Monday, March 9, 2009

Retroblog: Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes Of Lagaard (DS)

Originally posted: Sep 22, '08

The same four letters applies to this game as well: H-A-R-D; but what differentiates Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes Of Lagaard from the original is that it has more balance. What? you heard it right, balance.. but what about the common death the first time you enter a floor or a new stratum? Ok well then, I'll say it has more balance than the first. But some might argue that this one is a bit harder than the first.. Well, we have different views, but I think it is because I have played the first one that I find EO2 easier, maybe if this is my first time to play an Etrian Odyssey game then this one will murder me the same way right from the start.

So what new aspects did Etrian Odyssey II bring to the table? There are 3 new classes for you to use (War Magus, Gunner & Beast) with the 2 available right from the start. And also the unlockable classes from the first game (Ronin & Hexer) are also available right from the start. Now when I said before that this game has more balance, I did'nt mean the enemies (they will still eat you alive if you are unprepared), rather I'm talking about your characters' skills. Atlus removed what seem like broken skills from the first game. So there's no more Relaxing for your Troubadour and your Protector and Medic don't have the defend party skills too. So that basically means you have to restructure your strategies. But to take care of that, they now gave you somewhat of a "limit break" which is class-specific, it replaced the old boost system with something better. I'm not in the mood to tell what each of those "limit break" does so just an example, the Ronin's limit does incredible damage to all opponents with a chance to insta-kill them if they're still alive.

For the mapping system, they added new icons for you to use. There are now three icons for each of the resource types Take, Chop and Mine, and another is you now have one way directional icons for one way paths. Also there are a new "!" icon aside from the "E" event one, so there's more variety. Then for the menu system, one thing I really liked which I wanted the first game to have is the "R" and "L" shoulder buttons for use to switch between characters; this feature alone made me like EO2 than the first game.

Now let's talk more about the classes, especially the new ones. First about the old unlockables Ronin & Hexer.. In the first game I did'nt even bother to create them because I find their skills weaker than the ones for the available classes, I'm talking about the Ronin's stances which will take up one whole turn just to execute and before you can even deal damage to the enemy; and about the Hexer, I'm not much into status changes so.. meh.

Now in Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, the Ronin kicks ass, one thing, they don't need to waste a turn to do stances, the stances are now passive skills so if you learn them then you can already do stance-specific attacks. Not only that, they still have the high attack from the first game if not higher, so the Ronin is really one of the major damage dealers in the game. But one drawback is they still have weak defense and little HP but as the saying goes, "A good offense is a good defense". I'm not saying you really need a Ronin in your party, there's still the Axe Landsknecht and Whip Dark Hunter as alternatives.. So now you see, more balance right?

I'm not in the place to compare the old Hexer from the new one as I have'nt used it in the first game, but all I can say for the Hexer in EO2 is that it is somewhat of a broken class. I don't want to spoil the game for you so I won't tell here what's broken with the Hexer, just play the game and look at each of its skills and see for yourselves. Aside from that, it still has those status changes that I think is really good as it hits all enemies rather than targets individuals (other classes) and I think most of the time it connects specially if maxed out.

Now let's talk about the new ones, the Gunner, War Magus and the Beast..

Goodbye Survivalist, here comes the new one. Or can I say the Gunner is the new Survivalist. Well, the Survivalist still has all the resource gathering skills and Apollon, Ambush and 1st Turn. But beyond that, the Gunner will outshine it. As we obviously know, the Gunner uses a gun so it's long range like the bow, so the Gunner can be placed in the back row and snipe each of the enemy down, well sort of. The Gunner got the Multi-Hit skill from the Survivalist (I really feel sorry as the Survivalist is one of my fave class from the first game), and it also has elemental attacks so it may even replace the Alchemist for elemental-specific enemies. If I still haven't convinced you, the Gunner also has a skill that removes status effects, so it really is a package in one class.

War Magus
Can I say Battle Medic? Now you do not have to have difficult decisions for placing skills for your Medic as you can concentrate all on healing abilities as the War Magus can do decent battle and also heal at the same time. But the Medic still outshines the War Magus when it comes to healing. So where does the Magus shine? Well, isn't it obvious? of course in War! But kidding aside, the War Magus is basically a weak class if not for the synergy it has with other classes that does status changes. So to see the War Magus shine, you need to pair it to someone that does stat changes, and the best one for that is of course, the Hexer. The Hexer - War Magus combo is one of the best in the game. Again I won't spoil it here, you should be the one to discover the synergies.

Last but not the least is the beast. This is the only locked class in the beginning of the game. But you can already unlock it early in the game so you can still devote as much time to level it. It's not comparable to any other class aside for the fact that it protects your team so maybe the Protector? But aside from protecting, the Beast is completely different, for one thing it uses claws as weapon and not swords. Its protecting skill called "Loyalty" is what makes or breaks this class, because the skill will absorb most attacks of enemies to your group, so while your other characters will stay in full HP, your Beast will be low on HP (if you're lucky) or simply die; and so after that your other characters will now follow the same path. I think this is good if you pair it with a Medic that just casts heal on the Beast every turn, but once it dies the synergy ends there. But wait, luckily enough the Beast has the most HP in the game, but still for me, I think it's not enough to absorb all kinds of attack the enemies can dish out in the game.

So there you have it, those are mostly what's new you can expect from Etrian Odyssey's second installment. I won't talk any more about the old classes as they're just somewhat the same in the first game, just that the skills that seems buh-roken were axed. There's also an extra Stratum in this game that also holds the extra bosses just like the first one but that's just for you to find out. Good luck!

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