During the unfortunate portable experience of PS Vita, JRPG lovers had been able to appreciate The Legend of Heroes: The Trails of Cold Steel II, second chapter of the homonymous series and direct sequel to the previous title. Waiting for the third part, scheduled for autumn 2019, Nihon Falcom e Marvelous Europe Limited have decided to re-propose the second adventure of Class VII on PlayStation 4, managing to keep intact the already solid and appreciated elements that had made it successful at the time of launch.
Trails of Cold Steel II: Class VII returns
First published in Japan in 2014 and only landed on the western market two years later, Trails of Cold Steel II it had already earned the acclaim of the critics, who had appreciated the gameplay and the depth of the combat system. The recent port on PlayStation 4 manages, despite the differences with the original platform, to maintain the previous quality level by making some small improvements. Falcom re-proposes its title by offering players a better audio sector starting from the excellent sound track, with a greater number of dubbed scenes than in the 2014 edition.
The player will return to control the party led by Rean Schwarzer, a young leader and point of reference for the comrades of Class VII, the group of students fighting against the hegemonic aims of the Alliance of Nobles. Fighting the oppressors will be the former students of the Thors Academy, the only ones trained to pilot the Divine Knight, huge and powerful mechs. The story will be a real crescendo that will accompany the protagonists in a path of maturation by removing the characters from the school context of the first chapter, to immerse them in a dramatic world with the frame of the class struggle.
As already mentioned, in terms of gameplay, players who already know the series will find familiar gameplay that strongly follows the first chapter, offering immediacy and practicality in navigating menus and managing fights, but with a simple and exciting approach for newbies. . The introduction of the fast travel and Turbo Mode allow a freer navigation of the maps, even if it will be necessary to advance a little in the story to unlock the various areas and visit them without the constraint of the first more linear phases of the plot.
Five years and not feeling them (or almost)
Even the PlayStation 4 version of The Legend of Heroes: The Trails of Cold Steel II can make a fine show of an articulated combat system, based on the link between the characters who will make up our party from time to time. In addition to the numerous customization options available to the PCs, the player has the ability to link the various characters together, thus unlocking more powerful moves and attacks of opportunity. A similar mechanism is introduced with the modality Overdrive, a special combat status that will allow some characters to perform three attacks in a row, turning the tide of the toughest fights. In addition to the more "classic" fights we find the clashes between Divine Knights, less engaging perhaps, but still able to offer a certain variety to turn based clashes.
The solidity of Falcom's title can still be seen after five years even from the activities not strictly connected with the plot that constitute real mini games within the title. Along the way we will come across waterways that are perfect for a fishing session. We can have fun beating our downhill records on a snowboard or entertain ourselves with a game of Blades, a card game that requires strategy and a bit of luck.
To counterbalance the excellent gameplay of Trails of Cold Steel II, are the five years of aging that make you feel the weight of a title conceived for a platform so different from the one destined for the recent porting. Unfortunately, the poorly maintained textures and woody animations fail to properly exploit the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 machine, so don't expect a restyling of the title from a graphic point of view. However, during the test we managed to gloss over this aspect, discovering ourselves involved and passionate both to the plot and to the gameplay.
The PlayStation 4 version of The Legend of Heroes: The Trails of Cold Steel II is therefore promoted, especially in view of the sequel coming this fall. Falcom has succeeded in proposing a title that is "old" in itself but able to demonstrate how much a solid gameplay base and a good story can excite a player despite an outdated technical sector.