Unlike the first Star Ocean though, at the start you get to choose between two distinct characters: Claude, the Earthling from a technologically advanced space-traveling federation, or Rena, the magically-powered country bumpkin from a small town on an undeveloped planet. While the parts of the story where their paths converge will be pretty much the same regardless of whom you choose (they%26rsquo;re both in your party for a good chunk of the game), there are portions that are completely different depending on the character you pick. For example, Claude and Rena split up at one point to rescue a bunch of children from bandits, and depending on who your main character is, you%26rsquo;ll have a different perspective and fight completely different boss battles.
The real-time battles are on the button-mashy side, with auto- or semi-auto targeting only, and attacks mapped to the X button, with two magic attacks mapped to the shoulder buttons for each character. You only actually control the main character - everyone else in your party is AI-controlled, with some basic tactical and formation settings to choose from. One gripe that carries over from Star Ocean 1 is that the tactical settings for AI should have been way more robust and detailed %26ndash; many of the options are completely useless as-is, causing characters to burn through MP way too quickly or otherwise waste resources. We would have really liked to be able to fine-tune things a lot more, to set specific conditions for specific actions, like when specifically to heal and so forth.
The battle system may be a bit too simplistic for some, but Second Evolution has a lot of things going for it to make up for its button mashing, like a great fantasy/sci-fi story and an addicting skill system. If you%26rsquo;ve played First Departure, we can best describe this as a very similar experience (with all the same flaws and strong points), but with way more content to explore %26ndash; this game is huge. Like any respectable RPG, not only are there plenty of sidequests in addition to the main story, but there are a ton of nooks and crannies to explorewith hidden gems meant only for the hardcore. All of this, along with two distinct storylines to play through, and Star Ocean: Second Evolution is quite formidable among other PSP offerings. Unless you hated First Departure, this one is definitely worth a try.
Jan 16, 2009