Wednesday, August 4, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 162

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About the Cougar

Star Ocean, Second Story for PlayStation very close to perfection

Star Ocean Second Story

For PlayStation


ESRB: Everyone

Grade: A

By Brandon Franks
Opinion Editor 

In 1996, Enix released a game for the Super Famicom, the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo. The game was called Star Ocean and set the standard for what a role-playing game should be. Now in 1999, Enix has produced the sequel, Star Ocean The Second Story.

The developers decided to bridge the gap between the two games by using the son (Claude Kenni) of a character in the first game called Ronixis Kenni. Claude takes you on a journey you will never forget -- from our solar system to an entirely different one.

Battle sequences in Star Ocean The Second Story play out more like adventure game battles: You directly control characters' movements as they attack.

Photo Courtesy of Enix

Now, this is not your usual RPG. It is in no way Americanized, so you can't breeze your way through a la the Final Fantasy games we think are the epitome of role-playing.

First off, you choose who you want the main character to be. You can pick either Claude or a girl named Rena Landford. Claude is in your party no matter what. The two stories have pretty much the same goal, but the journeys and quests differ as you get deeper into Star Ocean.

Next there are many different characters that you can have join your party. But in some cases, if you pick a certain character, you can't have another character join your party that you might really want. For instance, if Ashton joins your party, you can't recruit Opera Vectra or Ernest Raviede. Confused yet? Wait, it gets better.

The next thing you have to deal with are the skills and specialties. In order to get certain specialties you must purchase certain skill sets in different towns. You have to build up the skills that you acquire, in order to get the special arts you really need if you want to survive in the game. 

The main things in the game that affect the ending (there are over 80) are the romantic and friendship levels. You don't get to check these, which makes it difficult to choose the private actions that you can perform. You can try to do every private action you're allowed, but doing this will have you playing the game for four or five months. The private actions are just some of the many things that make this game unique.

As for the game play, it's a little different from the other RPGs out there. You can choose automatic, semi-automatic or manual. The battles are pretty much standard, but if you put the game on manual, it's like playing an action/adventure game where you have to go up to the enemy and slash him yourself. 

There aren't many cut scenes in Star Ocean, but there are some exceptional graphics. The computer graphics created by Links are so smooth they blend right in with the game, like when the huge tsunami destroys the Port of Clik. If you want a totally realistic experience you've got to have a dual shock controller. The vibration function is so good you'll think you're in the earthquake on the screen.

The voices are another key element in Star Ocean. They don't happen randomly, but instead every time you wind up in a battle. After you get 45% of the voices in the voice collection screen you can choose to make the game go to a more difficult mode, and each time a voice is revealed a piece of the picture in the voice screen is revealed. 

All in all Star Ocean is a great game. Not the best in the world, but it's pretty close.

Pros: Some of the most unique locations ever put in a game.

Cons: All the things to do in the game make it very tedious and tiring at some points.

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