Upon hearing that there was a new "D" game coming out for Dreamcast back in 2000, I was marginally interested since I had played WARP's two previous offerings: "D" (playstation, saturn, 3do) and "Enemy Zero" (saturn). Both D and Enemy Zero were interesting games in the aspect that they were different than any other game I've played and their storylines were just as interesting in that aspect. D2 is no exception to this seeming formula of developer WARP's games, maybe even weirder than usual..... . Again in D2, you play the part of Laura and her cast of recurring characters. This time you are stranded in the snowcovered vastness of Canada and must discover how to get out and what the strange occurances around you are all about...
Graphics: D2 is essentially a first generation title for Dreamcast (released in Q4, 2000 in the US), yet development began in 1997.... So are the graphics of first generation quality? Surprisingly no.... and that's a good thing, because this game is focused mainly on in-game FMV sequences done on the game's engine. The graphics in D2 are pretty much up to par with Shenmue and Shenmue 2's. The character models are extremely well done, colors are vibrant, the landscapes are just gorgeous (especially since they are mostly snowcovered mountain terrain), and there are many other small touches that add to the great quality of the graphical style. Overall, there is nothing I saw lacking in the graphics for D2, as they are very stylistically done and hold up even in today's world of flashiness.
Sound: Each of WARP's games are produced/directed by Kenji Eno, who also happens to be a musician. As a result it seems that WARP games' strongest point is the music. All of WARP's games have been of the "horror/sci-fi" type, so the music selection obviously must help to contribute to the mood of being scared, alone, and the threat of danger around every corner. To sum it up in a few words; D2's music is fantastically done. From the chilling piano to the techno-ish foreboding of danger ahead, all the music is very well done and well suited for each and every event in the game. There is even some singing, and a thematic song/poem, which I think is done very well, contributing to the overall effectiveness of the game's story.
Also, noteworthy to point out is the game's voice acting. For the most part, the voice acting in every WARP title has been exemplary, especially when compared to many of the mainstream offerings of today, and D2 is no exception. The voice acting for the most part is done very well, and some parts are done so well that they are very emotional even for the player. The only gripe I have about the voice acting in all of WARP's games, is the lack of voice synching to the lips of the characters, but that is easily dismissable, and didn't really bother me much.
Gameplay The gameplay for D2 seems to be a culmination of all of WARP's previous work and then some. In order to classify this game, you would have to include many different genres. There is a Myst-like engine similar to that of D and Enemy Zero, a Resident-Evil style "overworld" control scheme, a driving engine for vehicles, a first person shooter-type engine for enemy battles and a certain level of exploring, an RPG element where you gain levels/life/experience and encounter random enemy battles, a puzzle aspect where you have to solve basic puzzles, and even a hunting and camera engine where you can hunt for food and take photos of the beautiful scenery. This plethora of gaming ideas actually doesn't hurt the game much and makes it fairly interesting to play because you are not doing the same thing over and over.... but in all actuality, some of the game mechanics are poorly executed, namely the Resident-evil style control, enemy battles, and driving engine which are all sloppily done and not really much fun to use. The constant running back an forth between objectives can also be a bore. Thankfully the game is split into "levels" so you don't have to backtrack too far.
All-in-all, the gameplay consists of a "go-here-do-that-go-there-do-this" type, which eventually leads you to the end of the game. Also, D2 is extremely story based and you will spend approx. half of your game time watching movies. I found the story to be intriguing and very, very unpredictable, which kept me hooked for the three days it took to beat the game. But for others, this could amount to a snore-fest.
Controls: The controls are easy to learn and fairly basic. When outdoors, they consist of Resident-evil style pushing up on the joystick to go forward. Then, when you encounter an enemy, the view switches to first person and you must aim with your gun in a full 360 degree stationary battle, which surprisingly doesn't get old too quickly. All-in-all, the controls are very solid.
Fun Factor: I had a lot of fun playing D2. The story was the main point which kept me locked in so intently, wanting to know what happens next. I can't say that trekking through the snow-covered mountains of northern Canada in high heels would be fun, but surprisingly it is (maybe a little tedious till you get the snowmobile and can get around faster). The mixture of gaming styles made for quite an interesting game, and it's obvious that the developers put quite a bit of work into this game. The only parts I found uninteresting was taking pictures with the camera (since there is no need to), and hunting (it's a pain in the ass and you really don't need to since you have so many med kits by the end of the game). Other than that, I found the game very enjoyable, yet not very replayable since it is so linear and story-based.
Overall: For many, watching over 2 hours of FMV movies isn't fun and if you found yourself hating either of WARP's two previous offerings steer far away from D2. A word of warning to anyone interested in playing this game; there are some very very graphic scenes in this game, including some nudity and massive amounts of gore (even more so than some RE games), so it deserves is "M" rating. Also, the story is very far fetched, and even confusing at times. This is one of the weirdest games I have ever played (along with Fear Effect 1 and 2) and it leaves you with some questions that still aren't answered by the end of the game (or movie ). The play mechanics are fun and interesting for those that like slow paced games with sometimes half-hour cut scenes. The voice acting is very well done most of the time. Controls are great. Sound is top notch. Yet, replay value is very low (maybe even a 0) and you may have no desire to play this game again for quite some time.... But the first run through is very satisfying, a truly stylistic piece of videogame history that everyone should experience even just once....
Also, this game has one of the coolest last boss encounters of all time IMO..... just getting to the end for the last boss was worth all the work and is very rewarding.