Review by Xboxlover2

Reviewed: 01/05/06

An underrated sequel to one of the greatest Neo Geo fighting games.

'Excellency.' 'Perfectness.' 'A work of art.' All of these words can be used to describe the masterpiece that is known as The Last Blade 2 for the Neo Geo. Sadly, the Last Blade series never quite reached the popularity of some of the other fighting games made by SNK, such as The King of Fighters and the Samurai Shodown games, but it still stands as one of my favorite fighting games. Trust not what the off-site reviews for this game say, this game is one of the best Neo Geo fighters to have ever been released. Do not group this in with the flood of Neo Geo fighting games that were released during the console's lifetime, because this game is on a level of it's own. The original Last Blade was a great game of it's own, but Last Blade 2 improves on the original in ways I would have never thought possible.

Gameplay
Most of the reviews for Last Blade 2 criticized the game for having being very unbalanced. That is, to say, some characters are much more stronger than the others. Well, that is one area where I cannot argue with them. It's true, some of the characters are so much better than certain other ones. But this doesn't really detract from the gameplay, because this game requires skill. You can use Kaede to completely decimate Akari, but if you don't know what the heck you're doing, the tide of the battle can turn as quickly as you can say "boo." Button mashing can lead you to a quick and painless (or painful, depending on who's killing you :P) death.

The Speed and Power character modes return from the original game, along with a new EX mode. If you haven’t played the original, I recommend that you do so before playing this one. I’ll still give a short description of the modes however. The Last Blade 2 offers you the choice of playing your character in three different ways: Speed, Power, or EX. Playing your character in Speed Mode would make him/her very fast, meaning that you can run fast, attack fast, even chain attacks together into combos. However, your attacks aren’t very strong in Speed Mode. Power Mode is pretty much the opposite. Your attacks are very powerful, but you aren’t too fast. EX Mode is a combination of Speed and Power, meaning you can attack quickly with very powerful attacks. However, your defense is weakened in this mode.

All of the characters from the original game return, along with a couple of fresh new faces. Setsuna is a rage-filled spirit from the underworld, out to destroy mankind. Kouryu was once a father figure to Yuki, Kaede, and Moriya, but he has since gone insane. Mukuro is the (un)dead version of Shikyo from the original game, even more powerful than before. Hibiki is the daughter of a late blades master who had sent her out on a quest to find a man with silver hair. Finally, Koujirou is a woman disguised as her late brother trying to find her brother’s killer. The stories don’t make much sense right now, but you have to play the game yourself to see how they all tie in together. However, you will be amazed at the depth of the story - especially considering that this is a fighting game. This is not an exaggeration; you will feel as if you are watching an anime or playing an RPG when playing this game.

Graphics and Sound
Once again, SNK does not disappoint in this department. For a seven-year old game originally released on the Neo Geo, it still looks great when playing it now. There is so much detail on the characters. I am not joking, I was just in awe when I saw the graphics. I had to double check to make sure I was playing a Neo Geo game! The stages are very elegantly designed, and each of them are accompanied by a soundtrack that is very fitting and suited for the location. The Last Blade series is quite possibly the only fighting game series that really immersed me in the game. The design and sound will just draw you in.

Replayability
As with the first game, The Last Blade 2 is not your ordinary fighting game. It actually has a real story, and not only that, the story actually makes sense. Each of the characters have their own reasons for fighting, so a one-time play through of the game will not get you the whole story. You really need to play through it with all of the characters to understand everything. And replaying the game isn’t too difficult a task considering how great the gameplay is along with the stellar graphics and sounds department.

Recommendation
This is a definite buy. Before buying this game, I recommend getting the original and beating it with all of the characters so that you can get the feel of the story in this one. I am a bit angry that this game is so underrated considering how great it is. It’s as if people can’t appreciate near-perfection. This game is a must-have for any fighting game fans’ libraries.

Rating: 9

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