The Legend of Heros: Trails of Cold Steel II review – Class Reunion
Platform: Playstation 3, Playstation Vita (version played)
Publisher: XSEED Games
ESRB Rating: T
Thank You XSEED for providing a review copy of this game.
A few years ago, Studio Falcom asked Sony if they were to ever produce game carts that would hold more data than the usual 4GB carts for the Vita. Sony in response told them to use two 4GB carts in response. In theory, that’s what led to how Trails of Cold Steel and Trails of Cold Steel II came to be. In Trails of Cold Steel, the game abruptly cuts to where everything that could potentially goes wrong, well, went wrong. Trails of Cold Steel II is a direct continuation of the original game as it picks up right where the first game left off. It is absolutely imperative that you play the original game to start playing this game. The game gives the player a pretty competent backstory that the player can view at any time, but it would be beneficial to play the first game.
In Trails of Cold Steel II, you play as Rean Schwarzer, a student of Thors Academy, as well as the leader of Class VII. Only now, Rean is alone. He was separated from his friends the moment the civil war started. It’s been a month since then and Rean has gained good news and bad news. The good is that his friends are not only okay, but he has gained general information on their location. The bad news is that the princess, as well has his sister (a close friend of hers,) have been captured. Rean now moves forward with three objectives in mind: find his friends, rescue his sister and the princess, and help end the war in anyway he can.
On a fundamental level, everything is more or less the same from the overall world to the battle system. There are a few instances that make the game just ever so slightly better. For example, in the battle system, there is the Overdrive system. When two characters are linked and their Overdrive gauges are full, the two will be in Overdrive. When in Overdrive, not only are HP and CP gained, all status ailments are gone, you get 3 turns to setup, and all attacks done will unbalance the enemy. It is truly a game changer in the highest regard. The only drawbacks are that it takes a while for the Overdrive gauge to fill up, and that not everyone can perform Overdrive with one another. Moving along, there’s also the fact that all over the world map, there is a new types of chest. Outside of the typical money filled chest, chests filled with items/Quartzs, and some filled with enemies; the new chest is meant specifically for two characters to gain the Overdrive ability. These chests are special in that the game asks for two characters specifically and will have them fight a horde of tough enemies. Once the battle is won, these two can use Overdrive together. Outside of additions to the battle system, there is a completely separate type of battle as well. These battles take place inside of mech’s and honestly are just one giant game of rock-paper-scissors. Of course some require some sort of strategy but as long as you figure out and hit their weak spots, you should be fine. The biggest change of all though, is how equipping Quartz is handled. In previous games, all you had to do was open up a slot and you’d be good to go, but now all your slots are open only for them to have levels (up to 3) attached to each slot. The higher the level, the rarer the quartz you can equip to said slot.
Of course, while many things change, other things stay the same as well. Just because there isn’t a schoolhouse to explore doesn’t mean there isn’t a dungeon of some sort. Granted, it isn’t a central dungeon, but throughout your travels you’ll see optional shrines that more or less serve the same function. There’s also your notebook. That’s right: it’s time to fill up your recipe book, fishing book, and find books all over again. But, just like the schoolhouse, just because it’s not there, doesn’t mean you can’t do it. In this case, just because you’re not at Thors doesn’t mean there aren’t any students to talk to either. Due to the current situation, you’ll see some students from time to time so it’s best to check up on them, as well, to complete your Character Profiles. Naturally, being a Trails game, it’s best to check up on everyone as after every main quest, every NPC will have a new line of dialogue; not to mention, there may be a hidden quest every now and again. Don’t worry, you can still bond with Class VII. When it’s time to take a break, you’re given bonding points to hang out with them, which then increases bond levels, which helps down the line when they link up in battle. Also, just because you aren’t at Thors, doesn’t mean there aren’t any AP either, so once more: talk to everyone and find all of the hidden quests, beat the shrines, and find as many hidden objectives in boss battles as much as you can. It’ll earn you some amazing rewards.
If there’s anything to not like about Cold Steel II, it’s the framerate. The game taxes the Vita much more in this game than the last. Granted, it isn’t during battles or anything, but during some cutscenes and some sections on the map, the game just chugs along much worse.
Overall, Cold Steel II is a much, much better game than the first game in just about every regard, but sadly, the framerate problem still exists. The new mechanics are more than welcome as they add additional strategy into the mix. For fans of the first game, it’s time to pick up right where you left off. When the game originally came out in Japan there were quite a few people singing its praises and now I see why. While Trails of Cold Steel can feel generic at times, all of the systems in place make it certainly worth the investment.
+Great character development
+ Perfected battle system
-The game is poorly optimized