The game is played for the most part in third person, from the outset of the game you could be mistaken for thinking that Summoner 2 is not an RPG as there is a sequence where Maia is defending her ship against an attack from some pirates. This does provide a purpose; you will learn the basics of combat through this starting sequence. This will also be your first encounter that will introduce the problems you can have with the camera, but you are able to adjust the camera with the right analogue stick. This is not something that you will do by choice; you will have to adjust the camera for the combat scenes as you will not be able to see all of the enemies at one time as enemies will attack from all different directions. When in battle you will notice that Maia and the other characters move quite awkwardly and sometimes you will think enemies attacks are missing you but in actual fact they are dealing out some serious blows. This is one thing that can be overcome with time as you will get used to these little niggles and soon after you will be using deeper aspects of combat and using three character in your team at once to kick the baddies bottoms.
When you are controlling a three-member squad you will only control one character directly, you can switch to the other instantly using the shoulder buttons. Those characters not directly controlled by yourself will fight and follow you automatically. You can also choose from a few different behavioural options that will enhance their fighting, spell casting or supporting skills. Your computer-controlled pals do a pretty good job of watching your back for the most part, occasionally they will mess up and end up in disaster. Other times they can do even better than you, but the best strategy is to take control of the weakest character in the bunch and keep him or her out of trouble. As you progress meeting other characters you will come by some situations that need a certain combination of characters in your squad to over come the problem and Maia will not necessarily be in the squad of three.
The combat can get very intense at times, but all it requires is lots of button smashing and the odd special attack here and there. Although fighting isn't that complex the enemies do get tougher as you progress through the game. Some enemies may only be defeated with the use of weapons and magic only. Enemies act in pretty simple but effective ways, they will either run at you and hack or stand back and fire with their weapons or magic. The only bad thing about this is that things do get quite predictable. As you progress through the game defeating enemies and completing quests your characters will gain experience and skill points that can be spent on a large variety of different abilities, although some of them are pretty useless. Being able to customise your characters through out the game is very enjoyable. Maia, the lead character gains the ability to transform into a wide range of nasty creatures. This is great when you want to give the bad guys a really hard kick in the nuts to gain the upper hand in battle.
Graphics are not Summoner 2's strongest point, characters are interesting but they all tend to be a bit simple. The environments range from nothing special to some that look quite impressive, but the frame rate seems to chug a long at a fairly slow rate throughout the game. The highlights of the visuals come in the form of cut-scenes, which have much better animations and more detailed character models. Overall the visuals are the weakest link in Summoner 2. You are the weakest link good bye!!!
The sound in Summoner 2 is not that good either, it uses lots of canned sounds that you will probably have heard before and the music consists of mellow tribal sounds that are OK but never brilliant. The voice acting is a completely different matter though, it's all very good. All the characters sound great; the voice actors have all done a great job of the dialogue, so good in fact that the storytelling becomes compelling and it really drives the game along in the right direction.
Summoner 2 is a good lengthy game that offers a lot of stuff to do along the way. The combat is pretty frantic at times but it can also get a bit repetitive and predictable. The ability to choose the characters you want to take into battle is a very good idea that makes the game feel open ended without compromising the superb storytelling. If you enjoyed the first instalment of Summoner you should go out and get your hand on this straight away. Anyone that didn't get the opportunity to play the first Summoner should definitely start with Summoner 2. Summoner 2 is a great action game that mixes it up with some RPG elements to produce a good solid game with an engaging storyline.
8 out of 10