Look, I know I’ve been writing fewer and fewer articles of late, but you have to understand something. Yes, yes, I am fully aware of the fact that I promised big things coming up in the future of my articles, and I totally plan on delivering. I’m also aware that I’m a professional game journalist, or at least I get paid a large amount of money and a large number of whores dressed as Princess Peach in order to write articles for this site, and you readers expect a certain amount of content a week. It’s just that something very important has come up, and it’s taking up a lot of time in my busy schedule.
I have to play Star Ocean: Second Evolution, you see.
Don’t tilt your head and look at the screen with that confused glint in your eye. I know you know all about this game. The PSP re-make of Star Ocean: The Second Story is one of the greatest console RPGs ever! Sure, it adds a new character that’s as annoying as finding a hole in your favorite blow-up doll, but the re-vamped art style and voices are fantastic! In point of fact, the new voice single-handedly saves one of the characters, who’s original voice was not unlike fingernails dragging across the chalkboard inside your soul.
Not to mention the Private Actions! How can you not have heard about the private actions? At every single town, you have the option of splitting up your party. They wander around the town, and you have the chance of heading over and talking to them. Depending on various things that have happened during the game, such as whether or not you’ve used items on them, if you’ve saved them from enemies during combat (and it’s real-time! When you’re on the battlefield, it’s real-time combat!) and have fulfilled other variables, you could have any number of short interaction scenes. Many of them involve questions with multiple choice answers, with relationship and friendship points raising or falling depending on your answer.
That’s right, relationship and friendship points! The game has a story, and it has an ending, but then each character has a variety of different epilogues depending on relationship and friendship point levels. How do you know which one you’re going to get?! You don’t! You can’t ever see those point levels, but they’re there, and they decide what private actions you’re going to get, and the epilogues!
Did someone say hidden characters? That’s right, motherfuckers! You can’t expect me to focus on trying to write bullshit articles for bullshit readers when I have to spend time and energy deciding the question of the ages: Ashton or Opera? You can only get one! And with Opera comes Earnest, who… Actually, Earnest kind of sucks, but he uses a whip, and that’s pretty cool! There’s also Precis or Bowman, and you can only get one of them, but Precis has an annoying voice (or had, before this remake), where as Bowman has an annoying everything fucking else, so that’s not really a choice so much as an exercise in futility.
If you believe any great console RPG has to have skills and hidden weapons and items, then this game has you covered! So many skills your head will spin, and each skill offers stat bonuses. Not just stat bonuses, either. Skills like Item Knowledge change the buying/selling price at shops by 3%, whereas Herbology raises the amount of health or MP you regain from certain items by 2%.
There are hidden bonuses too. Some skills give you free items when you level them up. You don’t know that, the game doesn’t tell you that, and you might never notice unless you’re observant, but every point in a particular skill pops one item that you did not have into your inventory. Combinations of skills at a certain level grant the character item creation skills, such as Mechanics, Customize, or Cooking (yup, you can cook food in this game), and when enough characters learn certain item creation skills, you learn Super Specialty skills that do even more awesome things!
And the skills aren’t only there for item creation. Combat skills cause active and passive effects in combat, allowing you to become a combat God. Then there are skills like Pickpocket, which, you guessed it, let you steal shit from people in towns. No, not ‘attack an enemy and steal something from them;’ no, you can actually swipe things from townspeople. Including your own party, if you’ve done a private action. Heck, your party members often have the best stuff in the game! Which makes me wonder about the conversations that happen.
“…Hey, where’d you find that God-like armor? It looks a lot like the stuff I had…”
“You mean the God-like armor that you never used and never mentioned you owned?”
“….Uh…yeah…that God-like armor…” (Shifty-eyed look)
“Found it on the side of the road. Anything else?”
“No, no, that’s all!”
I haven’t even gotten into the talents yet, either. Not every character is good at every skill; you need the right talent, and which talent characters get can…can…
…Oh, who am I kidding? I mean, yes, I love this game. Hell, it’s the fourth time I’ve bought this game, and only the first time it hasn’t been the PSX version, but we all know that’s not the real reason I haven’t written an article lately.
Yup, it’s the Xormians again. Now excuse me. I have to go save the planet!