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Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2

DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA アバタール・チューナー2 (Avatar Tuner 2)
Japanese Release: January 27, 2005
Retail Price: ¥7,329
North American Release: October 4, 2005 [box art]
Retail Price: $49.99
European Release: July 2006

Digital Devil Saga 2 is simultaneously a sequel and a final chapter to the series. While this may lead many to assume that the story is somewhat equally divided between the two chapters, that couldn't be farther from the truth. The original contained a cliffhanger styled ending that brought up more questions than answers. By comparison, more is learned within the first few hours of DDS2 than what was contained in the entire story of the original. Ideas are clarified, loose ends tied up, hints solidifed into understandable concepts and so forth. Of course, many new ideas are added on top of what was already begging to be explained and a good deal of it is probably not what one would expect.

In many ways, it's safe to refer to the original as more of a "prequel" to the brunt of the story contained here. One could pick up this title alone and understand the story rather well. Playing through the original does help, however, particularly in adding to the roles of the characters (both playable and otherwise). It's very likely that anyone picking up this title would already have finished (or at least owns) the original, so it may not be a major issue. However, to fully understand the story and characters it would take a total of over $100 to obtain both games. While each stands up well on its own merits, they definitely work better together; it's something to consider ahead of time, particularly when noting that DDS2 will generally take less time to complete.

The sequel uses a very similar set-up to the original for obvious reasons. However, nearly everything presented in the original is exceeded this time around, whether its graphics, story or just general mechanics. Players will notice that the dungeons, on average, are far more interestingly modeled. Enemy designs don't repeat quite as often. The battle system has a new transformation mode known as "Beserk", which puts the characters in a half-demon, half-human state for the duration of the fight. Story sequences and cutscenes are far more common and generally packed full of far more information.

For most people, the biggest and most obvious change would be the total reconstruction of the Mantra Grid. The concept is the same: equip Mantra, fight enemies to fill it with Karma Points and eventually learn new skills. The main difference is the manner in which these Mantra are unlocked; it's nowhere near as linear and it's now possible, for example, to learn a higher level spell or attack before a lower level one of the same type. On paper it's seemingly a small change, but in practice it allows for far more interesting and useful customization of your characters.

The title also allows players to load up their completed saves from the original Digital Devil Saga when they first start. Various things happen depending on choices made and objectives completed in the original including the unlocking of rare items and even a character.

Digital Devil Saga 2 U.S. pre-order campaign involved giving a free soundtrack CD away with the title. Unfortunately, a good amount of online vendors did not pack the game together with the soundtrack, leaving some fans in the cold. Luckily, Atlus U.S.A. will send the CD to anyone who mails them a copy of their pre-order reciept.

Those who have kept up on the title may also have noticed the dramatically different cover art from what Atlus was initially advertising. It turns out that the cover is double sided; one side featuring Sera and the other featuring the Embryon tribe in demon form. Atlus has done the same with other non-Megaten titles in the past.

DDS2-cover-a DDS2-cover-b DDS-back-cover

© Tony

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