Evolution 2 - Reader Retroview  

by JuMeSyn

18-27 hours


Rating definitions 

   Sting had a year between the release of Evolution and its sequel. Quite a few things could have been done to improve the sequel, given the manifest disappointments of the first game. And indeed, Evolution 2 manages to be the superior of the two titles. Sting did implement some worthwhile alterations that help in this respect. Unfortunately Evolution 2 feels a bit too much like its predecessor, enough so as to induce a frequent monotony to the game’s proceedings.

   The events of Evolution 1 have only recently transpired as the sequel begins. Mag Launcher, Linear Cannon, Gre Nade and Chain Gun have been summoned to Museville for further adventuring in ruins on behalf of the Society that sponsors such activities, with Pepper Box showing up a little later. Along the way a fellow named Yurka takes an interest in Linear for hidden reasons. There’s a sense of whimsy to most of what’s going on that keeps events moderately entertaining, but the basic story is uninteresting and predictable.

Any glasses that big would hurt to wear, so clearly Nina’s frames are empty… or else she’s superhuman. Any glasses that big would hurt to wear, so clearly Nina’s frames are empty… or else she’s superhuman.

   Battles in Evolution 2 are identical to the battles in the game’s predecessor, save with new enemies and special techniques on the part of the protagonists. There is a new character to use near the end of the game, but until that point the five playable characters are exactly the same as in Evolution 1 (although their abilities are somewhat different). Enemies wander around the dungeons and will run after the player’s group upon spotting them, with initiative granted to the side that manages to contact the other from the rear. In battle a fairly standard turn-based system holds sway, with the only real deviation from the norm being the presence of three ranks that offer increased attack and agility with decreased defense or vice versa. Defeating enemies nets experience and TP to learn new techniques with, but no money.

   As in the first Evolution, money is obtained solely by selling things and completing assignments for the Society. And as in the first Evolution, limited item carrying space becomes most aggravating when on a deep dungeon detour. One very handy improvement to this is that items the Society can assess are separate from others, and do not take up room in the item storage bag. The tendency of unused characters to accumulate TP up to the maximum of 9999 without player monitoring is preserved, unfortunately. Other than this interaction is barely different from the first Evolution, but save for the limited item storage the first game did not have any glaring flaws here.

   Visually Evolution 2 does not look much different from the first game. The presence of mostly set dungeon designs might be anticipated as an improvement, but even though the dungeons are not random they look just as uniformly boring as those in Evolution 1. New enemies and special attacks are nice, though.

Did the butler do it?  Yes he did! Did the butler do it? Yes he did!

   Aurally there are no major issues, unless the reuse of the battle themes from the first game is a problem. The music is not BAD, it simply reminds me all too strongly of Yanni or Enya. Excellent listening if the player is experiencing insomnia, but not necessarily recommended in large doses. Negative points for one of the more irritating sound effects I have heard, and since it pops up every time a command is decided in battle the player will learn to hate it. Unlike the first game, all major plot points come with voice acting now. Ubi Soft kept the voice acting in Japanese, leading to the discovery that Yurka’s voice actor does a monotone very well.

   Evolution 2 does not have quite the aggravating challenge of its antecedent, with most enemies being cannon fodder. Bosses are somewhat threatening but, save for the final ones, not a great threat. Of course if the player avoids combat frequently it will be a different story. With great strategy and a little luck the game can probably be completed in 18 hours, though there is an optional dungeon (with randomly generated floors) to conquer and the possible desire to find every appraisal item. Plus once the game is completed Mag is saddled with an enormous debt in the form of a hotel bill, which the player can then attempt to pay off.

   After playing through Evolution 2, it is no surprise to me that the two were combined into one for the Gamecube’s Evolution Worlds. The difference between the two games is not great, and while Evolution 2 is the superior game that does not make it great. When its dungeons look and feel randomly generated even though they are not, it bodes poorly for the prospects of playing through the entirety. The Evolution games appear to be the least distinguished part of Sting’s output, sadly.

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