WHAT IT IS
Genre: Role-Playing (RPG)
Platform: PlayStation 3 / PlayStation Vita / PlayStation 4 / PC (Steam)
Release Date: PS3 & PS Vita 09/06/2016 – PC 02/14/2018 – PS4 05/28/2019
Rated T: Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence
Players: Single Player
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is a video game released for Sony PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, and soon to be PlayStation 4 as of May 2019. The game is a JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) with a signature japanese anime art style and excellent cast of characters wielding personalities as unique and fitting as you might find their weapons to be.
Ten individuals in particularly make up the bulk of the cast one of which is named Rean and plays the leading role. This group of individuals are referred to as Class VII as you may remember them from the initial Trails of Cold Steel during the time they were attending Thors Military Academy
~ Brief Re-cap ~
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
As a brief re-cap on the events that took place prior to this sequel, as you might remember from the first Trails of Cold Steel if you played it, Class VII was the leading party of the game just as they are in this installment with similar emphasis on Rean. In it’s entirety the plot revolved solely around Thors Military Academy and the students therein, primarily Class VII’s as they progress through their studies throughout the length of the school year, more specifically their field studies.
These field studies were in essence the missions of the game while the Academy served more like the hub. The missions would take the player throughout the surrounding areas of Erebonia to familiarize the students with the world at large and the ensuing political affairs of the empire while also investigating an empty, mysterious old school house located on campus.
This unoccupied, mysterious school house is quite literally the centerpiece of the first Trails of Cold Steel. It consists of seven floors and has an interior that changes itself every month. The investigation and decent to the final floor of this building ultimately leads to the climax of the game as Rean awakens an ancient humanoid known as Valimar who in turn, serves him faithfully. A particular influential man of power is assassinated by a fellow class VII student-turned-traitor proving his allegiance to not be with the Academy. Rean and the traitor duke it out for the final showdown but it does not end well and ultimately leads to the beginning of the civil war right where Trails of Cold Steel II picks up.
~ The Story~
Caught in the Cross-Fire of an Empire
Picking up a month after the events of Trails of Cold Steel, we now enter into a time where Civil war has broken out over the land of Erebonia, a war foreseen during the events of the previous game which has now come to pass with both the Noble Alliance lead by four aristocratic great houses who have already seized the capital and surrounding cities, the class reformists formerly lead by Chancellor Osborne prior to his assassination at the end of the last chapter which actually set the war in motion, and finally the imperial army from the four corners of the empire who were called back for a counterattack.
Rean regains consciousness from his previous defeat to find himself in a mountain range near his hometown of Ymir with his trusty humanoid knight, Valimar and a intelligent talking cat named Celine. Rean has been unconscious for a month now and upon coming to, he begins to worry for his friends, the classmates of Thors Military Academy, Class VII.
Unfortunately by this time all students including those of Class VII have become scattered across the country tending to their own affairs in the midst of the ensuing warfare while Rean sets his mind to uniting them once again in order to bring down the noble alliance once and for all!
Upon his journey down the mountain from whence he awoken with both Valimar and Celine he is met by his Sister Elise, the Princess Alfin Reise Arnor, and Tovel who save him from a life threatening encounter with an evil creature and escort him to his home town of Ymir.
Yet things only continue to escalate upon his arrival as the town falls under the attack of jaegers (specialized, advanced mercenaries) and Elise with the Princess are kidnapped by an individual known as Altina Orion leaving Tovel and Rean to fend for themselves
As to be expected, you will assume the roll of Rean who once again takes the leading role of the game as he seeks to save his sister and the princess along with reuniting members of class VII and recruiting any other allies who will lend their strength to the resistance against the Noble Alliance. Such an endeavor will lead Rean and his company to the great reaches of Erebonia including areas previously visited in the first Trails of Cold Steel, all of which is diverse and visually appealing with it’s own artistic touch. During your travels there will not be an Academy to call hub as there once was before. Instead, a large red aircraft will be made available to you and your crew and it will be named the Courageous. New forms of transportation is available as well including horseback riding, a motorcycle with the option of a sidecar and even SNOWBOARDING!! Yes, that’s not an actual means of transportation aside from descending the face of a mountain but I just had to include it cuz it’s awesome!
Along your travels you will meet new allies and some returning ones such as obviously those from Class VII. There is an exceptionally large cast of characters each with their own back story, lineage, and intriguing personality that really builds on their character, sparking not only interest but also encouraging emotional investment in the rolls they play. If you have completed the first Trails of Cold Steel and retained a save file on your system than interactions, dialogue, events, and game-play will be effected in accordance to the actions done during that play-through, being carried over to Trails of Cold Steel II.
Enemies encountered in your journey will be much like your allies in their depth of character and backstory (just not your friend). additionally, you will see some familiar faces and plenty of new! For instance, the terrorist, Crow (formerly known as “C” and a member of Class VII) will return yet again but this time blatantly serving the Noble Alliance rather than pretending otherwise, he also has a couple side kicks at his back this time.
Bosses will consist of the rulers of the four aristocratic great houses, each of which will need to be overthrown along with a final boss known as the Crimson Calamity and/or Vermillion Apocalypse! Myriads of different enemies both big and small, monsters and creatures, traitors and betrayers… wait, that’s the same thing?! You get the point. A whole lotta baddies to face off with meaning a whole lotta The Legend of Heroes signature form of turn-based combat.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II – In a Nutshell
Trails of Cold Steel II in a nut shell is the uniting of friends through open world exploration and investigation, finding out who your true friends are through observation, and working together to bring peace to an empire inflicted with civil warfare by utilizing an excellent turn-based battle system while meticulously synchronizing, pairing, and advancing character progression.
~ Game Play ~
As seen in all The Legend of Heroes games, there is a very strong JRPG element to the game-play which consist of the following:
- Character Progression through the accumulation of experience points (EXP) to increase character level (LV)
- Character Resource Bars including Hit Points (HP) to measure health, Energy Points (EP) for the use of arts, and Craft Points (CP) for the use of Crafts and S-Crafts similar to the typical Health/Hit – Mana/Magicka – Stamina/Energy bars most commonly found in RPG’s
- Character Stats demonstrating your overall character build through a list of attributes measured by points and percentages.
- Equipment Menu for the equipping of weapons, armor, and adornments for both aesthetic and status purposes including set bonus’
- Japanese Made in Japan, which is apparent in it’s anime art style.
There are a lot of mixed feeling on turn-based combat or (TBS) for turn-based strategy, you either like it or not there really is no in-between. I personally can appreciate turn-based equally as much as I do teal-time combat or (RTS) real-time strategy. The only differences essentially boils down to taking turns on executing your actions vs. doing it simultaneously and that one is stage-set and the other is open world . RTS is certainly the smoother and faster paced method providing an advantage in the utilizing of your environmental surroundings but TBS allows for more strategic and pre-meditated counter-attacks!
Trails of Cold Steel presents a fresh and unique form of turn based combat (TBS) to their game-play. it is strictly turn-based with no mixture of real-time and is not based off of random encounters as some TBS’ are but rather requires the initial engagement on the field prior to a battle commencing during which time you can make a preemptive sneak attack that will grant your party an advantage upon the start of battle.
Players will be equipped with what is called an “AT Bar” or Active Time Bar System displayed in the top left corner of the screen as previously introduced in the first Trails of Cold Steel that is used for determining who’s turn it is and what status effects might either be ailing or boosting participating combatants. A user friendly action wheel will also be available for smooth efficient selection of action whether you intend on attacking, using items, arts, or crafts, changing your position on the battle field, or simply running away like a little coward, which is cool too… and actually the smarter choice depending on who you are up against or the condition of your party
There is a large variety of weapons in Trails of Cold Steel II (as to be expected) and they’re not all made of “cold steel” either, in case you were wondering! Weapons can be upgraded at specific weapon shops via resources obtained and each weapon has their own uses and characteristics as well. In short, weapons (depending which one is wielded) will deal specific damage types in accordance with their logical purpose and form of use, these damage types include slash, pierce, thrust, and strike each of which can set a foe off balance if they are susceptible to that particular form of damage, sort of similar to elemental weaknesses. So equipping the appropriate weapon for the job is crucial in getting the upper hand in battle.
Rean’s reliable humanoid Divine Knight, Valimar can be summoned onto the stage to turn the tide of the battle, especially handy when pitted against overly powerful enemies or opposing mechs. Upon entering the scene Valimar will be piloted by Rean. If facing off against mechs, Valimar will possess a special ability to target specific sections, either head, body, or arms in which attacking the appropriate area can grant advantages in damage and ability. Members of class VII can also participate in Valimar’s combat affairs in their own way via an ability known as EX Arts where they can either imbue him with beneficial status effects or heal him depending on his immediate need. Valimar will initially be limited to Divine Knight until further progression of the game where he can be called upon up to once per battle.
Orbment System (Arts, Craft, S-Crafts, and S-Breaks)
Just as seen in the first Trails of Cold Steel, the Orbment System is back with new and returning abilities for both new and returning allies! The ARCUS (Orbment) is a device similar in appearance to a cellphone in which a player can use it for communication purposes and also to install quartz into, strengthening their ability and enabling the use of Orbal Arts
Orbal arts come in the form of offensive and support elemental based special abilities requiring energy points (EP) to cast, the elements consist of earth, water, fire, wind, time, space, mirage, and finally lost arts. Lost Arts/special gems is a newly introduced “element” (as you might say) exclusive to Trails of Cold Steel II as they began to resurface during this time. difficult challenges must be overcome in order to obtain these as they are so powerful that only one use is permitted per battle.
Orbal arts are ranked by letter in progression of B, A, S, SS, and SSS with the most powerful (SSS) requiring the most (EP). Arts in its simplest form is the equivalent to that of magic just given a different name, I guess for the sake of creativity
Crafts and S-Crafts are character specific abilities that are earned via character level and game progression with S- Crafts being more powerful but fewer in number than those of standard crafts, both of which consist of a specific charge that, once exhausted, must recharge.
Combat Link System
Combat link system consists of synchronized attacks on the battlefield also known as link abilities or link attacks previously needing to be earned but now freely granted although requiring the in-game bonding between two characters and the increase in link level through link XP. Combat link abilities are prompted via a normal attacks successfully throwing a foe off balance in which case a follow up attack would be served. Boosts, heals, and other support actions can also be assigned as your link action for the combat link system.
Last but not least is the most powerful ability available, the Overdrive. In fact it is so powerful that they make it a bit painful to obtain as you will be required to vanquish nasty beast locked away in chest that are scattered throughout the land just to charge this ability and using it more than three times in a row is prohibited!
Once those hoops are jumped you will need to fill its meter via in-battle actions. Once activated Overdrive is an AOE that caps out HP, EP, and CP, it also clears status effects and allows for instant casting of arts! You can’t beat that!
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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Price
Updated 4/2019 (prices may vary)
Pre-Owned: $20.00 – $30.00
Special Edition: Not available for this title