PSP Review: Star Ocean – Second Evolution

Another RPG remake, can the PSP do the second Star Ocean justice?

Star Ocean: Second Evolution is an enhanced remake of the classic PlayStation game ‘Star Ocean 2: The Second Story,’ set 20 years after the events of ‘Star Ocean: First Departure.’ The game boasts a host of improvements added exclusively for the PSP version, including real-time battles, new character designs, and fully voiced animated cut-scenes from anime giant Production I.G! Combining stunning graphics and a captivating storyline, Star Ocean: Second Evolution proudly continues the grand tradition of the legendary Star Ocean series.
Space Date 366: A young Federation officer finds himself transported to a mystical planet, where he is suddenly anointed as the Hero of Light. He begins a journey to fulfill a prophecy and save a newfound race. Star Ocean: Second Evolution continues the Star Ocean saga!

Square-Enix has lately been putting out more remakes than most, some great…some not so great. The DS remakes have been rather successful with good games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV and Dragon Quest. The first Star Ocean remake came out on the PSP and while it was a fairly good game, it suffered from a few problems like repetitive combat and it didn’t feel suited to the handheld. Can Second Evolution overcome these problems?
Unfortunately, it suffers from the exact same problems. It’s combat becomes nothing more than a button-basher and characters are incredibly small for the PSP, it seems weird. I can understand the anime look of the game, but why they are so small is just a mystery. The new areas look great, but character models are very disappointing to look at.

As an RPG, it doesn’t do anything wrong…but it lacks that charm which sets a game apart from the rest, instead it feels slightly dull at times. The story isn’t much to write home about either, I liked the story of the first game but in Second Evolution, people are without conflict and are just far too nice. It lacks tension and passion for you to carry on through it. The characters are fairly average and fit into the role of anime well, but they lack the charisma of greater RPG icons.

You can name your character, but voice-acting always refers to him as the default name…so I see very little point in the option.
Ultimately, Second Evolution’s biggest problem is that it looks about 10 years older than it actually is. Voice-acting is ok but it can be quite cheesy at times, although it does fit into the anime feel quite well.
The game has some good moments that fans will enjoy, but they are few and far between that most won’t stick around to see them. It does offer two storylines though, which is a good thing overall. The environments are well detailed and it’s more challenging than the last game, it’s just a shame that it’s far too similar when compared. There’s also far too much dialogue in the game, even by RPG standards.

The Verdict

Star Ocean First Departure only came out a few months ago and the rush of the second remake shows. It looks and plays just like the first, but lacks the great moments that it had. The story is lacklustre and the game does nothing we haven’t seen before. Fans will be satisfied, but the rest of us will hope they spend longer on the next instalment.