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SummaryIt's a shame it never made it to the States
The GoodI won't recount the plot blurb here. Suffice to say, the scale of the story telling is quite grand. You're not just playing one single snobbish hero, you're playing ALL of the heroes that have come to pass, each one will experience their own legend as they quell the land. The whole concept behind the generations passing their abilities onto one another makes this even greater, as every emperor you choose will be culmination of everyone else before him.
Following this is the freedom that you are given in this game. Most RPGs have a very linear path to facilitate the story telling. The end result is that you are pretty much stuck experiencing the same storyline over and over again with some small variations here or there. Romancing Saga 2 makes no attempt to spoon feed you the information you need. (A staple of the Saga games, really) In RS2, you have choices, lots of them.
The same goes for their battle system, which is extremely intricate for it's time. As a result, you have a very wide array of options for your characters to choose.
The thing is, the philosophical approach to this game is not about allowing to thoroughly exhaust your options with just one character. This game has a lot of choices, and every one of them carries it's own risk and rewards. It is this way for character abilities (you pretty much have to specialize if you want them to be contributing to the party), it is this way for quests. As such, the replay value for this game is very high.
The BadThis game, however, can be very difficult for a lot of people. This is especially so for people who are more use to the FF style game design where you can, with a bit of work, have something that is definitively the "best" armor, or the "best" weapon, or the "best" abilities. In RS2? Expansion only means giving you more options, not necessarily allowing you to exercise all those options simultaneously.
While some gaming purists (such as the Japanese market) will find this an interesting challenge, this can actually cause a lot of problems for people who are more accustomed to a more casual approach.
i.e. in my first play through, I neglected to invest in my magic department, which led to a very difficult situation in the later game where I basically can't progress as my party just isn't powerful enough to meet the challenges laid before me. This is a situation that can arise very frequently if the player does not take the time to plan a little.