Evil Robots for World Conquest.
Baron Dias and Mephisto, the dark wizard, have devised a way to turn all living things into robots. All it takes is a magical key shoved into someone's back, and presto, your very own robotic slave. Like Rosie the Robot, only slightly more insidious.
So what do you do when you have a legion of robots at your beck and call? You could send them off to college... but then they'd get lost amongst all the other robots that already go there. Or maybe you could start a Broadway show, full of dancing robotic hijinks.
Nah. Everyone knows the right answer is "take over the world."
If you are looking for a complex, meaningful storyline, look elsewhere. Alundra 2 is your textbook battle between good and evil, or in this case Flint the Pirate Hunter versus pirates, dark magic, and the nefarious Baron Dias. Entirely predictable (though flecked with some moments of genuine humor), the story is definitely not a driving force to keep you playing.
Flint is a silent hero. The other characters talk to him and he responds with facial expressions and body language. This was intended to immerse you, the player, in the role of Flint. Instead, the Charlie Chaplin mute factor makes Flint seem somewhat gimpy. Pantomimes don't create an interesting character. Flint's boring design - a mop-topped shorter version of Cloud Strife - doesn't help either.
In similar games, when you upgrade your weapons you typically observe a degree of improvement. Here, you have to upgrade your sword and shield at every chance just to maintain balance. Even with the best equipment, the amount of damage you inflict will be numerically similar. And while your health bar does increase throughout the game, the enemies simply reciprocate by inflicting more damage. Enemies in Normal mode inflict more than 5 times the amount of damage compared to Easy mode. The challenge is there, but when you get hit it ends up feeling cheap.
Swordplay relies on strict timing. Mistimed attacks lead to heavy amounts of damage. Therein lies the challenge, and often times, the frustration. Too many cheap and mandatory hits take away from the skill and fun of the game. What ends up happening is you'll be reduced to 'hit and run' play mechanics. Slash and run away. Slash and run away. This is not my idea of finely tuned sword action.
Despite three selectable views of the action, the best choice is clearly the top down perspective. This is basically no different than the original Alundra or Legend of Zelda. Outside of rotating the screen and puzzles that focus on jumping, the third dimension isn't taken advantage of. Where's my sprawling field of free exploration? Instead, I am given linearly driven areas, moving from one dot on the map to the next.
Throughout these areas, there are some well-designed puzzles. You start with traditional box lifting and pushing, but these basics are built upon to create some more worthy puzzles. Then again, there are also puzzles that require the crazy sense of "off-timing" this game endows.
There are moments of flashy visuals, but in many areas the game's textures are too flat and boring. The characters are cartoon-y, with lanky, boxy features and ho-hum designs. Cutscenes are done with the same character and environment models, so the same look is maintained throughout.
The voice acting does add to the comical nature of the game. The pirates "arrrrr" and "avast ye landlubber" with the best of 'em. All in all, it's much better than silence... except for one incredibly awful song and dance number.
Music and sound effects are standard fare, nothing memorable to break the bounds of generic. Characters have musical themes; Alexia the Princess has a lulling melody, while the Pirate Zeppo has a more uplifting tempo.
I wanted to see so much more come out of the game, but I came away disappointed. The annoying timing issues in battle and the lack of driving characters and plot takes away from the experience. However, the younger crowd will appreciate the simple story. The puzzles are good, though not enough to cover up the tweaks the game needs. Despite trying things different, Alundra 2 is a step back in terms of fun from the original.