Evolution 2


    If the original Evolution had been released 5 years ago, Evolution 2 would be a prime setting for nostalgia. However, with Evolution being a mere seven months old in the U.S., Evolution 2 fails to offer much more than a sense of deja vu. With Evolution 2: Far Off Promise, Sting had the chance to improve greatly on a set of basic ideas which many gamers felt had just missed the mark. Unfortunately, effort for improvement seems all but non-existent in Evolution 2, and the fun of the series suffers greatly because of it.

The old heroes return

    Evolution 2's sole saving grace is found in the return of the entire crew of the first Evolution. The cast's liveliness is even turned up a notch, due to new facial expressions coupled with decent voice acting, which remains in its original Japanese. The characters look the same except for a few small changes, such as Linear's hair style and the color of Mag's jacket. Outside these changes in presentation, the basic characters themselves haven't changed -- from Gre still watching over Mag's every move to Chain trying to one-up him every step of the way, each personality has stayed intact.

    Sadly, once you look past the fun-loving cast of characters, it's all downhill. The story Mag and crew find themselves in isn't nearly as enjoyable as Evolution's, and for the most part, never really even gets off the ground. The basic layout follows the same style that Evolution 1 did -- set up base in a Society-inhabited town, and then travel to dungeons across the land repeatedly, with minor plot details emerging after each dungeon. However, the story never truly becomes interesting, and fails to draw the player in. More so, the new center town, Museville, is possibly the most generic RPG town ever, which makes it a poor choice for the role of the game's only town.

Dungeon crawl

    Even the dungeons to be explored are remarkably dull, despite the fact that they were supposed to be improved by no longer being randomly generated. Rather than make interesting original dungeons, Sting chose to continue making them with single patterns, so that entire dungeons look the same on every floor, thus defeating the purpose of pre-design. Even the chance for improved layouts was skipped, as the closest you'll see to a puzzle will generally be something along the line of a hole in the floor that drops you to the previous level -- hardly an exciting twist. While variation improves slightly towards the end of the game, making it that far will be a true test of patience.

    Battles, too, remain unchanged. Fights take place in the entirely same turn-based manner as before, even with details such as the same enemies and the same battle music from Evolution returning. While some new enemies surface in Evolution 2, the amount of new faces to battle and the amount of different enemies in each dungeon leave much to be desired. It's not rare to go as long as 5 floors of a dungeon facing the exact same enemy over and over. While the battle music from Evolution was catchy at first, it becomes overly trite the second time around, perhaps due to its simplicity in style. Even the equipment you can find is generally the same as Evolution. Beyond equipment, both the CyFrame parts and special abilities your characters can acquire are unchanged, often with the same graphical display effects as before.

Mag stares fixedly at a lever

    Evolution 2's actual presentation is technically sound, although once again mostly identical to the first game. The graphics are almost a perfect match, except with slightly improved anti-aliasing. Sting did attempt to include a third-person camera view mode, which actually made the world of Evolution look extremely impressive compared to the overhead view. Unfortunately, sloppy controls and camera control in this perspective made it extremely frustrating to use. The catchy musical style of Evolution returns, although many of the themes are borrowed directly from the first game. One bright side is that the samples used seemed to be somewhat improved, which make a slight improvement to the borrowed songs.

    All in all, Evolution 2 suffers a fate somewhat similar to that of the first title. It manages to do a few things right, but has a limited appeal -- even more so due to the fact it recycles so many elements from its predecessor. Both gamers new to the series and those who were die hard fans of the original should find something to enjoy, but those who have already played the first Evolution and were hoping for any fixes or changes are bound to be disappointed.

Review by Jeremy Steimel, GIA.
Evolution 2
Developer Sting
Publisher UbiSoft
Genre Traditional RPG
Medium GD-ROM (1)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date  12.22.99
Evolution 2 cast expands
9 screenshots
10 town sketches / Phone card art
Japanese box art and guide