MG’s Take: King’s Field II (PS1)
Author :        Date : 31-Aug-08

The second U.S. release in this series, King’s Field II for the Sony PlayStation, published by ASCII Entertainment and developed by From Software, perfected the FP RPG genre set in its predecessor.  True to form, you are free to undertake this extensive adventure as you deem fit.  This may seem somewhat daunting to gamers who prefer a more linear approach to their gaming experience.

With the kingdom of Verdite once again in peril and the King having gone insane, this lengthy quest pits our hero (Lyle, son of the cursed King) in search of the source of terrible evil that has blighted his homeland.  Once again, you are in search of the infamous Moonlight Sword and the magical power that is contained within.  Your journey will take you through the sprawling lands where dangers abound and friends are few.

Fans of the first release will feel right at home when playing King’s Field II.  The tried and true format of discovery and exploration are not only intact, but have been improved upon greatly.  Many more weapons, armor, magic, and ancient artifacts are to be found in the vast country of Verdite.  The main difference gamers will appreciate is the much improved environments that you will explore.  The vastness of the outdoors are richly detailed and in complete 3D, full polygonal graphics.  Earth tones are still the dominant color of choice, but have been put on steroids and communicate effectively the grim nature of the danger at hand.

This time around, interaction with various NPCs (non-playable characters) is required to complete certain facets of the game.  Do not worry though – they still sport the same ghastly, undefined faces as in the original.  This may be a disappointment for some, but it does add to the dreamlike tone of the game.  Significant differences now include the ability to review past conversations you have had with these individuals.  This does assist when trying to complete certain side quests for that special set of armor that you have been searching for.

Another welcomed addition is the ‘Pixie’ map that you can acquire rather early on in the game.  This is extremely helpful in navigating the various areas, and saves a great deal of time in unnecessary back-tracking.  Monster AI has been improved upon as well, but employing ‘strike-back up-move forward-strike again’ tactics are again effective.  Enemies will utilize different strategies against you, but the main advantage (or disadvantage) is the level of hit points they have compared to yours.

The FP game play rate hovers around 15-30 FPS, depending upon the amount of activity at any given time.  The World is seamless and huge – there are no loading times between various sections of the country.  As in the original King’s Field, an almost surreal atmosphere prevails during game play.  Levels sections of the homeland are varied and unique, with a strong sound theme accompanying each.  Again, sound samplings for the creatures and actions are perfect and well utilized, both in the time used and comparative sound level to other ambient music effects.

The control is excellent, using the D-Pad to navigate move look at this richly detailed world. Executing attacks and other actions are intuitive and easy to perform. Your progress through the various sections is impeded by the level of the fiends that you encounter, right from the beginning of this saga.

Overall, King’s Field II is an excellent sequel. Most arguably the best in the series, King’s Field II is still not for everyone. The game play is still rather slow, even being compared to the standards utilized when it was released in 1996. However, the solid game play and overall presentation rate this game high amongst its contemporaries. Arm yourself with patience and diligence – this is an epic journey. This is a definite must-have for any fan of the RPG genre.

Special thanks to Hardcore Gaming 101 for the screenshots.

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