Review Xbox 360: Star Ocean, The Last Hope.

Starocean

 

Star Ocean: The Last Hope, is a prequel to the entire series and at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show Producer Yoshinori Yamagishi announced that it will be the last in the series.

The Star Ocean series has been going for thirteen years now, the first title being  “Star Ocean”, released for the Super Famicom in 1996 and is known for its real time battles and sci-fi theme. This is also a must have for you sci-fi fans, as its creators where influenced by Star Trek and with the real time battles not turn based, hits a wide range of gamers and should not be dismissed as a run of the mill; argues RPG. With its beautiful CG scenes and clear and awe inspiring worlds, will have you deeply involved and submerged in this new incredible world and with a inspiring story about survival after war, Star Ocean will leave you very satisfied in every element of the game.

A.D. 2064, planet earth is on the brink of destruction after apocalyptic clashes between the World Republic Federation and the various nations that opposed them. This started WW3 and with mass weapons by all nations unleashed, caused massive devastation wiping the worlds surface of just about everything. The degrading situation forced the two opposing factions to negotiate a cease-fire and with earth’s surface scarred and the remainder of the survivors in underground cities, it only took these two factions two weeks to come to an agreement. With earth’s population drastically reduced and all countries joining forces to form the Greater United Nations, they looked skyward to space. With the establishment of the USTA, or Universal Science and Technology Administration, they begin to explore and seek new worlds beyond the stars. Fast forward to A.D. 2087, thanks to the success of warp drive experiments, mankind’s dream inched ever closer to reality. The USTA secretly began to implement its SRF project or the Space Reconnaissance Force, then at last the first official SRF mission, time to begin your journey!

You will first be introduced to a few main story characters: Edge Maverick, Reimi Saionji, Faize Sheifa Beleth, Lymle Lemuri Phi and Bacchus D-79, they all have different and balanced styles, so all characters work equally with each other; no characters are useless or weaker than the others, which makes mixing up your team more enjoyable as you can fairly use all characters well. After some enjoyable and lengthy CG scenes and dialogue (which can be skipped), the game will teach you the controls in the training area and will teach you about the real time combat that makes this game different from others. It seems like a lot to remember at first but will come easier with a bit of practise, or you can practise the various techniques at anytime by selecting the Battle Simulator feature at the main menu, so don’t panic if you don’t pick it up straight away, Star Ocean cares about new comers to the series with its helpful features throughout the game.

There are some interesting features in this game and most are the same enjoyable features from the past games, keeping the style of game play fans and newcomers to the series should love, but still has a couple of updates here and there, ill list a few of the features below as this game is jam packed full of things to do and tinker with. Two things I’m going to get into are the Data features and Collections features for now:

Data: The data part of your menu system is important for catching up with things you have forgotten if you haven’t played the game for a while or reading up on useful information. You have a dictionary to go into further detail of places, people/races, organizations, astronomical bodies and science/technology, these provide a lot of detail and insight into the world of Star Ocean and are actually worth a read for you huge fans out there. You also have a Synopsis, which you can read to catch up with important events that you have encountered, perfect for when you stuck or have forgotten what to do next, which is an important feature to have in a massive RPG. Also most importantly you have your quest list, any store orders you have picked up will be shown here, and any that have been fulfilled and need to be returned are flagged up, so no time wasting checking for orders you have completed. You can also check any side quests you’ve picked up here, this is very important as there’s a multitude of side quests to be had and it’s nice to be able to easily check what you need to do and where, and again are flagged up when completed. These are nice friendly touches and I think are quiet necessary for any RPG, I get tired of trying to keep on top of everything as some RPG’s don’t help you to this extent, so people who maybe are put off by this can play this knowing there not just going to be left in the dark if you get stuck.

Collections: One of my favourite things to do is collect Battle Trophies, these are objectives you complete in battle; Defeat 100 enemies, attack first with a special art and so on. These are fun to collect but also hard to achieve sometimes which keeps you battling for hours, you can check these in the collectable menu but not all targets will be shown so you have to figure out yourself how to get them. Each character has 100 to collect which will keep you busy for a while and some achievements are linked with the percentage you collect overall. You can also collect data on spaceships and weapons you come into contact with, cool thing about this is it’s not just the weapons you collect yourself, but the weapons that other in game characters have for example: talking to a guard in town will unlock his weapon in the ‘weapons data information’, which keeps you on your toes and gets you searching in areas you wouldn’t think to look. When you battle enemies you collect monster data, the more you battle the more the percentage of data will rise, when its 100% you can create accessories with different abilities with monster jewels. Monster jewels can be found in chests or made in item creation and are a great way to make accessories to suit you characters abilities, thus fighting better.

In battle you can use things called skills, skills are like magic: using elements magic or stronger fighting moves. There are a vast amount to learn and find throughout the game and not only that but once you learn the chain combos skill you can chain multiple attack together. You only have a set amount of CP so be wise when choosing moves, as the stronger the attack the more CP it will take up. There are all three bars for each trigger button to use eventually, allowing you to cause more damage when chaining attacks together, and good for fighting multiple enemies or bosses. Also the more you fight the more SP credits you get to spend on skills like chain combos, you learn skills by purchasing skill books from multiple stores and you can also find them in chests. You can also use SP points to increase; field skills, symbols, special arts and battle skills and also get party SP if you need a certain character to learn something quicker than the rest for example; some field skills are used outside battle to harvest items, Bacchus can harvest metal and rare items and is worth spending a lot of SP points to get that skill has high as it will go, level 10.

 

Another favourite feature of mine is the bonus board, it appears on the right hand side of your screen, it looks like empty honey comb pieces, the pieces can be filled to earn you rewards in battle which keeps the constant battling engaging and worthwhile. If you perform certain feats in battle, such as defeating an enemy with a critical hit or slaying multiple enemies at once, coloured tiles will appear on the bonus board (the exact colours depend on the feat you’ve accomplished). If you go on to win the battle, the tiles will grant you EXP boosts and other assorted bonuses. A good way to achieve tiles is to use the Blindside technique, when your character is being targeted by an enemy, you can nimbly move behind the enemy’s back and disappear from its line of sight, a move known as blindsiding. Here’s how you do it: Hold B button to ready your character for the blindside. Be careful you don’t hold B for longer than needed – otherwise, you’ll become fatigued and be unable to move for a moment. When target by an enemy, you’ll notice a targeting icon appear on your character. With B held, tilt the left analogue stick to perform a blindside. Sound complicated but becomes an important and fun way of defeating foes, you will find a few different combat techniques in battle like this which keeps game play fun and enjoyable. However I didn’t like the battle camera too much, having to move it around while fighting became a bit annoying but not too bad as it controls well.

The overall feel of movement out of battle is good, apart from being inside buildings: walking is too slow and by pressing the run toggle button (right trigger) you can run but, Edge runs far too fast indoors leaving you a little disorientated, any other movements in game and in battle otherwise are fast and smooth, good to have the basics of movement covered as you run round a lot and don’t want to be let down or annoyed by slow clumsy movements. This game will last you a good few months, so far I have clocked up 48:53 hours and I’m only on the second disk and I’ve had it for over a month now, I do have other things to do! So in my opinion it’s worth the cash you’ll be spending and it is too long to rent it out, so go buy it if you are interested it won’t let you down in the way of secrets  to find and extra things to keep you entertained.

Well as for the rest of this master piece of a game, the visuals and sound are to an incredible standard, with mind blowing beautiful CG scenes and perfectly crafted worlds and with the big orchestral sound  track that sounds like blockbuster movie quality, will polish of the Star Ocean experience perfectly leaving you with a good taste of what they’re trying to create here and that is a fully enjoyable experience in all areas. One thing I did find weird was that none of the characters have many expressions in scenes or in fact and humanly discretions on the face, which isn’t a problem just would have made the characters more lovable if detail was applied here. Voice acting is good quality, some dialogue however is just a little too cheesy for my liking but that is just the style of this series and if it all become too much to bare you can always skip scenes if it’s necessary, the story is quiet enjoyable and shouldn’t be missed.

It’s not a game to miss out on, even if you’re not into long RPG’s as it keeps you interested, with its brilliant ideas and direction in game play and its fantastic polished look. I couldn’t find any glitches which show it’s been tested properly and not just bashed out to be patched later. All aspects of this game fit brilliantly together and you can see the hard work shine through, from the huge amount of data and collectables to find, to the character profiles and immersive story scenes, all of this will leave you wanting to play for hours and hours which is what really matters when playing and enjoying a game, out in June in the UK.

Rating: 9/10

Originally posted at www.xboxliveaddicts.co.uk

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