Last week, in a desperate attempt to find a game that would help quench my thirst for long, adventure-style games I bought “Star Ocean: The Last Hope” after some research. I had been after the game for a couple of years but never quite got around to it (bearing in mind that roughly the same time it was released, I was immersed in Final Fantasy 12).
The narrative follows two teenagers, Edge Maverick and Reimi Saijoni, as they travel across the Star Ocean in hopes of finding a suitable refuge for the people of Earth, who have been displaced after the planet succumbed to the effects of World War 3. Along the way they meet many friendly and unfriendly races, search for Edge’s missing rival Crowe and try to solve the day-to-day problems of the people on various planets.
The graphics are really good, even though the characters look more based on anime than on real human beings, and the controls are not fiddly at all. It’s easy to explore the various planets and take your time with searching around, fighting enemies and talking to people in need. There are also tons of items, equipment and skills to collect and learn which makes Star Ocean a time-consuming but rewarding play.
The battle system is at first repetitive but soon develops into a more interesting experience as you learn new skills and symbology (this game’s magic). At the beginning of the game you have no choice but to repeatedly bash the attack button and wait for victory, but I’ve reached the third planet now and it’s starting to become a more tactical affair: the enemies are tougher, smarter, and it’s difficult to work out the best strategy to stop yourself being killed. Luckily, there are many different characters that you can control, so if the going gets tough with one party member, you can switch to another and try different battle methods. You can also choose how freestyle or conservatively the other party members are, so if you were worried abot using up too much MP then you could make your characters fight in a more melee style.
The major downside of the game is that the save points are very far apart, meaning that if you want to get anywhere with the storyline then you’ll have to devote at least a couple of hours to the cause each time you play. At the minute I don’t have all of the characters available but I know that people say that some of the characters are annoying: I have Lymle Lemuri in my party and she’s a fifteen year old who acts about six. She’s starting to get on my nerves a bit, but I suppose it’s her personality (her biography says that both of her parents died when she was young and despite having a grandfather she wanted to fend for herself and finds it hard to make friends and trust people, so she is more attached to her summon spell Cerberus than any human). Some of the voice-acting is a little amateurish, but that could be seen as being picky!
However, despite its downsides Star Ocean is actually a really good experience and is great for people who have an RPG-shaped hole in their lives. As for me, I think it’s a great filler for the timespace between now and when I eventually grab a copy of Final Fantasy 13.