Trails of the Cold Steel 2 is the latest chapter to the Legend of Heroes series and includes the first and second chapters of the Trails of the Sky.
You play as Rean who wakes up on top of a snowy mountain with his cat companion. You both must start descending down the mountain where you'll meet up with your divine Knight Valimar a huge robot mech. You seem to have lost your memory for reasons you don’t’ know, but with the help of Celine (The Cat) you discover that you have been unconscious for about a month. Once you descend the mountain you remain hopeful that you will reunite with the rest of Class VII. You find out that Erebonia and Noble Alliance has broke out into a civil war while you were unconscious. I'll stop their and I won’t spoil the story anymore if you intend to play this game.
The game plays like most JRPGs, its strongly story driven and has a big world to explore. The game is pretty liner, keeping you on a set path most of the time. It has a strong cast of characters that are playable each with their own personalities and skills. They also have their own special attacks that you get when your special attack gauge is full. You can choose a party of 4 characters to take on your journey and you can alter and change them once you have picked up more characters along your travels. You control the main character Rean Schwarzer but when you are in combat you can do what is called a link attack and depending on who you are linked too they do a combination attack.
The battle system is turned based with tactic like elements. You can place your characters strategically creating links between each other and pull off amazing powerful Arts, Crafts and S-Craft attacks. It’s up to you to make good use of your allies’ relationships and the Orbments gear system which gives your party numerous boosts when attached to constantly survive. The fights you encounter are far from easy and you will die often as I did. I found that you have to be at the right level and have the right gear at that certain point in the game to defeat the boss at the end of the level. The most interesting battles are the Divine Knight battles, where Rean is piloting Valimar, the (Ashen Knight). It only takes part in battles where you are battling other mechanized things. Combat here really relies on targeting enemy’s weak spots causing them to stagger which then you can follow up with a devastating attack.
There are also a couple of things you can do when you're wondering around the world such as cooking and fishing if you want a break from the story gameplay. Cooking I found to be a little boring as I found it hard to get ingredients, but fishing I found wasn’t too bad. Leveling up can be a mission as I found it hard to progress past certain areas due to being too low of a level and I found myself repeatedly walking though the same level for a couple of hours just to level up to be able to beat the final boss of that area just to progress. When you are in the game menu screen you'll be looking at heaps of menu options but don’t let that scare you, some of the names of things you can upgrade can be weird but at the end of the day they all mean the same as many other RPG games.
The world has a few hidden or secret dungeons that are optional to do, but if you complete them, there is always a special reward at the end to assist you on your journey. There are also some side quests you can do as well.
I haven’t played the PS3 version but the graphics on the Vita aren’t bad. I could tell that the Vita was trying hard and running to its capacity as some of the cut scenes and battle sequences had minor noticeable stutters with the frame rate. The music and sound effects aren’t too bad. I don’t have any grips with the controls on the Vita, I found everything all standard control wise. The anime style cut scenes and the battle cut scenes are awesome as you would expect from any JRPG game.
I found this to be a solid JRPG game with a good story, good graphics, good character development and a wonderful world to explore.