What is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II?
Continuing the story where it's predecessor left off, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is a Japanese role-playing game that follows high-school student Rean Schwarzer as he travels the war-torn land of Erebonia in search of his missing classmates, his kidnapped sister and a stolen princess. As part of the elite fighting corps of Class VII, Rean and must find his fellow classmates, and reunite, before taking the fight to the nefarious Noble Alliance in order to restore peace to the nation once more.
How do you play The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II?
A Japanese role-playing game through and through, most of your time with Trails of Cold Steel II will be spent battling monsters, exploring Erebonia's forests, fields and ice-capped mountains, watching story-driven cutscenes, and chatting to the many in-game characters you meet on your adventure.
With a solid story at its core, your goal here is to travel town to town, and find Rean's missing classmates - a goal which generally involves a bit of detective work on your part. Sometimes as simple as asking a bartender if they've seen your pals, at other times you'll be doing a favour for a priest short on medicinal herbs, or even a bit of chess-related puzzling, as you follow the story, and travel from town to town.
Sometimes, however, your favours require a bit of monster-bashing instead. Monsters roam the fields, mountains and forests between towns, and can be seen wandering around - touch one and you'll trigger a battle. Here, players take it in turns with the enemy creatures to attack, defend and use items, aiming to whittle your opponents' health to zero before they can do the same for you. As it's entirely turn-based, you have plenty of time to make your decisions in battle, whether you want to stick to regular sword slashing attacks, or try out a more magical Art or Craft spell instead, each of which will consume a portion of their respective gauges when used.
How easy is The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II to pick up and play?
Like it's predecessor, Trails of Cold Steel II can be a bit hard-going on the normal difficulty level, and without an easy way to switch mid-game without starting over, those looking for a less challenging run through the story might want to pick easy from the get go. Amping up the damage you deal to enemies and reducing the amount of damage they deal to you, easy mode makes the game much more forgiving in battles, perfect for less able players.
Beyond the battles though, there's little that players may struggle with here, with clear goals and objectives, and a story that'll guide you from one location to the next. If you ever do get stumped, a quick press of the Square button will bring up a handy hint of where to head next too, useful for if you've come back to the game after a bit of an absence.
A strong reading ability is a must, however - like most Japanese role-playing games, Trails of Cold Steel II uses a mixture of voiced and unvoiced scenes, which may make it somewhat hard to follow for less-able readers, especially as it mixes voice overs and text only sections into the same conversations - not just the side quests, but key story scenes too, making reading pretty much a necessity here.
- "We've been getting reports of a few Jaeger corps taking part in the war, too. Even members of Ouroboros."
- "Combat etiquette is imperative in calling oneself a noble, and I am familiar with the sword style of the Schwarzer family."
- "Rean, ya madman! Whit're ye daein' here?!"
A kind if middling game in terms of Mature Content, Trails of Cold Steel II sees players fighting with various fantastical creatures and enemy soldiers in turn-based battles - sword slashes, gunfire and magical explosions accompany attacks, all with bright flashes of light when they connect, but no obvious blood. However, some cutscenes err into slightly more violent territory, showing an unconscious man lying in a large pool of blood, a man with a bleeding chest wound and another dying in a large explosion.
As is often par for the course with Japanese role-playing games, occasional conversations between female characters reference chest sizes ("Yeah, your boobies are pretty big already", "How'd you even luck out with boobs that big?"). In terms of bad language, everything from sh*t and b*stard to a*shole, bloody and hell crop up in the dialogue from time to time, albeit fairly infrequently.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 3