We really rather liked The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. This simply-titled sequel slaps a 2 on the end and gets to work, iterating on and solidly improving an already fantastic battle system.
Battles are more interesting than ever thanks to the addition of overdrive and mecha Divine Knight battles, but the game does drag its feet narratively, with its story taking a while to get going. Despite this the journey is ultimately worth seeing through to its conclusion thanks to an excellent final act that sets up what is likely to be incredible conclusion to Falcom's latest trilogy.
It should go without saying, but for better or worse we should probably state it: playing the original Trails of Cold Steel is really required to fully appreciate the events of Cold Steel 2. Furthermore, having knowledge of the Trails in the Sky games will only enhance your experience with this entry. This game could work just fine stand-alone, but there's a lot of neat references to the events of past games that'll reward longer-term fans.
This sort of dedication to the series can work as a negative too: unfortunately, there are also plenty of direct references to the Crossbell games - games that have yet to receive an English release. For most Western fans these references are of course useless and reveal elements of these games' stories that might constitute as spoilers if they're ever belatedly localized.
With that said, Trails of Cold 2 can still be enjoyed and understood by anyone who has played the prior game and once again the writing is as fantastic as is expected of the series, thanks in part to another great localization effort by XSeed. The level of world building seen throughout this series is unparalleled, and Cold Steel 2 does much to continue and further the ongoing saga in Zemuria, the continent that the "Trails of" titles take place in.
For fans of the previous Legend of Heroes games and especially the first Trails of Cold Steel, picking up Trails of Cold Steel 2 is a no-brainer easy recommendation. While this sequel is unevenly paced and lacks shocking plot twists until the conclusion, the Trails of Cold Steel games are some of the best of the genre and well worth a look for most hardcore RPG fans.
Even those more dubious might find something to love thanks to a frantic and fun battle system, incredible music and a masterfully crafted world setting. I for one am left eagerly waiting to see what this series has in store in the future.
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.