The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Review

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The direct sequel to The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is, as with previous games, a JRPG. There’s a long line of Legend of Heroes games, of which the Trails games make up the later ones. Trails of Cold Steel is the most recent set in the series, available on PC, PS3 and PS Vita.

As with the previous instalment, there’s a lot to be done in this game. This means that the game is very lengthy (reported as over 80 hours in total), with plenty of side-quests and mini games to keep you occupied. Possibly because of the great length of the game, the pacing can seem quite slow, particularly to begin with, which was also an issue with the predecessor. You’ll be playing for a couple of hours even before the typical JRPG animated opening movie with its upbeat J-Pop song plays. For some the game is possibly a bit too long, but if lengthy RPGs are something you enjoy, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The story line is quite deep, earning its age rating by dealing with civil war, betrayal, loss, and the like. Of course there are happy moments in the game; it’s not all doom and gloom. The interactions of Rean and his friends are very enjoyable, and bonding mechanics from the first game return, despite no longer being in the school setting. The game copes very well at retaining the basic play style outside of the school setting of the original game.

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Obviously, the game is best played after playing the first Trails of Cold Steel. Some suggest to play The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky series first, though the third chapter of this series hasn’t been released in the West yet, and it certainly isn’t necessary, so it’s really up to personal preference. However, it’s very much recommended you play the first Trails of Cold Steel first, as there is a lot of content in it you will be missing out on otherwise, and if you want to go back to it, there are some spoilers for it in this one.

If, however, you haven’t played Trails of Cold Steel, and want to get stuck in with this game for some reason, or even if it’s just been a while since you played the last one, there’s a comprehensive information section in the main menu you can read before starting the game. Here you can have a look through several sections which describe the main plot points of the first game, as well as look at biographies for the characters. If you want to know what is going on in the world of Erebonia, and even just an explanation behind what’s happening at the start of the game, this background knowledge is essential.

A mechanic that is nice to see is that you haven’t inexplicably lost all experience that was gained in the previous game (regardless of whether you’ve played it/have a save game on the system for it). In all too many game sequels you start at level 1 without explanation, as though the entire previous game never happened. Of course, they can’t start you off as strong as you were at the end of the previous game with all of your equipment, but at the very least you don’t start at level 1. This doesn’t mean that you’re ridiculously overpowered: the enemies have simply scaled with you.

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The music is very good, suiting the setting, and the graphics are good for the platforms the game is available on. There is a voice acting, but not every character is voice acted, and not every line is voiced for characters with VAs. Smaller cutscenes and conversations don’t tend to have voice acting. However, as cutscenes are common, you’ll experience a lot of the voice acting which, luckily, is very well done. The only issue is dialogue sections which have a mix of voice acting and text-only. It can be quite off-putting when half of the characters are speaking aloud, and the other half are silent, so you swap between listening and reading the text depending on the character.

If you have the patience for long JRPGs then The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is probably the perfect game for you. Fans of the Legend of Heroes series as a whole, or the previous Trails of Cold Steel will be right at home with this game, and if you enjoyed the last one, you’ll enjoy this one too. Overall, the game is more of the same, giving you more of the good gameplay, with a continuation of an interesting story.

rating-8

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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