The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is the exciting continuation to the original Japanese role playing title Trails of Cold Steel and is another long awaited addition to the long running RPG series The Legend of Heroes. The Japanese version of the game was published by its developer Nihon Falcom towards the end of September 2014. The game is finally set for release two years after its release in Japan and only one year after the localization of the first Trails of Cold Steel. The game will be published to North America early September 2016 by XSEED Games and will be available in both physical and digital formats for the PlayStation 3 and Vita.
Trails of Cold Steel II takes place only a month after the end events of the first Trails of Cold Steel. The first Trails of Cold Steel began with Rean joining Class VII at the Thors Military Academy. During his time at the academy there was tension between the aristocracy and working class citizens and many of the classes at the academy segregated students based on their social class. Class VII was an exception and was comprised of both aristocrats and normal citizens but many of the students did not get along due to their differences in social status. The students of Class VII eventually began to grow closer as they continued going through special field training together but their friendships and acceptance of each other did not fix the tensions outside of Class VII. The tension between the aristocracy and working class continued to grow and towards the end of the first Trails of Cold Steel their was an attempt to assassinate the leader of the working class reformists. The academy was also taken over by coupe forces belonging to the aristocracy and the game ended with Rean escaping with the recently awakened giant robot named Valimar. Trails of Cold Steel II begins after Rean and Valimar successfully arrive near Rean’s hometown after escaping. Rean awakens in the mountains not far from his home town but he is uncertain of what might have happened to his friends and classmates from Class VII. In search of his classmates and a way to stop the conflict Rean begins a new journey with Valimar at his side. As you journey the country as Rean you must gather the rest of the students from Thors Academy who have scattered. As the story continues you will uncover the purpose of the events in the first Trails of Cold Steel and learn more about the root of the conflict but the story doesn’t end there either.
The game features many unique features as well as a number of features that might be familiar to those who have played earlier titles from The Legend of Heroes series. The battle system is turned based with an active time bar just like the original Trails of Cold Steel. During a character’s turn you can move them anywhere on the battle field and choose from a variety of commands. The commands are displayed in a ring much like the original but the command images are in hexagonal shapes instead of the circle shapes used in the original making appear a bit more stylish. There is also the addition of a new command called EX Art which is important during Divine knight battles. Later in the story Rean will be able to call on Valimar for help outside of the Divine Knight battles but he can only be called once per battle and acts for only several turns. The Orbment system is the same as it was in the first Trails of Cold Steel but there will be many new items to craft with characters old and new. Finally, for those who enjoy the unique methods of transportation in games there will be horses and the orbal bike which will allow you to travel quickly. Horses are not limited to one area in Trails of Cold Steel II and the bike can be customized. There other gameplay aspects to consider but I had to narrow it down. The gameplay is very powerful and presents few weaknesses so it’s just a matter of getting used to everything.
If you have played the original Trails of Cold Steel you can use clear save data for Trails of Cold Steel II.By carrying over the clear save data you can change the way that characters interact with Rean based on actions taken in the play through you use the data from. Characters which you bonded with a lot will be more kind to you and will often have something personal to say to Rean and non-playable character will remember you for helping them in the previous game. There are also some new characters which you will have to bond with which will not be influenced by clear save data from the previous game. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy bonding all over again with new characters while also maintaining your bonds with the original cast of characters. If there are any supporters that you like you can also choose to take them along on your travels to increase Rean’s bond with them and receive special rewards. Bonds are very important in the Trails of Cold Steel titles both in its story and gameplay but it is implemented in a way that makes it more of a fun addition to the game rather than a chore.
The graphics are slightly better than the graphics in the first Trails of Cold Steel and there are some changes in scenery as well as a few aesthetic changes to battle menus. The characters appear a bit more clear and detailed but the change is not so great that you would notice immediately without comparing the images side by side. The field has a bit more depth to it due to slightly higher quality graphics and better shading but it enough to make it stand out a little from the first Trails of Cold Steel. The biggest changes are to the battle menus and character status display images in battle. The images for the status display are different than the ones used in the first and look more natural. Overall the graphics aren’t a huge change but they also aren’t particularly a weakness in the game.
I highly recommend Trails of Cold Steel II if you enjoyed the first and want to continue the story beyond the cliffhanger at the end of the first. Trails of Cold Steel II is a stronger game than its predecessor due to its new features and the way it continues the story at its peak. There is so much you can do in the game and you gain new allies that allow you to experience new bonds while you continue to nurture bonds with characters from the first. The game manages to give the story and characters more purpose and even adds importance to non-player characters. The game’s biggest weaknesses are the cliche personalities of some of the characters and a few overused concepts that seem to be the norm for anime and Japanese role playing games but it is hardly anything that could noticeably damage the game’s quality.
PROS: New Characters, Solid Gameplay, Strong Plot
CONS: Cliché Characters
This review is based on a digital copy of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II on the PlayStation 3 provided by XSEED Games.