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Thread: Giving/Asking Recommendations (PS2 RPGs)

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    Default Giving/Asking Recommendations (PS2 RPGs)

    Okay. Acting on kupomogli's advice, I'm starting a thread about recommendations. I'm keeping this to Playstation 2 RPGs so that is at least some limit to the scope involved.

    The format I'm going for here is starting with the games I've played and do recommend, and then a list of games I'm considering next. Feel free to chime in with your own lists and feedback, and any recommendations you want to put forward.

    Games I've Played And Recommend:
    Final Fantasy XII
    Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny
    Romancing SaGa (AKA Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song, recommended for enthusiasts only)
    Ar Tonelico: Melodies of Elemia (probably misspelled that)
    Rogue Galaxy
    Tales of Legendia
    Tales of The Abyss
    Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

    Games I've Played and Neutral On (I tend to like them, but recognize their flaws and see why others don't like them):
    Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
    Suikoden IV
    Phantom Brave

    Currently Seeking Opinions:
    Legaia II: Duel Saga
    Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
    Castlevania: Curse of Darkness

    I'm also more than willing to hear any opinions and recommendations regarding other PS2 RPGs. The Backlog of Glory always have some room in it!
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    Crono (Level 14) Custom rank graphic

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    Breath of Fire Dragon's Quarter is a great game though completely different from every other game in the series. instead the game is a third person dungeon crawler with a TRPG like combat system. Ryu is your melee/tank character, while the other two permanent characters are back row damage dealers. As a TRPG it's a bit limited as there's not that much depth in the skills that you have or get at your disposal, but it works well. The movement in combat is similar to those like Arc the Lad Twilight of Spirits if you've ever played that. As you progress through the game you'll learn more skills, some are weapon specific, that you equip on your triangle, square, and x buttons. Triangle is your weak attacks, costing 10ap points per skill, square is medium, costing 20ap, and x is strong, costing 30ap. The more attacks you link together in a single turn, the more bonus damage each attack afterwards will deal. You start with 100ap each characters turn and you can pass a characters turn and whatever remaining AP will stack with up to 200ap being able to be carried over to the next turn.

    The game is pretty hard, and if you do restart you can carry your party exp(a third exp slot that you can give to any character you want,) and a lot of people will tell you it's impossible to finish the game without restarting. This isn't true because the first time I've played the game I finished it without restarting. As you progress through the game, Ryu will turn into a dragon and by using his dragon form you'll eat up percentage of which he'll be taken over by the dragon. Get 100% and it's game over. However if you only use your dragon form when absolutely necessary and using the dragon skills conservatively, you'll get through the game no problem. The tip with the dragon form is only use it when you're at a tough boss battle, charge up maybe two or three times to increase attack power(it stacks,) and then use one of the three attack skills against the boss, with the high chance of taking any boss out in one, two, or three attacks by doing this.

    When going around with your characters though, you don't have the dragon form and you don't want to waste it on regular enemies. It can still get pretty challenging which is why like past Breath of Fire games, healing herbs are your best friends. In this game, using items doesn't use any AP. They're cheap and effective so buy as many as you can and use them when necessary.

    The design of the game is that enemies don't ever appear, and it's dungeon crawler like, so you'll find multiple items, equipment, etc, that can help you on your journey. The game does offer reasons to replay it as you'll get more story as you play through the game with better character rankings and there are locations within the game that you can only enter with a better ranking. Additionally, even if its your first playthrough, it has a great storyline and one of my favorite villains in an RPG.

    //

    Castlevania Curse of Darkness is a pretty bad game. With the combat, they've removed the depth that Lament of Innocence had and changed it to Musou style combat system. Even with this the combat isn't the issue as it's got enough of its own mechanics to make it play much better than the traditional Musou garbage. You've can do a sort of high time attack with any weapon by pressing square then x immediately after, getting used to that will let you combo attacks and immediately go into a lifter to perform an aerial combo. You also have innocent devil combination attacks that can be used as a finisher, and additionally, you can steal from every enemy in the game by finding out the specific way to make them open from being stolen from. Some enemies you might have to just guard, other enemies you might have to perfect guard the correct attack, etc. It's different per enemy so finding out how and then stealing is actually kind of enjoyable. The other plus is that the AI is decent.

    The real problem with Curse of Darkness, even more so than with Lament of Innocence, is that you're constantly running down these long hallways with square rooms in between each length of hallway. There's almost no unique rooms within the game like there was with Lament of Innocence, just long hallways and then rooms that might have an enemy in it. Isaac, the main character, has a stick up his ass and runs slower than molasses. You can evade once and then do a forward flip to speed up, and try to perfectly time it so you can repeatedly perform single forward flips and then do that the entire way through instead of walking, it's just as boring though and under no circumstance should the player have been forced to do this.

    The storyline is decent, the music is pretty good, and the gameplay is okay, but the shitty design of the games world along ruins the game. This style of game works well for a dungeon crawler, but an action game that already has a lot of repetition isn't very fun with this kind of world design.

    //

    Here's a few standout RPGs on the PS2 imo.

    SMT Nocturne is hands down the best PS2 RPG there is, while the two games Digital Devil Saga and Digital Devil Saga 2 take the same gameplay, make some tweaks to it, and are also some of the best games on the system as well. The changes in the Digital Devil Saga games may actually be preferable to most people.

    SMT is basically Pokemon, except they have good storylines and some well designed and difficult gameplay. SMT Nocturne brings along the press turn system which is one of those few amazing unique concepts that video games bring that defines the game/series in question. The press turn system takes however many characters you have on the battlefield and gives you that many turns. Hitting an enemy with a critical, hitting an enemy with a weakness, or passing will only use up half a turn, while an enemy that ignores damage whether this is a nullification or evasion, will remove two turns, and then if the enemy absorbs the attack, you'll lose your entire turn. As if SMT wasn't already focused on paying attention to enemy weaknesses, etc, the press turn system further pushes the series towards strategy.

    The main character in SMT Nocturne is a demon who ingests magatama which will change the characters resistances, but also allows the character to gain skills as he levels up. You can only have a max of eight skills, so you'll discard skills to keep the eight you want, customizing your main character for how he'll be most beneficial. The other party members are mosters that will slowly level up, so you'll replace them with other monsters, or fuse them with others so you can carry over skills.

    SMT series is a dungeon crawler style, with each game in the series aside from Persona 3 and 4 having some great design when it comes to the dungeons that you traverse through. SMT Nocturne and DDS are no exception.

    Now the difference between SMT Nocturne and DDS is that on DDS, your party members are preset characters rather than monsters. At save points, you'll be able to change your karma, which doesn't have any effect on your characters, but once mastering the karma you'll learn a few skills and unlock the next tier for that specific set of skills. You'll start off on the lowest tiers of devour/melee, melee, elemental, status effect, and recovery karma, the more you go into the tier, the better the skills or higher the damage. On DDS you can only equip a certain amount of skills as well, but on DDS you can also change the skills to any that you've learned at any time when outside of battle. On DDS2, karma works the same, but the different karma classes on this game are displayed in a way that the license board is displayed on Final Fantasy 12. You master one group of karma and then you can move to any karma that is any direction alongside it.

    //

    MS Saga. This one is a lot better than you'd expect. Now the characters look stupid and the storyline is pretty cliche, orphanage is destroyed, story starts off as a revenge story where kids save the world. It's everything else within this game that's excellent.

    In this game you start off in weaker mobile suits, all enemies that you fight are also in mobile suits, but as you progress, you get more powerful ones that you can move your characters to. You can modify any of the mobile suits so that their parts will be on any of the other suits(which is useful for heads or arms that have integrated weapons) and any character can be put in any mobile suit. MS Saga and other Namco Bandai robot RPGs, characters and robots will each have varying stats. A Guncannon for instance has a high range stat while having a low melee stat, while a Gouf will have a high melee attack but low ranged attack. So you'll not only want to put these characters into more powerful units with more powerful weaponry, but you'll also want to place a character in a suit that is most beneficial to them. The two characters you start with have high melee/low range and high range/low melee, so the high melee character would more than likely be placed in a Gouf while the high ranged character would use the Guncannon.

    After characters are placed into their respective mobile suits, each mobile suit has a sort of Diablo/Resident Evil 4 like equipment management. So they'll only have so many squares down and across. As you progress further, the backpacks for the suits will get larger and the weaponry will get larger and more oddly shaped. You'll be trying to outfit your characters with the weaponry the best you can, thinking of how you can fit every piece of weaponry on a specific suit becomes a game in itself. Additionally you get option parts which the characters can equip to give passive upgrades to the characters.

    Each character has techs, which are basically magic and cost TP, consisting of attack damage, support spells, healing spells, etc, and then boost skills which costs ap. At default, your characters start with 2ap and gain 2ap per turn, taking any attack action costs at minimum of 1ap, but you can defend, or even charge to conserve or increase the amount of ap the character gets. Boost skills consist of special attacks for the weapons and sometimes stuff like chaff grenade or beam grenade which will nullify bullet or beam damage, or tri snipe which will attack an enemy and reduce attack, defense, and evasion all at once. As you get further in the game you get better boost skills, and it does get to the point that late in the game you'll never regularly attack, you'll do nothing but attack all boost skills or all weapons boost skills because enemies do have that much HP, and the amount of damage enemies end game take off, you can't afford to do anything else. So at that time boost attacks take priority and is kind of an issue, but throughout the game, the combat actually has a lot of strategy within it.

    Finally, you have your front row characters in combat and you have your back row characters. While in back row the characters in combat only gain +1ap per turn, but similar to Final Fantasy 10, you can swap characters when in need to have one of your back row characters to replace one in the front row, but, each time you swap characters it uses one ap for the character who is swapping out, so there's a penalty involved, but with how difficult the game is, swapping out is a necessity.

    When in combat you get to see enemies actions that they're taking, so if an enemy is doing BST, if it's a boss, you know that more than likely you might want to defend with all your characters, or if you happen to know that it's going to be a beam attack, you could always use beam grenade to nullify the damage on all your characters. MEL is melee, RNG is ranged, TEC is tech, so you atleast get an idea of what the enemy is doing and more of an idea of what you as the player should or can do. Everyone might have low health, but if the enemy or enemies are all using TEC, then you probably aren't going to have to worry about the characters with low health dying(depending on the enemies and the tech they might use though.)

    The game plays like your standard RPG with a world map and dungeons like you'd expect on a PS1 or SNES RPG rather than lacking the world map like most some RPGs PS2 or later and it is an actual pretty difficult game, but with the strategy, it's much more involved and enjoyable than your standard RPG as well, which is why I'd rate it so well. I think this one is a bit rare and expensive, but I'd highly recommend it over most PS2 RPGs.
    Everything in the above post is opinion unless stated otherwise.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) WulfeLuer's Avatar
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    Minor clarification: Is it actually called MS Saga, or is that an acronym? (I know what SMT means, though. know a couple Persona fans IRL).

    I've always had this odd thing about BoF5, and I'm glad there's actually some nice things to be said. I know that they got the Chrono series and FFTactics music people on the soundtrack, so that alone merits me attention, but I kept running into butthurt fanboys and getting scared off.

    And anyone else is more than welcome to chime in with their requests and recommendations!
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    Crono (Level 14) Custom rank graphic

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    Oh yeah. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and MS Saga. MS Saga: A New Dawn is the actual name of the game. MS means mobile suit but the title doesn't reference its meaning.
    Everything in the above post is opinion unless stated otherwise.

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    celerystalker is a poindexter celerystalker's Avatar
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    Eternal Ring. If you're an old King's Field fan, Eternal Ring has a lot of the same feel as the first US King's Field. First person action RPG that works if you're into that sort of thing. It won't likely convert you, but it's a must if you're into those games.

    MS Saga is an interesting one to be sure.

    Growlanser Generations does some different stuff in an SRPG than the typical old grid based games. Your movement is closer to Ogre Battle in how you plot a course for characters, adding some RTS elements, and there's a wider variety of objectives than just the usual "kill all enemies" approach. Artwork from the guy that did the old Langrisser art.

    I may think of more, but PS2 isn't my preferred RPG console.

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kupomogli View Post
    Oh yeah. Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and MS Saga. MS Saga: A New Dawn is the actual name of the game. MS means mobile suit but the title doesn't reference its meaning.
    I'm guessing Gundam games expected players to know that term. :P
    One of the Super Famicom RPGs has an intro sequence in poor English and just right away starts saying "MS".

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) WulfeLuer's Avatar
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    Lol, well the interwebz seem to agree with kupomogli about MS Saga. I browsed a few places (mostly fleabay) and it goes for $40+, compare that to the usual RPG on PS2 bringing in $15-$30. That tells me a lot right there.

    is there anybody out there that can say much about Xenosaga? I wound up with a copy of II but I've been reluctant to fire it up (some of it because I like playing the first in a series before the second, some because I have really nerdy commitment issues).
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    Alex (Level 15) Custom rank graphic
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    I've barely touched the Xenosaga games myself, but I do know that it's a continuous story across the games, so you definitely shouldn't start with 2. For that matter, 2 is widely considered the worst of the three.

    It's probably obvious from my avatar, but my favorite PS2 RPGs are Star Ocean 3, Radiata Stories, and Valkyrie Profile 2 (in that order). SO3 is pretty divisive, and it admittedly has a disaster of a plot and cast. But the battle system is pure bliss. Radiata Stories puts the emphasis on its world. It's similar to Majora's Mask in that you can watch everyone go about their lives from morning to night, and it really feels like a living, breathing world. You can recruit a large percentage of the characters you encounter too. VP2 is like a weird hybrid of SO3 and the original Valkyrie Profile. I think the first VP is better, but VP2 is still solid too. Really beautiful graphics for PS2 also, though I wish it had more color.

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    If 2 is the worst, it would be a shame for PAL regions since I thought that was the only episode released there.

    Some say Xenosaga is like playing a movie because of extensive cutscenes. And yes, from what I remember playing of 1, it probably did have more than a movie's worth of cutscenes. (and a top of that, it had an email log and/or dictionary as I recall for even more character development stuff. To say it is a story-heavy game is probably an understatement.)
    I don't remember as much about the gameplay but I recall it was a turn system where you got certain "AP" per turn and different actions used more or less of it. I remember stat-building was a sort of skill-tree system.

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    Hmm, I thought that was the Star Ocean 2 version of the Calnus there, Aussie (that's also a good game, with the hilarious bonus of accessories that just give you random goodies at frequent intervals, I remember doing a ridiculous cash grind to grab the first one, Mischief).
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    Alex (Level 15) Custom rank graphic
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    It's from the intro of SO1, but yeah, I love the whole series. (Or what I've played of it at least, I still haven't gotten around to SO5.)

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    Crono (Level 14) Custom rank graphic

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    There's been a lot of talk about Namco Bandai developers wanting to remaster Xenosaga, so you might be better off waiting until the series is remastered on the PS4, seems fairly likely it'll happen especially after a few remasters of their games, one of which is the .hack GU series.

    That being said, I've played through all of the Xenosaga games so can give you a good idea of the gameplay and storyline to each one without any spoilers. All three games in the series are heavily story driven, the first one having the best story, and that might just be because the third one wasn't actually completed, and by that, most of the cutscenes on the third one unlike the other two had characters standing in one position with a single camera angle. Most of these cutscenes weren't coreographed in the way that the first two games were, and despite having a much better story than second game, it did take a bit away from the game.

    So anyways. The first one had the best storyline imo, with around seven hours of cutscenes, but if you preordered Xenosaga 2, you actually got a Xenosaga Movie DVD with the cutscenes cut in a way to play like a movie. They did take out many of the cutscenes that weren't really integral to the story, shorted a few that were a bit long in length, and because it was four hours on a single DVD, it was also compressed, you could tell it didn't look quite as good as the PS2 version.

    The first Xenosaga didn't have a world map and you couldn't go back to most areas after you got past them. The game included a lot of equipment that had to be stolen from specific enemies, so you'd definitely want to make sure that the characters who could steal had the ability, because if you missed it that was it. In terms of dungeon design, the game had some great level design. The gameplay on the first game was as basic as it gets. If you've played Xenogears, it was basically like playing the Gear battles. You could do only one attack, and then after you did the initial attack you could then do a combo attack as you had an AP charge. It had just a very slow paced and boring battle system, it used a front and back row mechanic that didn't work as well as it should. The game is well worth playing for the story and world alone, similar to Final Fantasy 10-2 having an absolutely garbage storyline but is worth playing for the gameplay.

    The other thing about Xenosaga is that it includes one of the best mini games I've ever played. It actually includes a few mini games, casino mini games, a Virtual On style mini game, and then one called XenoCard. I loved XenoCard, atleast when I can play it with an actual person, other than a cousin of mine who's also played the game and enjoyed the mini game, there's really been no one I've ever been able to play it again. XenoCard is the kind of game that I think if Namco Bandai took a second look at it, they could tweak its design and release it as a full fledged game. It's got a unique design similar to games like Yugioh, Magic the Gathering, etc, and has a lot of depth, the only problem with it is that each attack deals damage in cards, so whenever you're attacked your cards go to the discard pile and once all the cards are gone, that player loses, which means player 2 has a huge disadvantage. The game has around 140 cards and has three types of decks you can build around.

    Xenosaga 2's storyline is introduction and backstory of one character in the game named Jin, and the back story of Jr. The storyline can be completely skipped and it honestly won't make a bit of difference. You can go straight from the first game to the third game and it won't make a difference in terms of what you're missing because none of this actually has any meaning towards the third game except one single npc who dies. I could just tell you who dies, and there you go, you don't need to bother.

    They also attempted to add some depth to Xenosaga 2's gameplay, but in doing so, the gameplay is even worse than the first game. Enemies in the game has so much damage that unless you charge all your characters to gain full stock and then combo each and every character stock into killing each enemy, you're not going to kill even regular enemies they have so much HP. So the entire battle system is nothing but you stocking and healing until all of your characters can then go in a row, and you can then interupt after every single action, and repeat, for every single enemy in the game. It's just ridiculous, time consuming, and not fun at all.

    Xenosaga 3 has the best gameplay in the series and it's more closer to your traditional RPG style. Now in this game, characters have an a/b style leveling system where when leveling up, they can choose to go through the top skill tree or the bottom, making one of two builds for each character. The characters either had magic type spells, damage melee attacks, or break damage melee attacks. You could attempt to break the enemies to do more damage or go straight into dealing damage. Sometimes dealing damage is more efficient than breaking them first then dealing damage because the amount of break damage that's required to break them might not be worth it. Additionally, the also has another unique mini game, fairly good puzzle mini game where you need to get every character to a specific location by moving blocks in different positions, etc. Pretty cool if you like puzzle games.

    And like the above stated, each game in the series has a huge reference guide that even Webster's Dictionary would be hard pressed on having as much detail. Just kidding, but it certainly has a lot of lore and goes in depth about what connects to what.
    Everything in the above post is opinion unless stated otherwise.

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