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Some day, a day will come when we write a review of a Japanese RPG without feeling the need for an introductory paragraph bemoaning the actions of the European publishers who have so often denied or delayed our pursuit of the guilty pleasures of the orient. That day is not today, sadly; but at least this time, we're opening on our traditional "Xenosaga! Why, Namco, why!" rant in order to point out one of the best things about Star Ocean 3 - namely that it's here. In Europe. And only a few weeks after it launched in the USA at that. Square Enix promised us not so long ago that they were taking Europe more seriously, and if anything was proof of that, this is.
As the cunning addition of the numeral "3" after the name might suggest, this is the third game in the Star Ocean franchise - a series of sprawling RPGs developed by the Enix bit of Square Enix, which have their roots firmly in the anime and manga culture of Japan, and indeed have spawned a full-length anime series following the plot of the first game, called Star Ocean EX. However, while the game is set in broadly the same universe as the first two, it's definitely not necessary to have played either of them in order to get into Star Ocean 3, which takes a leaf from the Final Fantasy book by starting a completely fresh plot with an almost entirely new set of characters.
The game starts off with a visually stunning, beautifully directed intro video, giving you a flash tour of Earth in the far future - all glittering, science fiction cities with some of the world's most famous present-day landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Tokyo Tower, embedded between their shining towers. A rousing orchestral score and a really very cool looking space ship set the tone here; it may just be pre-rendered video, but first impressions count, and they're certainly good.
It's a bit of a shame about the second impressions, then. The game itself starts off with your central character, likeable but largely unremarkable blue-haired teen Fayt, moping around a resort hotel with his childhood friend Sophia, with whom he alternately bickers and flirts over the first half hour or so of the game. This bit gives the team a chance to show off their graphics - which are extremely impressive for a PS2 title, we might add, with lush and varied environments and extremely well animated characters - but it's a bit of a snore-fest for the player, sadly. Fayt and Sophia are pleasant enough characters, but their dialogue is stilted at best, and after that stunning intro, walking a pair of conversationally challenged teens around a hotel wasn't quite what we had in mind.
Thankfully, things pick up a bit when the planet they're holidaying on is attacked and Fayt is thrown rapidly through a series of events, bouncing from a bombardment shelter to a military ship and finally being stranded on a backwards planet with a pre-medieval level of technology. This is where the game really picks up, in fact; it's where you'll see your first real combat, start to appreciate how the mechanics of the game work, and begin to meet other key characters and flesh out the ones you've already met. It's just a shame it takes a while to get there, but from here the plot largely moves forward at a steady and interesting pace.
Even here, the promise of the original intro video appears to have been a bit of a lie, because you'll spend much of the game on underdeveloped planets rather than flitting around the spectacular cities of the future. This is a feature common to the previous Star Ocean games, but it might take newcomers to the series (which, let's face it, most European purchasers will be) a bit by surprise that an ostensibly science-fiction title spends so much time messing around with fantasy-style swords and sorcery. It's not something which detracts from the game in any way, however; if anything, it gives it an interesting central conceit. You play characters from the far future cast into worlds with much lower levels of technology and civilisation, and to add to the basic moral dilemma, there are laws reminiscent of Star Trek's prime directive which prohibit interfering with the development of alien societies.
Some characters grapple with this dilemma more than others - Fayt, for example, is a very thoughtful young man who worries a fair bit about the consequences of his actions, while another character you'll meet early on, Cliff, is more likely to do whatever is needed to survive and worry about the consequences later. Thankfully, the dialogue picks itself up pretty well from its early stumbling efforts in the hotel, and there are some pretty well scripted conversations later in the game - although there's still the occasional Japanese joke that hasn't made it into the English language intact, leading to some awkward-sounding lines which a better scriptwriter would have improved on significantly.
However, this is certainly no worse than your average RPG translation. Where the game's conversations really fall down, sadly, is in the voice acting. The insistence of game companies in continuing to inflict incredibly poor voice acting on their customers is jarring, and doubly so when the option to use the Japanese voices instead isn't provided. Here's a suggestion, guys: many people in your core audience would far prefer to hear the emotion and inflection conveyed by the Japanese actors, even while having to read the meaning of the words off the screen, than to have to put up with shrill or downright ludicrous "acting" provided by your American voice "talent" (read: actors so rubbish they couldn't even make it in the lower reaches of American TV).
Fayt's voice actor is tolerable, although sometimes his voice is so quiet you can't make it out anyway; but other characters, sadly including Cliff, who is one of the other most important characters in the game, sound like they were voice acted by drugged-up homeless people who were dragged into the studio and told to sound like either someone from Scooby-Doo or a pre-teen girl with a lung-full of helium. Or both. You can, thankfully, turn the voices off and opt to work purely with subtitles, or click past lines of dialogue to escape aural violation from particularly horrific characters.
It's fair to say that despite the flaws, Star Ocean fulfils the main requirements of a decent RPG - it's got interesting and generally likeable characters, a cool premise, not too many clich�s per square inch of plot, attractive and varied graphics, and a storyline which - once it gets going - thumps along at a fast enough pace to keep you coming back for more. However, passing those hurdles is only the first step on the way - and while any fan of Japanese RPGs can quite safely surmise that they'll enjoy the bulk of the plot, characterisation and progression, the actual underlying game mechanics are likely to be somewhat more controversial.
Good things first - there are no random battles. All enemies are displayed prominently on the world map, and while some of them will run towards you if you get into range, you can always see what's coming and avoid it if you need to. There are even jewels you can get which will allow you to freeze the movement of enemies on the map, which is useful for sneaking past them - although as with any RPG, if you sneak past enemies all the time you'll never level up and will eventually hit the difficulty curve with all the grace of a man with no arms running into the side of a bus.
Another good thing; boss battles are pitched almost perfectly as part of the difficulty curve, and while we confess that we've not reached the end of the game yet (it's an absolutely mammoth RPG which spans two dual-layer DVDs, making it into easily the largest PS2 game we've ever seen) we've not yet met a boss which we had to go back and level up in order to defeat. Save points are also sensibly scattered around the dungeon areas, and many of them even have HP/MP restore points next to them in order to assist your progress, which is a welcome addition. Each town also has a tavern - helpfully marked with a coloured arrow on the map - which will house a save point, so you're never far from somewhere that you can save, which should cut down on "yeah... I'm coming... wait till I find a save point..." moments with her/him indoors.
Now, the next thing might be good or bad depending on your personal tastes, but here goes: the combat system is real-time. You still level up your character in broadly the same way that you'd expect, learning new skills, spells (called symbology) and abilities, and boosting your basic statistics either through levelling up and spending skill points, or through buying new weapons and armour. That much is all familiar and anyone who's played a game like this for more than ten minutes in the past will take to it like a duck to water. However, combat is more like a melee brawl than a tactical menu-driven system. You control one character, while the others behave autonomously under computer control, and can switch between them at will to execute special attacks or spells, or use items.
Each character has two basic attacks, a light attack and a heavy attack, while magic and items are accessed from the in-battle menu system (which pauses the action while you peruse the options). The game provides a decent level of customisation for the characters, as you can assign up to four special attacks (along with two status abilities) to each one, which are triggered by holding in the X and O buttons (with different attacks depending on whether you're in short or long range from your target). It takes a little bit of getting used to - especially early in the game when you'll be using physical specials sparingly due to the fact that they often come with a cost in terms of HP, just as magical attacks cost MP. In fact, Star Ocean tends to treat both HP and MP as similar gauges, unlike other RPGs. You can decimate your own HP by using too many special attacks, and unusually, you also need to keep an eye on your MP, since many enemies attack that bar directly, and if it hits zero, it's game over.
Getting a real-time battle system right is a difficult task, and it's one that Star Ocean 2 frankly failed miserably at, so we were prepared for the worst with this game. However, Square Enix have managed to hit on a few key things that tip the balance in their favour - although this is still very much a "suck it and see" battle system, and we know that quite a few people out there really hate it. In its defence, we'd point out that your team-mates are much more intelligent this time around, and while they still do occasional stupid things (usually veering towards the overkill end of the scale rather than the genuinely mind-numbingly thick end), they can largely be let run around doing as they please except in circumstances where special attention is required. We found ourselves playing as Fayt for the most part, especially once we learned some of his more powerful combo moves, and only switching to other characters for healing or magic attack purposes.
Those combos are the other element that works pretty well. Your character has a Fury bar which fills up rapidly when you're standing still, and which is depleted by using attacks or being hit. With a full Fury bar, you're effectively blocking (and can set parameters on your character which turn those blocks into a range of counter-attacks, too), but more importantly, you have enough energy to let loose a chain of attacks in a row - including air juggles, which can keep an enemy incapacitated and in the air for several strikes in a row if another party member joins in. Getting the timing on those right - and pulling them off with a second party member keeping the juggle going - is a fun element, while the Fury bar itself provides a much-needed tactical element to battles.
Outside of the enormous, side-quest laden plot and the battle and character progression systems, Star Ocean provides a significant amount of depth through its crafting system. It's entirely possible to go through the entire game without even running into this system once - and indeed, you only start being able to exploit it about eight to ten hours into the game - but the complexity it offers is worth playing with. In essence, this is a system which allows you to hire experts - be they cooks, blacksmiths, inventors or indeed specialists in a whole host of other areas - and set them to work in workshops around the game world developing new products. You can micromanage this process to quite a fine degree, and can end up with a veritable army of clever little chappies churning out new items and upgrades for you - and of course, your central characters can also participate in the process, if they're sufficiently skilled.
Interestingly, you can also patent your inventions if it turns out that they are genuinely new, which makes for an unusual way to get revenue in the game on top of the bonus of having access to good items, spells, weapons and armour. There are a few other similar systems in play as well; for example, a speculative market in certain items which gradually appreciate in price over the course of the game, so if you can afford to have thousands of Fol (the in-game currency) locked up in valuable items, you'll make a profit further down the line. Again, this is a system which you don't have to touch if you don't want to, but the depth is there for you to explore if you desire.
Outside of the game mechanics and in terms of the window dressing, Star Ocean is a pretty impressive - and impressively pretty - game. As previously mentioned, the graphics are excellent for a PS2 title, with great animation and gorgeously crafted environments, as well as some really nice environmental effects and a wide range of different and imaginative areas to wander through. The character designs won't be everyone's cup of tea - they're very typical anime designs, complete with enormous shining eyes, multi-coloured (and nicely animated!) hairstyles, tiny noses and pencil thin necks - but if you're a fan of Japanese manga artwork (we are) then they won't grate particularly.
In terms of audio, our issues with Square Enix' apparent policy of employing the most talentless people possible to do their voice acting have already been discussed, but thankfully the music is rather a lot better than the squeaky cartoon voices. In fact, in parts, the music is some of the best we've ever heard in a videogame; there's a beautiful vocal melody which plays in the background of certain quieter scenes which is fantastic, while the haunting score that accompanies your exploration of the first village in the game is another highlight. Unfortunately, the game doesn't stick to this high standard overall - there are some dodgy synth rock-style backing tracks mixed in with the generally excellent orchestral bits - but when the composer is inspired, he's certainly among the best. It's just a shame that he apparently got out of bed on the wrong side on the day that he was composing the battle music.
In ways, our feelings about the music are a microcosm for our feelings about the whole game. Star Ocean isn't a game that everyone will instantly like, thanks to the real-time battle system which is likely to divide opinions significantly, but it's a game which has moments of absolute genius, wrapped up in a solid, competent but not particularly remarkable whole. We certainly recommend it to any fans of Japanese RPGs, and anyone who doesn't like turn-based fighting should also give it a go; and it's worth noting that even among our friends who don't like the battle system, they've found the plot and setting compelling enough to keep playing. It's also a mammoth game, which will give you great value for money in terms of playtime. It's just unfortunate that the voice acting mars the experience so much, and that the occasional flickers of ten out of ten brilliance which the game provides didn't bloom into a ten out of ten game, embedded as they are in a seven out of ten enjoyable, well-constructed but unsurprising RPG.
Note: Anticipating the first question to be asked in the comments thread... We'd love to tell you whether the game has 60Hz support or black borders, but unfortunately we haven't been provided with PAL code at the time of publication, so this review was based on an NTSC version of the game. Which, we might add, ran in particularly lovely progressive scan on our US PS2, a factor which owners of progressive scan display gear might want to bear in mind when considering a purchase. We'll let you know what the deal is with the PAL conversion as soon as we clap our eyes on code.
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I wondered whilst playing if Till the End of Time was made by committee to try and make the most irritating, tedious and frustrating game experience possible -- maybe that's hyperbole; the first 3/4 of the game were enjoyable enough - what constitutes disc 1 is great fun. Upon returning to the same, boring, medieval planet we've spent the last 30 hours on, the game's shortcomings come intoI wondered whilst playing if Till the End of Time was made by committee to try and make the most irritating, tedious and frustrating game experience possible -- maybe that's hyperbole; the first 3/4 of the game were enjoyable enough - what constitutes disc 1 is great fun. Upon returning to the same, boring, medieval planet we've spent the last 30 hours on, the game's shortcomings come into focus; the ridiculous mechanics, stupid, outdated JRPG conventions ground me into the floor. Whoever thought that losing HP for performing an attack, or reaching zero MP KOs your character deserves a swift kick in the backside, the same goes for cheap, pathetic higher level enemies who repeatedly interrupt your attacks and spam knockdown moves whenever able, unnecessary things like repeating two of the larger dungeons from disc 1 at the end of the game for no good reason but contrivance... the only consolation is the lack of random encounters.…Expand
When you get to the Trading Town of Peterny. You'll have a chance to visit the Crafting Guild there which will begin your tenure as an inventor.
Cliff: Look, my mission is to bring you to our leader. Until then, Ill watch out for youtrust me! Youre safe as as a turtle in its shell!
Fayt: A turtle dropping out of orbit...
Cliff: These restraints are pretty solid. Damn Theyre too tight, I cant move at all...
Fayt: Um... that's why they're called 'restraints'.
Cliff: True enough. But I bet you that Mr. Super-Square, champion of the UP3 would disagree with you.
Fayt: Hah hah, very funny.
after being tortured, Fayt asks Cliff why he didn't just bust out (which he could have done easily).
Cliff: Would've been too much of a pain... I couldn't just leave you there, anyway, and I kinda wanted to see what was going on first hand.
Fayt: So, You find anything out?
Cliff: As a matter of fact, I did.
Cliff: The whips on this planet hurt, too.
Fayt: Very funny.
I still remember playing Star Ocean: The Second Story on the original PlayStation, moved by the stirring strings in the opening sequence and obsessing over the manual at my grandmother’s house.
I told Shuichi Kobayashi this as we sat together in San Francisco earlier this week, discussing the upcoming Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PS4. Kobayashi, the game’s producer, hopes the next chapter in the Star Ocean series can bring this same level of emotion to its players when it launches on June 28 this year.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness follows the story of a young swordsman named Fidel defending his village from a bandit raid. Like so many Japanese role-playing games, Fidel and his friends are soon swept up into events far greater than themselves. Like the past Star Ocean games, this means events on a galactic scale, in which fantasy and science-fiction meld together in a familiar flavor that fans of the series will know all too well.
Kobayashi and his team mean for Integrity and Faithlessness to reboot the series and begin a new chapter in a story of magic, adventure, and sailing the stars. Several additions have been made to the familiar mechanics of the franchise — seven-character battles chief among them. As players explore the world of Faykreed, Fidel’s party will grow, eventually allowing players to control a core team of six heroes in real time with a seventh character as support.
Integrity and Faithlessness has several layers to the battle system, beginning with the simple interplay between weak attacks, strong attacks, and blocking. These three types of actions have a rock-paper-scissors style relationship, forcing players to monitor an enemy’s actions in the field and react accordingly.
The next layer to combat is the usage of skills. Special Arts (physical skills) and Signeturgy (magical skills) are learned through reading books, and each hero can equip up to four in battle that vary depending on their distance to the target. These skills can be improved through use, enticing players to wield them often for even more effective results.
The third primary layer to battle is the Role system, and it has an enormous impact on the overarching flow of Integrity and Faithlessness. Roles are unlocked over time and include simple assignments like Attacker or Healer, but include more specific examples such as the Insect Slayer or Invoker.
Like skills, Roles grow in power with use and endow special bonuses to the character using it. While other RPGs allow players to assign AI behaviors to heroes not currently under control, Integrity and Faithlessness turns this system into its own game mechanic. Now the act of party management and strategy is directly incorporated into the growth of the player’s heroes.
Even after a few brief battles in Star Ocean’s opening area, the battle system’s potential is obvious and enthralling. Add in full crafting suite and a “Specialty System” that enables the heroes to gather resources (among other alluring unknowns), and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness promises to keep players engaged for dozens of hours.
But more than anything else, Kobayashi and his team want players to embark into a new world and mirror the same awe and excitement that the heroes themselves face when they encounter a world, and a galaxy, far greater than their own.
Shop Prima Games Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness Collector's 3 star rating. Monsters in the area pictured with their levels and drops as well as the page There's an item and crafting guide in the back pages which really helpful .
Well, this is a solid example of an otherwise decent game swiftly going downhill due to a certain story reveal. When I started Star Ocean 3, I was having a blast — by the time I got to the final dungeon, I just wanted my suffering to end. Oh well. The game was still overall okay.
But fuck me, that twist.
So, as you may or may not know, I was a big fan of the original two Star Oceans back in the day, so it felt only natural that I’d eventually play the third one, too. So here we are now. And if you’ve read the first few lines I wrote above, you can also probably figure out that my feelings on this game are… kinda mixed.
I’m still a bit too salty (I’ll explain why later) to write a proper intro so here’s what you get: you play as Fayt, some blue-haired twat with a childhood friend (Sophia) who clearly has a crush on him but his donkan ass won’t realize it. Because of course. Fayt is also voiced by Souichirou Hoshi so 90% of the time I was like “what the hell is Hinata Youichi doing in this game, go back to banging Aqua or something”. Anyway, in usual Star Ocean fashion, you start out in an ultra sci-fi hi-tech civilization but by some twist of fate, end up crash landing on a planet with a civilization level equivalent to the middle ages, if the middle ages had magic and dragons and cute kuudere oneesans (I’ll also explain that last one later, bear with me for now).
You spend the first few hours in the game looking like a dork in your slippers (Fayt was in the middle of some vacation iirc when Shit Happened), but that doesn’t stop you from murdering unarmed people in cold blood. Who beg for their lives before you fucking stab them with your sword.
You think I’m joking.
Soon enough, you meet up with muscular broseph Cliff and the aforementioned redhead kuudere, Nel, and the three of you spend the majority of the game adventuring in Medieval Fantasy Land. Nel is best girl, by the way. Let’s just make this clear. Fuck Maria and fuck Sophia, I don’t give a shit about either of them. Mirage doesn’t count. The brown loli also doesn’t count.
By the way, I went to painstaking lengths to do all of Nel’s optional events (Private Actions) to finally get her ending in the epilogue, and then I didn’t even bother finishing the game. How funny is that? Anyway, before you start freaking out, I did play through like 99% of the game, I just quit at the final dungeon because I couldn’t take this shit anymore. I guess it must be because I didn’t spend ages messing around with the item creation system to make my weapons the best they can be, or maybe I didn’t level up enough. I’m not sure, but fights towards the end became increasingly more frustrating and difficult, so I was like, screw this I’ll just watch the ending on Youtube. And I did. And Nel’s ending too, because that one’s also on Youtube. My soul is now at peace, and I rest easy knowing that Fayt and Nel spent the rest of their lives making babies like no one’s business.
Nel is very cute when her scarf covers her mouth btw
Oh, right, I should talk about the game, too. Right. Okay. I got this. No more rambling about how much I want to smell Nel’s hair and drink her piss. None of that. Promise.
So, the battle system. I keep seeing people say how this game has a really amazing battle system, apparently. Did we… did we play the same game? Well, okay, maybe this was amazing back in, like… 2003 or whenever this game came out, but I honestly found it kinda clunky. The fact you have to hold down a button to do special attacks, how enemies have a bunch of moments where they can’t be damaged (like when they get knocked to the floor and are getting back up; I’m here to stunlock bitches, not to politely wait for them to pull their pants back up), the way your idiot character will keep slashing at empty air if the enemy moves two pixels to the side, and how I spent most of the game demolishing everything by spamming/cancel comboing the same two or three attacks… Well, I dunno. It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t exactly rock my world and shake my foundations (Nel did that). It did grow mighty repetitive, though.
Take a shot now if you’re playing the “Gare Mentions Nel” drinking game, by the way.
I want Nel to look at me like that as she steps on me
Anyway, let’s talk about more important things. Like Nel. She has the most soothing voice ever. Near the end, I was getting really burned out on the story so I kept skipping the text once I read it (instead of letting the voices play), EXCEPT FOR NEL’S LINES. I always listened to those. Always. At times, I wished she would sit at my bed at night and sing me lullabies. I’m not exactly sure how much of that previous sentence is a joke, and that scares me a little. As I’ve previously mentioned, I didn’t care about the crafting system because I play JRPGs to explore cool worlds and get to know cool characters, not to stare at a menu that tells me I’m cooking borscht. (Note: I have no idea if you can make borscht in Star Ocean: Till the End of my Patience, but maybe you can. Or maybe you can’t. It doesn’t matter.)
EXCEPT… that one time I did go into the crafting menu just to look at Nel chopping vegetables. Look how adorable she is. Look!
On a more serious note, Cliff and Nel were probably the only two characters I really liked, the rest I couldn’t give two shits about, sadly. Maria is not bad, I suppose, Mirage is barely in the game, Fayt is Fayt, Sophia is Boring Osananajimi #631, Albel is the Edgy Edgelord and there were a few other characters as well but who cares. I guess Clair was cute but she’s not playable, goddammit. And the villains do the typical shounen villain cackle while throwing their heads back. I mean, come on. Also, some of them look like the morbid lovechildren of Humpty Dumpty and a manatee:
Anyway, back to the battle system. This game has MP death. Have I told you that? No? Well, this game has MP death. Yes, really. If you run out of MP in battle, you fucking DIE. If you run out of HP in battle, you also fucking die. Wow. It’s also kinda weird how the game gives you peanuts for XP so in the end, it kinda-sorta expects you to unlock the 300% XP bonus and exploit the shit out of it if you want to have any chance at leveling up in a timely manner.
Incidentally, and this is not related to the battle system at all, but you can climb every ladder in this game, even if it makes no sense. I’m serious. I loved this. As such, I made it my mission to climb every ladder, even if it was completely pointless. Look:
There’s also a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine in this house for some reason. I don’t even know.
So what did I like about Star Ocean 3? Well, the world was sort of cool. The environments, the cities, the interiors… all that stuff.
*Hot Take Imminent* As I kept playing Star Ocean 3, I was thinking to myself “damn, the oft-praised and tremendously overrated Tales of Berseria had a bunch of garbage-tier locations/dungeons, and here I am, playing a game from 2003 that has a way lower polygon count but ends up making its world way more interesting. Imagine that.” Indeed. Star Ocean 3’s cities were fun to explore, were decently big, and had a bunch of NPC houses to barge into where you can talk to the locals. You know, the way all JRPGs used to do things before we suddenly started praising the likes of Berseria as the second coming of JRPG Christ. I bet people think the J in JRPG even stands for Jesus. (70% of my body is made of salt right now, in case you were wondering.) Anyway, despite the aged graphics, the interiors all felt cozy and had a certain lived-in feel to them. Here, I’ll even show you a pretty picture or two:
And this is what a town should look like.
This game even has proper (and fairly lengthy) dungeons, by the way. With puzzles. Actual goddamn puzzles. And you can check a lot of things in houses. Like shelves and such. There’s a lot of stuff to just inspect and read. Like, if you go into the room of the King (who’s looking for a bride), you find this book about romance. Another shelf has some cool tri-Ace references. Or silly jokes. Oh, and items have actual 3D models you can check out on the inventory screen. Games should do that more. There’s lots of little things that all convey how much care went into the world. I always appreciate stuff like this, and it’s something that tends to be missing from a lot of games, I feel.
The not-so-cool part about Star Ocean 3’s world is that the game also has a LOT of backtracking, where you’ll just be running back and forth between cities. A side quest even has you running all the way from one end of the world to the other, just to deliver some letter. And there’s really no fast travel in this game, except for that one guy who offers to take you between two specific spots, but that’s all I remember. The rest of the time, you walk. Bleh.
Right, so about the storyline. It honestly plays it fairly straight at first. You land on this fantasy planet, start to get into some trouble, meet some new faces and all that jazz. I’ve always enjoyed how Star Ocean mixed fantasy with sci-fi, and it was pretty interesting to see Fayt go on about how he must keep his hi-tech gadgets and origins a secret so as not to interfere with an underdeveloped planet’s history and such. So eventually you start getting more and more involved with the various major powers on Fantasy Planet, and then some dramatic stuff happens, more problems arise… well, it’s typical JRPG fluff, but I didn’t mind. I came to play a standard but solid JRPG and that’s what I got. In the first half, anyway.
And then The Twist happened.
Let me illustrate what my reaction was:
Yes. I obviously won’t spoil what the twist is, but it honestly made the entire game, no, the entire franchise feel kinda hollow. I don’t think I’ll be able to look at Star Ocean games the same way again, all thanks to this one reveal. I mean, it didn’t piss me off or anything, I’m not frothing at the mouth here, but I kept asking “why?”. There could’ve been a dozen better ways to wrap up this storyline, and they went with this load of baloney.
After The Twist (*laugh track plays*), the rest of the game mostly focuses on sci-fi stuff, and your adventures in Fantasy Land are mostly over, and you’re stuck wandering boring steel hallways and boring spaceships and other boring places. The ending is sort of meh, plus the final villain comes out of nowhere and suffers from Generic Villain Syndrome, even if some of what he says is mildly thought-provoking, though I won’t go into details so as not to spoil The Twist.
I think this review ended up being a bit rambly, but that’s okay. It might also be proof of my gradually unraveling sanity, which is… not so okay, but I’ll deal with it. For now, all I can say is that Star Ocean 3 was fine until it decided to shit the bed with its second half, and by the end, it kinda left me burned out and exhausted. It’s worth a playthrough, and there’s much to like about it (not just Nel) if you want a decent JRPG from the good ol’ PS2 era, but don’t expect too much.
Are you still doing that drinking game, by the way? Is your liver okay? I’m starting to get worried.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time presents the journey of Fayt Leingod The game doesn't explain the crafting system well, and you don't need.
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