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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Phantasy Star Portable 2 Review

SEGA has released the sequel of their Sci-Fi themed RPG: Phantasy Star Portable 2, will the sequel surpasses the original and solve some of the major game issues from the original?

Phantasy Star Portable 2 takes place 3 years after the event of Phantasy Star Universe as you start out as the new recruit of Little Wing: a private military group residing on the space colony resort Clad 6, PSP2 offers a whole new storyline and new characters, with guest appearances of characters from Phantasy Star Portable and Phantasy Star Universe (you can also import your character from the first game and also in demo version of PSP2).

Gameplay is still the same from the original with some few changes, you still be able to bring a certain number of weapons during the mission with the inclusion of a new shield weapon. With the shield, you can now block any attacks from enemies, reducing the damage you receive, but reducing your Photon Points (PP) for every successful blocks, performing a perfect block (by blocking any incoming attacks at the right time) let's you land a critical attack, you can also use the block command with any two-hand and twin melee weapons. Aside from the new block command, the evade command is also new to the sequel; this enables you to dodge any attacks from enemies and also avoiding obstacles, of course at a cost of PPs. The new features makes the game feel like a Monster Hunter game, but in a Sci-Fi setting.

Another change in the game is the replacement of the Photon Charge with Photon Points (PP), instead of having different Photon Charge per weapon (you consume PC whenever you perform a skill attack or a range attack, but PCs gradually regenerate over time, and every weapon have different amount of Photon Charge) you now have a unified Photon Point. Some range weapons now have a charging attack, by holding the charge button, you can shoot a more powerful splash range attack, this is very useful in a crowded area. Also, skills doesn't level up when you frequently use it, to get higher skill levels, you either buy one in the battle shop or from monster enemy drops.

Aside from some changes to the game, there're some new additions to it, one of them is the Room customization. You can now roam around your room and add furnitures to it, you can also buy tickets to change you room's overall appearance. You can now also roam around the Little Wing, the simplified map navigation is now replaced with a fully detailed level of Little Wing. Game difficulty has been increase, now button mashing on bosses will be now difficult as they can deplete half of you life in one swing, a well placed strategy and good teamwork will increase you chances of victory.

Graphics-wise, it is still the same with the original, but with more dungeons, monsters and equipments. some certain short cutscenes now have character artworks to add elements to the storyline. Voice acting is still mediocre, they still retain some music from the original and some new musics to add the intensity of the game.

The controls is still clunky as before, the camera control on the directional button is hard to use especially during a heated battle, the lock-on control can sometimes become clunky at certain times. Character AI has improved a bit but still unreliable even with the new command function, there are still situations where your AI teammates get stuck in a map and will only respawn near you if you progress farther from them.

What excels PSP2 from it's predecessor is the inclusion of an online multiplayer mode, which the original lacks. You can now play multiplayer mode with other players via the PSN (the Ad-Hoc multiplayer mode is still available) aside from that, you can chat with other players by inputing messages with the virtual keyboard and animated emoticons. With this inclusion, you can now interact with other players from around the globe just like in a typical MMORPG.

There are also promotional items that you can acquire by inputting passwords from the vision phone in your room, some promotional items include weapons, costumes and furnitures based from previous and current SEGA games and also from popular Anime series.

Overall, the game is still feels and plays the same like with the original with some flaws still retains, but with new added contents it manage to increase the playing time, but what makes it better is the addition of the online gameplay, which will ensure more multiplayer action. Fans of JRPGs and Monster Hunter games will surely get this, if you want an RPG with multiplayer co-op features, then grab Phantasy Star Portable 2

Game Rating: 7 out of 10
Phantasy Star Portable 2 is developed and published by SEGA.

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