Review by Psycho Penguin

"One of the best games I have ever played, full of innovation."

Introduction

With the release of Final Fantasy 8, people didn't pay much attention to Star Ocean 2 when it was being developed. Even I didn't pay attention to this game, as I was eagerly awaiting the release of Lunar: SSSC. When I read good reviews about the game, I decided to rent it out. Boy, was I surprised!! This is clearly the best RPG on the Playstation, and is one of my favorite games of all time!!

Storyline (9.1/10)

The storyline in the game is great, and I think that Enix did a great job in making a quality and easy to understand storyline. The cool part of the game is the fact that there are actually two separate storylines in the game, one for both main characters. While the storylines aren't too unique from one another, they still are pretty well written.

Claude Kenny: The storyline in Claude's game is incredible. It starts off with Cluade being sent into this strange world, and this is the first time he meets Rena. This storyline deals a lot with force fields, as the first force field is the cause of Claude's problems to begin with. Also, this storyline deals a lot with Claude's father, and the personal problems between Claude and his father. it really gets intense after a while, especially in the later parts of the game. Overall, the storyline in Claude's part of the game is really good.

Rena Lanford: The storyline in Rena's section is a lot like the storyline in Claude's section, but it focuses on different things besides the force fields, etc. This storyline instead deals with a meteroite which has crashed and has been dubbed as ''The Sorcery Globe''. This storyline is quite good but I do not feel that it is up to par with the storyline in Claude's section. Regardless, the storyline overall is still pretty good.

Overall,the storyline in the game is very well written and intriguing. It has plenty of plot twists which kept me interested into what happens next. The game is also quite large, and it never seemed to drag because the storyline was always so interesting. Definitely one of the better storylines in a Playstation RPG (and there have been a lot of great storylines in PSX role playing games)

Graphics (7.3/10)

The prerendered backgrounds in the game are really well done, and the light sourcing in the towns is great. The attention to detail by Enix and Tri Ace clearly show in the backgrounds of the major places in the game. Now, onto the bad. The charcaters are UGLY 2D sprites, with little or no animation. And the battle scene graphics aren't that great, either.

Character designsin the game are not so good. They are okay, but the problem is that they are 2D sprites with little animation. Therefore, they really look terrible once you get into battle. Outside of battle, I have little problem with the character designs. The two main characters in the game look very nicely designed, and I like the way that Bowman is designed. Overallthe character designs in the game are good, outside of battle. They lose quality once inside a battle.

Enemy designsin the game are pretty good, but not great, in my opinion. I like the fact that there is a variety of enemy designs in the game. Unlike most RPGs, where the same enemy repeats but with a different color, there is a lot of different enemy designs in the game. Overall, the enemy designs in the game have a great variety to them and are overall very good.

Overall, the graphics in the game are quite good. The world map graphics aren't up to par (it uses this 3D mode which really doesn't look great) and the character animations are lacking during battle, but overall the graphics are still above average.

Music/Sound Effects (8.6/10)

Some of the music in this game is just incredible, and rivals the Final Fantasy series soundtracks. However, the battle music and the character speeches during battle quickly get annoying and repetitive.

Musicin the game is top notch. I especially like some of the music inside caves and other dungeons. It has a very nice beat to it that I still can remember and hum to. The battle theme is a theme that I have mixed feelings about. It is definitely a great battle theme, and it has a certain beat to it that is very effective. However, it did get a little annoying after a while. In my opinion, the battle theme in an RPG is one of the most important thing in a RPG, because you will hear it a lot. Overall, the music in the game is great but a little repetitive.

Sound effect wise, the sound effects in the game are decent but nothing spectacular. Most of the sound efefcts occur during battle. The main problem with the sound effects in the game are the character dialouge. The voice acting during this is below average and can border on annoying at times. Stuff like ''That's worth maybe 80 points!'' and ''Oh oh, looks like we're in for a fight!'' is cool at first but soon gets a little annoying. I like the fact that there is dailouge in the start of battle, during battle, and the end of battle. Overall, the sound effects in the game are decent, but the voice acting is below average.

Overall, the music and sound effects in the game are decent. The music is great but the sound effects border on just plain annoying, especially the damn voice acting during battles.

Control (7.9/10)

It is easy to move from menu to menu, which is always important in a RPG. However, there are a few shortcomings. A minor complaint is that the battle controls will take a wehile for you to get used to them. A MAJOR complaint is the walking on the world map. That rotating camera sometimes forces you to lose track of what direction you are travelling in, which gets incredibly frustrating. Overall, the control in the game is pretty good, but the problems with the camera system in the overworld map are unacceptable.

Gameplay (9.7/10)

Star Ocean: The Second Story is a very interesting game in terms of public acceptance. A lot of people love it. A lot of people don't. The game is really that different. It is a lot like the basic RPG but there is a few differences too, mainly in the battle systems, the skills system, and the private actions which have never really been seen in a Playstation RPG before.

The battle system is cool and features real time which is cool. I really like the battle system in the game. There are over 80 endings to the game, but none are that different from each other. I don't know about you, but I am not going to spend 50 hours just to get a different 5 second scene during the ending. You get a different amount of characters, and you can choose who you want to choose during the adventure, which depends on the ending.

The skills sytem is cool also, and after every level up you get skill points, which can be used towards skills like cooking and alchemy. It is very easy to level up, too. And finally Private Actions. You can choose to do a Private Action when you enter a town. The Private Actions help a lot when it comes to the overall game because the storyline and ending changes depending on what private actions you do and don't do.

Overall, Star Ocean The Second Story is a different kind of game, but it is still a great RPG nevertheless.

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Other Important Scores
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Replay Value: High


The major focus in Enix's advertising of the game is the fact that is has 80 endings. problem is, they don't realize that most people (including me) is going to play through a game 80 times just to see some minor differences in the ending (oh look, Rena handed him the item this time!). Regardless, the replay value is still high, mainly because the game is so much fun to play!

Challenge: Medium

The game almost borders on a high difficulty level, but it doesn't quite make it to the next level. The big challenge with the game is the fact that the game has an extremely high length. Yes, this is probably one of the longest RPGs on the Playstation. And there are some tough bosses and enemies in the game also. Especially them damn blue birds towards the end of the game. Overall, the challenge is decent.

GOOD POINTS
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-Pretty much everything
-Outstanding skills system
-Over 80 endings

BAD POINTS
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-No one is going to play the game 80 times
-This is a longggggggg RPG
-It can get quite complex at times.

Overall (9.7/10)

This is one of my favorite RPGs on the Playstation. Don't listen to those who gave this game a low score. Star Ocean 2 rocks!!!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/08/00, Updated 07/16/01


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