Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Constantly forced into the massive shadow of the Final Fantasy franchise, tri-Ace's Star Ocean has never really been able to shine on its own... until now. The fourth installment in the space-faring series, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, not only blows recent next-gen JRPGs out of the water, but proves itself a fantastic swan-song for the cult-favorite space opera.

THE VERDICT by Will Herring Will Herring's Avatar Beautiful graphics, innovative combat, and fantastically cinematic gameplay compliment the latest (and supposedly last) installment in the prestigious Star Ocean series.

Captain's Log...

Star Ocean: The Last Hope serves as a prequel to the entire Star Ocean universe, pre-dating the series' first title by a whopping two centuries. The Last Hope picks up shortly after World War III has all but decimated the once green Earth, leaving the planet's population in desperate need of a new home. With space travel still in its infancy, a collection of Earth's scientific superpowers known as the Universal Science and Technology Administration launches project "Seeds of Hope" -- a reconnaissance mission in search of hospitable planets suitable for colonization. That's where you come in - rookie pilot Edge Maverick, headstrong crewman of the SRF-003 Calnus. When a strange anomaly knocks the Calnus out of its sub-space travel, the vessel finds itself stranded on the primitive planet of Aeos, and so begins the latest entry in the Star Ocean series.

Even if you've never picked up a tri-Ace title in your life, The Last Hope's friendly interface and vibrant visuals makes it incredibly easy for gamers who don't know Star Ocean from Star Trek to jump right into this massive role-playing experience. The game's production value is truly impressive and the phenomenal graphics make the most of the Xbox 360's hardware with each planet, ship and city brandishing its own unique charm. The game's detailed character models show intense emotion during in-game cut-scenes, and party members move with incredible fluidity both in and out of battle. The voice acting is certainly a mixed bag, ranging from incredibly solid to unabashedly cheesy or downright deadpan (here's looking at you, Lymle) but all in all, the game's fantastic score matched with its fantastic cinematic flair creates a truly remarkable gaming experience for both old and new USTA recruits alike.

Never Missing a Beat

Star Ocean's trademark real time battles make a triumphant return in The Last Hope, overhauled with brand new bells and whistles allowing players to truly maximize and customize their gaming experience. Gamers can now assign one of three different fighting styles, or "Beats", to their party members. Depending on how you approach your characters' Beats (offensive, defensive or neutral), they'll receive certain perks with each Rank Up to better compliment their fighting style. Offensive fighters might become better at pulling off critical hits, or Blindside attacks, where defensive party members can make the most of their Rush gauge - an innovative bar that, upon being filled, boosts your characters guard and allows for the opportunity for Chain Combos.

Symbology and Special Arts also return with a series of beautiful animations and devastating spells. Using the aforementioned Chain Combos, characters can customize and link together various Symbology spells or Special Arts to truly put the hurt on your enemies. One of my favorite new additions is the battle system's Bonus Board: a unique assortment of multi-colored tiles that are earned with special feats performed during combat (defeat multiple enemies with one strike, defeat an enemy just using a Special Skill, etc.) Each tile earned during battle gives players an extra boost upon victory. For instance, defeating an enemy with a Blindside attack awards players with a blue tile that presents the party with an extra 10% of experience once you've triumphed over your foes. These tiles can be stacked and chained together, allowing gamers to earn up to 140% the amount of experience points you'd normally earn. When utilized properly, perks from the Bonus Board can really cut down on tedious level grinding, item collection, and even heal your party upon triumph.

Similar to Star Ocean 3, random battles have been replaced by roaming NPCs who, based on your approach, can be surprised with preemptive attacks or will even ambush you if you let your guard down. Similar to past Star Oceans, you can switch between party members on the fly using the left or right bumpers. I really have to give props to tri-Ace for making each and every character feel incredibly different: Edge's attacks are slow and powerful, where Reimi's long-range arrows are perfect for picking off enemies from a distance. With each character excelling in a certain area, albeit Symbology or Chain Combos, it's an absolute treat to mix and match various party members in hopes of creating the ideal team. The team AI is no slouch either, with characters wisely choosing the best tactic to compliment their teammate's attacks.

Comments [19]

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EBURKULOSIS

G4TV X-Play gave it 4 stars but had a lot less nice things to say about it...I saw the video review and it had some of the WORST voice acting. Is this the kind of crap that is holding up FF13? [See Last Remnant] This looks too Kiddie/Cutsey for me.

TKK

I don't play JRPGs much but the game looks pretty sweet. I wish they'd re-release the SNES Final Fantasy III on DS or something. I'd play that one again.

neji64

this got an 8.0 by IGN and according to IGN it have 45 minute cut scenes y'all 360 gurlscouts lets if y'all bash this game for having them it don't matter if it is a RPG either.

Whozyocracka i hope i can switch the voice to the real one with subtitles...
to bad for you there's no Japanese language option
LittleAnnieTroogles

I actually bought Infinite Undiscovery the other day and I actually like it a lot, I stayed away from these games because I thought they were all turn based and was pleasantly surprised when I found out it wasn't... this one looks a bit more turn based, but I will definitely check it out.

Playing Infinite Undiscovery has brought back great memories of playing games like Zelda and Solstice and Equinox, ... not so much the game play, but the over all vintage vibe you get, especially when you hear the same old vintage analog sound effects, boom that takes me right back... I think there is one more I haven't tried for the 360, I think it's Star Ocean... and after buying IU... I will never ever base a purchase off any review from anyone again.

It's a shame that more people didn't give these games a chance based on forum drivel from people that never played these games at all. I am FPS'ed to death, .... I love long single player games where you can really let your mind get lost in the game.... unfortunately online gaming is killing many of these games, and if people don't start buying, the will stop making them.

LivingTheLegend

Probably will fall under the same curse that Lost Odyssey fell under. Good enough game, but sales just not quite what they should be.....oh well.

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