|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The real-time combat has an interesting brawler feel to it, yet it quickly degenerates into a single button mash-fest whenever there's no immediate need to waste MP and engage your extra abilities. Your companions and their abilities seem a bit more unique and varied in Second Evolution, which makes the combat less tedious. The A.I. gets the job done but with the least amount of efficiency possible. Fortunately, you can also switch your control over to any of your teammates at any given time in the battle.
Second Evolution's presentation is solid, despite being rather dated. The widescreen format makes the sprites a little fuzzy, and the world map leaves much to be desired. Other areas of the game look and sound great in comparison. There are quite a few Anime cutscenes to uncover, and the extensive voice work applied liberally throughout the game is stellar. The pacing of the dialogue feels a little sluggish sometimes, but this is easily remedied with a button tap to skip things along.
In terms of the core design elements - menus, play mechanics, abilities, equipment, etc. - virtually everything in Second Evolution is identical to First Departure. The storyline, main characters, and setting are the main differences, and they're substantive enough to warrant a purchase - even for RPG fans that have already recently spent a lengthy block of time trudging through the first game. Based on the overall quality, depth, and length of the adventure, it's hard not to recommend Second Evolution over its predecessor.
The game may be virtually the same in many regards, but the experience it offers is superior. Most quality RPGs can easily absorb dozens of hours of your time; Second Evolution doubles that with multiple playable character perspectives and a compelling tale that simply screams for a second playthrough.
CCC Staff Contributor