Hello there, Unionhack here. After reading a pretty plentiful number of 'help me choose' threads, I decided to do my duty to the forum, and post a nice little thread.
Now, if you're a noob who doesn't know what to choose, first consider which of the four races looks the best to you. You're going to be staring at this character for the next god-knows-how-many hours, so make sure it's a aesthetically pleasing character.
Next, read these two guides, especially if you're a stickler for precise stats.
If these don't help you at all, consider the racial abilities that the four races have.
Humans and Newmans have Mirage Blasts, which can be very powerful. Both races have access to fire, ice, lightning, and ground Mirage Blasts (Lightning and ground are extremely powerful), while Humans exclusively have dark blasts, and newmans have light blasts. Fire/Ice/Lightning/Ground do damage to enemies while Dark increases your abilities for a while, and light makes your party member's blast gauges fill up faster. Choose one that fits your tastes.
Beasts can Nanoblast into an advanced beast form. There are several types of beast forms, such as the 'power' type, 'defense' type, 'invincible-but-short-duration' type, and others. There are also two 'advanced' types that you unlock at later levels that are rather powerful, but they present the risk of turning into the black beast. The black beast is capable of doing ridiculous amounts of damage, but can also hit party members. Party members several dozen levels higher than you can usually be downed in two hits by a black beast, so take that into consideration.
CASTs have SUV weapons, which like Mirage Blasts, are very varied (a few pictures can be found on http://psp2.psupedia.info/SUV_weapons
). They can range from giant laser blasts, to orbital strikes, to a giant healing system which heals all of your allies. Make sure to read the description of your SUV weapon system before you buy one as a CAST though.
The next thing to consider is gender. Unlike in many games, gender has a difference in this game. It's not that great of a difference, but it still must be considered.
* Males have around 5% more HP, ATK, DEF and EVA.
* Females have around 5% more ACC, TEC and MND. They also have a larger PP pool and thus regenerate more PP per second than males.
So choose wisely.
Next on this list are abilities. Instead of explaining these to you, I'll just be lazy and give you a nice, pretty link.
Finally, let us discuss types.
-Hunters are the designated 'melee' class. They are suited for close combat, so use them as such, because their HP and ATK are high.. Beasts and CASTs are usually good hunters.
-Rangers are good with ranged attacks thanks to high Accuracy. Newmans and CASTS are normally excellent rangers.
-Forces are rather difficult to use, since their main arsenal consists of TECHNICs (Magic), and TECHNICs can be rather hard to use sometimes. Play your force right, though, and you can have a very powerful character. Newmans usually make the best forces.
WARNING: Even though they can be amazing if played right, Forces where severely underpowered from the first game to the second. They're not as great as they used to be. Keep this in mind if you prefer an easier game.
-Vanguards are a jack of all trades, and are extremely powerful when you put traps in their hands. A good fit for all races.
WARNING: If you are looking for a challenge, it's best not to go with a Vanguard. With a certain ability ticked, you traps can down a boss in mere seconds with no problems at all. It tends to suck the fun out of the game for some people.
Weapons are also no longer restricted to types. You can level up weapon ranks (for example, if I want my force to use an Axe, I can expend Extend Points to raise my axe level to C, allowing my force to use C-Rank axes. If I use more, I can go up to B rank for similar results.)
One last thing; if you're one of the people who wants the best possible ending, and you don't care about spoilers, please click on this link
And scroll down until you get to the answers section.
With all of this in mind, try to pick something that pleases you. And if you can't, consider the stats. Do what you wish, and have an excellent time playing.