Final Fantasy XII isn't the only RPG in town. And though it kicks ass, there's room in our hearts for more than one fantasy. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is the rare pleasure that blends traditionalism with its own personality. The results are engaging.
Graphically, Silmeria outclasses just about every game on the PlayStation 2. It's not just about raw horsepower, although this game will make your PS2 cry - it's always running smoothly, with hugely detailed characters on screen. But it's also in the artistry. One reason we love RPGs is because they transport us to another world. Silmeria captures that expansive feeling of a fantasy realm, in the biggest details and in the smallest. Each character has his or her own look; each house is filled with objects; each area has its own feel. This world has life.
Gamers who thirst for more activity in their RPGs will be at home here. The game's action-packed battles are unusual and richly enjoyable. When you encounter an enemy - no random battles here - you're launched into an arena filled with foes. You can dash between them, avoiding their attacks. When you get close, launch your assault; your party of four characters fights together, as you tap the four face buttons - say, hit square to launch a sword thrust from Alicia and then follow with a volley of Rufus' arrows by hitting X.