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Role playing or RPG games have always been one of my favorite types of games, all the way back to my Commodore days. One of the things I like about them was the time it took to finish them, you could easily spend 40, 50 or more hours just playing one game. It’s games like this that really feel like you get value for your money if they’re done right. Today for review I’ve got Star Ocean The Last Hope, an excellent role playing from the folks over at Square Enix and tri-Ace.


First up here’s the box shots, when I first opened the case for this game I was pleasantly surprised to see three discs in the box, I knew I was in for a long adventure here.

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We’ll start this off with movies, first up is the three minute intro to the game, a great cinematic showing the events leading up to the game, essentially world war 3.

Next up I’ve got a quick video of the menus, you’ll find the basic stuff here with controller settings etc. Included on the main menu is the battle simulator, here you can learn the basic fighting techniques to defeat your foes, and basically how to fight.

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Specifications:

Star Ocean The Last Hope

The year is A.D. 2087. In the aftermath of World War III, Earth has been ravaged and the population decimated by a deteriorating environment. The countries that survived have joined together to form the Greater Unified Nations and turned their eyes skyward… to space.

Edge Maverick and his childhood friend Reimi Saionji are chosen as pioneer members of the Space Reconnaissance Force, which was created to seek out new worlds beyond the stars. Their ship, the Calnus, takes its place on the lunar launch pad along with four other starships of the first reconnaissance fleet. These ships – humanity’s last hope – blast off one-by-one and sail into the awaiting wormhole that leads to the vast star ocean.

And so, Edge and his crew begin their voyage in search of a new haven for humanity… and a second chance.

FEATURES:
– Combines sci-fi and fantasy elements, spanning multiple planets and the vastness of space itself to recount the origins of the STAR OCEAN universe

– Item creation and Private Actions, two hallmarks of the STAR OCEAN franchise, also make their return, allowing for players to enjoy upgraded versions of both systems
– Exhilarating combat expands upon the franchise’s dynamic real-time battle system, now featuring amazing graphics and visual effects only possible on Xbox 360
– Up to four characters can take part in battles simultaneously and party members can be switched mid-battle
– New Blindside battle system fuses evasion and offense, enabling players to confuse and ambush enemies by quickly moving out of their line of sight when targeted
– Freely pilot the Calnus spaceship for the first time in the series and journey to various planets of the STAR OCEAN universe
– Features breathtaking CG movies by Visual Works, the cutting-edge studio whose previous work includes cutscenes for the acclaimed FINAL FANTASY series


Star Ocean The Last Hope takes you across several worlds in your quest to save the universe.

Battle can be frantic at times with everything becoming a blur at points with all of the magic in use, there is an in battle menu as well where you have access to potions for healing etc if need be. (don’t go full screen with the video, not sure what happened to it, Viddler’s encoding did something to the quality)

The fighting system is an active style, where you can control any of the characters yourself, it works much better than telling them to do something and sitting back to watch the outcome. It really makes the game much more fun and exciting.

Once you get farther into the game you’ll acquire more characters that you can swap out if you wish, you can only have four in the main fighting party at the same time. Each one of course has their specialities, strengths and weaknesses which can help of hinder the party.

Each character has the ability to use certain types of magic, and you’ll learn more as you level up. You can also combine certain types of magic to create chaining combos for a higher amount of damage.

You characters can also ‘blindside’ opponents, this is essentially hitting them when they’re not looking, doing this at the right time can produce devastating amounts of damage, and for some bosses you’ll have to do this to defeat them, so it’s a must that you learn how to do it correctly.

When battling as well you have a bonus board that can fill up to allow large amounts of various bonus points for your characters, but this bonus board can be broken while fighting and you’ll have to start all over.

You can only control one character at a time while fighting, through the menu though you can go in and set the battle skills and tactics of the other characters to make sure their fighting to their fullest. This can work well for many thing, you can have three of them fighting all out and have one just healing your characters, for boss battles at times this is a must.

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At the end of each battle you’ll get experience points,  money and maybe even find something special as well and possibly even level up.

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I found one of the reasons for having three discs is that there are tons of cutscenes, some of which are several minutes long, while they are interesting, and you learn about what’s going on, they can get tedious, and the acting is pretty bad at times. The characters and their voices can be annoying.

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Star Ocean The last Hope took me a little over 50 hours to complete, and that was on the first or easy level. Once you complete the game you can play through again on the harder level, but I don’t se any point to it as you’ve seen it all before, it would have ben nice to be able to select the difficulty levels from the beginning.

Like any other RPG game the main goal to succeed is to get your characters level and attributes higher so you can continue on. I found myself fighting a boss and being beaten very quickly, only having to go back to the last saved point and roam around the world to get my characters levels higher so I could defeat the boss.

Speaking of save points, there are not many spread across the game really, you’ll find yourself re-doing large sections at times if you died before finding the save point.

One of the interesting things about Star Ocean is the item creation system, here you can create new things, just the name suggests. You can invent things or find recipes for items in your travels. The ingredients though can be hard to find, you can mine for them or just find them as a treasure after a battle and you can just buy them as well.

Items at times can be expensive in Star Ocean, though I never really found myself without enough money to buy what I needed, once you get playing you’ll find you collect money very quickly.

Overall Star Ocean is a great game that can provide hours and hours of RPG fun.


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Conclusion:

Like all RPG type games, Star Ocean can take a long time to finish and that’s part of its charm really. While it’s not perfect, its an excellent addition to you Xbox collection of games, that is if you like these types of games and have the time to commit to them. The graphics are great, and the fighting system works well, it really makes you fell like you’re in the game, I like the active style system instead of sitting there and watching what happens after you tell the characters to do something.

8

Pros:
+Great graphics
+Good story
+Long game
+Fun to play

Cons:
-Too much to do at times
-Goofy dialogue at times
-Annoying characters

Grades:  
Overall score-8-10
Design score-8-10
Performance score-9-10