I'm reviewing the remake of this game because i could never get my hands on the original game. Plus this review has been in my backlog for a while and as such there's no images, just wanted to put it up, it's not one of my better reviews, lets put it that way.
Star Ocean The Second Story is the first in the series which arrived in America and was shadowed by popular titles like Final Fantasy VII. It's remake Star Ocean Second Evolution brings back everything the original game had (even the original soundtrack) and added a few new things here and there, more endings are available and there's a bonus character plus other bonus content, don't bother getting this game if you already have the original for two reasons, 1. the bonus content isn't worth it and 2. this remake is really bad and you are going to be disappointed.
The plot is filled to the brim with diversions and the game seems to drift away from it a lot, it's pretty much your typical anime series setting. There's a plot device and you must go to it but on the way you get distracted by other things and so on and so forth, this takes up the majority of the game. It wouldn't have been so bad had the pacing been bearable. Sadly, the game has the tendency to drag in unnecessary parts whereas other, more important parts can feel too short. This can be a real bore for some players but if that doesn't bother you then keep reading. The characters aren't fantastic, and the voice cast don't really drive them well, the two lead voice actors try way too hard but they completely lack emotion (Spike Spencer is ok but i hate Claudia Lenz' voice, it makes me cringe as most of the time she sounds clueless), the intro is done well but aside from that they are just bland. The other voices are nothing special really though some are ok. The story itself is pretty standard fare but I wouldn't say it's bad, just a bit slow.
The problem with the characters is simple, there isn't enough dialogue spread between them. Most of the time they just make small talk, the rest of it is all found in the private actions. Put simply, if you want any form of character investment, you really need to watch the private actions. It doesn't help that many of the characters are missable either. It's not that the characters aren't likable, they just don't get enough attention, it's usually Claude and Rena who get all the attention and even then, the dialogue can be quite draining to read, not as bad as Vesperia though (Rena's VA sounds strikingly familiar to Estelle's VA from Tales Of Vesperia and i can't stand either of them).
The game play is simple yet somewhat flawed due to it's ai, well not necessarily the ai's behavior, you can set their behavior in the tactics section of the main menu but none of them are helpful in any way. There's a stand and heal option, a hit them with all you've got option and then there's a conserve mp option that's about it, if you want to have an easy time it's best to let the ai control the damage dealers and take control of the healer because the healer's ai is far too slow, it's better to wait for a character to die and revive them than heal them because your characters die so fast that the cast time bar barely has a chance to fill up so you end up healing ko'ed characters which does nothing.
But using a healer is no fun is it and you will want to make use of all the special moves available. Star Ocean Second Evolution is a pausable real time battle system so expect some fast paced action. Battles often tend to be chaotic and have either your team getting owned or the enemy getting owned, the difficulty curve is insane, it starts off way too easy and gets extremely hard near the end you won't know what hit you later on in the game, enemies have low hit points so battles won't last long but they deal lots of damage and can ko you easily. boss battles tend to be a button mash and nothing more, you can often kill a boss by simply mashing the special attack buttons constantly till you run out of mp making this a spam fest and there's not really much strategy in it but if you just want to hear your characters scream attacks like in the tales games and don't care an ounce about strategy then this is the game for you.
So far i've had some pretty bad things to say about this game and i do kinda regret it, i don't hate Star Ocean 2, and for a few reasons as i shall explain here.
For starters, the soundtrack is excellent, Motoi Sakuraba's music is never bad. There's a mixture of dynamic tunes and calming melodies, i tend to prefer the dynamic tunes personally. There's not much else to say about it really.
Private actions return and there are a lot more than there was in Star Ocean 1. I would have considered this game to have the best private actions if it wasn't for Star Ocean 1's remake, First Departure. There is a lot of depth to the affection system and it keeps you playing to try to get the ending you want or to try and piss off the characters you really hate.
The character management system is excellent, the best part of the game by far. In fact I've had more fun with this games character management than with any game, it's very easy to just experiment with everything right from the get go and get some really powerful items which can break the game and can be really useful on harder difficulties. Item creation allows you to turn raw materials into a new item, you will have many different outcomes based on the materials you choose. There's also the ability to allocate skill points to buff your item creation up even more and make battles easier, most skills tend to come with both allowing you to build your character's stats as well as building their profession at the same time so you can experiment without worry, by the end of the game you will have likely maxed all the skills out anyways so don't worry if you wasted them. There is a wide variety of equipment with different effects and switching them round can change the tide of battles, character management is very important in this game due to the lack of strategy of the battle system, this is the game right here!
So yeah Star Ocean 2 kinda felt hit and miss to me, there isn't really anything that stands out as bad like in Star Ocean Till The End Of Time but i personally found certain parts to be lazy, either that or the fact that they tried to add too many elements to try to add replay value was it's downfall. Put simply, i don't want to replay Star Ocean 2 because i didn't enjoy it enough to consider picking it up again but i definitely didn't hate it. Considering this, Star Ocean 2 is the definition of a mediocre JRPG. I think with a better translation, a polished battle system and a better cast of voice actors, i would have perhaps enjoyed this game a little more than i did. I'd recommend this game to anyone who is new to JRPG'S and hasn't developed any standards. As much as i say i like the Star Ocean series, i kinda feel as if this review is a bit harsh. I'm just being honest really, sure it's not half as bad as Star Ocean Till The End Of Time (as far as my opinion is concerned, they're both evenly matched), but i would place it as the second worst in the main series just simply due to the fact that it feels lacking in some areas which is a shame because the game shows some great promise and ideas.
Despite my somewhat negative review for the most part, i still recommend you all to check it out if you haven't already and as bad as the port is (with the voice acting), i still recommend getting the psp version as this game is definitely not worth the price of the original. Then again, maybe if i had the original and played it back in it's day, i would have enjoyed it more. It seriously pains me to say ill things about it because i believe the game is enjoyable in it's own right despite it's flaws but considering the fact that this is a review, i had to address them. I mean come on, action rpg's like Star Ocean and Tales always have enjoyable battle systems. Perhaps it's the games charm and unique setting that kept me playing it. It probably is.
Lifespan: Decent Length
Would you replay? Maybe