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The Second Evolution of the Second Story
on March 31, 2009
Star Ocean strikes again, this time accompanying the very first Star Ocean, which was never released to North America. Those returning to this game will find the game they remembered. Newcomers will find an enormous RPG, full of continents to explore, hundreds of enemies to vanquish, and an engaging storyline to digest.
In the previous adventure (First Departure, also for PSP), four heroes banished evil from their continuum and restored peace to their separate worlds. Now, Ronyx's son, Claude, is unintentionally sent to a primitive planet, Expel, upon investagation of a barren plane. There, he meets a young girl, Rena, an odd looking villager with mysterious healing powers. He soon learns that her world is in danger.
Before his arrival on Expel, a shimmering meteorite slammed into Expel. With its coming came forth hordes of monsters that rampaged the surface. Claude, after using a light gun, is proclaimed by Rena's village to be the "Hero of Light," the one who is destined to deliver them from this evil invasion. Soon, Rena and Claude depart on their great adventure to put a stop to, not only sinister creatures overtaking Expel, but to a divine conspiracy that has silently raged for centuries and centuries.
In your journey, you will meet up to ten different characters, whom you can choose to accompany you on your mission, including three secret ones and many who can be added at the price of another. Another feature unique to the Star Ocean series is Item Creation. Here, you can do almost anything you can think of: create your own custom weapons, cook delicious food, conduct alchemy to make precious stones out of iron, and forge jewelry.
The battles themselves are also rather exclusive to the series. It's in real time: there's no polite attacking in this game. You and your battle party are free to roam the battle area as you see fit, whether if it's to close in on an enemy or to gain distance between you and your attacker so you can summon a spell. Leveling up is a huge part of this game, so be prepared to do a lot of it. When you leave one area and go to another on the World Map, you may suddenly find yourself 10 levels behind your enemies --- not a good place to find yourself. With every level up you get, you also get money (FOL, as it's called here), experience points, and something else special: Skill Points.
See, with the whole Item Creation idea, you need to do several things before you can gain skills. First, you need to buy the sets in various towns in the Skill Guild. Then, you need to gain enough skill points to level up your chosen character in the skill you want he/she to have. When you accumulate enough skills, you learn a Specialty. It sounds quite complicated, but it's really quite simple when you get into the menu.
Another good thing I found about this version of the game. The voice actors are incredible: it really brought something new to the game, a charm it didn't have before. Most were improved greatly from the PSOne actors. It's not a buy-or-not feature, but it was a new delight to a returning lover of this game.
Bottom line? If you're at all like me, and you played this game so much, so religiously, that you actually wore out the PSOne discs, buy this game. If you have never heard of Star Ocean, and if you love RPGs, and if you don't want to miss out on one of the most epic games out there, I would give serious thought to picking this up.