Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: November 21, 2002
As is the current standard for console RPGs, you needn’t have played the original Legaia to appreciate its sequel. A new storyline and extensive tutorials ensure that you’ll be able to pick up Legaia 2: Dual Saga from scratch and jump right in. This is certainly a good design decision because the series can’t claim anywhere near the universal appeal of the Final Fantasy games or even a general sense of familiarity, for that matter. For many PS2 owners, Legaia 2 will be the first they’ve heard of the series, so we’ll start from the beginning, examine the details and figure out if this follow-up is a pleasant surprise.
If you’ve even dabbled in the console RPG scene, it should come as little surprise that our hero is a mysterious boy with an even more mysterious past. Named Lang by default – though you can customize his name should the mood strike you – our hero was found on the shore of a small lake that provides sustenance for a mountain village. Taken in and raised by the hamlet’s sword master, Lang grew up to join the Vigilance Corps, the equivalent of a town watch and the thin, sword wielding line between the chaos of the surrounding forests and a peaceful existence for the villagers. Between constant patrols through the nearby forest to keep the monster populations thinned out and the magical water stone called the Aqualith, which provides fresh water to the lake, things are nearly paradise in Lang’s home until a shadowy stranger attacks the town. Brushing aside the entire Corps, Lang included, this stranger strolls into town, steals the Aqualith and sets off a chain of events that drives the plot into motion.
A wrinkle in the story prevents Legaia 2 from becoming a straight tale of black and white opposition. Avalon, as the homicidal stranger’s name eventually proves to be, bears a strange birthmark on the back of his hand. Early on, he tells Lang, who possesses a similar mark on his chest and a general disdain for shirts, that this mark makes them brothers of a sort, since they both belong to a race called the Mystics. Through a series of dark dream sequences, Lang learns that the Mystics have been persecuted because they possess a power called Origin magic. Best compared to the Guardian Force system in Final Fantasy VIII, Origins are a combination of magic source and summon spell. Not surprisingly, the Origin system borrows heavily from other spell systems in that various elements are locked in opposition to one another. Lang, for instance, controls fire elements and tends to cause far more damage to water enemies than he will other fire elementals whenever he uses his magical attacks or abilities.
For much of the game you’ll need to conserve your magic rather than burning it haphazardly, and for these situations nothing beats a sharp blade and a stout set of armor. Legaia 2 puts an interesting twist on the standard equipment systems, limiting you not only in the number of inventory slots each character has, but also in the weight they can carry. The other side of this coin is that powerful items are more readily available, but you won’t be able to equip an ideal combination of them without leveling up and thus increasing your weight capacity.