|Star Ocean: The Second Story|
|Genre||Colorful Reading Game ... RPG|
|MtAMinutes to Action||56|
|Score||1 Gameplay: 2
Fun Factor: 1
|Buy from Amazon|
Star Ocean: The Second Story is an action RPG for the original PlayStation. The game allows the player to make many choices along the way, from what characters will be in your party to how difficult the secret final boss will be. Star Ocean is known for its fun and varied gameplay and its absolutely atrocious, but hilarious voice acting. It was released in the United States back in 1999 but since the first Star Ocean was never released outside of Japan, I'm not really sure how Enix expected it to performed. The game follows the story of two intergalactic strangers and their impact on the future of multiple planets. Let's get into the beginning of that story, as Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour is about to begin.
(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select New Game and the hour begins. First up I have to select my sound system, stereo I suppose. Vibration on. Next I have to select my character, either the blonde Claude Kenni or the blue haired Rena Lanford. It's time to mix things up, I choose Rena.
01 - Battle mode set to Standard, have to hold the square button to move around in combat. Interesting. A cutscene starts, we're zooming in on a lush, green planet. Lightning crackles as what looks like a worm hole appears above a forest. Hey, there's a village in the distance, and it's not on fire, yet.
03 - I'm now looking at the in-game graphics. Rena, our heroine, runs out of a house with her mom chasing after her. The graphics seem really zoomed out, everyone seems tiny.
04 - They're still talking, something about the Sorcery Globe landing and causing weird stuff. An earthquake has recently hit and is causing animals to become violent. Rena runs off anyway. Rena's mother gets a [...] dialogue box above her head.
05 - I now have control over Rena and I open a few treasure chests near her. Some armor, 200 Fol (money), and a resurrection bottle. Oh sweet, my equipment was updated automatically when I grabbed the armor.
06 - Some birds fly overhead in a pretty cool effect. Everyone in this town has funny looking hair. I try to leave the village but Rena tells me that's not the way to Shingo Forest.
07 - I head out the south exit and the camera changes view, it's not almost horizontal with the ground. I save my game at the purple save point.
08 - Rena is now in the forest, no world map necessary.
09 - I just got ambushed by a giant ape! Luckily Claude arrived and was able to save me. He got to fight in a battle but since he's not my main character, I didn't get to do anything. Lame. Rena doesn't understand how Claude killed the ape (he used a laser gun). And his clothes are weird too.
11 - Rena runs off and then waits for Claude, he catches up a moment later and they talk about running away from each other. I like the different camera views we get in this game. The sprites look good against the static backgrounds.
12 - The music so far has been pretty typical of an RPG. But Claude was talking during the battle, forgot to mention that before. The two officially introduce each other and Rena starts sweating. Claude doesn't know where he is.
13 - They're walking back to the village together, Claude explains he's from Earth. Rena has never heard of "Urth." Haha. Rena calls her village Arlia.
15 - After some more chatting, we enter Arlia to chat some more. There sure are a lot of [...] emoticon moments. Claude asks to be shown around.
16 - We enter the church. Rena talks for a moment, I hope there aren't many buildings here. I guide the pair over to Rena's house but Rena says she has to clean up first. Sounds like fun.
17 - Rena tells her mom that The Warrior has arrived and has come to save them. She says he had a Sword of Light, which was his laser gun.
19 - Claude entered the house but Rena told him to get out again. Blah blah blah, just get on with it! Maybe I should have been Claude, at least I would have been able to fight. Right after Claude leaves Rena's mom tells me to invite him back in. Now I have to go find Cloud, I mean Claude, again.
21 - Haven't found Claude yet. But I did steal some Strawberry Jam from a chest in some kids' house.
23 - Still haven't located the loser, even though I think I've looked in every building. Oh neat, reflections in the water.
24 - Lame, I had to leave the second village area, and then come back again. There he is just wandering around. I run back to Rena's house. Wow, Rena's mom made a feast while we were gone. But I'd rather fight a monster right now than eat.
26 - One hour later... our heroes are bushed and ready for bed. But not together.
27 - Time to tell the mayor what's happening, his name is Regis. They talk about The Warrior and the Sword of Light for a minute.
29 - I bring the mayor back to Rena's house. Oh no, Rena's mom has told Claude about The Warrior.
30 - Claude and Regis talk at the kitchen table. There sure is a heck of a lot of talking in this game.
32 - Since Claude won't fess up to being The Warrior of Light, the townsfolk think this might be a case of mistaken identity. I really have no idea though.
33 - The screen switches to a view of outer space and Regis tells Claude the news of a meteorite hitting a town and causing crazy stuff to happen. Much violence and demonizing ensued. They call the meteorite, The Sorcery Globe. Quite the odd name.
36 - More [...] emoticons. Regis decides Claude is not The Warrior. Rena doesn't like that idea. She walks out of the house. Oh, that means I've walked out of the house.
37 - I'm now in Rena's room, I raid her treasure chest. I get a Blackberry! Wonder if I get a connection way out here. I take Rena to the mayor's house to look for Claude, he's upstairs but the mayor won't let me up there.
39 - With no where else to go I head to the forest. Back at the scene of the ape crime, Rena asks her father what she should do. Her father?
40 - A sepia-toned flashback! Rena is in her room and wanders out into the hallway. She can hear Regis and her mom talking about the death of her father.
42 - Turns out Rena is not really anyone's daughter... The game returns to the forest where Claude approaches. [...]
44 - Wow, this is boring. Rena asks Claude to leave again after they talk about him not being The Warrior.
45 - Running back to the village, Rena encounters Alen, a mysterious man with a red cape. Woah, Alen is ready to marry Rena!
47 - The preparations are complete for their marriage ceremony! Rena has no idea what's going on though. Some guards approach and the music beat tempos up.
48 - Sounds like Alen might be under the influence of the evil Sorcery Globe. The village gathers where Alen announces his master plan and demands the old people to let him through with Rena. More [...] emoticons.
50 - Heh, we're now in Alen's bedroom. He tells Rena not to try and escape, but of course, we will. I regain control after about five minutes.
52 - That's weird, I'm allowed to run around the house as much as I want. The front door is locked though. Rena enters a room and mutters, "there must be a way out." This is my key out of here, folks! A statue glistens.
53 - Wow, let's make it more obvious. The statue moves a bookcase revealing some stairs down. I am in the Silva Drift, looks like some underground caves.
54 - There's a guy lying on the ground, it's Mr. Bossman! He describes Alen's crazy moods and that I must escape quickly.
55 - I save and head deeper into the cave.
56 - Oh my gosh. Fixty-six minutes into the game I get into my first battle. And it's against two giant rabbits! I take them down with my punches! Pretty sweet!
57 - Next I take out three guys with swords with my fists of fury! Battles are random encounters, so beware if you don't like that.
59 - It's easy to miss these rabbits as they hop around and the battles are real time enough that you have to time things correctly. I find a sign that says, "Danger! To Dragon's Nest!" Awesome. Oh, but she won't go any further. Lame.
60 - Just fought five sword guards, all they did was wander around the battlefield as I picked them off one by one. Well, that's the end of the first hour of Star Ocean: The Second Story.
Now for some scores out of 10.
Minutes to Action: 56
Star Ocean 2 has the action on the wrong side of the first hour. RPGs like Final Fantasy VII and even Skies of Arcadia throw you into the action first, and then let it cool down as the plot is introduced. Maybe if I had played as Claude I would have felt a little bit more satisfaction, but one battle does not an action packed first hour make. There's a whole lot of pressing X to progress the text box, and you can't even walk around on your own very much. The only battles I fought were so fast-paced and short I know I didn't experience everything they have to offer. This is a disappointment.
Fun Factor: 1
Not fun at all. I don't know what else to say. There's essentially no redeemdable value in Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour.
Graphics and Sound: 8
I really liked the look of this game. The graphics were lush, lots of greenery and bright colors in and around the village. The environments became a little drab when I reached the cave but the textures were still very well done. The characters sprites looked awesome and the accompanying animations were excellent. There were even some really cool particle effects during battle, if only I was able to see more of them. I didn't hear much music besides the game's village theme and the battle music, but what I heard was good enough. And Star Ocean's classic voice acting makes its debut, but since they're only utilized during battle, I once again didn't get to hear much.
Star Ocean: The Second Story's first hour is simply overrun with story. And sadly, while this tale has its moments, it's dragged along at such a slow pace it is nearly unbearable. Star Ocean is trying to introduce way too much too early and the characters, especially Rena, were injected with way too much emotion that doesn't work in video games. She's constantly running away from the situation, slowing the introduction of the massive plot to a snail's pace. And while the wall of text is more than I can handle, the emoticons such as [...] that slowly appear over the characters' heads is the last straw. Just give me the basics and let's move on with the game. Story elements can be told along the way.
Well, Star Ocean has achieved a first hour score lower than any other game I have ever reviewed. Through a sheer combination of almost no gameplay, nearly zero fun, and the game almost taking its one and only hour to get to anything that even remotely resembles excitement, we have a score of one. Maybe one day I will discover a game that actually has a worse first hour and give it a zero, but right now, Star Ocean: The Second Story is the lowest of the low. I will admit, I have beaten this game before and enjoyed it immensely, but this is simply not how you start out a game. Let this be a warning to all game writers out there.