Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 is the sequel to SMT: Devil Survivor, coming to NA on Feb 28, 2012. It's likely to be the last turn based tactics game for the DS and will be a solid end to an excellent library of tactics games.
As I've mentioned before, Devil Survivor 2 plays very much like the original Devil Survivor. The game engine is the same, the menus are the same, and the time based plot progression with multiple endings is the same. It's still a SRPG where two units engaging in combat enter a sub-screen where a typical menu based 3v3 battle takes place to decide combat results. Recruiting and fusing demons to fight with is still central to customization and combat. Combat mechanics are almost identical with a few changes that only hardcore Devil Survivor fans will appreciate. Of course, there are new skills, over 200 recruitable demons, new allies, and new enemies to dig into.
So what's different this time around? There's the Enishi system, where your party members gain in friendship and trust as you make appropriate dialogue choices, granting you combat bonuses and access to more demon fusions. Your party members friendship rating determines whether you'll have access to their ending route(s). That's an improvement over Devil Survivor's ending routes, which required a dozen seemingly random and easy to miss dialogue choices.
The plot is similar to Devil Survivor, featuring the same 7 day time limit, demon summoning, and a device that predicts future calamities that your party must try to avert. It isn't a direct sequel to Devil Survivor, though. There are some oddly shaped beings and shady plot devices thrown into the mix, as well. As apocalyptic as the plot is, it feels lighter and more fanservice oriented this time around, with more jokes, more campy humor, and larger bust sizes.
On to the combat mechanic changes, which only the devoted Devil Survivor fans will appreciate. Skill cracks, the mechanic by which you target an enemy's skill and defeat them to learn that skill, is now easier because the main character and anyone with Enishi level 2 or higher can share their skill crack targets, instead of being limited to one party member per skill target. Instead of end of combat battle results and the magnetite skill swap system, you earn fusion pieces which can be used in demon fusion to add perks like new skills or bonus stats to your newly fused demon. Demon racial abilities can be leveled up to an improved version, giving a bit more incentive to stick with an aging demon or level it up. The 4 main stats have been altered slightly, with STR and MAG providing some physical and magical defense, respectively.
I can't say much about the campaign at this point as I haven't played much of it yet, but the party max is still 4, which I'm a bit disappointed with. There still doesn't seem to be much going on in the non-boss fights. I also think the addition of directional facing would have made the overhead grid portion of combat more interesting rather than a thin excuse to get you into the 3v3 fights. You can also expect the usual optional bosses that require lots of grinding and maybe even some strategy.
Other improvements over Devil Survivor include the addition of video clips, a demon compendium, and an end of game scoring system that's similar to the Tales of X franchise, allowing you to spend points on New Game+ carryovers. The latter two were added to Devil Survivor: Overclocked, so it's nice to see them included here. I'm not sure if there's an easy mode. The music is still good, with a mix of rock and some jazzy pieces.
Overall if you liked the original Devil Survivor, you'll like Devil Survivor 2. It's competitively priced at $30 so it's worth the purchase for turn based tactics game fans.
You can find the same preview
on my blog with a few extra youtube links.