Dark Chronicles

Game - Dark Chronicles Review PS2
Dark Chronicles Review PS2

OK, for anyone who hasn't heard of this game or its predecessor, the rather average Dark Cloud let me introduce you. Dark Cloud was a very average RPG game that arrived somewhere near the beginning of the PS2's life. It failed to live up to the hype and ultimately got lost in the abyss of Playstation 2 games. Now Dark Chronicles is here, and it has arrived fairly unnoticed, which is good, because there is no hype, nothing to live up to and nothing to loose. Even though it is the son of an average RPG, Dark Chronicles is a quality title.

The story starts off with a little boy called Max who lives in a town call Palm Brink. Anyway he decides to pay the circus in town a visit and the evil ringmaster notices a medallion hanging around his neck which the ringmaster quickly tries to take from Max claiming it is the medallion that his master has been searching for a life time for. Anyway, after loads of blah blah blah Max finds out Palm Brinks is the only town in the world that wizard Griffon has not destroyed. So Max decides to flee the town and along his way he meets a young girl called Monica who also has a special medallion. Anyway because Max and Monica both have these medallions they are able to travel to the future and back again, so they decide to restore the towns that have been destroyed by Griffon.

After restoring villages and towns you will need to attract visitors and residents from elsewhere, usually from Palm Brinks. While some people will move for nothing others may take a bit of convincing, so you will have to carry out tasks or errands in order to gain their confidence in you and the town. You are able

 
Game - Dark Chronicles Review PS2
Game - Dark Chronicles Review PS2

to create your own towns using an overhead camera. This can get pretty dull after a while so most people will probably spend little time on this part of the game.

This work is a very central part of Dark Chronicles but it is not quite as easy as it may sound, because before build and customising towns you will have to collect geostones from the dungeons. Every stone will enable you to unlock new building options which are necessary because if you don't build a certain number of settlements you will not be able to progress though the game. One nice touch to this part of the game is that you are able to walk around your newly developed settlements.

During your time playing Dark Chronicles you will encounter many battles that you will have to take part in. There are a few nice controls that let you pull of some pretty useful moves, but some of the attacks seem to have a delay on them of about ½ of a second, which can make things a little frustrating. You can lock on to an enemy and by pressing circle you can run/swivel around them while dishing out plenty of attacks. If you just hammer the X button Max will pull off some fairly basic combo moves. If you hold down the X button you will be able to pull off a charge attack for taking out multiple bad guys at once. Finally by pressing L1 and X will produce a long distance attack which generally is not as effective as the close range attacks. As I mentioned before, battles can be quite frustrating because the attacks are not instantaneous and as a result the enemy can throw in an attack and hit you while the game is thinking about making the move. All that said, Dark Chronicles does produce a good challenge even though the controls are a touch lazy.

Once you defeat a monster, you weapon that you used to kill it with will have experience points added to it. Once your weapon has been boosted with experience you will also gain synth points which allow you to modify your weapon with certain items. So you will be able to increase you weapons firing rate, attack etc will gradually make you weapon more effective against certain monsters. If you reach the right conditions your weapon will transform into a new one, which is a great incentive to upgrade you weapons. You can also use a robot called Steve to fight the larger tougher enemies if you wish, although his attacks seem to come even slower than Max's.

The dungeons are split into different floors featuring a monster on each guarding a key which is needed to complete the level. Dungeons also hold geostones, chests and building items for your towns, nut the dungeons themselves are fairly dull. The story will keep you moving on as will the objects you will need to collect from the dungeons. When completing a level you will be awarded medals for various ways in which you completed the level. For example if you use Monica's weapon only you will receive a medal as you will if you slaughter all the enemies in a certain amount of time.

Dark Chronicles features an invention system which is very good indeed. You will get a camera at the beginning of the game so you can take photos along your adventure. You have to take pictures of items to use to invention system. Some of the inventions will be necessary to complete a level. Each invention will require three separate components to make a full idea. Thankfully the game will tell you which three objects you will need to invent a new idea. Unfortunately some of the inventions turn out to be fetching missions, but some are needed to aid you through the game.

Finally there are the mini games which are absolutely delightful. Dark Chronicles has its own fishing game where you can catch a large number of different fish and a golf game where you can even create your own golf course. All of these features should make up for all the dungeons that you will have to trawl though.

Dark Chronicle features incredible artwork which makes excellent use of cell shading but the effect is very subtle. All of the environments are fantastic with great variety, with the exception of the dull dungeons of course. The voice acting too is very good as the translation has been executed with care. The quality of the voice acting is as good as you will find on a tv cartoon.

Dark Chronicles is a real class act it is as close to Zelda that you will find on the PS2. Sony and Level 5 should be very proud of themselves for creating such a stunning game from such a mediocre game to start with. Some people may not favour the slightly clumsy fighting system, but Dark Chronicles is so much more. A real masterpiece that is the king of role playing games on the PS2 and it will be for some time to come.

9.0 out of 10

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