Star Ocean: The Last Hope Review
Star Ocean: The Last Hope is the forth main title in series, and is a prequel to every Star Ocean title released before it. Star Ocean: The Last Hope is where it all started, but does this game compete well with it's predecessors?
Note that I'm reviewing the 360 version, so 360 controls will be noted.
Story and Characters
It all begins on Space Date 10, where man are exploring the vast Star Ocean for a new home, as years prior mankind made its biggest mistake in Earth’s history, World War III. The result has caused massive devastation right throughout, making the surface near inhabitable. Many lives have been lost, and those that remain have been forced to move underground for survival.
While the story won’t break too many RPG clichés is still quite an enjoyable ride. There are a set of nice characters that tag along and you will travel to many interesting worlds such as Roak, Lemuris and En II in the process.
Some worlds have a very unbearable storyline. Having Edge mope around all throughout the time on Roak is pretty annoying and Alternate Earth being just some kind of unnecessary add-on. Overall, it's a very cliché storyline and despite some annoyances from the characters; they will help you get through it.
Gameplay is very similar to past Star Ocean games, but more reminiscent to Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. All battles take place in real time and you are able to move about the field as you please. There are new additions to battle, such as the Blindside system, Jump, Rush Combos and Member Change. Using Blindsides, the player evade enemy attacks and dash behind the enemy for a critical hit. You will have to time these well, as you can only do them when the enemy is about to attack you. Most of the time, the enemy will counter attack you and you will be hit for some serious damage. You can Jump around in battle and is pretty much self explanatory, most members Dash instead of Jumping however. It's easy to use and you can evade attacks easily. Member Change allows you to change party members on the spot. You can do this in the Battle Selection menu or it's used by default when all characters are K.Oed or otherwise unable to act. Rush Combos you can use by holding down the Jump button. Don't press it too long or else the character will be stunned. After the Rush gauge (below the characters HP and MP) is filled, press the X button while holding down one of the ability buttons. You will initiate a Rush Combo which allows you to team up with another Party Member to preform attacks all together at once. With so much to offer in just combat, Star Ocean The Last Hope is possibly the most innovative battle systems in RPG history.
Series staple Item Creation returns in full force. Using the Item Creation terminal on the Calnus, you can create various weapons and items for your party to use at your disposal. You will have to obtain raw items used in IC can commonly be found in shops, while rarer and uncommon types can be found in combat fields. Welch Vineyard returns as the Item Creaton specialist and she's as hilarious as ever.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope does not leave out the extras. After completing the game, you can face against the Undying Dragon in the Palace of Creation. After defeating him, you will obtain the darkness ring. Head to Roak and go to the Tatroi Colosseum. At the upper left corner of the Colosseum, you will find a door shrouded in light. Use the darkness ring and you will be able to access the Cave of the Seven Stars, one of the Pre-Game dungeons. Here, like most Star Ocean bonus dungeons, you will face against some tough enemies and even face Gabriel Celeste. After defeating him, go to En II and the Wandering Dungeon will be unlocked. It's a rather... tedious dungeon compared to the Cave of the Seven Stars. You can't save anywhere in the dungeon. While it may not sound like a big deal (you are probably thinking, why not just leave to save?), if you were to leave the dungeon, you will have to start over from the beginning regardless of what floor you were on when you left. It's tedious and you will have to have a good schedule to complete it. It's not one you can complete on a work day or school day.
Enough venting about the WD. There are also quests you can accept by talking to certain NPCs throughout the game. There's also Colosseum battles and even Bunny Races. This time, the bunny races are actually fun! Battle Trophies are back again in full force, so you will spend almost over 1000 hours to complete everything the game has to offer.
How is Star Ocean The Last Hope sound wise? Well, the music is once again composed by Motoi Sakuraba and most of his work is definitely noticeable. Those who played Star Ocean First Departure or Second Evolution/Story will be surprised to hear that For Achieve and Stab the Sword of Justice are battle themes in this game.
Voice acting wise is not the best for the most part. While there are some moments where the voices actually sound good, there are others where it's just unbearable. While in the International version, you can pick Japanese audio. I would say the voice acting is good for the most part, but Lymle's voice can get a little irritating at times kay?
Replay Value: HIGH
There is every possibility to get hundreds of hours of game time out of The Last Hope, the regular story alone can last a while. Add in the numerous Quests, Collectibles and post game events there will be plenty more available if you want more. Then of course you could try it all over again on a tougher difficulty if you still can’t get enough. If you enjoy it, it will take quite a while before you can achieve everything it has to offer.
Even if you aren’t a Star Ocean fan this should be on the must get list for any RPG fan with an Xbox 360. Since the game is indeed a prologue there is no real need to know the past titles either (although it certainly helps for greater appreciation of some of the finer points). The battle system is state of the art and should be engrossing for any action RPG fan. At the very least be sure to hire if you are still unsure. But for any Star Ocean fan, if you haven’t purchased it yet, why not!
Pros and Cons
-A few notable technical issues