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Posted 10/5/08 , edited 10/6/08

Drakengard 2, or Drag-On Dragoon 2: Fūin no Aka, Haitoku no Kuro (ドラッグオンドラグーン2 封印の紅、背徳の黒, "Drag-On Dragoon 2: Seal Red, Ambivalence Black"?) in Japan, is a combination action game with RPG elements for the Playstation 2 system and is a direct sequel to the original Drakengard. Like the original, Drakengard 2 combines on-foot hack and slash with aerial combat stages reminiscent of Sega's Panzer Dragoon. It was developed by cavia, inc., published in Japan by Square Enix on June 16, 2005 and released in North America by Ubisoft on February 14, 2006.

Gameplay ::
Drakengard 2 features a number of refinements and enhancements designed to make the game better than its predecessor. For instance, in the original game, the player could only regain health by causing health orbs to generate after chaining enough attacks together, and each stage featured a strict time limit in which the objectives needed to be met. The sequel eases things by allowing the player to purchase and equip health and magic restoration items before beginning each stage, and the time limits have been done away with almost entirely. Furthermore, should the player's character die, Drakengard 2 will retain all experience gained over the course of play should the player elect to try the stage again.

The original Drakengard featured exactly sixty-five unique weapons to collect over the course of the game, and finding every last one of them was a requirement to see all five of the game's different endings. However, the process of collecting the weapons was seen by many as tedious and somewhat frustrating, and so Drakengard 2 simplifies the process by making many of the weapons in the game available for purchase in village shops. Purchasing a weapon only requires that the player has stockpiled enough gold to buy it.

One change that Drakengard 2 makes that is not universally accepted is the alteration to the stage selection feature. The original game featured the ability to revisit any stage at any time, but the storyline of Drakengard 2 is presented in a linear fashion that prevents the player from revisiting story-specific missions. This is mitigated somewhat by the existence of free expedition, or basic missions that utilize many of the same maps as the story missions, but the player must either replay through the game from scratch or keep a save file prior to a specific story mission in order to play it again.

Story ::
The story is set eighteen years after the end of the original Drakengard, in which the hero Caim saved the world from destruction and the red dragon Angelus sacrificed her life to become the final seal, preventing a world-ending calamity. The game begins with Nowe, a young man that had been raised by a dragon since infancy, completing his initiation into the Knights of the Seal, a military organization dedicated to protecting the magical keys, located in five districts, that hold the red dragon's seal in place. However, during his first official mission, Nowe learns that the keys are powered by the life energy of "martyrs", or citizens of the former Empire that had almost destroyed the world during the war with the Union eighteen years prior. Having doubts about his duties, Nowe later encounters a mysterious young woman named Manah, who holds a desire to help the people by freeing the districts from the rule of the knights.

Nowe is given further reason to doubt the knights when their leader, General Gismor, betrays him by first poisoning his drink, and then revealing that he also poisoned General Oror, the former leader of the Knights of the Seal, who was Nowe's adoptive human father. Anger causes Nowe's dragon blood to momentarily activate, whereupon Nowe attacks Gismor, severing the general's right arm, and then flees. Even though Nowe has betrayed the knights, Eris still has faith in him and resolves to find a way to bring him back to the Knights. With nowhere else to turn, he travels on his own with the dragon Legna as his only companion until he once again crosses paths with Manah. Intrigued by Manah's purpose, Nowe accompanies her on a quest to free each district, unaware of what consequences their actions would have on the world.

During their travels, Nowe and Manah meet Urick, nicknamed the "Masked Man" because of his skull-like mask, another Ex-Knight of the Seal who trained alongside Nowe under General Oror. They also encounter Caim, who attempts to kidnap Manah and slay Urick. The Knights of the Seal capture Manah themselves and Nowe and Urick are forced to storm the Grand Shrine and battle General Gismor for Manah's custody and are able to rescue her before she is executed while Gismor makes his escape. Nowe and Urick rescue Manah and then travel to the guardian-less District of Shining Life, to find its entrance compromised. Inside they meet Caim, and Manah comes to the realization that Urick is the missing Guardian of the District. Here Urick confesses that he feels it was his fault that Oror died. After Gismor had poisoned Oror's water, Oror went to defend a District that was under attack from Caim. Urick fought Caim but was no match and was severely wounded, Oror then came to Urick's rescue and Urick retreated, it wasn't until he fought Caim did the poison finally have an effect on Oror and he was slain in battle. After this Urick lay wounded and frightened and in order to save his life he made a pact with the land's Reaper, the price he paid was his mortality. He then tells Nowe and Manah how he can be killed, however Nowe is hesitant to kill Urick, having grown so close to him that he felt like they were brothers, even though he is the Guardian of the District of Shining Life. Nowe challenges Caim to stop him from killing Urick and temporarily defeats him. Still, Caim tries to strike Nowe down but Urick jumps in the way of the intended blow. Urick's pact-beast, the Reaper, enters Urick's body and revives him (this is when he is most vulnerable and can finally be killed), Caim continuously slices Urick with his sword, but Urick keeps pushing forward until the Reaper inside him dies, when this happens Urick shoves Caim into a chasm. Urick then tells Nowe that those that have lived long enough are those who have repented for their sins and that he has lived too long and says that he will train with Oror in the afterlife. Urick dies in Nowe's arms and the Holy Flowers, Shining Life's keys, begin to burn and disintegrate along with Urick's body until only his mask remains.

After Urick's death, Nowe, Manah and Legna travel to the last district, the District of Heavenly Time. There they encounter Gismor and Eris. Nowe tries to plead for Eris' understanding, but Gismor interrupts, saying that they refuse to listen to "sinners" and proceeds to fight Nowe. Nowe strikes Gismor and reveals his dark secret, he is a phantom of darkness, Nowe tries to finish him off but Gismor pulls Eris in front of him and she is used as his shield. Eris finally realizes her mistake and tells Nowe where to find the last key before she supposedly dies in his arms. With some help from Legna, Nowe and Manah storm Heaven's Clocktower and meet the district's guardian, General Gismor himself. Nowe defeats Gismor, but Gismor refuses to give Nowe the satisfaction of victory and commits suicide by using his sword, the Pitch Black, to break the Holy Hourglass, the district's key. While the story and ending change after playing the game multiple times, the primary (first) ending, centers around the prophecy of the Holy Dragons and the "new breed." After destroying the final district, Angelus is freed from her prison. Driven insane by the torture of being made Guardian of the Seal, a position that should have only been held by a goddess, Nowe and Legna are forced to kill Angelus, at Caims telepathic request. After Angelus dies, the world radically alters, returning to a state similar to that seen in the original Drakengard, though Legna states that "this is the way the world really is." Legna and Nowe make their way to the floating repository of knowledge created and guarded by the Holy Dragons known as the Ancient Tomb. Either by accident, or intending the test Nowe's strength and determination, the Holy Dragons guarding the site attack Nowe and Legna, who are forced to kill many of them. After reaching the center of the structure, Nowe hears a dictation of prophecy, what Legna calls "future history," which describes his birth and care by Legna, and names him the "new breed." After escaping the building following the end of the prophecy, Legna and Nowe rescue an airship carrying Eris. Despite previously trying to capture or kill him, Eris accompanies Nowe, hoping to find a solution to the crisis afflicting the world.

Legna carries Nowe to an artifact known as the Bone Casket, which itself strongly resmbles a giant version of the Seeds of Resurrection and tells him its his destiny to enter it and emerge as a "new breed," to fulfill the prophecy of the Holy Dragons. There are several ways the ending occurs. One is where Nowe refuses and is forced to fight Legna. Legna asks him one final time to fulfill his destiny, and after refusing again, declares they must fight to the death. Nowe, filled with remorse, slays Legna, whom he now knows is actually his father. After the battle, Nowe, his human appearance resurfacing, lands and speaks with Hierarch Seere and Eris. Eris reveals that she is in fact a goddess, and takes upon herself the burden of the seal, restoring the world to its "true" condition. The second is where Legna knows about Eris' intentions of becoming the goddess and convinces Nowe to enter the Bone Casket in order to prevent Eris becoming the goddess. The Bone Casket "awakens" and Nowe is forced to fight it. After damaging it to some degree the Bone Casket merges with Manah and Nowe and Legna are forced to destroy both her and the Bone Casket. After this Nowe, Eris and Legna wage war against the "False Gods" that the Holy Dragons have been at war with for eons. The third ending is a combination of the previous two. After damaging the Bone Casket, it attempts to merge with Manah but instead Manah is able to suppress and neutralize the Bone Casket within her. After this Legna reveals his true purpose in raising Nowe and so they are forced to fight. This time, however, both the Nameless and the Holy Dragons fade away and humans are at last free to choose their own destinies and not rely on the goddess seal any longer.

Playable Characters ::
Playable Characters

* Nowe: Nowe is the main protagonist of Drakengard 2. He uses Swords and Longswords in battle and is strong against knights, but weak against undead. He is also the only one who can summon Legna. He was raised by the blue/black dragon Legna from infancy, learning how to speak and understand the dragon tongue without the need of becoming a pact partner. During Nowe's childhood, General Oror, then the leader of the Knights of the Seal, discovered him huddled in Legna's wings, and convinced the dragon to allow him to raise the boy so that he could become more than a "wingless dragon." Nowe apparently has three fathers; his biological father who he seems to have never met, though artwork, the weapon history for Inuart's Longsword and creator comments hint that it is Inuart, Legna who raised him, and General Oror who became his adoptive father. Legna says towards the end of the first ending, a discreet comment about two lovers eighteen years ago. He also has the hair of Inuart. He is often referred to as "The Dragon Child" (and once as an insult, the "Demon Child") and is often called "The Savior" by Seere and Oror when he was alive, although Nowe is humble and hates being called a savior. As an adult, Nowe becomes a full-fledged Knight of the Seal at the beginning of the game. As the central character, the plot focuses around the truth behind his past and the discovery of his destiny. Nowe is in fact a being known as a "new breed," a being created by the dragons meant to take humanity's place once the dragons regained control of the world. During the course of the game, Nowe develops feelings for Manah.

* Legna: The dragon that acts as Nowe's "father," Legna is an ancient blue/black dragon who's unrelenting pride compares only to his might and intelligence. It is revealed much later on that Legna had a deeper motivation for raising and protecting Nowe. Legna's role was to help the Holy Dragons achieve power by helping awaken the new breed. It seemed in the first and third endings that he didn't truly care for Nowe, only that he was to be used as a weapon, however as Legna perishes, his last words to Nowe are "You are a sentimental fool...just like your father...", it is possible that Legna had been referring to Inuart, and his love for Furiae that eventually grew to blind and corrupt him, but he also may have been referring to himself, showing that he really did show caring feelings towards Nowe after all. He seems to have very little caring for humans, especially after he had heard Angelus' tale for sacrificing herself to become the seal, he remarked: "Fool, never trust a human." The only major exception to the rule is Nowe, saying he is the only human he would care to be with. He also showed some compassion towards Eris; in the second and third endings he told her she did not need to sacrifice her happiness in becoming the new goddess seal; he also shows some admiration towards Urick, calling him a joker. His "blood memory" allows him to evolve into more powerful forms when the situation grows dire, which helps him guide and protect Nowe. However, Legna's ultimate form as the holy dragon is drastically different from the other holy dragons shown in the game, and obviously much more powerful. The official materials collection entitled "Memory of Blood" states that Legna is Inuart's black dragon.[2] Interestingly while Legna is known as the black dragon, in Chapter 12 of the first ending path, he has a bluish shading but for the other endings he has a black shading that matches the black dragon description. He is called a blue dragon during one of the game's two introductions but is called a black dragon during Nowe and Legna's quest in the Ancient Tomb.

It's also stated when Legna is the only one to hear Caim's thoughts since pact partners can hear each other voices. Also in the fight with Angelus your misions says Show her the power of the black dragon referring to their previous fights in the first game Since the title is Love red ambivalence black it is because Angelus's name traduced from Japanese is Angel which is Legna spelled backwards.

* Eris: A female knight whose fighting ability was advanced for her age, allowing her to rise quickly through the ranks from childhood. She has a long friendship with Nowe, and the game hints that she has also fallen in love with him. She vows to take Nowe back from Manah because she believes Nowe is under her spell. During a confrontation between Nowe and General Gismor, Gismor uses Eris as a human shield, and Nowe accidentally runs her through with his sword. However, she survives and is restored to health by Hierarch Seere. Eris is another one of the playable characters in the game; she uses spears as her weapons and is especially strong against undead, but weak against human enemies. In the game's first ending, Eris is chosen to become the new goddess of the seal, taking the role previously held by Angelus and Furiae.

* Urick: A renegade warrior, also known as "The Masked Man", with the air of a joker. During his days as a Knight of the Seal under General Oror, he acted as a "big brother" figure to Nowe. He is secretly the pact partner of a reaper, and as a result he can only die if the reaper itself is slain while inside him. He made the pact when he was severely injured in a fight with Caim. Oror saved Urick, but Urick fled and became wracked with guilt, believing himself to be a coward for leaving Oror to die at Caim's hands and for making the pact with the reaper. To atone for the wrong-doing he believes he has committed, he seeks an end to his immortal life. During the events of the game, Nowe and Manah find him in the City of Rust and agrees to join them in their quest to destroy the Districts. He uses axes in battle and his attacks are especially effective against monsters, but weak against magic using enemies. Urick is the guardian of the District of Shining Life. He is finally killed at the hands of Caim, who sought to destroy the district's key. Urick had no regrets about his death as he said he’d be training with General Oror in the afterlife.

* Manah: A mysterious young woman with great magical powers and vast knowledge of the dark arts. Her past is unbeknown to Nowe, who later befriends Manah when he leaves the Knights. Manah seeks to destroy the keys of the five districts in order to free those that suffer under their existence, unaware that she is inadvertently reenacting the events of her childhood. Following her actions resulting in the destruction of the key at the District of Soul Flame, she was branded as a criminal by the Knights of the Seal and sentenced to death, but used her magic in order to escape. As a child, Manah had gone mad and was possessed by the gods, who used her as a means to destroy the world during the events of the original Drakengard. Her past has left her with a traumatic fear of Caim. In Drakengard 2, she unknowingly re-enacts her previous crimes by convincing Nowe and Urick to help her in destroying Angelus's seals, and once again brings the world to chaos, due to the influence of the gods who still held dominion over her. Upon realizing what she has done, she goes mad and is only returned to sanity when Nowe defeats the gods plaguing her mind. In battle, Manah uses staves and is especially effective against magic using enemies, but is weak against monsters.

Manah is also a character that serves as the seal of the watchers whose destruction seems to unleash them into the human world. She also seems to develope feelings for Nowe

Non-playable Characters ::

* The Knights of the Seal: The Knights of the Seal is a military organization founded by Hierarch Verdelet eighteen years ago after the war between the Empire and the Union in order to protect and establish the seals over the world. At first, when Oror was the general of the Knights, their motives were pure and just, but once he was killed and Gismor took his place, the knights only sought to establish their rule. Seere is the current Hierarch over the Knights of the Seal.

* Hierarch Verdelet: Verdelet was the previous Hierarch, whose pact with a dragon rendered him bald. He was the one who performed the sealing ceremony over Angelus in the first Drakengard game and was the one who established the Knights of the Seal in order to prevent the world from falling apart once again eighteen years ago. Three years ago he modified the seal to cause Angelus more pain, but make it stronger. He probably hoped that Angelus couldn't come back to seek revenge, but was killed by Caim in his mission to break the seals and free Angelus. Seere took his place as hierarch.

* Hierarch Seere: The current hierarch and leader of the Knights of the Seal. Although he has the appearance of a six year old child, Seere is actually about twenty-four years old. His time, or his ability to grow old, was the price he paid in entering a pact with the golem. Seere is Manah's twin brother, and he suffers constant guilt because his mother loved him but abused his twin sister. He also seems to possess strong magical potential similar to his sister, but has the added gift of prophecy which Manah does not possess. It was his prophetic visions that led him to Nowe, whom he dubbed the “savior." Although Seere's father was mentioned in the first game, nothing is revealed about him in the second game.

* General Gismor: The current general of the Knights of the Seal and a former member of the Empire. Gismor is shady in nature, lustful for power and control, and he will stop at nothing to achieve absolute power. He attempts to murder Nowe by poisoning him, and also reveals to him that he had a hand in Oror's death by doing the same thing. Before Gismor can finish Nowe off, Nowe reveals his "new breed" powers for the first time in a fit of anger. Gismor loses his right arm in the assault, but he is seen later on the game with a new one courtesy of his pact partner, a shadow. Gismor is secretly the guardian of the District of Heavenly Time.

* General Oror: The late general of the Knights of the Seal, a former Union officer, and foster father to Nowe. He trained both Urick and Nowe and was said to be quite a powerful warrior even without having a Pact-Beast. He is mentioned quite often by many of the characters. He was poisoned when he drank water given to him by General Gismor, but did not succumb to its effects until he entered battle with Caim, who killed Oror in his weakened state. Oror is widely remembered as a just and noble individual and Nowe strove to become more like him and has vowed to avenge his death, which he does.

* Zhangpo: The guardian of the District of Soul Flame, Zhangpo is a man of childish temperament. Weak as a child, he constantly ate food with the goal of growing big and strong until he became a pact partner of an Ifrit, a fire spirit. The price Zhangpo paid for the pact was his ability to eat and taste food, leaving him in a constant state of hunger. When monsters attacked the District of Soul Flame, he sent Manah and a few martyrs inside in order to make sure that the district key had not been disturbed. However, after realizing that Manah intended to destroy the key, he gave pursuit, along with Nowe and Eris. Unable to protect the Flame Dais from Manah's efforts, Zhangpo dies just as Eris and Nowe enter the chamber.

* Hanch: The only female district guardian, Hanch was once a charming girl that the people of her village referred to as "Sunsmile." One day she went on a boat with her friends, an incident that would change her life when she fell into the lake and almost drowned. She made a pact with the sea monster Kelpie in order to survive. The price of her pact was her allure, causing her to become unattractive and unpleasant. She revealed later on that she conspired with Gismor to poison Nowe's water. As the guardian of the District of Hallowed Water, she fights against Nowe and Legna from atop Kelpie, but she proves to be no match for them.

* Yaha: The guardian of the District of Precious Light, Yaha entered a pact with the gnomes, his price being his ability to feel pleasure, but in return was given such dazzling beauty that he could entrance anyone that looked directly into his eyes. He and Urick were once very close to each other, and during the fight with him, Yaha makes comments that hint that he had a romantic interest in Urick in the past. Yaha attempts to defend the district by sending the gnomes and the ent/golem after Nowe and his companions, but when his pact partners are killed by Urick, Yaha's life comes to an end and the district's key is destroyed.

* Caim: Frequently referred to as "The One-Eyed Man," because of the injury he sustained when Manah fleed her captivity, he is an immensely powerful fighter and relentless opponent that wields a massive sword. Caim was the main protagonist of Drakengard, and his pact partner is the red dragon Angelus. He seeks to destroy the district keys in order to free Angelus from her burden as goddess of the seal. Between the events of Drakengard and Drakengard 2, Caim sought revenge by murdering Verdelet, the previous hierarch who was responsible foradjusting the seal on Angelus to put more pressure on her, and the cause of the red dragon's descent into madness. Caim also killed Oror, the former general of the Knights of the Seal and Nowe's adoptive father, as part of his efforts to destroy the keys and break Angelus's seal. Legna says Caim asked Nowe to kill Angelus in order to save the world from her. Nowe, while knowing that Caim had killed his foster father Oror, felt sorry for Caim and Angelus, but reluctantly agreed to grant Caim's request. He has a pact with Angelus, his price being his voice.

* Angelus: The Red Dragon who gave her life to become the final seal in the first game. She is also Caim's pact-partner. When the five keys are broken, she is set free and, maddened by the burden the seal had placed on her, goes on a psychotic rampage to destroy humanity. In reference to what drove her mad, Hierarch Seere explains that the keys of each district were necessary to keep Angelus sealed because the process of sealing a dragon is different from that of a goddess, requiring methods "most cruel." In the end, Nowe and Legna are forced to kill Angelus, which in turn brings about the death of Caim.

Note:Angelus's name in the Japanese versions of Drakengard and Drakengard 2 is "Angel," which is "Legna" spelled backwards.

* The Holy Dragons: The Holy Dragons (also known as the Arch Dragons) are a unique race of dragons that were responsible for the creation of humans. They were originally the rulers of the world after the gods created it but were driven from their place by the gods and are in a constant war with them. They now return to reclaim their place as the rulers of the world by awakening the new breed as their weapon.

* The Nameless/The Gods: The Nameless (known as the Grotesqueries in the previous game) are a pantheon of gods that created the world of Drakengard. They consider themselves its rightful rulers, thinking of humans as nothing more than their "playthings" and the dragons as their "servants". They drove the Holy Dragons from their "Throne" and became gods. They are in a constant war with the Holy Dragons over the rule of the world. The gods were also the Watchers who manipulated Manah and the Cult of the Watchers in Drakengard to destroy the seals, and they attempted to gain control over her again in this game, using her neglected love and guilt to their advantage.

Interesting Facts and Notes ::
* Apparently the gods and the dragons are in a war to determine who will rule this world. The dragons seem to be ruled by angelic entities known as the holy dragons or the arch dragons. The gods seem to be the opposite of the holy dragons as they seem to resort to demonic practices such as possessing Manah, and seem to identify themselves as "I" and "us" interchangeably while speaking through Manah.
* In the first game Angelus evolves into stronger forms, due to her pact with Caim, but in Drakengard 2, she is seen in her second-to-last form since her chaos dragon form could only be acquired on the non-canonical third ending path of Drakengard.
* Keeping with the first game, the map is once again a map of Europe, specifically eastern Europe. Unlike the first game, however, the map has not been flipped.
* The Castle of the Goddess stage is a recreation of one of the stages from the original Drakengard. It was the home of Caim's sister, the former goddess Furiae. The first time the stage is visited during the Drakengard 2 storyline, the player begins just outside the entrance to the goddess's chamber on the top floor.

Posted 10/5/08 , edited 10/6/08
I have yet to play this game... anyone recommend it? lol'z
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