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Diving into Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Developer: Tri-Ace Inc., Publisher: Square-Enix North America

When veteran Enix producer Yoshinori Yamagishi stated that Star Ocean: The Last Hope, would be the last game in the series we were saddened. We had followed the series for nearly a decade, through its U.S. debut, subsequent conclusion five years later, and recently, in the form of two PSP remakes of the original games. Star Ocean remains one of our favorite role playing series, with its intricate composition of character relationships, and consistently engaging battle system.

Since Till the End of Time finalized Star Ocean’s winding narrative, The Last Hope acts as a preface to the series. Set after World War III devastates our fragile planet, young hero Edge Maverick embarks on a journey set aboard the newly constructed starship, Calnus. With the development of light speed travel by the Universal Science and Technology Administration (USTA), Maverick sets out on a expedition to restore hope to the devastated Terra Firma.

Arguably one of the most important elements of any RPG is its battle system. If combat is too simplistic or repetitive, leveling up becomes an irksome chore instead of a welcome reprieve from conversation. Fortunately, the Star Ocean series has always excelled, offering a real time diversion that is appreciably more compelling that its peers. The Last Hope continues that trend, offering manual control of your character, with the ability to easily switch to any party member. Conflict is sufficiently strategic, offering players the ability to strike with regular, special, cooperative attacks. Additionally, the player will learn to utilize the blindside tactic, which allows the player to dodge an incoming enemy assault, and then counterattack their unguarded backside.

Hidden within the Star Ocean series was the delightfully absorbing item creation system. In The Last Hope, players can create armor, accessories, weapons, and healing items using a combination of items found in weapon shops and also from combat victories. Gamers must decide which characters will participate in the creation of objects, based on each protagonist’s abilities. The result in a sufficiently intricate system that will likely be unique for each gamer. Luckily, players can save their favorite ‘recipes’ for future reference.

Although frequent Final Fantasy collaborators, Visual Works, were employed to develop The Last Hope’s  CGI cutscenes, the in-game cinemas lack the polish and vibrancy found in Square-Enix’s premiere series. However, environmental and battle stages delight with color and fastidious texture use. Both monster and character designs are delicately rendered, and contribute to the beauty of the title.

Although the level of graphical richness has been amplified, some foundational elements remain unchanged. In an era when games like Fallout 3 and The Last Remnant allow the player to save nearly anywhere, The Last Hope’s reliance on save points seems needlessly archaic. As the adventures grinds through its final stirring hours, save points decrease in frequency, resulting in the occasional sixty minute play intervals.

Overall, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a fitting finale for the beloved series. The title manages to fuse all the successful elements of the series, while integrating an attractive high-def aesthetic to the game. With a forty to fifty hour adventure designed around an intriguing sci-fi narrative, and a wealth of customization options, Yamagishi and company have created a commendable title that will entertain players for weeks.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

39 comments

  1. I also love the SO series. I think the PSP remake of FD was my favorite.

  2. I really hope they make another Star Ocean game. Like Jay Z’s retirement, I think it just part of the act.

  3. Skimpy outfits on blue haired anime girls FTW.

  4. I never finished Last Remnant- thanks for reminded me.

  5. Is that first pic from a cinema? Looks nice to me!

  6. Sucks no PS3 version, it just feels wrong playing a JRPG on the Xbox.

  7. I’m sure if it sells well, they will make another.

  8. I cant wait for FFXIII myself.

  9. I hate all JRPGs. They have annoying characters that speek in sqeeky annoying voices. The guys all look like girls, and they act like they dont ever have sex.

  10. I really like the battle graphics. As soon as I finish Tales, I’m getting this.

  11. I’m sure there will be more.

  12. I’m glad you don’t have to play the previous games to get into this one. Sometimes I avoid playing later RPG’s in a series, cause I hate not fully know what’s going on with the story.

  13. I getting this first sale I see.

  14. I agree RPG combat must be good, otherwise I get bored and don’t finish a game.

  15. Honestly, I’ve never played the series, but now I’m very interested.

  16. I’ve been loving the PSP version of Star Ocean. If I ever get a 360, I’ll have to get this.

  17. This has always been a second class Final Fantasy IMO.

  18. Very good review. I love the SO games too. I bought this one but I’ve been waiting until I finish 2nd to play it.

  19. I don’t see why you felt the need to make a comment like that. To each their own, I ‘spose.

  20. Did Tri-Ace make Infinite Undiscovery, too? I didn’t care for that one at all.

  21. You do know this was supposed to be a PS3 exclusive at one time, right?

  22. Is there any game series you don’t like, DE? Seems like you love them all.

  23. I think they just review games they may possibly like. Notice not many DS games ending with “Z” get covered here.

  24. Is this one better than Vesperia? I only got money for one game and have to choose.

  25. Cat girl is purple makes me want to purr. Is there any hope for a Star Ocean movie?!?

  26. I hear the Arcade system could be $129 soon. No reason not to get a Xbox now. Even at $179, that’s a deal.

  27. I like ToV better, but this is a great second choice. Honestly, if either were on sale, I’d pick on them up without pause.

  28. Good review, I like the whole party creation idea. Seems like their could be some replayability.

  29. I wish I had more time to play RPGs. This one is a winner I hear.

  30. IS there any DLC planned for this?

  31. I just got this game and I’m loving it so far. After the first 30 minutes, things pick up.

  32. It looks like 14.3% of the readers are jealous PS3 fanboys, according to the poll.

  33. On one of the pics theres a ‘bonus board’ what’s that for?

  34. Great review. I need to make time in my schedule for this game.

  35. Good Review ‘kay :P.I agree,Star ocean was a great game and a b+ it deserves.

    I’ve heard Some people say they’re not gonna play it because the characters look “too Kiddy” and that’s just too stupid of a reason to not place this game.Only thing I didn’t like was some parts of the ending (won’t say to spoil it for others).

    Other than that I really hope they come back like Micheal Jordan and make another star ocean…

    Wait a minute,When MJ came back he sucked :X.Ok Ok,How about like when Kojima said Metal gear solid 4 was the last one in the series and now he wants to make a MGS5..yeah,something like that,not Mj ;).

  36. thanks for the review, still looking time to play this long ass rpg

  37. Hi, I agree with every statement that you have made in the post and I really appreciate your effort in gathering up the information. Thanks for it.