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Dark Cloud | 2 | review | game | Lollipop

Dark Cloud 2

(Sony for PS2)
by Tim Den

Dark Cloud 2 is the most exhilarating black hole you'll ever get sucked into. And believe me, it is a black hole. You see, the cover and the "cutesy" animation might have you believe that this is some kid's game... but just wait 'til you play it. But beware: There's no turning back.

Dark Cloud 2 achieves the unimaginable feat of combining adventure beat-'em-ups, RPG, puzzle-solving, time traveling, and sports quests into a world where surprises never end. The game starts off as a real time beat-'em-up involving complex RPG weapon/experience systems, but gives you the first taste of things to come in the form of the Georama System. What is Georama, you ask? Imagine a game where you decide what the town is going to look like: Where the houses are, what color they are, who lives there, if there's a river flowing near by, etc. Georama puts the player (YOU) in control of building towns from scratch, and every move you make effects that town's future (which you can check up on through time portals). If you were a Lego freak as a kid, Dark Cloud 2 has got your number. Just playing with the different combinations of the town set-ups can occupy you all day, not to mention all the fighting you have to go through in order to gather the info and materials you need to further complete towns.

Inbetween whooping ass and building shit, the game also introduces elementally-based weapon upgrades that really test your decision-making. "Should I go the lightning route and possibly lose the fire bombs? Should I upgrade the nail gun and sacrifice the dart gun? How many Frankenstein guns can you make by combining a multitude of weapons?" All this and we haven't even gotten to the side games yet. Yes, there is a fishing game (one of the best fishing simulations I've played) and a "golf" game. Both just challenging enough to keep you coming back, both complex enough to make you go "how the FUCK did they squeeze THIS in with all the crap already in here!?"

And just when you thought there couldn't possibly be more to this game, Dark Cloud 2 whips out its calling card: The invention system. The player is armed with a camera to take pictures of virtually anything in the game, and by combining three of the right photos... POOF! A completely new item. Anything from robot parts to specialty foods, essential lifesavers to funny pets. Can't you already see yourself sitting in front of the TV for hours on end, taking pictures of poles and crates and rivers and trying to make something out of 'em? Let me tell ya, that's exactly what you'll be doing once you discover how fun it is. Of course, not all combinations work (most follow combinations already set by the game), but it sure as hell is exciting.

Between slaying zombie trees, giving that newly-placed windmill a fresh coat of paint (and seeing what difference it makes in the future), trying to break fishing records, golfing for bonuses, and inventing a new cannon arm for your robot walker, do you think your life will have time for anything outside of Dark Cloud 2? Not likely. Good thing the game also packs a captivating story (great cut scenes!) to go along with all the endless features. If this isn't the game of the year, I don't know what is.

 


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