Let's just get this out of the way, this game has nothing to do with the first D. Sega's release of Warp's four disc D2 is proof that composer-turned-director Kenji Eno is both a genius and a maniac. The first D, a Myst-style RPG, didn't offer much in way of story, gameplay or enemies so nobody (myself included) gave a shit about Laura or her old man. Four years after the original D2 (which itself is now 6 and a half years old) fortunately the second outing improves upon its predecessor in every possible way. However it isn't entirely unlike its predecessor, it too has flaws.
In D2 you play as Laura, a businesswoman who looks more like a tourist and ends up being something of a world savior. Laura inexplicably seems to live in a universe where she's completely mute, but no one ever asks "hey Laura, why the hell won't you just say something?" She does talk by the way, "off camera." Another inexplicable Warp quirk, I guess. The game covers a lot of crazy fantasy/science territory, starting with the hijacking of the plane Laura's on by two violent terrorists, and then heading (literally - the plane crashes) into the arctic wilderness of Canada, which also houses some local research centers and a lot of important clues as to why the dead passengers are turning into monsters and why Laura's compact just happens to glow like the doorway in Poltergeist.
Once the game starts, it's up to you and your friend Kimberly Fox to figure out why people are turning into hideous monsters, how they're going to find help, and how Laura survived eight days in the snow without a blanket.
The minute you step out of the cabin where the game begins, you'll experience the best and the worst parts of the game all at once. It's incredibly beautiful (for the time anyway, but it still holds up well), with the snow drifts misting around you realistically, the vehicles and objects full of extraordinary detail, and the monsters are full of gory details. Unfortunately, once you start trudging, you'll also experience the monotony and snail-pacing that bog this game down. I can answer the first question you'll be asking already - yes, you'll have to walk all the way over there, and then all the way back, and then all the way to that other place and then all the way back to the first place, again. Twice. Snow may look pretty at first, but once you start hiking through it for twenty minutes, it quickly loses its appeal. What makes matters worse is that Warp seems to enjoy cut scenes so much that even the non-boring (aka non-walking) parts of the game are made just that by having to show you, in interminable detail, every little action undertaken by Laura. Every first aid spray she finds in a drawer, every object she notices, and every door she opens must be played out in 10 to 15 second cut scenes.
As for story, this is one of the most adult games I have ever played, with a plotline that covers everything from poetry and evolution to drug addiction, and told with a sobriety and violence more shocking than your average Quentin Tarantino film. Add to that the insane amount of phallic references in the game, and you've got yourself a console title that has truly been made for adults - which may be why there's just so much damn dialogue in the game.
The storyline may have worked if the pacing were better, but it seems as though Sega spent all of their time making sure that the tentacle sex wasn't visible, completely ignoring the seconds upon seconds of dead space that pads every phrase, sentence, or monologue. If the voice acting was completely out of sync with the character's lips, it might have worked better then what D2 delivers in its final American form. Characters will sync up with the spoken dialogue for a moment or two, and then suddenly slide completely out of sync, the most classic example being when a character's lips move before and after a sentence for one or two seconds.
Combat is a mixed bag, for the first few fights, you'll be excited by the mixture of classic RPG gameplay with first person action. To kill the bloomers, you'll have to aim at their weak points, react quickly to their movements, and know when to reload your weapons without leaving yourself open to attacks. Unlike most shooters, however, you can also take the time to cycle through your inventory and use health sprays and meat, or change the gun you'd like to use. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the battles (which is unavoidable considering their simplicity) won't you're your interests for long. There just isn't enough complexity or variety to keep you interested, especially when your only joy after finishing a battle is in knowing that you'll have to walk through snow again for another five minutes or more.
As for the adventure elements, it's mostly a matter of simply writing down a number in one area, or finding a key, and bringing it to another area. If you have the item that is needed to progress, then Laura will automatically bring it out, taking away most of the challenge, and leaving you with a Myst interface and speed without any of the brain numbing puzzles.
D2 ends up with all the worst aspects of a badly translated foreign film - it doesn't quite make sense, the lips never sync up right, and the pacing will bore you to tears. While there was definitely potential in the way that Warp wanted to tell the story of D2, the end product suffers specifically because of the game's dependence on dragging you through every tiny detail of the plot. Despite its minimal and haunting score, despite some very mature subject matter, and despite some of the best graphics to hit the Dreamcast, D2 turns out to be mediocre.