REVIEW: Devil Survivor 2

Ah, Spring is here, and that means my Spring Break is over. Yeah, that sucks, but I enjoy walking around Chicago during nice weather, so I can’t complain, especially since I have some new games to play and review! One such game is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2.

I’ve always been a fan of Atlus. I love the challenge presented by their games, especially the Shin Megami Tensei series, and one particular series caught me since the first game: Devil Survivor. It is one of my favorite DS games to-date. I love the battle system, I love the characters, I love the story, and Devil Survivor 2 takes it and makes it better in more than a few ways, but it’s not without its small drawbacks.

Plot:

This is, actually, the one part I think is the worst part of this game (although it’s still a great plot). You are the 18-year-old Hero, and after signing into Nicaea, the dead-face delivery site, you view a death clip of yourself dying. As the scene plays itself out after an earthquake, a demon saves you, and you are born as a Demon Tamer. As you try to figure out what’s happening, you encounter JP’s, Japan’s supernatural special ops team designed specifically for crises such as this. You decide to help them figure out what’s going on, and as the week progresses you find a group against JP’s and that the world is being eaten by what’s called the “Void”. I won’t spoil anything, which is why the description is so vague, but compared to Devil Survivor the story is on a much grander scale, and while I enjoy the story, I liked that the setting was only Tokyo in Devil Survivor. I also liked the Heaven and Hell story more than the Void and supernatural beings that aren’t demons, but Devil Survivor 2 plays its story very well, and I still enjoyed it more than most games.

Characters:

Here Devil Survivor 2 does a fantastic job. It is definitely on par with Devil Survivor’s character, which is awesome because those characters were great. This time there are way more characters to use than in Devil Survivor, and they’re all great. I think the only characters I didn’t care too much for were Hinako and Keita, and that’s because they didn’t interest me more than the other characters.

There’s Io, too soft spoken and avoiding of conflict, Daichi, who is too immature and scared to really come to grips with reality, Makoto, the JP’s member who is too loyal to her group to think for herself, Jungo, the chef who dislikes fighting, and many, many more! They all have their own stories to tell, and some of them are really touching (especially Jungo’s. I almost shed a tear for his).

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

The graphics aren’t really anything new, although some of the cutscenes are very well done and surpass Devil Survivor’s. The music, however, has upgraded substantially for me. The battle music was good, but the theme for the Anguished One, the boss battles, and the mood music were great. All of it really captured most of the emotions of the scenes. Loved all of it! And the opening and ending themes were pretty awesome, too.

Gameplay:

Here it is, the big guy. Devil Survivor’s gameplay was fantastic. It brought a whole new way to summon demons through your cell phone with apps, and that gameplay is still here, and still great. In fact, some of the new skills (Like multi-hit/multi-strike), are really cool and give some characters (*coughDaichicough) a chance to shine where they normally wouldn’t. However, there are some little things I’d like to point out:

First is the fate system. When I first got this system, I said to myself, “Wow, really? This is dumb.”

Then amazing happened.

People had non-skill resistances, JOINT SKILL CRACKING, and SDTP. Resistances are self-explanatory. Skill cracking is how you gain new skills, and in Devil Survivor, many of the boss battles required you to really plan how you would tackle those skills because only the one who is set to crack a skill can crack it. Not this time. Now, if you get someone’s fate high enough, you’re allowed to have either of the two crack the skill. This makes cracking two skills on on character possible, where it wasn’t in Devil Survivor. This. Is. AWESOME.

I was able to crack 3 skills off one guy because I had two others with a high enough fate level. It’s incredible. INCREDIBLE!

SDTP is the ability to instantly send a demon to the Hero (and vice-versa). It’s not really that useful, but it saved me in a couple boss battles. It’s not as good as summoning a new demon, but it’s useful when you know it will be.

Next are some of the skills. Pierce and Assassinate are dumb. When you’ve got a nicely built team and you die because someone uses Assassinate and instantly kills you, it’s a little frustrating, especially when they go first because of the initiative bonus. Yeah, it’s great when you have it, but I still think it’s a dumb skill.

Pierce is next. Let me preface this by saying that there is absolutely no way around Null/Reflect/Drain Fire, Ice, Electric, Force, Curse. Yet, yet, there is something that completely dominates Null/Reflect/Drain Phys, and that would be Pierce. Now, this only applies to whoever holds the skill, but the very idea of being able to negate any Null/Reflect/Drain is ridiculous, especially when you can’t negate any of the magic resist skills. I used Pierce to completely wipe the floor with Daichi, and it required no strategic thinking or planning for demons because he literally went in with Multi-Strike/Pierce and killed everything that wasn’t a boss. It took away from some of the late-game planning because of that.

Those are but two skills, though. The rest of it is great. Auctioning, fusing, and the Demon Compendium are all still there, and they’re all still awesome. One new thing about fusing are add-ons, which are little boosts you can add to a fused demon. They vary from some of them give the demon access to all of your cracked skills of a certain element to increasing stats.

And that’s that. Overall, Devil Survivor 2 outclasses Devil Survivor, and I highly recommend it to any fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series!

Score:

Plot: 8/10

Characters: 10/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Gameplay: 8/10

Overall: 8/10

Just sayin’.

Left 4 Silent Hill

School is back in session at DePaul University, and thus I find myself walking the cold streets of Chicago when the wind decides it would like to gust around 25mph and freeze my face.

At least I’m not walking through empty streets that randomly become overrun with over-aggressive zombies!

I’ve come to realize that custom maps in Left 4 Dead/2 enjoy a certain kind of homicidal pleasure as they throw a legion of zombies and 3-4 special infected at you at once. But nothing comes close to the level that I most recently experienced while playing through an almost faithful revamp of the game Silent Hill through 11 maps. Yes, you saw that typed correctly. It’s long, it’s hard, but most of all, it’s damn fun.

Before I explain why, let me point out that Left 4 Dead/2 is a different zombie game. Instead of it being creepy and full of situations where you find yourself at least a little scared due to the atmosphere (or at least something that jumps out at you), Left 4 Dead/2 throws that out the window and instead scares you not with the quality of the zombies, but the quantity. And let’s not forget the all-powerful Spitter, Charger, and Tank (easily the most deadly of the special infected amongst my group of friends whom I play with).

Now, Left 4 Dead/is fun. And so are zombie games that are a little scarier (Resident Evil), but this Silent Hill map did both. It combined the creepy sounds and atmosphere with zombies. We were in a rusting, dark hospital and out of nowhere, through the light created by 4 small flashlights, came an army of zombies, two consecutive spitters, and a hunter. In almost complete darkness. Couple that with authentic sounds from Silent Hill and you have yourself a map where exploration is creepy, and the invasion of zombies is terrifying.

There’s also multiple endings (just like in the game, which is very cool), so the replay value is insane for a Left 4 Dead 2 custom map.

My friends and I got the UFO Ending, and it is incredible. I won’t spoil anything because words can’t describe its insanity. You just have to download the map (link will be provided at the bottom) and experience it for yourself!

Speaking of maps I suggest you download, Questionable Ethics is by far at the top of the list. If you’re looking for some platforming, a few scores of waves of zombies, and falling cars, Questionable Ethics will be right up your alley! It’s got an interesting pick-and-choose system of obtaining weapons and support items, so playing with friends is definitely the best way to go here (although playing with friends is always better, just sayin’).

My favorite part was the finale, when we were being chased by a tank and a car fell on top of me and killed me. It gets crazy! Just like the Silent Hill map, the link for Questionable Ethics will be provided for you below!

So, there’s two custom maps for you Left 4 Dead/2 fans to try out! If you’ve tried them out already, got any good stories of your experiences in the Silent Hill or Questionable Ethics maps? Got any suggestions for maps I should try out? Let me know!

By the way, I’ve never actually played Silent Hill, but I heard the map is pretty accurate from my friends.

Just sayin’.

 

DOWNLOAD LINKS:

Silent Hill: (this is for Left 4 Dead, but it can be played on Left 4 Dead 2)

http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=865

Questionable Ethics: (for Left 4 Dead 2)

http://www.l4dmaps.com/details.php?file=9773