The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II PS4 Review
A few months ago, the Trails series made its PS4 debut in the West with a remaster of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, on which we were quite positive. Now, it’s time for Trails of Cold Steel II to join its predecessor in preparation of the much-anticipated Trails of Cold Steel III this Fall. We previously reviewed both the original release and the PC port of Trails of Cold Steel II, and now it’s time to take a look at how this PS4 remaster fares.
Just like the previous PS4 port, this version of the game is your typical remaster, with a bump in resolution and a 60 fps framerate target. For the most part, it accomplishes that goal just like you would expect, but unfortunately, there are a few issues this time with framerate that are both surprising and disappointing. It’s hard to tell exactly what causes it, but in certain moments performance simply tanks quite noticeably. Our review was played on a PlayStation 4 Pro in 1080p.
Sometimes the framerate drops when there is a lot of mist in the area, other times it is when hologram-like effects are used for scenes, and at times it’s just when there are flames or other sparkly animations on screen. This can happen during combat, while exploring, and even during cutscenes. It is most distracting when you have a scene that goes from 60 fps to Playstation Vita numbers and back due to how the camera pans over various effects happening in view. This all might not be a dealbreaker, but it still is a shame, since this wasn’t the case in the remaster of the first Cold Steel title.
Fortunately, that is the only significant problem this remaster has in terms of technical issues, and otherwise, the quality of the game itself is top notch. Everything added in the PC port of Cold Steel makes a return: the ever useful turbo mode, the ability to bring a save from the PS3 and Vita versions of the game, the Japanese voice cast, and even the DLC costumes are usable in the game.
Outside of the additions that come with the PS4 port, Cold Steel II itself has several gameplay improvements over its predecessor that make the experience even more entertaining and pleasant. Fast travel is vastly improved, especially in the most tedious areas of the game, combat is more versatile thanks to new mechanics that allow more strategic use of your turns, and even the minigames present in the previous game have been expanded. As any good sequel should, Cold Steel II has an answer to almost every complaint you could have about its predecessor.
That right there is an important detail: Cold Steel II is a direct sequel. While the game has a section for you to catch up with the main events of the previous title, this story picks up immediately after the end of Trails of Cold Steel, and the refreshers that it offers you are not enough if you come without knowledge of those events and the characters involved. As accessible as the game still is as an RPG experience, most of the satisfaction you could get from its truly great story will be lost if you haven’t experienced Cold Steel before jumping into this game.
That being said, the narrative of Cold Steel II also brings a different issue to light that has become sort of an elephant-in-the-room ahead of Cold Steel III’s release later this year. While both Trails of Cold Steel I & II can be enjoyed on their own and the two of them together make for a good entry point to the Trails series, they also plant seeds for the future that will undoubtedly involve knowledge of the other past games in the series, some of which haven’t been localized yet.
This isn’t exactly an issue with the game itself and it comes with the nature of a series with a level of storytelling this ambitious, but it does become noticeable in this specific game considering the places the story goes. We will experience the extent of this when Cold Steel III comes out in the West this Fall, but at the very least Cold Steel II makes it clear that the future of the Trails series involves more than just the Cold Steel subseries.
Still, Trails of Cold Steel II is an incredible experience. Despite its unfortunate performance issues, this sequel is better than its predecessor in almost every way. Just like with its predecessor, it’s hard to think of a reason to not pick up this version of the game if you can’t play it on PC. Now that both games are available on a PS4, there hasn’t been a better time to play them if you ever had even a passing interest in them. And just like I said in my review of the PS4 version of Trails of Cold Steel: the Trails series is well worth your time.