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21st August
written by Splash

Title: Star Ocean: The Last Hope International
Console: PS3
Genre: Action RPG
Language: Japanese/English audio, multi-language text
Company: Square Enix/tri-Ace
Summary: The least favorite of the RPGs I’ve played on the PS3 right now. I can’t see why someone could be so obsessed about this game to buy four copies of it for the sake of the collection (the two Xbox versions and the two PS3 versions). Right now, I’m just glad I waited to spend only $30 including shipping on this game instead of $50-55 as it is usually priced as of this post. Eternal Sonata is the same price ($30) REGULARLY and MUCH more worth the money imo. FF13 and Vesperia were in the 50’s price range and worth it. In the end, I traded the game back in and lost 8 bucks and some 18 hours of gameplay time, since I can’t see myself finding any value in keeping it anyway.
Story: Apparently the story for these games is what gives the series some fame (or infame, if you want to say), but it’s too early for me to say much about this. Since I might never end up playing through this game, I’ll probably hunt down some youtube vids to get the rest of the story if I ever want to.
Characters: See below.
Graphics: 6. Graphics are too aliased and look ugly. Partial blame to only 720p instead of 1080p, or possibly from the xbox version. I’m not sure, either way it’s just ugly. I am also a huge un-fan of the “modern” portraits, but it’s good they offer the option to go back to the anime ones. That still doesn’t really rev me up for the cut-scene CGs. Realistic 3-D that isn’t as good as the scale of FF13 makes me go irk, especially with the lack of emotion on those faces. Hell, even in Tales games the characters display emotions during the CG scenes. The characters in this SO game never change expressions, so they look like bouncing dolls, scary wide eyes and all, on the screen. Plus the choice of colors in general is pretty ugly. A lot of dungeons are just difficult to look at for long lengths, and when you’re spending that much time in a dungeon without access to saving, it really gets obnoxious.
Sound: 8.5. Soundtrack sounds like a typical Sakuraba Motoi soundtrack. Some sound exactly like Eternal Sonata/Vesperia stuff, lol. Not a bad thing I guess, since I do like those OSTs. This is probably one of the stronger points of the game, but again it’s still Sakuraba and REAL keepers from him are few to come by. This isn’t one of them.
Gameplay: 6. Whoever said the gameplay is almost exactly like a Tales game with a few differences and LESS innovation is right. My biggest beef with this and my experience with Star Ocean games in general: tough starting barrier. Unlike Vesperia where you can change the difficulty settings between battles, you have to pick one for the entire game with Star Ocean. Also, “party sustainability”, as I like to call it, is messed up in the Star Ocean games. One thing I absolutely hate is to have to brainlessly backtrack through long paths for 10 minutes just to get back to a town or healing spot for HP/MP. You can only have so much money and carry so many items at the beginning of the game too, and it’s all just one big fucking hassle. Why can’t characters just naturally heal MP like they heal TP in Vesperia? Or in certain other Tales games (Graces), there’s no need to EVER go to a healing spot as long as you know how to battle properly. I’d hope this would be available later down in the game so I can stop complaining about it as much, but it is one fucking damn big problem and it doesn’t make the game really worth playing in the first place.

Also, running isn’t fast enough for these HUGE maps, but hitting the button to sprint all the time is a fucking hassle too. In Tales/Eternal Sonata (Namco’s PS3 RPGs), the maps are small enough that it doesn’t feel as much of a chore to walk through, and FF13 had beautiful music to awe at and beautiful graphics to stare at, at least. Star Ocean lacks in the music department in comparison, and again the graphics are freaking aliased.

And yet another complaint: the CAMERAS. The camera keeps fucking moving on its own to angles I don’t WANT it to go, and it makes trying to navigate between places frustrating and dizzying. Add to it how much you HAVE to go back and forth between places to get the full experience of the game, and it just gets plain ridiculous. I would’ve been happier with FF13’s camera system or even Namco’s games where the camera positions are decided for every location except during battle. When such a basic element of the game is so irritatingly botched up, it’s a huge turn-off.

Replay Value: I guess if you like the characters enough, it’s worth replaying to get the different endings and complete shit for trophies. For someone like me who can’t even stand the first playthrough though… Eh.
Overall: 6/10. Unless something really catches my attention through the plot and characters whenever I feel the mood to do so, it’s going to stay this low. I still feel like I’m being generous with this score just because it’s on the PS3. Still, all the other PS3 RPGs I’ve played are sooooooo much better and I just personally don’t find this one worth investing time in. Unfortunately, this is one of the only PS3 games that is available in English with the original Japanese audio. If only Namco US would get smart and bring the PS3 Tales games over like that…~ (actually, I wonder if putting both audio tracks on those games would even fit on a bluray. They all have amazing amount of voice work)

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