I figured I would post my impressions of Phantasy Star Online 2 as well as some screenshots of it I've taken. For those who don't know, I am a huge Phantasy Star freak. I loved the original series during the 16 bit era and I loved PSO on Dreamcast. I've played it since about 2003, when I got my DC. I played PSO:BB and PSU on the Sega servers before they shut down. I played Phantasy Star Portable 2 on my psp as well until I got above level 150 and got bored.
I play the original PSO at edenserv.net (I'm lvl 157, so pretty dedicated and not a scrub) and a lot of the players there managed to get into the closed beta of PSO2. Yes, it's Japanese only, and you need an invite code to get in. However, there's a partial English patch for it already. So, considering I was curious I got in touch with someone in the shoutbox and they helped me get set up with an invite.
First, the pictures, all taken on my sig rig.
Now, my thoughts:
Graphics I'll give a 7 out of 10. Phantasy Star Universe had roughly the same graphics years ago. Looks like a DX9 game (It wouldn't surprise me if it is). There doesn't seem to be any options in the settings panel for DX10 or 11, Tessellation, bloom, etc. It looks better than PSU and has a bit more bloom.
Music is very generic. I'm most dissappointed about this so far. It's all semi orchestral ambient type stuff that sounds like something from WoW or Aion. There is no real outstanding melody in any of it. It does not provide a great, techy atmosphere like PSO and it's not even as good as PSU's music (and some of that stuff was bad).
Character design and world design are very good to excellent. Running around the lobby/spaceship is nothing short of amazing and very immersive. You do feel like you're a kickass anime guy/girl/robot in a futuristic world. The only downside of course, is that the lobbies are small. Not as small as the cities in PSU and not nearly as small as Pioneer 2 in PSO. It is still a central quest hub/shop area and not much else. Sadly, I've always wished SEGA would make a literal futuristic city complete with random buildings to explore, apartment buildings with player housing, a large mall area with multiple shops, something the size of Orgrimmar or Stormwind in Warcraft but futuristic. Doesn't look like anything of that scale will happen.
Combat is a mixed bag. I made my character a Hunter, so I play melee combat. You have a weapon palette where you can equip 3 weapons at once, and assign special moves to them, but that's it. If you want to equip a different weapon to one of these 3 temporary spots you must open and navigate a bunch of stuff in the main menu (can't really do that in combat). For Hunters, it seems like there's only a few weapon types: sword, partisan, gunslash, chain whip. Sword is big, slow, but hits the hardest. Partisan is surprisingly fast (about the speed of a saber in PSO) and small compared to the spears in the other games. Gunslash is a saber you can toggle between being a saber and a handgun with a button. The special moves for this thing are cool, slash something up into the air and then shoot it multiple times before it lands. Chain Whip is kind of ranged- it looks like a katar (middle eastern dagger/claw style weapon) but it functions like a chain-whip-blade (think God of War). It does very low damage per hit, though it is fast and has range. Overall I like the Partisan best.
Combat includes blocking, a dash, jumping, and spamming X endlessly. Instead of there being a normal, heavy, and extra attack like in PSO, you simply have a button to attack and a button to do a special move. You can press the attack button and your character will attack endlessly every time you press it (similar to Dynasty Warriors 6). Instead of being limited to a 3 hit combo, you can just swing. The dash can be used after a jump but you can only jump once so it's useless. The dash does not cover much ground, though it is adequate to dodge enemy attacks with. Also, the normal attack you can use also doubles as a charge attack: if you delay the button press so you attack again as your previous animation finishes you get a flash effect and the same sound you would when you do a heavy attack in PSO.
The enemy AI is pathetic and very easy. The only thing that makes it tough is the absurd amount of HP some bosses and minibosses have. The enemies aren't very aggressive and telegraph their moves so it's easy to dodge when they attack. Enemies will also do things such as try and sidestep your attack but your attacks have such range that they'll get hit anyway. So what gthe game comes down to sometimes is just run up to an enemy and press the same button over and over, attacking indefinitely until the enemy dies (oftentimes you can do this to a whole group of them without even taking damage.... they are that wimpy AI wise).
There really isn't any rhythm to the combat and no variety with so few weapon choices. It doesn't seem hunters can use really any guns aside from the gunblade thing. PSO had sabers, swords, partisans, slicers, daggers, twin sabers, mechguns, spreads, the list goes on. Any class, especially melee Hunters could use like 10 different weapons. They had their drawbacks, and they were all mostly limited to a 3 hit combo animation, and a recovery period. Hence, rhythm. With particularly strong enemies you had to be smart and only attack twice before moving out of the way to dodge, lest you get knocked down (or one hit killed on Ult). In PSO2, you just mash x forever and everything dies.
So, that's my opinion of the game so far. Yes, I understand it's a beta, I also understand that likely everyone responsible for the original PSO probably has nothing to do with PSO2. Overall it's a solid game but like many newer games it pales in comparison to that which it tries to emulate from 10 years ago.
Hope you guys liked my post Edited by neurotix - 4/28/12 at 12:44am