Star Ocean: Second Evolution Hands-On

Tri-Ace's sci-fi saga continues on the PSP in this updated role-playing game classic.


Set 20 years after the events of Star Ocean: First Departure, Star Ocean: Second Evolution follows two bright-eyed adventurous characters, Claude and Rena, as they embark on a journey to fulfill a long-awaited prophecy. Second Evolution is a revised version of The Second Story, originally released for the PlayStation in 1999. The remake isn't a drastic difference visually, but the graphics have been polished so that it looks great on the PlayStation Portable. It plays and feels the same as First Departure, which isn't a bad thing considering that this gives new players a chance to experience the series and prepare for a brand-new Star Ocean game--a prequel--that will follow shortly after on the Xbox 360.

You'll meet a variety of helpful characters with their own unique set of skills.
You'll meet a variety of helpful characters with their own unique set of skills.

Second Evolution ventures off the beaten path by letting you choose either Claude (son of Ronyx J. Kenny from First Departure) or Rena from the get-go so that you can play from their unique perspective. It's interesting to see how the events unfold early on, before they band together to set off on their adventure. Claude is a young Federation officer who somehow gets himself transported onto Rena's underdeveloped world. He conveniently shows up outside of her small village and arrives just in time to save her from a wild gorilla-like beast. Since he comes from a more technologically advanced world with plasma guns, Rena thinks he is the "Hero of Light" from the legend, who has finally arrived to save her world. A strange sorcery globe crashed on her planet, and since then there has been an increase in hostile creatures. Since Claude has no clue how he's going to get home, he decides to set off in search of the mysterious globe, in hopes of finding some answers along the way. Rena also tags along for the ride in search of answers about her past.

As in the previous game, First Departure, you'll travel from city to city, exploring dungeons and fighting random battles. Second Evolution has a slower start, but once the plot gets moving, you'll have plenty of opportunities to explore, customize, and craft. The battle system is action-oriented, and when the fight begins, you're taken into a fixed area to combat a wide array of creatures. You can control only one character at a time, so you'll want to set up your tactics beforehand for maximum efficiency. Other than hitting the X button to attack, you can assign a special art or symbology spell--which you'll learn as you level--to the L and R buttons. The battles are straightforward and easy to play, and because of the fast-paced skirmishes, they don't bog down the flow of the game.

When you're not on the field, you can use the skill points that you've collected to learn skills and specialties, which will enable you to create items and boost your combat prowess. By visiting the skill guild to purchase a skill set, you'll be able to teach your characters to cook, write, and do other useful things. Each character also has special talents, so the chances of a successful item creation will increase if you teach them the appropriate specialty. This is an excellent way of getting rid of the random materials you'll collect on your quest, and it's always entertaining to see what kind of concoction you'll end up with.

Celine isn't someone you want to mess with.
Celine isn't someone you want to mess with.

Production I.G, a well-known anime studio, is responsible for the fully voiced, animated cutscenes in Second Evolution. These sequences are very well done and can be accessed afterward in the gallery. Details in the environment have been maintained from the PS version, from soaring birds to the reflections in the water. Each town you visit has its own distinct theme, and it's obvious that a lot of care was put into these areas when you look at the furniture, and what's sitting on the table. Motoi Sakuraba's score provides a wonderful setting to this sci-fi universe, with beautiful melodies and engaging themes to accompany the gameplay. The voice acting is decent, although there are times when it feels a bit over the top and some of the dialogue in battle is reused from the previous game. The private action system returns to provide a bit of insight on the characters when you approach town, which is entirely optional but worth checking out once in a while because it'll give hints as to what to do next.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution adds to the growing RPG collection on the PSP, and we're eager to progress further in the game to see how it all pans out. From what we've seen, Second Evolution is shaping up to be another high-quality remake, so look for it when it ships January 20, 2009.

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Avatar image for *jfvert

The 360 game looks bad, too. Maybe after both games tank they will stop making sequels.

Avatar image for basche_valflear

Yes, my psp would be gathering dust if I'm not using it as a music player.. Maybe I'll check this game out...

Avatar image for dragon0085

How can they resell the EXACT same game that came out like 10 years ago? Just trying to make a buck...

Avatar image for jhuuueee

This is the end of the PSP!!!!

Avatar image for flyingteddy

i'd have been happy enough if this was downloadable from the PSN.

Avatar image for DillTurnips

i have the original version of THIS Star Ocean...its pretty good. but the original title is Star Ocean: The Second Story

Avatar image for YoYoLyy

Agree.Warm-up for FFX3.

Avatar image for oscarsephiroth

SquareEnix stop remaking games i already played years ago. WORK IN FINAL FANTASY XIII

Avatar image for hellpolice

Classic rpg finally remake I'm getting it because I don't have the original.

Avatar image for OminousShadow87

If I didn't already have this for PSX I would by this in a heartbeat. If you liked First Departure, then you'll love this. It's easily twice as good as the first one, although you may not be impressed because the combat, skill, spell and special moves (known as killer moves) are pretty much exactly the same.

Avatar image for _The_Best_Dude_

This easily goes to the Top5 Best RPGS Ever

Avatar image for solange82200

I dont know what it is about it, but I loved Star Ocean First Departure. I honestly did not think I would like it, but I fell in love with it! I cant wait for this one, this is going to be awesome!

Avatar image for Spark0

Second Story is perhaps my favorite game of all time, and this looks like its shaping up to be awesome. What I've always loved about Star Ocean is the mutually exclusive characters, meaning that it is impossible to get every character in one playthrough, and this happens a lot. Even though the two perspectives are virtually identical, it really makes the game worth replaying.

Avatar image for InsultToInjury_

Having been pondering whether to sell my PSP as it is gathering dust with no new titles to play... I have changed my mind. This game looks very promising and come pay day next month I shall definetly be buying it.

Avatar image for Blink3r

YAY can't miss this!!! still haven't beaten first departure though :( im SOOO in love with my PsP ^^

Avatar image for Media_Mind

I don't see what the big deal is

Avatar image for Steel_Rain777

Wow, now they decide to release this game after I've sold my PSP for lack of any new games whatsoever. Star Ocean second story is one of my favorite Rpg's back on the PS1, but I'm not gonna get another PSp for it. Too little too late

Avatar image for Iriscal

You must be kidding, NarcMonkey. Claude's voice actor in Second Story was terrible, and the others not much better.

Avatar image for minh1047

First departure was a bit disappointing, I do hope this one will be better since The Second Story is one of my most favorite RPG of all time.

Avatar image for Sunrie

This was one of my favorites back on the PSX...with First Departure and now this on the PSP, I just may have to pick it up. The PSP is getting some good games lately.

Avatar image for NarcMonkey

Star Ocean: The Second Story is one of my favorite RPGs, this remake is not worth it... Track the original down, and buy it. New voiceovers FTL!

Avatar image for daveneonfarrell

Garbage. Believe it!!

Avatar image for Extra_Life

Looking forward to it, especially as this game will feel closer to the original than Firast Departure did (really did enjoy that game though, but did prefer the SNES game), keeping all the atmosphere of Second Story.

Avatar image for jasonharris48

Favorite Star Ocean title

Avatar image for addictedtochaos

Can't get here fast enough.

Avatar image for sonictank

god i love this series and i hope the new one will be the best star ocean and this is one of the star oceans that i love!.

Avatar image for darkzeroyosi2

this is awsome game i only played SNES version it was cool i didn't played on PS but i will played it again in PSP it well be rock!

Avatar image for SchumiF1

Can't wait for this to release. Star Ocean The Second Story is definitely one of my favorite RPG's of all time and I look forward to playing it again.

Avatar image for hemoleech

I played through First Departure and I wish I had time to play through it again to see different things happen. I'm definitely picking up Second Evolution.

Avatar image for amylian

I think I must start playing the first installment ....

Avatar image for Kougeru

everyone should buy this game

Avatar image for FlashCharge

I have never played a Star Ocean game but the reviews and gamer comments seem to make this game a must game to keep an eye on. The psp has also suffered from so little quality games, that when a game comes along that has decent reviews is great.

Avatar image for VSmack

SO2 is an amazing game, IMO one of the most underrated RPGs of all time.

Avatar image for zgreenwell

Star Ocean the Second Story is probably my favorite game of all time. I'll be buying this for sure.

Avatar image for paperdollparade

SO 1 and 2 are amazing can't wait to get this remake, now i just need to get a psp. . .

Avatar image for RYPER

the first star ocean was a disappointing game, i don't see how this one will be different.

Avatar image for splendormk7

this looks funny nothing else

Avatar image for genral_ayman

i don't like the kids games like this one it's soo borrrrrring !!

Avatar image for flyingteddy

i played this on the ps1 but never finished, i remember enjoying it.

Avatar image for zeroadiel

Pre-Ordered it way back with over night shipping, can't wait to play this on release date!

Avatar image for WildfireFox

Almost makes me consider getting a PSP. Almost. Granted, I played through it 4 times already... so...

Avatar image for ifoughtpiranhas

I can't wait to play this game. I never beat it as a kid because my second disc froze halfway through every time.

Avatar image for TristanH12

Im definitely picking this up, hopefully around Day 1. !!!

Avatar image for senjutsu

The game was good, but why would I play again on a PSP? I already finished it 3 times now...

Avatar image for Megaship

This looks interesting. I like how they updated the graphics on this.

Avatar image for Koruptshin

if u played this before then this updated version is going to way better

Avatar image for FirebrandX2

This game is going to be awesome.

Avatar image for Sophia

Thanks for pointing that out, it's been fixed.

Avatar image for ShirkDawg

The first one was great, so I can't wait to play this one. It was one of the few RPGs I never played on the PSX, but I heard great things about it. Sophia, there's one minor error though. The game's release was pushed back to January 20, 2009.

Avatar image for elbert_b_23

this was one of the best rpgs on the psx i can't wait