PS2 REVIEW: MONSTER RANCHER EVO

Initially the monsters are trained by your character, Julio. By selecting the appropriate process for each monster you ensure they will bond with you and perform to their full potential. Eventually you can let other circus performers train your monsters for you as each trainer will specialize in different techniques. Circus training devices are a useful tool as they increase the monsters' stats to get them in shape. New training equipment can be customized from parts available at various shops in town. There are three mini-games that you can play to help train your monsters. They are all button-mashing games that rely on your reflexes and timing. One mini-game involves pattern recognition while another is a rhythm-based music game. The better you do at these games, the more stats you will earn for your monster and the better your overall performance will be.

Combat can be slow. It blends real-time with turn-based. Attacks are dependent on how close or far away you are from your opponent. At first your attacks will be limited simply because you only have a few moves at your disposal. You will earn experience in the form or Anima which you can use to increase your abilities and add more moves. You will gain Anima from combat and taking part in the various action sections of the game such as dungeon crawling. Up to three monsters can be taken into combat at one time. They all share the same power source which continually drains with use, draining faster with the use of more powerful attacks. The source will replenish itself and will do so faster if the monsters are lined up in a row, side by each.

The multi-player mode also lets you bring in three monsters at a time for a three-on-three fight to the finish. It's good clean fun and the pace can be picked up if your opponent knows what he or she is doing. Don't expect a lot of replay value from the multi-player mode but if you have a circle of friends that are fanatical about this series you'll likely spend more time trading disks in an attempt to create different monsters.

The look of the game has changed. It has a more artsy look. The exaggerated cartoon-style graphics are gone in favor of creating a more serious atmosphere reminiscent of traditional Japanese RPGs. It still has some of the anime flair but the colors are less vibrant and the characters are less over-the-top. The conversations are text-based and where there is spoken dialog you can tell that the actors' main language is not English.

Monster Rancher EVO may continue to please hardcore fans of the series but it's doubtful that it will recruit many new fans, especially if they've played any of the previous four games.

Features:

  • Create and unlock hundreds of monsters to raise, train and battle.
  • Perform in the circus and compete in battles to level up your monsters' skills and attributes.
  • A fantasy world with circus elements creates a unique stage for monster breeding.
  • Partake in real-time, three-on-three battles requiring careful strategizing to create an unstoppable team of monsters.
  • Seven different towns, each with its own story and beautifully rendered, unique 3D environment.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Monster Rancher Evo (PS2)
4.0
Graphics
It's got a whole new look. It's more serious and fantasy based than cartoon inspired.
2.9
Control
There is a lot of repetition in the gameplay. The control system is limited even with the option to acquire new moves.
2.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voiceovers are rare and when you do hear someone talk it's usually in broken English.
3.5
Play Value
Although you might not get a lot out of the multi-player battle modem you will likely extend your replay value exchanging disks with friends to create new monsters.
3.1
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
2

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best