Publisher: NIS America, INC
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc
Release Date: 10/08/13
Gaming Platform: PS3
In the great pantheon of games, there are few games that get me more excited than a new entry in the Disgaea franchise. Ever since I accidentally stumbled upon the first game on a discount rack at a local electronics store, I have been fairly obsessed with this tactical RPG series. The games play like the madcap love child of Shining Force 2 (my favorite tactical RPG on the Sega Genesis) and some random Anime. It has the tactical unit movement that has been used in such games as Shining Force 2, Final Fantasy Tactics, or even X-Com. It also supports the aesthetic of a nice Anime, with a cast of insane characters that you will either love like a long lost friend, or outright loathe, like the DM that killed you right after you rolled up a brand new character... that jackass.
For those that don't follow Disgaea as if it were a new religion, Disgaea D2, is the first direct sequel to a previous game in this series' 5 game run. It continues the story of Prince Laharl, the Overlord of the Netherworld, a story that began in the very first Disgaea 10 years ago back on the PS2.
Back then, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I just knew that I had found a cheap game, and if nothing else, I would find a couple hours of enjoyment, before shelving it next to so many other failed gaming endeavors. What I got instead, was a gaming experience that sucked me in, and was addictive in a way I had never known before.
After more hours than I care to relay, I put the game down. After that, it was just a lot of waiting for the next game to be released, so that I could enjoy even more of this insanity. It was the greatest form of time sink I have ever known. It was like some new drug that I just couldn't get enough of.
The biggest issue was, that the characters were never the same. The first game introduces you to Laharl, Etna, and Flonne, and sure they eventually show up as DLC or unlockable characters, but the narrative was effectively dead. These kooky characters were lost, in a sea of addictive sequels. I was forced to just assume that Laharl had a wonderful time as overlord, and everything was just perfect in the Netherworld.
Until Nippon Ichi decided to give us, Disgaea D2.
Disgaea D2, is the direct sequel to the original Disgaea, and offers up the same addictive gameplay that made friends and family lose track of me for days on end, while including new twists and additions that make sure that even if things seem a little familiar, it isn't precisely stale.
Sure, one can breeze through the story, and never really have to worry about losing much sleep. Hell, you could easily breeze through the entire story in less than 20 hours. The story isn't where the time sink lies.
The time sink lies in trying to pass bills in the Dark Assembly. The Dark Assembly functions much like the United States Congress, in that if you want to get anything passed, you have to bribe the right people, and in essence lobby for your cause. Then just like Congress, they will eventually do whatever the hell they want anyway! Unlike Congress, when the Dark Assembly pisses you off, you can decide to change their minds.... by force!
Or, if Netherworld Politics are not your cup of tea, perhaps you could delve deep into the item world, and take those weak weapons, and level them up by bum-rushing enemies that apparently live inside the item itself. All the while earning more items that practically beg for you to level them up as well. Best part about the Item world? You will NEVER have the same Item World experience twice. That world is randomly generated, and there is no end to the combinations that can show up.
If that's not your style, why not head on over to the Cave of Ordeals? Well... That is if you can get those bastard demons in the Dark Assembly to actually pass it. The Cave of Ordeals is a place to test your characters, potentially showing you how weak and insignificant your weapons and armor actually are. You might want to head on over to the Item World and level a few of those up, if you want to pass the Cave of Ordeals that is....
Is the game too easy? Well, head on over to the Coward by the garden and cheat. You can almost make the enemies on the first map strong enough to kill a level 50 character, if you so desire. Or, you could adjust the rate at which you gain experience, or money, or how fast you master your weapons. The cheating possibilities there aren't necessarily endless, but as you progress, they do become more numerous, and more malleable.
What about your team? Perhaps you want a team comprised of nothing but mages. You could do that. Or a team of nothing but gunners, or archers, or you could create the world's most volatile Prinny squad... Just create the characters you want at the Dark Assembly, and power level their asses through the first couple levels, and you have a formidable fighting force that will lay waste to all who stand before you!
So... the take away from all of that, is that this game is a riot! I love it, and may or may not already have 60+ hours logged. The big strength of the game actually lies in the multiple things one can do to pass the time. Got some time to kill? Log on in, and dive into the Item World! Only have a few minutes? Jump in and clear a map. The game can fit a portion of it into almost any schedule. If the game were transferable onto a mobile device, it would destroy all productivity everywhere it went.
There are a few caveats, though. Well, really only one big one that I know of right now. There is a bug in the game. A bug that can have potentially rage-inducing results. For me, it is triggered by fire spells. When a character casts a fire spell, there is a small chance, that it will completely freeze the game. To the point where you have to shut the entire system down, because the system becomes completely unresponsive. This can be insanely frustrating if it has been a while since your last save. Or when you are on the final level of the Item World, and the enemy decides to use a fire spell, and completely undo all that work you had just done.... Yeah, it has induced a number of yelling fits.
Even with this exceedingly frustrating bug (a bug that has just now ruined a run through the Item World) , the game is great. If you're a fan of tactical RPGs, and enjoy a good Anime aesthetic, then this game is perfect for you!
If you were a fan of the first 4 games, this game is gonna be your new best friend. If you have fond memories of Final Fantasy Tactics, and want to relive something like that, amplified up to insane levels, pick up this game! If you're not a fan of tactical games, and went something more action oriented, this is not a game for you.
Yes, I love this game. There are flaws, there are bugs, but this is a game that will see a lot of play. I'm just going to be moving the PS3 a little closer to my couch.
Player 2 Rating: 9 out of 10
Now... Go buy it, by clicking on Barbara down below!