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Disgaea 2

We all know that strategy games require a lot of time to plow through. Commanding an army through mission after mission, obliterating foes and discovering new weapons can easily take, oh, 50 hours or more. But tactical fans already know the ditzy demons of Disgaea 2 will offer double that. Easily.

The colorful, vibrant visuals may appear basic, but they hide a war zone that's deeper than anything else you'll touch on the PS2. Right from the start, you can create your own hellacious army of followers. Long-range archers, scrappers and magicians - all the greats are here. Crafting your custom soldiers uses up mana points, which are gained in the grid-based battles, but if you're looking to recruit screen-shattering, supercharged troops, you've got to run it by the Dark Assembly. Yes, even a warlord-to-be has to answer to Congress.

Any kind of outlandish request you may have, like asking for weaker enemies or a better selection of weapons, has to be approved by an office of stuffy, pointy-eared bureaucrats. If you don't like their vote, you can sweeten them up with gold and booze to get your way. Still not behaving? Knock 'em out with some chloroform or drop a bomb in their seat. Of course, that'll just make them hate you even more. Ah, politics.

New to Disgaea 2 is the Dark Court, which behaves like a reverse judicial system. If you keep breaking laws (leveling up too much, cheap shots) you're summoned to court, where the guilty are rewarded - to an extent. Push the judges too far and they'll throw the book at you ... by turning you into the demonic penguin mascots of Disgaea, Prinnies.

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