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Star Ocean: The Second Story

Action RPG
Star Ocean
  • May 31, 1999
  • March 3, 2005
  • April 12, 2000
A 23 total ratings
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Giant Cosmic Phenomena Is A Euphemism For Big Pain in the Ass

A Star Ocean: The Second Story review Author: Wiegraf Published: May 12, 2005
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Creating an epic takes time. It takes dedication. It takes drive. Perhaps more than anything, though, it requires the developers to take a risk and try something that no one else has even attempted before. I'm sure the creators of Star Ocean 2 believed that's what they had when they released their baby on the world. Well, not quite.
Star Ocean 2 is a game that really is at a loss to explain anything that happens. When the main plot twist of the story's beginning is "Impulsive kid touches button, gets teleported to far-off planet" you can tell that Enix?s R & D didn't care too terribly much about making a story that is plausible. More than anything else, this will start to irk you after about, oh, an hour into the game.
Now, let's take a second here because SO2 does get many things right. The battle system is second to none, and is the main reason to pick up this game. You might not think being able to move around freely is that great, but try it and you'll be loath to return to the antiquated turn-based system for a while. Even normal battles have an added aspect of strategy and require planning and cunning. Beyond this, the addition of a "Private Action" system that allows more in-depth communication between characters in your party is a nice touch and adds a little more flavor. Finally, the sprite-based graphics are quite colorful and mesh well with the rich colors of the towns and dungeons.
However, even the stuff this game DOES get right is riddled with flaws. The battle system seems like it makes every battle a living, breathing challenge---until you get somewhat strong, allowing you to win every battle by simply cutting everything you see to ribbons. The private action system? A noteworthy attempt to add emotion to a game---until you realize that the emotions and "love stories" shown wouldn't even titillate a 4 year-old. (it?s sad that a scene like ?Rena: I? you, Claude. (Claude?s sprite turns red) Claude: ? passes for a smoldering romance).
The story itself is where the game becomes almost comical in its inability to explain any part of what is actually occurring. Basically (according to the developers), ?our hero?, Claude, is a hot-blooded youth who experiments with an ancient device which malfunctions, sending him across the universe and causing him to begin a quest to restore the planet of Expel. Instead, it seems more like some idiot earthling hit some button and the only way to make things right is to use advanced earth weaponry (and unadvanced Expel idiot dirtbag weaponry) to kill or maim everything he sees. Except for cute blue-haired girls, of course. As time goes on, you?ll find yourself on a scintillating quest to do?something?on the amazing areas of the planet?.something. After a while all that really matters is the fact that when you are fighting, you can actually run up and beat the crap out of things. It may be the game?s only redeeming feature, but it is a damn good one, to be fair.
Finally, let us look at anything else this game does right enough to warrant a play. Well, the characters are a plus?none of them are out-and-out annoying or impossible to stand (which is more than I can say for another game in this series?) Also, the item creation system that the game is most famous for (an ?heirloom? if you will, from the first SO) is a very deep and interesting diversion that allows you to get far stronger if you?re willing to take the time (and often reload and try again if things go haywire, and that beautiful sword you?re remodeling turns into a chunk of scrap iron).
As I have said before in my reviews, I am a story whore, and SO2 did not sit well with me on that front. The story was apparently thrown together over a four-day weekend, and the ?love stories? that are presented in the private actions are so childish they make a middle school rendition of Romeo & Juliet look like Casablanca. However, some RPG?s need to break new ground, and the entertaining battle system surely does make up some of the problems with plausibility. Many people would probably give SO2 an above-average score, but my own judgment is mediocre at best. Nice try though, Enix.
Editor's Grade
dotted line "The brainchild of incredible battle programming and 5th-grade writing. Genius."
dotted line Average Reader Score (Based on ratings) | Rate it Now
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