Phantasy Star Online Version II - Dreamcast

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Sonic Team Soft. Co.: SEGA
Publishers: SEGA (GB)
Released: 1 Mar 2002 (GB)
Ratings: 11+, ESRB Teen 13+ (T)
Accessories: VGA Compatible, Vibration Pack, Visual Memory Card

Summary

Phantasy Star Online, despite Sega’s unstable position in the hardware market, was a very successful title. As one of the first European online-capable console RPGs, Phantasy Star Online had little competition. It brought bedroom gamers closer together, as virtual teams combined their resources on Sega’s servers to become the ultimate and unbeatable Phantasy Star player.

Early 2002, and Sega’s commitment to the ill-fated Dreamcast is still as strong as when the console first launched. New for 2002 is the release of Phantasy Star Online Version 2, a well-crafted expansion of the original.

On first impressions, even the most ardent Phantasy Star fan will struggle to uncover the enhancements Version 2 offers. For the first several hours of the game, Version 2 remains identical, and you begin to wonder if you’ve been sold a duff copy. But given time, the changes and additions become increasingly apparent. It surprises even today, how mere expansions on older games can still be so addictive. There’s a driving force throughout Version 2 that ignites the player's curiosity. You'll be drawn into hours of gameplay just because you'll want to know what new features lie around the next corner.

Shortly after beginning your Version 2 game, you will inevitably stumble across the all new Battle Mode that allows players to participate in one-on-one combat. You must fight both with weapons and magic to kill or be killed. There’s something very satisfying about defeating an experienced player from the other side of the world. There’s also a Challenge Mode, designed to test and improve players’ endurance skills.

If Phantasy Star Online wasn’t already a big enough challenge, Version 2 has been developed to include several new enemies that are noticeably more powerful than the originals, and generally reside in Version 2’s completely new levels. In the previous version, players were able to grow, statistically speaking, to a level of 100 – a common barrier amongst many RPGs. But Version 2 breaks that tradition and allows players to progress as far as level 200! Given the experience gained from defeating enemies, this would normally take an excessive amount of time. Sega has also given this factor careful thought and has included a new Ultimate difficulty setting. As if completing the game a single time wasn’t hard enough, finishing a same game with new levels on Easy, Normal, Hard and Ultimate settings is a phenomenal task. But it’s a challenge that most role-players will relish.

A highly sophisticated and revised communication interface means the language barrier has been lowered further. And now players need not concern themselves with the time of day elsewhere when going online for a bit of rambunctious battling, thanks to a Star Trek-style Stardate-esque time system.

As with most role-playing games Phantasy Star Online 2 takes some getting into and requires serious investigation to access the new sections of the game. But ultimately, the player is rewarded with an improved playing experience that isn’t a simple rehash of an old title. Well done Sega.