Quick Review: Disgaea D2- Regardless of how good or bad Disgaea D2 is, you shouldn't buy it because it has a frequent freezing bug. I got the point where I was saving after every single battle because I was running into it so frequently. After it froze as I was delivering the final blow to the boss of a rather annoying fight, I hit the Internet for help and this is the closest thing to a workaround I found on GameFAQs: "Load your save from the title screen, then go into the main menu when in-game and go to the save menu and load your save a second time, hence double loading." That did seem to help but not even doing that and disabling all of the move animations cured it because the game can still lock up just from having two enemies stand next to each other and executing a team attack. That's totally unacceptable for a paid product. It's not like this was hard to reproduce either. I got it multiple times in a single day and sometimes in the very first battle after loading the game. But, if they ever do fix the game so it actually works properly, below is what you can expect.
My history with the Disgaea series is that I rather liked Disgaea 1, but didn't care about the rest of the games. I have some of the Disgaea 2 comics, rented 3 and hated the characters so I returned it the same day, played one of Prinny PSP games and thought it was lousy, and then never touched 4 or any of the remakes. Disgaea is a series with great style and a fantastic universe but terrible gameplay and very little fun to be had from actually playing it. For D2, the sprites look fantastic and the animations the characters have are usually lively and cute. The nice 2D art's juxtaposition with the mediocre 3D models is mighty odd though. If you're going to go through the work of drawing and animating the seemingly hundreds of characters in these games, couldn't you have somebody draw some actual environment pieces? The main story isn't as interesting as the first game's, though. Once D2 gets to the ending, it just kind of ends without a real satisfying resolution. The side characters aren't nearly as interesting either. One character is there to seemingly explain Laharl's fear of sexy ladies but the rest of the cast is pretty underwhelming with little more than a single gimmick to their being and the game doesn't have any of the emotional highs like Disgaea 1's pink Prinny mission. The game's story just seems to... be. It occasionally provides a flimsy justification for why you're getting into battles, but it doesn't really do that well.
Because of the randomness in the battle system, your level always trumps strategy or skill. One round you might do 90 damage to an enemy and then do 900 the next from the same position against the same enemy with the same move without any real explanation and that doesn't sit well with me in a supposed strategy game. If I can't tell what my characters are going to do or if you're using an accuracy stat in your game, a lot of strategy just goes out of the window. Accuracy values drop drastically as well, to the point that some enemies' whole gimmick is just that they're hard to hit. Even when my lead character was 2,000 levels stronger than the enemy, there was still only a 50% chance that the attack would land. I was so much stronger than that enemy that it was doing 0 damage to me, but it still took me several rounds to kill it because multiple party members missed on every attack. Enemies can also have special skills that reduce the damage of your class or sex, so until you get so overwhelmingly strong, some characters just randomly stop being useful because the game has decided that Enemy X takes drastically reduced damage from women. Hitting a difficulty spike doesn't make you stop and rethink your strategy, it just makes you go back and grind out 10/100/500 extra levels and then go for it again.
To experience the late game content, Disgaea basically becomes a spreadsheet. A boring spreadsheet of digging into the minutiae of every unnecessary feature to min/max your character's stats to absurd levels with hours and hours of grinding on top of it. I played up until a bonus stage with a boss that took 0% damage unless you had a full team combo and grinding up enough characters to be able to survive for a few rounds against that just wasn't worth it. I had two characters at double the boss's level but since I just had those two, they were useless against the boss. Disgaea would be so much more fun if they got rid of all that junk and all the time wasters. I like customizing my characters with their traits and specialties, while I loathe trying to figure out the reincarnation system to do cycles of grinding and stat bonuses or messing around with all the side content that just revolves around different ways to grind. Having to level up your shop, leveling up each spell individually per character, leveling up each weapon type individually per character, grinding characters you'll never use again to unlock a new job class, Item World, the Senate, and on and on aren't the reasons to like Disgaea, they're the crap you put up with to get to five minutes of the stuff that you actually enjoy. The Disgaea series has really been the product of a team of great art directors, artists, musicians, and writers hampered by godawful game designers. It's still a pain to just go back and get the alternate endings. I got the best ending on my first run through, but to see the alternate endings, you have to jump back to the beginning of the game (which also resets some customization and settings or takes away bonus characters or levels you've unlocked), fight until you get to the boss fight with an alternate path, get the new ending, and then jump back to the beginning again and repeat that over and over. They should have given you the ability to jump to a specific chapter once you got the best ending. You typically unlock the alternate endings by losing a fight, so by getting the best ending, you've already proven that you've mastered this chapter and forcing you to slog through it multiple times only detracts more from a game bogged down with so much garbage. I think I'd just like Disgaea to be a movie or comic following around Laharl's squad because I still love the characters and universe but the game itself actively tries to make you bored and bitter.