The original Dark Cloud was released for the PS2 in the middle of 2001. It had some innovative and cool ideas integrated into the gameplay but the game was repetitive and boring, and there were some very frustrating flaws. Dark Cloud 2 takes the same basic ideas from Dark Cloud 2 but takes away much of the frustration and adds loads of fun. Dark Cloud 2 keeps the randomized dungeons, weapon building and town building in the formula but adds a great storyline, EXCELLENT graphics and audio, LOTS of neat little extras and tweaks some of the previous flaws to make a superb game. The visuals for Dark Cloud 2 are excellent. All characters and creatures are rendered in 3D and are cel-shaded, which, in my opinion, adds an extra special polish to any graphics engine. In addition to the cel-shaded delight, the environments are gorgeous, filled with color and will have you stopping just to look around. Character movement is very fluid and impressive. You will notice small things such as your character’s hair or jewelry bouncing around realistically as you run through a level. Weapon effects are just about as impressive, especially given the huge arsenal of possible weapons you can wield. The cut scenes in the game are rendered using the game engine and feel like you’re watching a movie. I was stunned by the quality of graphics in this game and continued to be impressed as the game progressed. All cut scenes are voice acted and rendered using the game engine. The voice acting is excellent for each character and really adds to the progression of the story. The music for the game is excellent although somewhat repetitive. The battle music doesn’t change much which means you’ll be hearing it a LOT, but the music was good so it won’t bother you too much. There are some common themes throughout the game but every single one of them is great and pleasing to listen to. I found myself humming along to much of the music. The style of music is what you’d expect in an RPG of this type, a kind of classical, folky, new-age style. The most common reason for the control section being filled with words large is due to poor control problems. This is not the case for Dark Cloud 2. Controlling your character and camera is intuitive and natural. The only gripe I had is common in 3rd person games: camera view/control when near a wall or corner. This happens rarely and will not affect your gaming experience. Overall Dark Cloud 2 does very well in the arena of control.

There are so many things to do in this game I might forget something and not write it in here. The basic premise of the game pits the main character against an evil foe that is affecting the world through time. You must rebuild the world as it is now to bring the future back to the way it should be. To do this you must rebuild towns and go to the future to find answers for the overlying problem. That is simply put.

In order to build the towns you need to find geostones that contain building blocks for houses, mailboxes, special buildings, trees, fences, etc. These geostones are found in the dungeons. The dungeons are randomized so each time you play a level it is laid out differently. In order to survive in the dungeons you must build up your weapons. This is very similar to the Dark Cloud weapon building system except your weapon doesn’t disappear when it breaks. A HUGE improvement. There are many many side quests. You have to recruit townspeople to your cause. You can play a side quest game like golf to get special items. You fulfill special dungeon level requirements to unlock certain things. You can build your own items using a MASSIVE invention system that involves taking pictures with a camera.

Both of the main characters have an “alter-ego.” Monica can turn into monsters and fight or talk to creatures in the dungeons. Max has a “tank” like machine he can hop in and blow stuff up. Both of these “alter-egos” can be built up and improved. Every level has at least one special boss encounter that isn’t all hack n’ slash. There are so many things to do it’s almost overwhelming. In the end I still found the game to be a bit repetitive and overwhelming. Expect to spend a LOT of time on this one. If you don’t have a whole lot of time it will be hard to get all the way through.

Although Dark Cloud 2 has a billion things to do, the storyline is very linear. After completing it once through I felt a sense of accomplishment and knew I would probably not have the time or energy to play through the entire thing (doing all the side quests) again. As for overall value Dark Cloud 2 is an excellent game. I highly recommend this one to any video game fan.