Monday, June 20, 2011

STAR OCEAN THE SECOND STORY




Star Ocean The Second Story
Developer - tri-Ace
Publisher - Enix
Release date – May 31, 1999

Star Ocean: The Second Story is an action role-playing video game developed by tri-Ace and published by Enix for the PlayStation. It is the second game in the Star Ocean series and the first game in the series to be released outside Japan, arriving in North America in May 1999 and Europe in April 2000, courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment.

Story

Star Ocean: The Second Story takes place in S.D 366 (A.D 2452), twenty years after the original game, Star Ocean. The game tells the stories of Claude C. Kenny, son of Ronyx J. Kenny, and Rena Lanford, a young girl living on the planet Expel. Claude, having recently been commissioned as an Ensign in the Earth Federation, is given his first mission under the supervision of his father. This first mission is to survey the planet Milocinia, where a mysterious energy field appears. Finding a mysterious device on Milocinia (renamed Milokeenia in the PSP port), Claude begins to examine it close-up, despite orders to keep away from it. As he approaches, the machine activates, teleporting him to Expel. Once on Expel, Claude meets Rena who mistakes him for the "Hero of Light," spoken of in legends on Expel because he wields a "Sword of Light" (actually the standard-issue Phase Gun all Federation officers carry) and is dressed in "alien raiments." She takes him back to her village, Arlia, for corroboration.


Gameplay

The game gives the player the choice of playing as Claude or Rena, with the journey evolving and ending differently depending on the choices one makes. The Second Story's gameplay is broadly similar to that of most RPGs. The player goes from town to town and dungeon to dungeon, following the central story and occasionally branching off to perform side quests. Characters gain Experience Points from battle and level up as a result, becoming gradually stronger as time passes and more battles are fought.


However, the game is a member of the Star Ocean franchise, and as such features various deviations from the standard RPG format. Battles are much more action-oriented: they take place in real time, during which the player has manual control over their character, as opposed to choosing options from a menu. Battles take place on a broad battlefield, over which the player's character can move without limit, allowing them to trade blows face-to-face with the enemy or circle around for a flanking attack. The other party members (up to 3 others) are controlled by the game's AI; the player may change an ally's Strategy to one of six different pre-determined options (ranging from "Spread out and attack" to "Save your Magic Points" to "Stand Still and Don't Do Anything").

The game features a comprehensive Skill system. Nine different batches of skills are sold in in-game shops; once unlocked this way, they must be learned by committing battle-earned "Skill Points" to them. Some skills raise a character's statistics; some unlock Specialty abilities; and some provide bonuses in battle (such as the ability to counter-attack). Specialties allow the characters to create a wide variety of items, and include Herbal medicine, Cooking, Writing, Composing and Musicianship, Pickpocketing and Training. Furthermore, the entire party can contribute to "Super Specialty" skills such as "Master Chef", Blacksmithing, Publishing and "Reverse Side", which allows the character to counterfeit valuable items at the risk of lowering their allies' opinion of them. Every item created has some sort of tangible benefit—foods restore Hit Points and/or Magic Points, training increases the gain in Experience Points, and written novels can be submitted to a publisher, with royalties collectable later—but every attempt requires the expenditure of a consumable item, and may fail to produce anything useful.

Finally, a mechanic called "Private Actions" allows the player to influence the relations between their characters. During a "Private Action", the player's party temporarily breaks up during a visit to a town, with each character going their own way to shop, visit friends and family (if applicable) or otherwise relax. The player's main character (either Claude or Rena) can then interact with their allies, often with the option of making one of those allies like another character more (or less). This "relationship point" mechanic can have a major effect in battle—if Character A's close friend is felled, Character A will get major combat bonuses for a short time—and also determines what ending the player will see, as each party member's scene plays out differently depending on who they did (or didn't) befriend. There are 86 possible endings (or 87, depending on how one wants to count them).


Characters

Star Ocean: The Second Story has two main characters, the human Claude (voiced by Yuji Ueda (Japanese original), Jimmy Freeman (English original), Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese PSP Port) and Spike Spencer (English PSP Port)) and the Nedian (member of a pointy-eared humanoid race) Rena (voiced by Aya Hisakawa (Japanese original), Donna Mae Wong (English original), Nana Mizuki (Japanese PSP Port) and Claudia Lenz (English PSP Port)), and upon starting a new game the player is asked to choose between one of them. The choice has an impact upon the game's plot and story, though the vast majority of content is identical in both lines. There are ten other playable characters in the game, though the player can only recruit six of them to fill out their eight-member party, and some recruitment choices will make other characters no longer available.

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