Review by Shogain
"Maybe it's not wise to spend that $40."
Ah, Star Ocean. A beloved RPG series loved by many, and hated by many. Me? I'd say I'm in between. Star Ocean: Second evolution is an enhanced port from the playstation version, with various additions. Such include anime portraits, polished battle sprites, voiced scenes, and a new character. It also has new private actions, and name changes. Anyways, Second Evolution is the second main entry of the Star Ocean series.
Story - [5.5/10]
Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a mess of RPG cliches and tons of useless dialogue. When you start the game, it lets you decide if you want to pick Claude or Rena as the main lead. Since I picked Claude, I should tell you his side of the story. Basically, he was on an expedition mission with his crew, when suddenly, he was transported from a portal to the planet Expel. This is where he meets the other main character, Rena, and so forth. Basically, the townspeople in Rena's town think Claude is the Hero of Light, who is destined to save them from the Sorcery Globe. The Sorcery Globe is a mysterious object that fell from space, to the continent of Ell. Since then, monsters have been attacking people, and disasters such as tremors happen frequently. Then you start your adventure with Rena and continue the story. In my opinion, the story is just bad as the explanation I wrote. It doesn't even get interesting at all, even until the end. What's even worse is the dialogue. Not only are they full of stuff you don't wanna read, they're so casual. You'll hear Claude saying What? Why? How? everytime someone explains something, instead of them just explaining it as a whole instead of getting interrupted by a question. What makes the matter worse are the massive amounts of voiced cut-scenes. The voice acting is good, however, but the dialogue doesn't do it any justice. The characters are also boring, and the only characters that really develop are Claude and Rena. The other 11 characters you can recruit into the party barely say anything at all in the story cutscenes. You'll hear them say the occasional, "What the hell?", "Huh". It's so random, it's not even funny. The only way to know more about the other 11 characters are these things called Private Actions. Now, Private Actions, are side scenes that you trigger in a town. These events are sometimes entertaining, but not really worth watching. Private actions are when the characters interact with each other, mainly Claude. Whether it be Bowman, treating a girl with an illness, or Opera calming Leon down, it's all just a bunch of scenes you'd rather not waste time on. To finally conclude this section, I shall say that the story is horrible. The villains are horrible as well. You'll understand when you play the game. But anyways, I rate the story a 5.5 out of 10.
Bonus: The story has some neat sci-fi stuff in it though, especially if your into stuff like Xenosaga.
Gameplay - [9.3/10]
What can I say? The gameplay is downright fun and addicting. Not only is it not turn-based, it's an action RPG. This means you can control your character and others, instead of commands. But anyway, the combat system is very fun, and easy to get into. You got the close combat fighters, the healers and Symbological magic users at the tips of your fingers. Battles are usually fast, and quick at the same time. As you level your characters up, you gain new moves, better stats, and so forth. Some stuff I didn't explain were skills that you unlock through SP. These include variety of stuff such as Knife(Which increases your strength, and the ability to cook), Godspeed(Increase the speed of your movement in battle), and a bunch of other stuff that enhances the gameplay. In my opinion, the gameplay is pretty much the strongest point of Star Ocean: Second Evolution, and keeps the player still playing through to the end. The difficulty is balanced pretty well, but you automatically start on easy mode though. Boss fights are intense, but you tend to overwhelm by cornering them on your first playthrough. In the end, I think that the gameplay should deserve a 9.3 out of 10.
Graphics - [6.5/10]
I'll be honest here, and straight forward. The sprites are pretty damn ugly looking. They look a bit rushed, and Rena's eyes are just small as hell. But, everything else is pretty good. The background is done well, the towns look okay, but it felt a bit too plain. I didn't like the environments so much that I wouldn't memorize them. In battle, everything looks like an intense fight, with bright magic spells, and brutal attack moves. Overall, the graphics in the game isn't even bad as I say it is. Overall, I give the graphics a 6.5 out of 10.
Sound/Music - [7.5/10]
First off, I'll talk about the sound. Sound effects are done pretty well, and captures the devastating force of the spells in battle. I didn't have any problems with the sound. Voice acting is pretty good, and you can fairly get used to it right away. Claude's voice could've been a little deeper, but somehow, the new VA fits him pretty well. Anyways, the music is so-so. Nothing too memorable or whatever. Town music tend to loop often with the same peaceful melody. But, I did like the battle themes in this game. They fit the battles pretty well, but really, they aren't that great. It seems I'm being a bit too harsh here, but, maybe you'll like it. The pacing of the music is done very well, however. In conclusion, I give this section a 7.5 out of 10.
Final Word -
Hmmmm, should you buy this? I did thoroughly enjoy the battle system and whatnot, but the overly bad story did bother me. If you don't mind a mediocre story, with great gameplay, then Star Ocean: Second Evolution is the game for you. It does have a lot of replay value, and the battles never get old. I'd say, buy it if you want to complete your Star Ocean collection, and whether you like it or not, it's up to you. To finish this review off, I think Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a decent entry to the PSP's rpg library.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/20/09
Game Release: Star Ocean: Second Evolution (US, 01/19/09)
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