Star Ocean: Second Evolution Review PSP 9/10

THE GOOD: AWESOME COMBAT!
THE BAD: THE STORY IS PRETTY FAR OUT THERE
PARTY RECOMMENDATION: CLAUDE, RENA, ASHTON, PRECIS

One of my all time favorite games on the original PlayStation was Star Ocean: The Second Story. It had the perfect mixture of RPG elements, interesting characters and unique combat. This would explain why I devoted a solid 60 hours to the game. However, my completion of the game was rather bittersweet. I had triumphed over the game, yet I felt sad because my journey with the characters was also over. Star Ocean: The Second Story was that captivating! So, imagine my joy when I heard that the game was being re-released with updated voice acting, new cut scenes and new characters. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. This new game was released on Sony’s PSP with the new title, Star Ocean: Second Evolution. Star Ocean is very similar to most other role playing games, but unique features like the item creation system and non-traditional combat set it apart and make this a must play. In traditional RPGs, players encounter random battles while wandering the game world, and combat boils down to selecting an attack or spell from a menu, and then watching your character attack. While these games are fun in their own way, Star Ocean completely reinvents the genre, making combat feel exciting and fresh. In Star Ocean, you still encounter random battles, but during the battle, you are in complete control over your character. You can run away from enemies, or charge towards them. You can use enemy-leveling special attacks as well as cast spells. Not one time during combat will you be forced to watch your attack happen, but rather, bring it about yourself. This is just one of the things that makes it so fun. During combat you’re not confined to just playing as the lead character either. If you want to take control of one of your other characters, the game lets you. And different characters play completely different from one another; while one may be fast and weak, another could be slow and immensely strong. So, experimenting around with different characters is a rewarding and learning experience. Also, as your characters level up, they learn new, more powerful attacks. This is a plus because it makes random battles feel like less of a chore, and it makes you want to use those characters more to discover what they’ve just learned. Another one of Star Ocean’s awesome features is in its potential for multiple replays. From the game’s outset, you get to choose whether to play as the male lead, Claude, or the female, Rena. Although the story is the same regardless of who you choose, the characters you can have join your party changes vastly. Some are only available in Claude’s scenario, and some are only available in Rena’s. For this reason alone, this game warrants multiple replays. The game isn’t without a few faults though. The story is rather ho-hum. It’s your typical JRPG where the world is going to end and you’re the prophesied hero that is supposed to save it. Although the characters are entertaining and funny, the story they were placed in is rather weak and over the top ridiculous. Also, some goofy dialog feels out of place in some places, but for the most part the translation was very good. These aside however, Star Ocean: Second Evolution is an awesome game for those who missed it the first time, and a trip down memory lane for those who remember it on the PS1. I give Star Ocean: Second Evolution a 9 out of 10.