I have waited such a long time to get my hands on Phantasy Star 2 and so far it has really lived up to my expectations and even surpassed them on a few points but it’s also got some questionable design choices that made me scratch my head. In this review I will often be comparing this game to it’s predecessor Phantasy Star Online. Phantasy Star Online is a really old game now but in my opinion it has aged very well and to this day I can still jump in the game and play for hours upon hours while I grind my character up to level 200. Old Phantasy Star fans will feel right at home in the new Phantasy Star Online game. It has the familiar combat that’s somewhat faster and requires more strategy but the feeling is there and it’s really addicting.
Obviously Phantasy Star Online 2 has the edge in the graphical department because this game is still fairly new. It’s not even out here in America but with the way things are looking it looks like another Blade and Soul situation. I’m getting ahead of myself though. This article isn’t about whether or not I think Phantasy Star Online 2 will ever release here. It’s about whether or not it’s a worthy sequel to the original game and the short answer is yes it is. This game is addictive and I’ve already poured over 30 hours in the game with two different characters. One thing you will notice is the similarities between the two games.
Instead of you getting quest from the Hunters Guild you get them from the Ark Guild [or quest counter] and the quest this time around are pretty interesting but so far they’re not as good or as in depth as the one’s in the original were. That don’t mean that they’re bad though. Honestly they’re far from being bad. A lot of the classic enemies are back this time too like the Rag Ruppy’s. They go by a different name now but I’m glad to see those big yellow cowards again. It brings back good memories of my old Newman/Force burning the shit out of everything in his path. Playing as a Force this time around is actually even harder then it was back then. You can no longer buy Monofluid to replenish your TP. It recovers over time but if you’re in a tough spot and you rely on your magic then you might be in trouble.
I recommend playing in a party if you’re going to be a Force. A good party will save your life when you’re in a tough spot and make usually hard boss battles a little easier. Boss battles are amazing. They’re better then they were back in the day. The dragon is back and tougher then ever. He’ll dig underground, fly over your head, and dash at you while shooting out fire from his mouth just to kill you. His ultimate attack can one hit the toughest character and you’ll be left staring at your monitor like an idiot while you try and figure out what just happened to you. In addition to the dragon there’s a boss that when it’s just you or one other partner you’ll only fight one but as soon as a third and fourth partner show up you’ll fight two of them.
Bosses can even show up as regular enemies some times and the first time that happened to me was when I was in a volcano trying to get to my next objective and the exact same dragon that took me 37 minutes to kill showed up and tried to kill me. Thankfully I had Lunaliah with me and we managed to kill the damn thing in about 15 minutes. It was hard but very exciting and it really made that playthrough of the game so much better. While you’re out questing random things can and mostly likely will happen to you like that. One time I got caught up in a random lightning storm and had to dodge lighting bolts falling from the sky while I was fighting off a group of wolves.
This is one of the few MMO’s that doesn’t feel like one. It feels like the first Phantasy Star Online game and that’s what’s so neat about it. This game has added in a new character class called Braver and they use a Katana, and bow. The Katana is amazing and can easily cut through multiple enemies in the blink of an eye. That’s not the only new thing that’s been added in the game though. I was wondering why I couldn’t use the double bladed saber that I found off of a boss and that’s because it’s for a completely different class that can only be obtained once you reach level 30. At level 30 you’ll get a chance to choose a subclass to further improve your skills. You’ll get access to dual wielding guns, sabers, fish, or whatever else you can fit in your hands.
Your mag is back and is more useful then ever but grinding it up to level 30 can be a pain. Especially if you have a certain build in mind because finding the items to feed it can be difficult or be very expensive. Your mag can evolve into different forms depending on what stat is highest and this encourages multiple playthroughs of the game.
Now that I’ve covered everything that’s awesome about the game lets talk about what’s not so good about it. Sega has put a lot of restrictions in this game. Meaning there are a lot of micro-transactions in the game. I tried to trade Lunaliah a rare gun that I found because my guy is a warrior and has no use for guns but I couldn’t do it. I have to be a premium user to trade other players but that’s not all. The other player also has to be a premium user or the trade won’t work. If you want to drink a good defense boosting potion before a hard quest you can’t unless you’re a premium user.
You’ll often be doing quest over and over again to complete certain quest or just level up your character because you get such little experience from monsters so you’ll often be grinding just to reach that next level. Back in the day your mag evolved at level 10 but now it’s been pushed back to 30. That’s not really a bad thing but it is annoying and it takes too long to level the damn thing up.
Making money is easy but it honestly has little to no use unless you’re buying from other players and their prices are really steep and you can easily go broke if you’re not careful. The in game shop is literally useless. I remember back in the day this wasn’t the case. You could easily find new gear in the shop but that’s been removed and replaced by something I really don’t like.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is a really good game that could have been Legendary if it wasn’t plagued by micro-transactions and questionable design decisions. While it is a true Phantasy Star game that definitely delivered on just about every level it’s also a MMO now and whoever is willing to pay will have an obvious edge over everyone else and that truly did take away a little of the experience for me. That being said if you’ve been holding off on playing this game you’re making a mistake. You’re missing out on one of the best games in the Franchise and even though it’s a bit of a grind it’s really worth it and at the end of the day you’ll walk away with a big smile on your face.
Our Verdict: 9/10
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