It's a bit odd to say; but when playing Star Ocean: Second Evolution, it really felt no different than playing Star Ocean: The Second Story. Perhaps it's because despite a nice graphical polish and new animated cinematics from Production I.G. and a few minor add-ons to the game itself (13 new endings, which totals out to 99 endings), Star Ocean: Second Evolution is essentially the same game. It may sound bad, but it's really not much of an issue if you enjoyed Second Story and attempted to get all 86 endings the game had. Of course now your replay time can double or triple!
Even if you're new to the Star Ocean series and never had the chance to play Second Story on the PSOne, Second Evolution is a great way to make up for that considering it fixes the issues Second Story had. The same changes that were mentioned in Star Ocean: First Departure can also be seen in Star Ocean: Second Evolution. To name a few, melee characters can now issue 3 hit quick combos and extend their combos with a special attack, you can control Claude or any other character you choose, and a map at the bottom right of the screen shows where your allies are and where the enemies are.
Furthermore, there are new event evolutions and private actions added to the game that help your flesh out character's relationships with each other. As with First Departure, battles flow a lot smoother in Second Evolution as they did in Second Story. Combat still plays out the same, but now it's provided with richer visuals. The game's main story, as with First Departure, remains virtually untouched and totally the same, so those of you who liked Star Ocean: Second Story's, erm, story should feel relieved to know it stays the same.
There are other changes made to the game; but as with Star Ocean: First Departure, they are technical alterations made to skills and status enhancements that warrant self-discovery. The work Production I.G. has done with the cinematics and character portraits is simply amazing, and looking at the game with its brilliant pre-rendered backgrounds makes me wonder why pre-rendered backgrounds are starting to become a thing of the past. The music is remixed as well and does justice to Sakuraba's original score to the game.
It may seem like there isn't much to say about Star Ocean: Second Evolution, and that's partially true. First Departure was more of a remake because of how much it revamped the original game and added so many changes to it, making it feel completely new and original while Second Evolution is a polished up version of Second Story. Even if Star Ocean: Second Evolution is still the same game, it's just as good as First Departure and is a great addition to your PSP library. With Square-Enix having registered trademarks for both games in North America, it's really a matter of time when the release date for both Star Ocean: First Departure and Star Ocean: Second Evolution are made known.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.