|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 12, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The Shin Megami Tensei series (or MegaTen for short) has garnered a huge fan following in the US, in no small part due to the success of the blockbuster Persona series. But the world of MegaTen encompasses more than this highly-successful franchise, including the latest entry in the moody Devil Summoner series.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2 takes place shortly after the events of the first game (released in 2006), again following the exploits of Raidou Kuzunoha the 14th. For the uninitiated, Raidou Kuzonoha the 14th is a spirited warrior who has a dual identity. By day he is a police inspector/student with a regular name, but by night he takes on the Raidou alter-ego to battle and summon demons, saving the world from its ultimate destruction. If you haven't played the first Devil Summoner game, don't worry; you're not really missing a whole lot. There are a few nods to the original story and a few extras if you still have your save file. Aside from that, this is a great game for those new to this sub-series.
The story this time revolves around the balance of luck in the universe. Sure, it sounds a little ludicrous at first, but as with any other RPG worth its salt, there is plenty more under the surface. Throw in an ambiguous missing person and some serious demonic involvement, and you've definitely got yourself an engaging story with plenty of twists, turns, and memorable characters.
The trouble is, however, the story moves very slowly. It will take several hours to know what is really going on, and if you are a fan of instant action, this game will definitely bore you in the beginning. I found myself really questioning the value of this game by hour five, but the action picked up soon after, and by hour ten I was totally engrossed. The pacing is definitely slower than the latest Persona entry, though, so if you are just coming off of that tile, you may want to curb your expectations just a little before heading into Devil Summoner 2.
As good as the story may be, the real centerpiece of this game has to be the gameplay. The game ditches the turn-based system of other titles in the MegaTen series, instead going for a semi-active battle system similar to that seen in the Star Ocean series. The main character can use both sword and gun attacks in rapid succession with no real limit, and he can also chain these standard physical attacks together in rapid-succession for combo attacks.
In addition to these regular attacks, you can also summon demons. These demons are contained in little vials, and up to two at a time may be summoned in battle to help you engage your enemies. These demons are not just handed to you, though. Your character must visit an alternate demon world from time to time and try to recruit demons to fight for your cause through the power of negotiation.
Once you launch into a battle, you will have the opportunity to speak to the demons with whom you are about to engage. Negotiations depend on two main things: level and dialogue. If you aren't a high enough level, the demon won't even talk to you, but if you are, you will need to respond to some questions about your intentions in order to sway the demon over to your side. Most low-level demons only want a little bit of your lifeforce and some Yen in order to become bound to you. But at higher levels, you will need to surrender more of yourself, as well as some specialty items to get higher level demons.