Review by untrustful
Emergency Code: Beat Up Some Monsters
Phantasy Star Online 2 has finally been released after the many year gap between it and Phantasy Star Online. There's been definite improvements in almost all aspects of the game. It's definitely more massive in the MMORPG sense than PSO1 which was more of a MORPG, and has many improvements that topple the original. This game won't win over those who have an exclusive die-hard love for the original, but most everyone else will definitely love it.
This game does inherit certain gaming elements from Phantasy Star Universe, which some original PSO players may not like very much, such as photon arts replacing special attacks, the "tying" of normal and hard attacks based on timed button presses (instead of both attacks having separately assigned buttons), and the fluid-like combat. Controls are very easy to master, and can be reassigned if need be. This game also supports the use of a gaming controller. Each class (hunter, ranger, and force at the time of this review) has a different play style in terms of combat. Hunters are required to learn enemy patterns if they wish to not be dead, it's a very active class with very little time to pause. Rangers have a much easier time, keeping to medium distance from enemies, their launcher weapon provides excellent crowd control. Forces are something of a mixed bag. They can use magic from far distances, but they're very weak physically, and in order to maintain their PP gauge for magic, they either have to strike enemies physically with a weak weapon, or wait it out until the gauge refills itself (very boring).
The game's story is still being fleshed out at the time of this review, but there is some basic details that can be covered. This game takes place in the far distant future, where space warps and robots are commonplace. You play as a character who works for the organization ARKs, which is presumably responsible for the safety of space society and several planets which may provide a hospitable habitat for the space society. The main antagonistic enemy of the known universe is called Darkers. Darkers are unholy monsters which spread around like bugs through warping space and possibly time, killing and devouring whatever is in their path. After your first encounter with the enemy, you eventually meet up with a mysterious scientist who seems to exist outside space and time. This scientist requests your aid in fixing the timeline by altering or encountering certain events which trigger a more beneficial timeline for the universe. There's several key points to take a note of when you first play if you plan to connect this time traveling adventure. Where some see depth, others can see obstruction by confusion.
The graphics and sound are absolutely brilliant. Some music in the game has callbacks to certain tunes in the original PSO. Graphically, this game has a large spread. A fraction of those who have PCs capable of playing the original PSO will be surprised to find they can play this game as well. However, the game has so much more graphical potential than the minimum settings. Certain textures get extra detail, extra decorative features are present in enemies and areas on higher settings, and shadows and weapon photons are "cooler". The music is something that changes as certain atmosphere conditions are met. If you're alone with no enemies around, the music is peaceful, if there are enemies, the music steps up to match, and if you happen to activate a "Photon.Sensitive.Effect." (PSE Burst), the music gets even crazier.
This game has many objectives to complete, and has tons of replay value. The majority of the time, your finishing missions one after the other, while completing client orders in between them. You'll constantly be in motion, leaving little room to be bored. However, the current gap between character levels 20-31 is where the game gets a bit painful with the grinding. Collectors will have a great time, because there is tons of items to collect, to make it easier, it's best to purchase the ability to own a player shop where you sell items to get meseta to buy items you want. Meseta has a tendency to evaporate when you're upgrading your equipment, so it's best to save up for high end gear and then invest to upgrade it.
Aside from the miniscule flaws, this game is highly recommended. The best part is that it's absolutely free of charge as it's a F2P (Free To Play) game that isn't P2W (Pay To Win) like many other games featuring the same pay system. You only pay for features like a playershop to sell items, a My Room which is a virtual room you can invite players to, and a gacha (gambling) card system where you pay for clothes, parts, unique and exclusive items that improve equipment, make weapon upgrading easier, or double experience/meseta gain during battle.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Phantasy Star Online 2 (JP, 07/04/12)
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