Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness 9.0

So I picked up this little bundle of madness yesterday... And I can feel my addiction being refueled with high octane Gasoline and many other forms of volatile chemicals.

This is my impressions as a returning Disgaea Player. Having played 1 - 4 multiple times each, and done hundreds of hours of grinding and the like.

First I'll start with the characters. Laharal, Flonne, and Etna once again take center stage and to be honest? It doesn't matter to me. I have never been a big fan of the original cast personally, And Flonne's English VA Makes me quiver with rage. On top of that Laharal's VAing seems... almost rushed/sub par. Everyone else is fine... at least so far.

The Story is simple, as all of them are, and doesn't get in the way. But only being in Chapter 3 I can't really say much more about it as it's just starting. The Dialog so far has been the traditional Disgaea madness. Sillyness abound and strange sentences everywhere! It's been mostly entertaining thus far so I have no real complaints about it yet.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes of Disgaea... the gameplay. The first few battles are a tutorial to learn the basics of the game if you are new. If not, you can skip the Tutorial aspect and just start fighting. Immediately I noticed some amazing changes.

1. The Movement panels are much easier to see, it's a simple but nice improvement

2. Throwing.... OOOH throwing is more awesome now. you can throw all around you instead of in a straight line. Those that haven't played the game before have NO FREAKING idea how useful that is.

3. The Sounds, Animations, Even the Font have all been altered and I love it all. Battle feels more... well just more. your Characters will occasionally say random things about combat, they will support each other on occasion even if they aren't standing beside each other, the attacks are quick and explosive... it's fantastic. Often I'll attack with 3 units only to have 7 attacks go off because they constantly support each other.

4. Mounting is a new feature and it's unlocked pretty much from the stat (battle 2 I think) and it allows any human character to use a Monster unit as a mount. This allows the monster to use it's movement and defense while the Human unit attacks. This may seem silly but... it's potent as all hell. Put a Mage on the back of a Mothman your mage now has 6 movement, higher defense, and can fly... WIN. Mounting also gives you access to powerful Mounted Skills which Become more powerful the more the two units like each other. Mounting doesn't have duration like Monsterchange did... so yeah that's awesome.

5. Which brings me to the Likability, each unit has a Likability meter towards other units. The higher it is, the higher the chance of support attacks, combo attacks, higher powered monsters skills etc... They can even defend each other. This can be raised and lowered in a few ways, using items, helping out, and Being a Master/Apprentice will increase it. Attacking/killing/using a specific item will lower it.

There are far more added things than this but they were the Biggest changes to combat, It's hard to explain why the combat is better than the previous Disgaea games if you haven't played them. Even if you have it's still something you just have to experience to see what I mean.

Outside of combat has changed as well! From a redesign of the menu structure/UI to the changes in items and Weapon shops to even how Item world (Sea) and the Dark Assembly work, heck even Items themselves have changed.

1. The game now has a new UI, it's quite nice actually. It shows all the details you could even need to know about your units, including the stat bonuses gained from jsut the items they are wearing, to how skilled they are with weapons and other attacks. It's impressive how much it's different... and yet still familiar. The only thing I miss is being able to display All the stats on one page in combat. So I could see the HP, and SP values as well as the ATK, DEF, etc... Just something i have to get used to is all. On top of this the game now shows if your stats are affected. If you get a Buff or Debuff it's reflected with an up or down arrow on your stats screen.

2. Items Rarity has been removed completely. Previously Items had a Rarity of 0-255. 0-10 was a Legendary Item, 11-50 or so was a rare item, everything else was common. That has been taken out, there are now just Common, Rare and Legendary Items.

3. Item Sets - Previously in Disgaea games if you equipped items of equal rarity you got a "set" bonus. This has been carried over, however it's much simpler now. If you equip 2+ rare items each gets a bonus for each one equipped. Same with Legendary. It's a pretty decent bonus too! And not only that the game tells you that you are getting the bonus.

4. Character World has been removed completely, and I'm kinda happy with that. Character world was interesting, but it was just another long time sync that Disgaea really didn't need. (personal opinion there). Evilities are still here but they are somewhat different. Each class has 3 evilities to chose from and all have wildly beneficial effects. I can't possibly go into them all but they do change how combat works significantly. You have to know what evilities your enemies have (It shows it in combat so don't worry) and how to plan around them. For instance Dragons could be immune to wind, or they could gain benefits from others using wind skills. Evilities can also be taken from other classes via the Dark Assembly (I believe) If the characters like each other enough.

5. Weapon skills and Fortes are back, each class has certain skill with weapon types and learn skills faster with weapons they are familiar with. For example a warrior will learn Sword skills much faster than learning say Bow skills. Skills can be leveled by using them instead of spending mana on them like in D3 and D4. Personally I like and dislike this system. It's great for combat skills and feels more balanced. but other skills suffer majorly from this. Skills like Espoir, Shield, Heal, etc... you have to use to level them up... well Espoir (Cures Status Ailments) doesn't get used that often, forcing you to cast it for no reason just to level it up. So it has it's ups and down.

6. Master/Apprentice is also back, a Master can have Multiple Apprentices, and can even be an apprentice to someone else. One unit can only belong to one master. Having an apprentice gives stat boosts and things to the Master, while the apprentices gain the ability to use the Master's skills and spells. If they use it enough they can learn it and even use it without being an apprentice. They also Gain weapon skills faster, as well A higher combo/support rate with their master. If your units AREN'T being used as either Master or Apprentice you are doing it wrong as there are 0 downsides. When a character is created it automatically becomes an apprentice to the character that created it. So if I call the assembly with Laharl and make a Warrior, that warrior will be Laharal's Apprentice (you can change this in the menu)

7. Item and item shops have changed, slightly, but for the better. You are no longer limited to a 30 item inventory, you have the entire 999 item warehouse at your disposal at ALL times. Item shops also no longer have limited inventory, if you have unlocked it, they sell it and an infinite amount of it and you no longer have to leave the shop come back and hope they have it again. The shops and other item screans have also organized the items into Categories. Fist, Sword, Armor, Trinkets etc... all have their own tab. I LOVE that. and finally the armor and weapon shops have been combined into one shop, the Equipment shop.

Changes to the Dark Assembly. It has remained more or less the same in terms of what it's for, however the Character creation as well as A few other tihngs have changed.

1. Each Meeting of the Assembly seems to have a "lead" senator, who appears behind you. These are the same as the Legendary senators from Previous games, but they always seem to be there this time.

2. The Senators vote faster (Just saves time)

3. Characters no longer need to be reincarnated to obtain their next rank. In previous games when you unlocked the next rank of a monster (There are usually 6 ranks) you had to reincarnate your character up to the next rank (Start at level 1 again) now this did give you great bonuses and things, but now you have to level it up again. NO MORE! You can pass a bill for a Promotion for a certain amount of mana, and become the next rank. Your Aptitudes increase and everything, the only bonus you don't get is the increase to base stats. Reincarnation is STILL there, but it doesn't feel required for the main game, only post game things or cross class things.

4. While it's not technically a Dark Assembly change, the fact that you have access to all your items helps. A lot.

5. When creating a new character you now get the choice of Alternative colors as well as their personality. Now the Personality isn't so much new as it's changed. Each personality has a different style of voice for the character as well as a different evility. At first I wasn't happy with that, I wanted Evility 3 but voice 1, but having them linked together I had to choose Voice 3 and evility 3. Turns out you can change their Evility or their voice serperately via the Dark Assembly for free, infinitely after the character is made. You can also change their name, and color for free and as many times as you wish, so have fun!

Changes to Overworld

Two new things have been added to the "hub" world that I wanted to mention. The first is the Dojo.

The Demon Dojo is the replacement for Character world. You can assign your units to train in various stats. Hp, Sp, Atk, Def, Int, res, Spd, hit. Each one will increase the amount of points that unit gains when it levels by a certain %. The started is 5% as the training levels increase so to does the %, as well as the amount of units that can be training in it at the same time (At the start it's 1). There are others too but I haven't unlocked them so I don't quite know what they do.

The Cheat shop is the other thing that was added. This allows for the manipulation of certain things. From Item world routes to EXP gained. Now it's not like you can jsut increase the amount of EXP, HL(money), Mana, and Skill EXP gained... you have to sacrifice one to raise another. So I could set it to 80% HL and 120% EXP. or 90% mana, 90$ HL, 110% EXP and 110% Skill EXP. It's kinda nice because if I don't need money, I can just put it all in EXP etc... As you progress into the game you can remove more and more points from one and put it in another. At the moment I can only set HL to 80% and EXP to a max of 120% I believe. You can also disable EXP all together, disable support etc...

Item world has also changed a bit. If you don't know what it is, then this section will probably not be useful since You will have little idea what I mean.

1. You start off in innocent town, you chose a boat to go in and depart. The boat determines how far down into the item you can go. 30, 60, or 100 floors etc... each boat has a different value. You will sail to a different island each floor, and you will always start on the boat. The Islands are still randomly generated.

2. There are less Enemy units, however THIS time around killing the enemy units actually adds to the items stats. The more you kill the higher % the stats increase, up to 15% I believe

3. Secret rooms have been removed, well not so much removed as they are randomly encountered between floors, not as a separate exit from the current floor. After you finish a floor there is a chance the next floor will be a bonus room. The rooms vary just like they did in previous games.

4. the 10th floor once again is a boss floor. However this time you can't multi-kill the bosses. You only kill them once. And you are guaranteed to go to Innocent down afterwards (I believe) Innocent town now has a shop in it.

5. Item World Assembly has also changed, you no longer need to be in the item itself to call the assembly you do that from the item world person int he overworld. On top of that you don't use Mana to call for bills, you use HL.

6. Reverse Pirating has been replaced with Bonus Rooms... that I believe do the exact same thing as reverse pirating without the insanely ridiculously powerful enemies. Could be wrong though.

7. Last but not least! Getting to floor 30 of a common item will reset the item to floor 0, increase the items rarity to rare (Remember that whole bit about item sets? *Winks*) and lets you go back into the item. Clearing a Rare item to floor 60 will reset the floors back to 0, then increase the rarity to Legendary. Get to floor 100 of that and... well I'm not actually sure. Probably resets to 0 again. If not, well you certainly have a damn powerful item.

As a final point there are a few more things I wish to note, this is again for Disgaea fans.

There is no X-Dimension/Dark World in this game, and the Land Of Carnage is unlocked automatically at the games end. This is big. big. BIG... at least for me who has never managed to unlock the land of Carnage due to it being ridiculously complicated to unlock in previous games. And last, but certainly not least... THE GAME HAS AN AUTOSAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (I am a slave to Autosave... I love it so very VERY much.) The Autosave will not overwrite your manual save, and if you don't want it you can leave it disabled.

I have played the game for 6 hours thus far, and I have enjoyed the gameplay a great deal. I think Given a little time to dive deeper into it, it will be my favorite Disgaea game, gameplay wise. Disgaea 2 still remains my favorite Character and Story wise, probably always will. but with Monster Mounting, The new Itme World, the new UI, the new... everything The game is just an amazing improvement all around for Disgaea fans. If you are new to the series, this is actually a GREAT title to start with as the features are less than thsoe of previous titles and are a lot easier to manage/understand while at the same time not being insanely simple. From the Crazy, mad attacks (I mean come on... The Prinny Attack is a replica of Bomberman from the old days just do damage...) to the silly Dialog and over the top characters and world... there isn't much negative to really say about the game. It is still a grindy grind grind GRIND game... but it's better at it than the previous entries thus far.

I give Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness 9 Pirouetting Prinnies/10 Dood. And I can not WAIT to get home and play some more this evening. Gotta level up my Prinnies dood!

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