The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is a straight port of the older PS3/Vita version onto the PS4, so yes you might have seen this game before. It pretty much picks the story straight up from where the previous game ends, making it a proper sequel.
So, what we have here is a JRPG from Nihon Falcom, not my favourite genre but one I can appreciate the work that goes into them. This game builds on its characters, they form such a key part of the game and story. You will be playing as Rean Schwarzer as he attempts to bring together his friends in a world at war.
You don’t need to have played the first game as your past is showcased throughout the game in flashbacks, sometimes by the help of a talking cat! However, what is cool is the ability to load a previous save which brings across consequences from previous actions. That being said playing the first one will certainly put you in a better position to enjoy this game.
I can’t express enough the great story that this game puts in front of you. The game does a great job of bringing you up to speed with the history of the empire you are in, its culture and important people. You find this attention to detail and story is throughout the game, not just the main story path.
As with previous JRPGs, I have played the game time works on a calendar rather than a day and night cycle. Aspects of the game require a certain date to have been passed. This may be a specific scene with another character or a quest that you want to do. Having these scenes is important to character progression and improving their combat abilities. In other words, you are in for the long run if you want the best squad.
On to the combat and it is fairly detailed and complex. Obviously, any knowledge of the combat system from the PS3 version or prequel will set you up well otherwise you have some learning to do. Combat is a turn-based approach with a number of components thrown in. You can link members of the group to allow for back to back attacks, you have standard attacks, overdrive to stack attacks and super moves.
Don’t worry too much though as the game does a good job of introducing these elements gradually as you explore the opening parts of the game. Mastering them will be key to some of the later battles in the game as the difficulty starts off welcoming but soon becomes challenging.
A major change in this sequel is the free roaming ability to explore the world. Instead of being tied to a single location you can get out and see the map. Enemies are visible as you explore so can be avoided, sometimes, or attached if you’re on the grind.
The game will push some direction on to you if you try to venture away from the main story line early on. As you get further in though the game rewards you with a bit more freedom to test your skills at your own pace.
However, it has to be said that despite this being a remaster for the PS4 it does not look great. The direct port over from PS3/Vita leaves the world looking a little dated, it certainly isn’t making the most of the PS4 Pro power. It is a shame as the game builds such a beautiful narrative around the world, it is let down by the visuals that just don’t match up.
I should also warn you that this is a lengthy game with plenty of dialogue to keep you busy. Certainly, at the start of the game where you are catching up with everything. You will be rewarded if you keep up to speed with everything or you can cheat and put it into turbo mode and skip through a lot of the character development. Despite this, the game will still eat up the hours.
This game stands out for the fantastic story and world it slowly introduces and builds around you. Give the game the time it deserves, and you will be treated to a fantastic experience. Being able to bring together such a range of characters and storylines together is an achievement. The visuals let it down though and may be the reason people drop off before the game really picks up.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*