Great but not as good as the first one in the series.
--BTW, Before I begin, there will be some SPOILERS in this review, so read at your risk (although they are minor ones)--
I finally played and finished Lunar 2. Back when it was first re-released for the PS1, people were saying it was good although not as much as the first game, so even though I had loved Lunar 1 I didn't get Lunar 2 right away. I will say right now that this review will be high in comparisons between the two Lunar games.
Eventually I replayed through Lunar 1 and found it to be absolutely a blast, it hadn't lost any of its charm. I then decided that I should definitely get Lunar 2, if only to see what would happen next. I have to say that I am slightly disappointed, it does feel inferior to the first one to me although, length might have something to do with it.
Lunar 1 was a short, simple game, but that was the great thing about it, no filler, 25 hours of pure gaming bliss. Lunar 2 is much longer, a good 40 hour game, and it does drag on in parts. I could say that the story is inferior to the first one, but I think it's merely a result of adding 15 hours to a story that in practice, has the same content than the one in 1. The game lacks the constant drive to become a dragonmaster and save Luna since the pace is slower.
Basically, the game is all about Lunar being on the verge of an invasion by the evil god Zophar, the same Zophar who destroyed the blue star millenias before. When Althena left the blue star for Lunar, she assigned Lucia, some type of super powerful avatar, to protect the planet. Lucia senses the coming of Zophar, wakes up from her eternal sleep and zooms herself up to Lunar, where our hero Hiro (eh, not sure if the pun was intended, must be) meets her and everything starts. But if the world is so much on the verge of being destroyed, why the heck is everyone taking their sweet time for? Everything is going pretty slow, even though Lucia keeps saying "We must hurry, you don't know what's at stake!". Gawd I would hurry if the story didn't take forever to unfold!
So all in all, lacks the sense of urgency that defines the first Lunar. AND, no one ever becomes a dragonmaster in this game and it takes away the "Dude, I'm gonna become this badass warrior and then I'M gonna be kicking some evil ass!".
The story also feels slighty forced on you. The big concept of the Lunar series is that Althena decided to spread her power to every humans, rendering herself non-existant and allowing humans to choose their own path in life, thus the concept of "believing in humans". In Lunar 1 it was handled intelligently, but in Lunar 2 they just shove that down our throats again and again until we become blue in the face. It's slightly annoying.
Well, let's get to the categories shall we. Gameplay is pretty similar to Lunar 1, with the same problems. Random battles are too hard, bosses are often too easy (although less so in 2 than 1). Generally, the trick in Lunar is to buy a bunch of blue orbs and use magic aplenty in random battles, to get them over with. The battles themselves seem to have been sped up, which is generally a good thing. All in all, same as in Lunar 1, and if you haven't played Lunar 1 and you don't know what I am talking about, please refer to my Lunar 1 review at http://www.gamespot.com/ps/rpg/lunarsilverstarstoryc/reader_review.html?id=3311725
The graphics are also almost identical to Lunar 1, with some differences. First, the anime movies are much better than in the first Lunar, with better animations, higher frame rate, and much more fluid overall. The terrain graphic (as in, overworld map) also seem to sport more details than in 1. The battles look the same, although because they go faster, they seem to lack some animations/fluidity than the 1 had. Not sure if i'm just going insane or what.
The sound seems to have important differences. First off, the voice acting is flat out worst than in Lunar 1. Especially Lucia. Heck she's like the main character in the game and I couldn't stand her voice actor most of the time. The scene where the dragonship is heading toward pentagulia made me cringe. Also, the music doesn't seem nearly as good as in 1, no songs really stuck in my head after I played it, which is strange. Oh except me that song in nall's lair, with the pseudo kids chanting. That one was awesome.
The only improvement would be the in battle voices: more variety, generally less annoying. But because of the lack of good songs, and generally worse voice acting, the score goes down compared to the first game.
Value, well, the game IS longer than Lunar 1, which adds to the value, but it also seems to make the game worst too.
All in all, a worse experience than Lunar 1 but still better than most rpg's on the market. Give it a try if you can find it cheap (good luck :) ).