September 29, 2001
Grandia II - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price

The isometric viewpoint is great.
It took a long time for the original Grandia to be ported from the Sega Saturn to the PSOne and the game was only released here in Australia a year ago. Many people have said that Grandia is the greatest RPG of all time, even surpassing Square's magnificent Final Fantasy series. Game Arts began development on this sequel before the Dreamcast even hit the shelves, much to the relief of Sega fans worldwide. When the game was released it received some excellent reviews (mostly above 90%) and sold moderately well, for a Dreamcast game. But not to many people have a Dreamcast and GameArts are hard at work on a PS2 version of Grandia II. Although there won't be too many enhancements the original game was so good it doesn't really need it.

It's pretty, but it's not for kids.
Game Arts were one of the first companies to receive Dreamcast development kits and started working on Grandia II way back in November 1997, immediately after they finished developing the original game. As with all RPG development, it took a lot of time to complete the title with a Japanese release in October 2000. Following this the game had to be translated to English (by UbiSoft) and when that was completed the port to Playstation 2 commenced. This conversion will take another year. While an action game may take 5-10 hours to complete, most RPG's keep players going for 50-100 hours, and Grandia II is no exception. As a result RPG's they suffer a lengthy development period compared to other genres for testing and the detailed storyline in the game. Speaking of stories Grandia II is one of the most engrossing.

The battles can be quite tough.
Grandia II's story takes place in a completely new and different world from the original game. Players start off in a magical place entitled Shurisen on the continent of Granacliff, which has a giant earthquake-like crack through its center. It has been over 10,000 years since the Battle of Good and Evil has taken place. Now Valmar, the Devil that tried to destroy the world, is about to awaken and complete his original goal. As Valmar's Moon casts a sinister glow, the time of valiant and unexpected heroes has begun. Upon receiving an assignment from the Church of Granus, Geohound, Ryudo and his partner Skye set out to chaperone the young priestess-in-training, Elena, to a religious ceremony to be held at the Tower of Garmia. However, the ceremony fails and Valmar's dark descent upon the land thrusts the fragile world in the midst of the war between the gods of good and evil. Ryudo finds himself accompanied by friends and newfound allies, as he must come to terms with himself and his destiny, so that he may rescue the land from peril.

The villages look very impressive
The story is just as big and epic as any Square developed role-playing game, and promises plenty of surprises and suspense. As with most Japanese RPG's Grandia II has the usual elements such as battling monsters to increase players experience and magic points. The weapons and magic are varied with the usual array of lighting, fire and ice attacks. It's possible that GameArts will enhance the Playstation 2 game even further, possibly with the addition of new sub quests, spells and balancing of the characters attributes, but nothing has been confirmed yet by the company. The additional space provided by the DVD format may also see new cut scenes in the game, but once again this is still to be confirmed.

Check out the great battle details.
One thing that makes this game stand out from the crowd is the stunning visuals. Usually RPG's have some bland dungeons and towns or poor animations during the battle sequences, not so in this game. The colours are vibrant and the characters are well animated. The game is viewed from an isometric viewpoint. Many people have said that this is the best looking RPG ever, and I tend to agree, until Square's Final Fantasy X finally arrives in a year or so. The music in Grandia II is also very impressive with orchestral pieces suitable for an epic motion picture let alone a video game.

Even the battles are very colourful.
Playstation 2 owners have had a few average RPG's to play to date, but nothing exceptional. Most people are waiting for Square's Final Fantasy X, but Grandia II promises to be just as exciting and engrossing. Fortunately Ubisoft treated the port to English of the Dreamcast version with a lot of respect and the speech is very well translates. Don't expect any poor Japlish translations here (Japlish is when the English port has a lot of Japanese nonsensical phrases and words). With an engrossing storyline, hours of gameplay and Ubisoft's publishing know-how this game should be huge when it is released in late 2002.

Note: The surrounding screenshots are from the Dreamcast game, although the Playstation 2 version should look the same, if not better.