By Steve Baltimore / February 2nd, 2016
|Title||Megadimenson Neptunia V-II|
|Developer||Compile Heart / Idea Factory|
|Publisher||Idea Factory International|
|Release Date||February 2nd, 2016|
The time has finally arrived! After a long wait Megadimension Neptunia V-II has finally arrived on the PS4. I have been captivated by this series since day one. With its quirky sense of humor and no holds barred approach to spoofing the game industry, it quickly became one of my favorite series. Now that this is the first game for the current console gen, it’s time to see if Idea Factory and Compile Heart stepped up their game and created something magical again.
The story begins when Neptune comes across a strange looking retro console that resembles a Dreamcast. Nepgear attempts to fix the console, when all of a sudden the girls are drawn into a mysterious portal. They end up in a another dimension called Zero Dimension. Here a lone CPU, Uzume Tennouboshi, is fighting a lonely battle against an enormous foe, The Dark CPU. Neptune and Nepgear will have to work with Uzume in order to defeat The Dark CPU, save Zero Dimension, and find their way back home.
The overall story is told in a very interesting way. It has been broken down into three sections that represent the different dimensions where the stories take place. You will start out in Zero Dimension, then head back to the all too familiar Hyperdimension, and then head to the Heart Dimension for the thrilling climax. The Hyperdimension section has a story arc for each of the Goddesses. So your favorite Goddess will get her shot at being the protagonist for a little while. I thought this was executed really well and I really felt like I got to know these characters I’ve known for years somewhat better by seeing them on their own.
There is a bit darker tone here than in previous games in the series. Noire’s arc in the Hyderdimension story section is very emotional and will show you a side of Noire you’ve never seen. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of classic Neptunia humor and even a bit of fan service, though. Neptune still breaks the fourth wall often, Nepgear is still the butt of many jokes, and poor Blanc is still flat. Everything series fans have come to know and love is here and better than ever.
The move to the PlayStation 4 means the graphics have seen a substantial upgrade. Not only are all the textures and character models more detailed, everything is in 1080p running at an impressive 60fps. The framerate very rarely shudders, in fact I can only think of one instance on a forest level in Zero Dimension were I could see some framerate issues. There are a lot of new enemies and dungeons this time around. Some of the new monsters are huge in size and have a nice amount of detail. The new dungeon areas look great as well and bring some fresh air into the series.
The most improved area in this entry by far is the soundtrack. The team has put together one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a while. There are plenty of new hard rocking battle tunes, peppy sounding exploration tunes, and even a somber piano track for the heart wrenching moments. There are some fantastic new vocal tracks as well. Each story section has its own opening and closing theme and each is simply amazing. While I always found the vocal tracks for the series great, I felt the overall soundtrack was somewhat lacking. They have very much corrected that this time around. The English voice cast has done another fantastic job as well. Also, now that monsters are voiced in English, I have to give Idea Factory International additional props. The Dragons and Dolphin type monsters sound evil as hell folks, great job. There is more voiced here than in previous series entries, but it could always have more. I was unable to check out the Japanese audio as it will be day one free DLC.
The gameplay has also been revamped with many improvements to an already great system. Combat has seen various changes, such as there is no armor gauge now, EXE Drive meters will only last for the current battle, and the combo system has been altered. The basics of the combo system are the same. There is still Rush, Power, and Standard attacks. However, the moves you have will be determined by the weapon you have equipped. For example, one weapon may have 4 rush moves, but only one power move. If that were the case you may not get as much damage out of that weapon but the EXE Drive meter would fill much faster. You can get three or maybe even all four levels filled with a single rush combo if the weapon has enough moves.
The way dungeons work hasn’t changed much in this entry. Maps are still pretty straightforward with enemies visible on the screen. There are no harvest items this time around however. The scouts have you covered for those, but we’ll talk more about them later. You can also break certain items in the dungeon now. These are usually boxes, barrels, or even some old capsule machines. You will have to develop an item to do this and upgrade it later in the game to gain access to certain areas in the dungeons. While you will recognize some dungeons from previous titles there are quite a few news ones that have been added.
You move around in battle just like in previous series titles. However, locations play a much greater role this time around. If you attack an enemy from the back or the side you will get a better hit rate and more damage. I think this was the case in the previous game as well, but the effect is much greater now. Your placement on the battlefield will allow you to do new Formation Skills as well. These skills are performed by placing certain characters around an enemy in specific locations. Usually this is a Triangle, Square, or Straight Line. Aline marker will show up when you are standing in the proper location.
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