Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard hands-on preview

Graphically, EO2 is simple but effective. The game is filled with the well drawn anime characters that are typical of Atlus RPGs, but features little to no actual animation. Static drawings of enemies shake when they’re hit and flash when they attack but don’t actually move. The 3D dungeon images do a fine job recreating the claustrophobia of a labyrinth, but it quickly becomes repetitive due to the huge amount of time you have to spend leveling your characters there.

EO2 sees a number of improvements over its predecessor, most notably the ability to save on the fly in the dungeon as opposed to only in-town, increasing its on-the-go playability. Three new classes are included: War Magus, Gunner and Pet. The War Magus combines the survivability of the tougher classes with the invaluable healing abilities of a medic, while the Gunner uses a plethora of ammo to dish out every kind of damage imaginable. Pets are, unsurprisingly, animals which fight alongside of you. He may not be much for conversation, but inside the unforgiving labyrinth an 800 pound grizzly bear could be your best friend. The sequel also adds some extra features to the map making function, allowing more detailed maps with new, more specific, icons.

Etrian Odeyssy 2 is certainly not a game for those lacking free time, and is definitely not for everyone, but for the old school hardcore RPG fan it’s sure to be a godsend in a world of Wii Fits and Brain Ages.

May 19th, 2008