Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a PSP game that marks a welcome return for an excellent title.

Featuring revolutionary real-time battles as well as an immersive and original plot, Star Ocean: The Second Story garnered a warm reception from both critics and fans of the genre alike; unfortunately, it just happened to release on the original Playstation at the same time as a little title called Final Fantasy VII - I'm pretty sure you've heard of it.

Thankfully, Second Story is getting a new lease on life with Second Evolution, a magnificent re-release on the PSP.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution - never losing its lustre

Second Evolution picks up 20 years after the events of the first Star Ocean [Ed's note: this title was also recently re-released on the PSP as First Departure], focusing its attention on two unlikely heroes: headstrong Claude C Kenny, son to First Departure's Admiral Ronyx Kenny, and charismatic young Rena Lanford, denizen of the mystical world of Expel.

When a routine inspection on a distant planet goes awry, clumsy Claude finds himself transported light years away from home to the wilderness of Rena's home planet, just in time to save the careless girl from an unfortunate animal attack.

Using his plasma gun to rescue Rena, Claude is mistaken for the Hero of Light, a character of ancient myth dressed in foreign garb that carries a mystical "Sword of Light".

With both Claude and Rena as playable protagonists from the get-go, the story isn't as conventional as one might think. Where many games promise an adventure that requires more than one play through, Second Evolution delivers in spades with an array of twelve attainable party members, an amazing assortment of character-building Private Action scenarios, a storyline that changes with each choice your characters make and an unbelievable assortment of over eighty possible endings.

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Star Ocean: Second Evolution - second time lucky

Square Enix pulled out all of the stops for this update, with astonishing animated sequences-courtesy of Production I.G - the animation house responsible for Jin-Roh and Blood: The Last Vampire - a completely revised English script featuring incredibly solid voice acting and stunning pre-rendered visuals that mesh nicely with the classic hand-drawn characters.

Second Story's battle system also received a series of fantastic user-friendly upgrades; there's a new innovative combo system as well as an assortment of new skills and specials that work astonishingly well with the PSP's handheld control scheme.

Be warned, however, that the party AI still suffers a bit as it did in First Departure with characters casting unnecessary spells or rushing head-first into battle unprepared. Still, even with its flaws, Second Evolution's real time battles are fun, fast-paced, and have little to no noticeable loading times.

NEXT PAGE: looking to the stars

Gamepro.com

Star Ocean: Second Evolution is a PSP game that marks a welcome return for an excellent title.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution - looking to the stars

Fans of Second Story's initial release are sure to be more than pleased with the additions made in Star Ocean: Second Evolution, and newcomers that missed this adventure the first time around owe it to themselves to find out what all the fuss is about with this excellent re-release of an utterly engaging classic. Square Enix has done an admirable job of updating classic titles from its library and Second Evolution is just the latest example of their commitment to its loyal fanbase.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict

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Star Ocean Second Evolution: Specs

  • Sony PlayStation Portable
  • Sony PlayStation Portable

OUR VERDICT

An overlooked gem, the second installment in the Star Ocean franchise receives a fantastic re-release for the PSP that's definitely worth a look. If you own a PSP you should own Star Ocean: Second Evolution.

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