Pros: Great Combat System, About 70 "Ending", Tons of Side Quests...
Cons: Bad Voice Overs (For the Most Part), Not Much Variation in the Many Endings...
Star Ocean: The Second Story
I can still remember the day I picked this game up, I can remember that I only had enough money for 1 game, Star Ocean: The Second Story and The Legend of Legaia, so guess which one I chose? Star Ocean of course, I saw the comercial for it that advertised 70+ endings, and I'm an RPG fanatic so how could I resist buying the hype? Well I have to admit I was kinda dissapointed that the 70+ endings weren't exactly "Real" endings, the world is saved exactly the same everytime, but characters end up pairing up with one another differently depending on how you progressed through the game. But even minus the 70+ endings this game is very fun, it has side quests, a deep plot, and an innovative Skill system.
The Battle System
The battle system is refreshingly unique, you control one character and can move about the battle field freely while the other 3 characters in your group are controlled automatically by the computer. This is a nice addition to the game, some battles are extremely simple where you just have to repeatedly tap the X button to win, while other battles, namely boss battles, require you to deploy a fair amount of strategy for you to emerge victorious. As with most RPGs your characters can learn special moves/spells and use them in combat. For your character to carry out a move in battle you must first set special moves to your L1 and R1 buttons, while when you cast spells you must access your spell list through a menu.
While special moves in this game aren't anything spectacular to look at, most magic spells are beautifully designed. The only catch? Some spells seemed to drag on as my characters would mindlessly use spell after spell when I had things under control. You can adjust the way the your characters fight, you can have them be conservative and cast spells infrequently, or you can let them loose to use all their magic power, the choice is yours.
The Skills System
Man oh man do I like this feature, you can do anything from cook one of hundreds of dishes you can forge weapons, armor, and accessorizes, you can even summon a bunny that is a rip off from the Final Fantasy chocobo in the sense that you can ride it to travel faster and to avoid enemy encounters which I think is a good idea. There are many many things you can create, their are many possibilities and a lot of the items can only be aquired through the skill system, I've stumbled upon many rare weapons and armor. In fact, there is even a skill that will tell you stuff, one time it told me that there was a prequel to this game, I can't believe I didn't notice that this is a sequel, I mean come on! It even says Star Ocean: THE SECOND STORY but maybe I just don't notice the subtle things.
Unlike most people I just don't buy how great the graphics are, I mean sure, I'm a huge fan of the 16 bit era but I just don't think the graphics are as good as most people peg them to be. The characters are all sprite based, while the backgrounds are pre-rendered and the world map is fully polygonal. I just didn't particularly enjoy the water color look to this game.
A few characters are very original compared to most RPGs, there is Claude (haha a few people say I look like Claude) that is from the future, and his clothes show it. He wears a brown ensign jacket and has wavy blonde hair. Then there is Rena who isn't all that original, she's the typical blue haired RPG female, nothing original. My favorite character in the game is Ashton with his 2 dragons on his back.
This games story is very deep, and you can choose between 2 characters to play as: Claude or Rena. You can get certain characters as Claude that you can't get as Rena, and vice versa. It is the classic love story RPG with a twist, the two main characters don't always fall in love. I found this out through a great deal of playing this game, I tried different tactics to try to bring Rena and Ashton together and I finally succeeded, a few instances besides the ending were different in the game with Rena falling for Ashton, but I won't spoil anything.
WARNING: Massive Spoilers in this Paragraph
The games starts with ensign Claude Kenni, his father, and am exploration unit from earth exploring a new planet. Claude stumbles upon a strange machine and is teleported to an undeveloped planet where he meets Rena as she is being attacked by an animal in the forest. Claude uses his laser to kill the beast, and Rena thinks that the light from Claudes laser is the "Sword of Light" from an old prophecy. Well worse comes to worse and Claude and Rena end up saving the world with a cast of 10 other characters not counting Claude and Rena.
This game makes good use of the analog controller, the only thing wrong with it though? Battles are sometimes hard to navigate, I had a little trouble accessing the menu during battles, but besides that everything is smooth and responsive, especially on the world map.
This games music is well, calming. Maybe too calming sometimes, I can sometimes feel my eyes getting heavy whenever the really soft music comes on, but I think it adds to the experience. The battle theme is nice and upbeat, just enough to snap me out of the sleepy mood. Why didn't I rate this higher? Because the sound effects and voice overs sucked...
The sound effects, while mediocre are nothing special. Whenever your weapon hits the enemy it just doesn't sound right, little things like this are what really get to me sometimes. And the voice overs, whoa man can they be annoying!! I mean how many times can I listen to Precis open her mouth and let out a squeaky, piercing squeal before I shoot myself? I don't know yet, thank god no instance in the game demands that you have Precis in your group!
Oh man would this game would be so much funner if two or 4 players could play together, but this game is still fun without MulitPlayer. I can only hope for MultiPlayer in a sequel...
Overall Grade = C
I recommend this game to any RPG lover, maybe you will enjoy it as much as I have..