Phantasy Star Universe
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|Phantasy Star Universe|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2 / PC
Phantasy Star Universe (ファンタシースターユニバース Fantashī Sutā Yunibāsu ) (PSU) is an action role-playing video game by Sega's Sonic Team for the PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. In Japan, it was released for the PC and PlayStation 2 on August 31, 2006, with the Xbox 360 version releasing on December 12, 2006. Its North American release was on October 24, 2006, available in all formats. The European release date was November 24.
While Phantasy Star Universe is an action role-playing game similar to the Phantasy Star Online (PSO) games, it takes place in a (presumably) different time period and location and has many new features. Like most of the PSO titles, PSU is playable in both a persistent online network mode and a full featured single-player story mode.
Phantasy Star Universe's story is continued in its expansion pack, Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus, picking up where Phantasy Star Universe left off. Players use their own avatars and take the role as instructors to younger GUARDIANS recruits while investigating the evil organization of "human supremacists" known as the Illuminus. Along with new missions, new weapons are introduced as well as new Photon Arts, classes, enemies, bosses, and more. The user's personal avatar is the main character. In Phantasy Star Universe, players experienced the story through the eyes of Ethan Waber. In Ambition of the Illuminus, they will complete missions using their own customized avatar, working to restore peace in the Gurhal System.
The universe is the Gurhal Star System, which consists of three planets; Parum, Neudaiz, and Moatoob - as well as a large space station, which, in addition to housing a large civilian population, also serves as the headquarters of the Guardians. Each planet has its own unique culture formed by its inhabitant races. The history of the Gurhal Star System is filled with conflict amongst the different races. However, after the Final Conflict 100 years ago, a union was formed between the three planets. This led to the birth of the Allied Army and ultimately to peace for the Gurhal Star System.
At the start of the game, Ethan Waber, the main character, and his little sister, Lumia Waber, are at the celebration of the 100th year anniversary of the Alliance Space Fleet on the GUARDIANS Space station. The celebration is interrupted when a mysterious meteor shower almost destroys the entire fleet. During evacuation, Ethan and Lumia split off of the main evacuation route and collapsing rubble separates Lumia from Ethan. Ethan then meets up with a GUARDIAN named Leo, but they are attacked by a strange creature. The creature paralyzes Leo and Ethan takes his handgun and kills the creature. Leo then tells Ethan to find his sister and that a rescue team is on the way. After killing multiple creatures and saving people, Ethan finds Lumia, and they both leave the station. After a conversation between Leo and Ethan, Ethan reveals that he dislikes the GUARDIANS organization because his father died when on a mission. Leo, impressed with Ethan's abilities, convinces Ethan to join the GUARDIANS.
Ethan and his classmate, Hyuga Ryght, are trained by a female Guardian named Karen Erra, who leads them against the SEED, the strange monsters that came from the meteors. After being hired to accompany a scientist to a RELICS site of an ancient, long-dead civilization, they find out that the SEED are attracted to a power source (A-Photons) the ancients used and that the solar system has just re-discovered. Karen finds out she is the sister of the Divine Maiden (the prophet of the Holy Light) and takes over that position when her sister dies at the hands of her estranged father who intended to kill Karen to increase the power of the original Divine Maiden (Mirei). After befriending Rogues, Guardians, and CASTs alike, Ethan angers Magashi, a CAST who heads the Endrum Collective and has been kidnapping scientists who know about the ancient power source.
After Ethan and a Rogue named Alfort Tylor kill Magashi, Ethan helps activate an ancient weapon the prior civilization used to survive the SEED before they were almost completely wiped out. Ethan then gathers allies against Guardian orders to attack the last SEED outpost standing where two of his friends and the scientists are being held. In the outpost Magashi claims to be brought back to life by the SEED, where in reality he is a CAST incarnation of Dark Force who controls the SEED itself and controls whatever they infect. With the help of Karen, Leo, and Tonnio, Ethan defeats Magashi.
Ambition of the Illuminus picks right up where the story left off in Phantasy Star Universe. Shortly after the defeat of Magashi and the Endrum Collective, a mysterious group known as the Illuminus have appeared and threaten to exterminate all non-human races. The GUARDIANS themselves are under attack, and Ethan Waber is now wanted for an attempted assassination. Determined to find Ethan at any cost is GUARDIAN instructor Laia Martinez. As a new GUARDIAN receiving guidance from Laia, the player must search for Ethan and uncover the truth. A new series of online chapters introduced by the expansion, having completed their training and become full-fledged GUARDIANS, players take the reins as instructors, passing on their knowledge to younger recruits while investigating the evil Illuminus organization. In addition, all of Episode 2 is available in the offline Story Mode on the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of the game and limited edition collectibles are given away as mission rewards, and some are given to your character at the beginning of the game.
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The initial unveiling of the game was at E3 2004, with subsequent showing at the next E3, and then again at TGS 2005. A closed beta stress test for the servers took place between April and May 2006.
Ambition of the Illuminus
Phantasy Star Universe: Ambition of the Illuminus (ファンタシースターユニバース イルミナスの野望 Fantashī Sutā Yunibāsu: Iruminasu no Yabō ) is the first expansion of Sonic Team's internationally popular online action RPG Phantasy Star Universe, available for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360. Released initially in Japan on September 27, 2007, for PlayStation 2 and PC, subsequent territorial releases followed on November 20, 2007, when North America received the expansion for all three platforms. This date also marked the worldwide release of the Xbox 360 version as it was available for download through Microsoft's Xbox Live service. Europe received the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of Ambition of the Illuminus on January 11, 2008, and finally it reached Australia on February 7, 2008.
Although it is an expansion pack, the PC and PlayStation 2 versions of Ambition of the Illuminus are standalone and do not require the original game to play. The Xbox 360 version, however, does require the original disc due to the expansion being downloadable content. On June 30, 2010, the expansion became free on Xbox Live. As of July 20, 2010, the expansion is required for users wishing to play online. An updated version was released at this time which contains GUARDIANS Advanced Content. Ambition of the Illuminus introduced numerous new features to Phantasy Star Universe including new weapons, Photon Arts, missions, clothing, enemies, and more.
Due to low population, the North American and PAL PC/PS2 servers of Phantasy Star Universe were shut down on March 31, 2010. PS2 support for the Japanese servers was discontinued on April 14, 2011. The Xbox 360 servers shut down on September 7, 2012. The Japanese PC servers have closed as of 24:00 JST on September 27, 2012.
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Erik Brudvig of IGN gave Phantasy Star Universe a passable score of 6.4 out of 10, saying "The result is an unsatisfying and stale experience that feels like an update to an old game that has had its day rather than a new title."  James Mielke of 1UP.com gave an average rating of "B+" 
PSU's setting, story, and characters have been continued and expanded upon in 3 PlayStation Portable games: Phantasy Star Portable, Phantasy Star Portable 2, and Phantasy Star Portable 2: Infinity. The games offer new features and content, and like the Ambition of the Illuminus expansion, the player plays through the story mode as their own character. In the Japanese version of the original Phantasy Star Portable, it was possible to import some character data from the PC and PS2 versions of the game, this was however not possible in other regions.
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- Important Information Regarding PC/PS2 Servers - Please Read
- Kyle Hilliard (June 9, 2012). "Phantasy Star Universe Servers Shutting Down Soon". GameInformer. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- サービス終了のお知らせ (Japanese)
- Phantasy Star Universe for PlayStation 2 Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic
- Phantasy Star Universe Review - PlayStation 2 Review at IGN
- Phantasy Star Universe Review for PS2 from 1UP.com
- Majed Athab (May 15, 2008). "Details on Phantasy Star Portable, import PSU characters". Joystiq. Retrieved June 27, 2012.