into account, a game like Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, remaining so close to the anime-style RPG genre of a decade ago. This game will certainly have anyone who played games back in the day interested for nostalgic purposes, but that doesnít necessarily make the game worth playing. So what else does Atelier Iris 2 hold in store for would-be players? Read on and find out!
|Graphics have a great style.|
Any good RPG, hell even bad RPG, has to have a fairly deep and lengthy plot. Surprise, surprise, then that Atelier Iris 2, like the original, is no different. Set many years before the events of the first Atelier Iris, players will take control of two main characters, Viese (an alchemist) and Felt (also an alchemist, but much more into the Ďcut-stuff-up-with-sword-make-potions-laterí type alchemist!) to try and find out why Eden, their home world, has recently fallen apart and lost several large chunks of itself. Felt decides to pull the Azure Azoth, an ancient magical sword, out of a stone (hmmmÖ ring any bells there?) and sets off through a magic gate to Belkhyde, an alternate world which apparently has the means, somewhere, to save Eden. Meanwhile, he leaves Viese, who is obvious upset at this, back in Eden to make potions and other various items for him with potions. So in the middle of a quest, when Felt requires a particular item, assuming you have collected all the required ingredients, you can use Viese to make the item and Felt can use it.
While this sounds like a good idea, it actually is quite boring and before long you get very sick of wandering about looking for rare and unusual ingredients. At its heart, Atelier Iris 2 is more a collecting game than an RPG, and there is a LOT to collect for all those completists out there. It also seems that, while everyone knows youíre a savior working to help everyone, Felt still cannot get the public to cooperate, meaning more quests come from every person in order to get the unusual ingredients if you cannot find them in the wild. Unfortunately, most of the times, even when you finally find all the ingredients for a particular recipe, allowing Felt to progress, the reward just doesnít seem worth all the searching you did.
|Classic isometric gameplay.|
The in-game battle system is nice enough. Battles occur randomly in the field, however only a set amount will occur each time you enter the area, and there is a meter that gets darker when the battle is about to happen. While technically Atelier Iris 2 is not a turn-based RPG, it may as well be. Players work against the computer with a time bar where when a certain amount of time is over the next character makes their moves. Characters have your standard moves, such as normal attacks and special attacks (called skills here), and another nice move called break attacks. Break attacks allow you to force the enemy along the time bar, meaning that you can stop them from having their turn. This is useful sometimes when low on health and needing that extra few hit points. However, for the most part, battles are far too easy and are all over very quickly. You wonít find any epic boss battles like the ones against Sin or Ultimecia from the various Final Fantasy games here (whether thatís good or bad is really your decision!).
|In the heat of battle.|
Aside from the already mentioned repetitive collecting nature of the gameplay, there really arenít many problems with this game. However, while it is a solid release, it does feel like there is something missing. There are no huge problems really, but I found myself not really wanting to keep playing at many points in the game. The story is decent enough, and while I'm not particularly fond of turn-based battles, the gameplay itself is enjoyable, but for some reason, itís hard to play for extended periods of time, something that is the opposite of what RPGs are usually like. However, this could just be personal taste.
There is also a slight issue with the game I have, but without giving away much of the story it is hard to mention. About half way through, an event will force players to re-play much of the already played levels, and it really puts a dent in the enjoyment of the game. Unfortunately thatís about as much as I can say without ruining the game.
|Graphics retain an older style.|
As mentioned above, the game is very much done in the style of the Mega Drive RPGs of a decade or so ago. Brightly coloured anime-styled levels, varied textures for environments and some very nice anime-cut scenes do make this a joy to play visually. Itís not going to stand up against the latest Final Fantasy, or even games like The Bardís Tale, but the style gives the game its own special character. Atelier Iris 2 also gets a few points from me for nostalgic purposes... It looks, in every sense, like the game could have been done pre-Playstation, but still holds up nicely today. Anime fans will certainly love this one!
To add to the anime feel, the audio is also perfectly fitting. Coming with both Japanese and English voiceovers, both of which are done to exceptional quality, and with decent enough sound effects, youíll won't need to turn down your speakers for this game. Atelier Iris 2ís audio perhaps is some of the best anime-styled audio weíve seen on the PS2 for some time. The light hearted humour of the story really comes through in the characterizations of the character voices. The only real let-down is the music, which isnít anything memorable, though not annoying either. That aside, audio is a high point of the game for sure.
|Roaming around the desert.|
So there you have it. Atelier Iris 2 is an interesting title, but itís certainly not going to appeal to everyone. Perhaps best suited for hardcore anime and RPG fans, this could also serve to help fill-in time until Australian shores see a certain Final Fantasy XII hit shelves early next year. The entire adventure is about 30-35 hours, but will take much longer for those who wish to get every recipe and ingredient. If you can get over the old-school graphics, and donít mind a bit of almost turn-based fighting, then you should definitely look at this one!
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
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|GRAPHICS||The style is nice, and we gave it a few points for nostalgiaÖ but to be realistic, they arenít going to wow many gamers.||70%|
|SOUND||Very nice quality, and for once decent Japanese AND English voiceovers in a game. Sound effects are decent enough. Okay music.||76%|
|GAMEPLAY||Some nice ideas, but they arenít used well enough. Game becomes repetitive and frustrating easily. Itís hard to play it for long in one sitting and battles are far too easy.||64%|
|VALUE||The average gamer will get a good 30 or so hours out of this. Those obsessed with getting all the collectibles will get much more!||75%|
|OVERALL||Itís a decent game; but itís only going to appeal to certain gamers. No huge problems, but thereís nothing amazing there either. ||75%|