M_C’s Star Ocean: The Last Hope Review

After putting this game on hold for a while, I’ve finally managed to clear it. Actually, I’ve cleared it a couple of days ago (Yes, during the exam period. What? I needed some rest >_<), but I was consolidating my thoughts on this game in an unbiased manner. I gotta say, I had a love-hate relationship with this one. At some point, I’ve moved towards the ‘hate’ zone for this game. And if you’ve been reading a couple of my reviews on stuffs, you’ll know that I don’t really hate something so easily.

Turns out that upon clearing the game, I actually enjoyed it quite a lot, and that’s what we will be discussing in this review.

DISCLAIMER!!

Note that aside from points where I specified otherwise, my opinion is always completely objective and built up from an absolutely neutral point. While the title is called a ‘Review’, this article is nothing more than an experience sharing of someone who has played the game.

All the pictures used in this post are from random Google Search. I thereby claim no ownership to any of them.

WARNING!!

This review will contain spoilers to Star Ocean: The Last Hope’s story. Proceed at your own risk!

Introduction

Star Ocean: The Last Hope is an action role-playing video game developed by tri-Ace and Square-Enix and the fourth installment to the series. It was originally released on the Xbox 360 (JP – Feb 19, 2009 and US – Feb 23, 2009), but the US International Version that I played was released on Playstation 3 (Feb 8, 2010). (Source)

While the game itself is the fourth installation to the series, the story is actually a prequel to the whole Star Ocean series. But for the sake of simplicity, I would like to refer to this game as Star Ocean 4, or SO4 for short, in this review.

Story

Like mentioned above, SO4 is a prequel to the Star Ocean series, taking place several years before the events of the original ‘Star Ocean’ on SNES (SO1). The story takes place around the year 2087 A.D., where World War III broke out and contaminated the majority of the Earth’s surface. This makes Earth not longer suitable for humans. As a result, mankind strives to search for a new place to live in the vast star ocean.

In this game, we take control of Edge and his crews of the spaceship Calnus and travel the sea of stars to explore and colonize new planets. In the middle of their journey, Edge and his crews face several obstacles and found that their universe has fallen into grave danger from the hands of an unknown force known as the ‘Grigori’. It is up to Edge and his crew to stop the creeping menace from destroying the galaxy.

As a stand alone story, I found that there is nothing all that special about the story – You go to new place, you meet the bad guys that wants to destroy the universe, you beat the crap out of them, and you kiss your girl. However, if you look at this game’s story from the point of view of the whole series, it really did well in setting up the history of the series. In the game, Edge and his crew visited many underdeveloped planets (planets with low technological knowledge) and encountered several problems, ranging from getting misunderstood by the locals as being gods to unintentionally blowing up an entire planet literally. The main issue was that ‘stimulated evolutions’ through alien technologies gave the local residents of the planets a power beyond their grasp, which will ultimately cause them to annihilate their own planet. The story ended with the establishment of the ‘Underdeveloped Planet Protection Pact’ or the ‘UP3’, a code that Fayt, the protagonist of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (SO3), upholds with utmost obedience.

Oh yes, have I mentioned that this game was the first Star Ocean that the story does not feel rushed up at the end? It could be because of its nature of being a prequel, but I really felt that the story did well in closing loose ends without giving the feeling that ‘it could have been longer’ like how the previous games did (this is disregarding the secret endings of two certain characters).

Characters

I figured I would talk about the characters first, since I heard SO4 was infamous for having an extremely bad cast. While I did hate at least one of them, I don’t really find them all that bad.

I was a little disappointed when I learned that you are fixed with 8 characters, and not allowed to recruit characters from a pool like the previous Star Ocean games. However, on the brighter side, all the characters this time around actually contributed something to the party and the story, unlike previous games where ‘optional’ characters only get extra dialogues here and there.

That being said, I like the interactions each character has with one another. I mean, there are silly stuffs here and there, but the crew did look like they were actually conversing with one another, not just having extra lines in cutscenes like previous SO games.

Edge

The protagonist of the story and the obligatory sword hero. While he gets a lot of hate for supposedly being a jerk in the middle of the game, I actually like his character overall (heck, I even like him a little more than Fayt). He is the type that is optimistic and not afraid to do stuffs. A little way into the game, he screwed up by making the wrong decision and ended up blew up an entire planet (again, literally). He regretted his actions and avoided making any contacts with new planet locals. Later on, he makes a resolve to move forward and prevent any more mistakes that could happen to the universe. I would say that was a good character development. In fact, he was the one who inspired the establishment of Fayt’s beloved UP3.

So to people who complained about him being emo and mopey, cut him a break. He literally blew up a freakin planet. It’s only natural he becomes defensive and insecure.

Reimi

Edge’s childhood friend and first officer of the Calnus crew, whatever the heck that is. You’ve seen childhood friends in more than one manga / anime, so you should sort of have an idea of what kind of character she is like.

Personally, I loathe her so much. But in order to keep this review as unbiased as possible, I would like to avoid going into the reasons.

Faize

I really like the guy to be honest. It’s really a shame he became crazy and do all those stuffs to the universe. Edge’s description of Faize’s motive (“Too kind that his kindness was distorted”) sounds corny, but I like how he puts it. Too bad I was spoiled that he would become the final boss, so I’ve been keeping my eyes extremely close on him to see where he would go wrong. And well, the game didn’t really make it too subtle.

The only down side to him is…well…He’s not really all that useful in battle, IMO.

Oh, and that cloak kinda look okay on Faize, ‘kay. Just kinda, ‘kay?

Lymle

When she was first introduced, her personality seems really awkward. Considering how I was spoiled that Faize was the final boss, I thought Lymle somehow knew that deep down he was a bad guy or something. That’s why she refused to give him a nickname, Faizey. Turns out that wasn’t the case. And in the end, I gotta admit that the two made a cute hilarious couple. Especially that one PA…

Overall, I don’t really find her annoying. In fact, I found her to be cute, cuddly, and adorable, ‘kay? Have I mentioned her being loli twin pony tailed super tsundere?

Oh yes, by the way, that doggie in the picture is her best friend, ‘kay? So don’t worry about him eating her, ‘kay?

Bacchus

He is a cyborg. Cyborgs are always instant win.

Anyway, I like him and I thought he is pretty cool. When I first get to use him in battle, I sort of have the vibe that I am playing Rockman in Star Ocean for a while, lol. Just look at DAT DASH. In battle, he is a fun character to play around and he has pretty nifty toys like Stealth Mode, Emergency Repairs, Black Hole Sphere, and TERMINATION!!!!

Character-wise, he is the serious analyst of the team and always provide the necessary information for the crew. Think of him as a moveable super computer. Despite his ‘Mr. Serious’ attitudes, he does goofy stuffs like talking while he is in stealth mode and getting a realist comment back in the face by Myuria.

Meracle

Generally speaking, I am not a very big fan of girls with cat ears and tail in general and I don’t like Meracle’s outfit design.

While I won’t deny that she annoyed me a couple of times, I can’t dismiss the fact that this kitty is freakin on ‘roids. Seriously, her Comet Impact (KITTYYYYYY PAWNCHHHHH!!!!!!) is simply overpowered, doing 20k+ damage a pop to mid-game boss. Wow. How can you hate her?

Myuria

Gotta say I like her outfit, but Myuria is totally not my type. I can’t stand girls (…okay, ‘women’ >_>) that talk like her. Have I mentioned I don’t like big boobies?

I honestly don’t have much to say about her, and I didn’t really appreciate her contribution in battle until I’ve already cleared the game.

Sarah

Uh…I really don’t know what to say about her. I’m not exactly fond of her ‘innocence’…Was that even the right word for her?

But I gotta admit that Sarah, Meracle, and Lymle formed a good team of comic relief. I had a good laugh out of them quite a lot, even though they are silly most of the time.

Arumat

And here we have the ‘supposedly’ Albel Nox of SO4. Want prove? Let’s see.

Badass look? Check. Catch phrase? (“Amateur”) Check. Scary face? Check. Yup, definitely the Albel of SO4. Also, I can’t be the only one who likes how he goes ‘F*** Auto-Aim’ and manually shoots the phantom ships down one by one. Like what Myuria said, “That’s not just primitive. That’s barbaric.” I know that might not exactly be original, but still, it was an awesome moment.

If you consider the fact that he was just meant to be there to be a badass, then all criticisms for his character instantly mean nothing. Plus, the guy uses a scythe. Your arguments are invalid (if you even have any).

By the way, is it wrong that I thought his in-game avatar looks like a mix of Kuja (from Final Fantasy IX) and Squall (Final Fantasy VIII)?

Exploration

I found that running Edge in the field is slightly awkward when I want to cover small distance. It’s like tilting his analog slightly won’t move him, and some times I have to actually ‘try’ to readjust him when I want him to stand on an exact position like a save point. But that’s a minor gripe and probably because I’m not used to it.

The dungeons, fields, and towns look well detailed and lively (could use a little less reflecting surfaces though). It is really a shame that I normally don’t do random exploration on my first runs otherwise I really might enjoy the scenery a little more.

Running around the field to farm stuffs and open chests is a little troublesome considering the vastness of some dungeons and fields. Thank god for the fact that you can ‘sprint’ with the [] button and for the Treasure Sense ability that shows item icons on the map. Then again, they really should have made the map scrollable.

Oh well, we had the HD version of Planet Roak and a remix of SO1’s battle theme, so I’m not complaining.

Battle

The feeling of the battle remains the same for a Star Ocean game. Upon contact with enemies in the field, you are cut off into a battle scene, presenting the enemy teams and your characters’ team. You take control of one character with the other 3 characters under AI control. Your HP is displayed down below the screen, along with the MP gauge (used in activating special attacks), and the Rush Gauge (to be explained).

* Your characters have one ‘standard attack’ button where they will proceed to attack the closest enemy with their weapon. Depending on character and the distance between you and your enemy (and other special conditions), your normal attack might change. For instance, at close range, Edge can perform 3-hit attack combo. However, if you tap the ‘attack’ button from long range, Edge will run in for a sword thrust instead.

* Using your MP, you can perform special arts. These ranges from simple multiple slash attacks to pure awesome ass kicking actions. Later on, you will also gain the ability to chain these special arts into long string of flashy combos.

* Some characters can cast magic or use special skill. Pressing Triangle Button in battle brings up menu where you can choose to cast spells, use items, or use special skills that can temporarily buff your character.

* Star Ocean: The Last Hope introduces its new system: The [Rush System], which is the new main offense system of your party. The third gauge, right under the MP bar, is the ‘Rush Gauge’. Upon filling the Rush Gauge, your character can enter the ‘Rush Mode’. In Rush Mode, your character runs and attacks faster among other bonuses, but most importantly, they are completely invulnerable to flinching. This means that they can perform long chains of attacks without the worry of being interrupted. This is extremely useful for crowd crashing. Be warned, however, that the enemies also have their Rush Gauge and will gain the same bonus as you do in their Rush Mode.
Another function of the Rush Gauge is that it allows you to perform ‘Rush Combos’, which is a semi-cinematic scene of your characters bombarding the targeted enemy with their special skills. During this sequence, press the corresponding button to extend your Combo.

* Last but not the least, we have the ‘Blindside’. If Rush System is your ‘sword’, then Blindside System is your ‘shield’. Performing successful Blindsides allows you to instantly (and epically) move behind your opponent, rendering them completely vulnerable to critical attacks. This technique is extremely important in some boss fights as it is the only way to make those bosses reveal their weak spot hidden in their shells.

* The gauge to the right of the screen is called the ‘Battle Bonus Board’. Performing certain conditions net you colored gems that give various bonus to your party.

  • Defeating enemies with a Critical Hit (Critical Finish) = 10% EXP
  • Defeating multiple enemies at once (Multiple Finish) = 10% Fol (money)
  • Defeat enemies using only battle skills and no normal attack = HP/MP restored 1% after battle
  • Ambushed by enemies = 1 Extra Party SP after battle

These gems can accumulate up to 14 times. Do note however, that you lose half of the gems you collected when the character you controlled dies or got hit with a Critical Hit.

That is basically all the main features in SO4’s battle. In rumble battles, it is relatively fun to get real time actions while ‘pwning’ the crap out of your enemies with awesome-looking battle skills. However, there are a number of problems I have with this system.

– Rush Mode makes you immune to flinching, which very much implies that you are literally ‘allowed’ to spam moves while in this duration. This destroys the purpose of the ‘Weak Spot’ System, which was designed to punish players that do mindless spamming in battle. Some bosses in this game have thick shells and your attacks do only 1/10 of your normal damage unless you hit on their ‘weak spot’. (Weak Spots can be revealed in several ways, i.e. while bosses are charging up their special attacks or after successfully blindsiding them.) Without exploiting the weak spot, the battle will turn into a fight of endurance between the bosses’ health and your item stock.
However, I remember this one boss that I was fed up of trying to fight smart and ended up trading punches with him using Edge while manually using Lymle to heal me from afar. The battle ended a hell lot easier than fighting smart, all thanks to the Rush Mode.

– A little more on the ‘Weak Point’ system. While it was a nice attempt to prevent players from spamming their ways to victory, I felt that the game also didn’t really think about the hit box thoroughly enough. There is no emphasis on hit box description like Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (another game from the same developer). In that game, you can change your party members’ attacks to allow them to hit various parts of an enemy’s body to break it and get special accessories. Most of the attacks were given thorough description of where they will attack and the enemy’s body part hit box are extremely accurate most of the time.
If some how, the accuracy of hit box from VP2 was implemented into this game, I felt that the weak spot system would really be more meaningful (the ability to allow you to directly target a certain part of the enemy’s body parts would be a good start).

– More on Rush Mode. While I am a big fan of ‘super modes’ systems, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy Rush Mode all that much. It does make your character more powerful in it, but at the same time, it also turns bosses and some extremely annoying enemies into killing machines. They are much more dangerous than you are when they are in Rush Mode, and I heard that some bosses in post-game even gain ‘Perma Rush Mode’ after they reach a certain health threshold.
That’s insane. Rush Mode is wayyyyyyyy too powerful.
One of the things I thought would be good in rebalancing Rush Mode is the ability to ‘kick’ enemies out of their Rush Modes with Blindsides, much like how you can kick your opponent out of their EX-Mode with Assist Attacks in Dissidia Duodecim. In return, Blindside should also be punishable (or has a gauge that controls how much you can use it in a battle) to prevent it from being utterly broken.

– Activation of Rush Combos is wonky. Half of the time, it activated when I want to quickly use a chain combo after activating Rush. And half of the other time, I ended up activating Rush Mode when I was trying to activate Rush Combos. Not to mention the fact that Rush Combos are underwhelming and boring as hell when you have to see the character spam the same skill for the hundredth time. I seriously would not mind each character having special uber attack at the end of the chain or something instead.

– Believe it or not, I’m actually okay with how your character is stunned if you hold the ‘charge’ button down for too long. It’s good for punishing people who were too defensive. However, I don’t like the flow of Blindsides overall. It was nifty the game tries to come up with an evasive maneuver but still, I don’t feel that it was well incorporated with the game’s fast pace system. Not to mention the fact that in corners, you are very guaranteed to screw up the Blindsides unless you are Arumat or Myuria (since their Blindsides are essentially teleports).

Customization and Other Features

Item Creation

Star Ocean’s renowned Item Creation has return. This time, the item creation is extremely simple in that you just have to collect or ‘brainstorm’ the recipe cards, and viola! You can create as much of those items as you want with 100% success rate as long as you have the ingredients for it.

While it is nice the game kept its item creation simple, it forgot about one extremely important thing: Item Limits.

Star Ocean series have been known to have their items limited at only 20 of a kind. Reason? Well, the game would be awfully easy if you can run around a battle field with 99 of each item in your stock. Heck, the game is already kind enough to allow you to choose any items from your item bag in battle. The game would have been less forgiving if they have the item system like, say, Kingdom Hearts.

Anyway, Item Inventory management has one of the series’ staple and I like it – I felt that it was part of the fun to manage your resource wisely.

However, imagine this scenario where you have to create 8 spell cards, and you need 7 pieces of a type of ingredient for each card you create. This means that your production is bottle-necked to only 2 cards at a time before you have run back to the nearest store to repurchase the ingredients. In the long run, that is extremely annoying and tedious. It would have been a lot better if ‘battle items’ remained limited at 20, and ‘item creations’ items allowed you to stock 99 of each.

BEAT

BEAT or the Battle Enhancement Attribute Type (I got that correct, right?) are like ‘battle style’ of each character, and can be changed only in the field menu outside of battle. There are three main types of BEAT.

BEAT S emphasizes on Blindsides, giving you more bonuses when you successfully blindsided and enemy (for instance, you can perform chain combos instead of doing normal attacks after a successful Blindside).

BEAT B emphasizes on Rush Mode, giving you more bonuses in your Rush Mode (such as longer duration and -25% MP cost while in Rush Mode).

BEAT N is a neutral BEAT that does not have any special bonus to Rush Mode or Blindside, but gives you the status boost of both BEATs at the same time.

The idea of BEAT is nice, but I felt like they really could have done more customization with this system. It feels a little blank to just switch to a certain mode without any other further setups.

Sidequests

There are sidequests scattered every where in the whole game, and a good deal of them are missable. There are also many kinds of them, ranging from simple fetch quests to defeating enemies and creating some items through item creations.

On one hand, they are a pretty good time killer and offer other means of upgrading your party through rewarded Party Skill Points, rather than grinding for levels for the whole day. The various method of upgrading your party has always been the reason I am a fan of Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series.

On the other hand however, some of them are fetch quests and drop quests, and these are tedious after a while. Fetch quests make you travel from a town to another to deliver goods. If you read the section about exploration above, you will know that getting between towns, fields, and dungeons take quite a while due to the vastness of the map. These quests also includes one that you have to create the items from Item Creation, where you will face the problem of item limit that I mentioned above.

Drop quests are even more horrible, and I’ve never been a fan of it (both this and stealing items from enemies). You will be asked to farm some items that are dropped from enemies. That’s nice and sounds easy. But it’s horrible when the drop rate RNG is not cooperating with you.

Private Actions

Private Actions and Affinity Points have also returned. Most of the PAs this time, however, are done on your ship while traveling to another planet. Triggering these ‘Private Action’ events will initiate cutscenes or conversations between characters increasing or lowering Affinity Points (or some time only for hilarity).

Affinity Points affect the feeling the party members have for each other. The higher the score, the more chance that character will enter ‘rage status’ (temporary increased attack) when another character dies. The points (and other special conditions) also determine whether or not you get a special ending for a character.

Don’t try this at home, people.

Inevitable Comparison

It has always been a controversy among the Star Ocean fan base on ‘Which Star Ocean is the best’. Because of this, SO4 has been inevitably compared with SO3 a couple of times. SO4 improved A LOT of several game play aspects SO3 failed, but at the same time, there are something SO3 does better. I am only going to compare gameplay elements because, well, admit it, for a Star Ocean game, that’s really all that matters. Let’s look at it point by point (‘+’ means for the better, while ‘-‘ means the opposite).

WARNING!! This section contains material that can be viewed as subjective and biased.

+ There is no silly difficulty spike in SO4. You won’t encounter ridiculous enemies that can wipe you out when you are not prepared (I am totally looking at you, Mini-Flyers and Polyhedrons).

+ The SP system of SO4 was a big improvement from SO3. I like how you can allocate your SP to level up your skills instead of relying on the horrendous number of usages to level. Not to mention the fact that you now have a lot more to do with your SP than let it sit there and hit 9999. The separation of Party and Individual SP was awesome and I love it.

+ Battle Skill setup change in battle was also a big plus. They really should have had this for the whole freakin’ time. This would have made Elemental Switching Tactic of Sophia’s staffs a hell lot more effective (in SO3, you can change only your equipments but not your battle skill setup).

+ Swapping party members mid-battle is definitely a plus. It is also great that you can switch team members even after your whole main team was wiped out. After all, it doesn’t make sense that your party loses when only four of your guys are dead. 

+/- I like the ‘Jump’ maneuver of some characters. It is a nice evasion system and I really wish SO3 had something like that instead of the strict i-frame sidesteps. However, I would have love it if the ‘Jump’ system was a proper ‘Dodge’ system. Reimi, Myuria, and Sarah’s Jumps got me screwed a couple of times when I quickly need to get some distance for them.

+/- The Battle Bonus Board was a nice upgrade of the Battle Bonus Gauge. However, the conditions to filling important gems are way too annoying, and the rewards are way too negligible that I don’t even feel like doing them. Getting a Critical Hit is purely up to chance and unless you go into Rush Mode, you won’t be consistently doing Critical Hits. Defeating Multiple Enemies at once is not easy until you get late game skills that does huge crowd control. Ambush is never easy to setup because it is not as simple as letting enemies touch you from behind in the field – You have to get two enemies touching you at the same time. There are ‘natural’ spots where you can set up Ambushes (like at the entrance of the final dungeon) and there’s Meracle Ocarina skill that makes enemy run at you, but you don’t get those until later or very late into the game game, making the bonus easily ignored by casual players.

+/- More interesting and useful support abilities (Auto Healing is totally what Standby Healing wanted to be but failed), yet not enough slots. Three slots really would have been better.

+/- Chain Combo execution is…well, I’m not really sure how to put it. While it does make execution of long chains of combo simple by a single button press, it turns into button mashing fast. I like SO3’s Cancel Combo a little more in that you have to time and hold the button after your first skill has been executed. But well, this does not exactly make SO3’s superior, so it’s not a plus.

+/- Variety of support skill activations through menu (Focus, Convert, Emergency Repair, ETC) was also a nice idea, but could have been done better by hitting the D-Pad button or something (and put the Manual / Auto button on the SELECT button). Also, I’d really like to see more unique skill for each character. Same goes for other special field commands like Bacchus’s Stealth, which can be executed in a manner similar to Final Fantasy XIII’s shroud menu.

– I personally don’t like the Critical Hit System overall. In fact, I don’t like anything that has to do with in-game Luck Status and chances. I want my team to be able to deal solid consistent numbers, not doing pathetic damage and hoping to score occasional miracle hits that does more damage than normal. It doesn’t help that the game almost emphasize on it, because for bosses that do not have Weak Spots on them (yes, you Tamiel), they gain stupid amount of DEF that only Critical Hits are capable of doing any reasonable damage with them.

– I want my SO3 Manual Targeting System back. At one point, I almost snap SO4’s disc into 2 because of the auto target aiming. It got VERY bad when I was tackling against a boss fight that summons minions (yes, you AGAIN Tamiel). The best course of actions is of course to take out the leader first. However, due to the nature of auto-targeting, my target was constantly changing and I could not focus on the boss. It doesn’t help that his minions can be revived, and each time they do, they come back with Satan’s steroids. Thank god someone told me that pressing R3 analog ‘locks on’ to a target until it is killed. But even then, I still prefer being able to directly pick my target instead of scrolling through them with the START button.

– The removal of the [Major / Minor] attack from SO3 system was sad. It was a great system and Tri-Ace should have had developed it further instead of scrapping it down the bin. At the very least, they should have kept the Fury System. If done right, that would have prevented spamming more effectively.

– The lack of customization on formation is bad. In SO3, you are given a couple of preset formation, all of which adds more depths to strategic setups. For instance, ‘Spear’ Formation puts one brave warrior to the front and two following closely from behind. Setting Peppita as the leader at the ‘head of the spear’ to initiate ‘Power Dance’ right at battle start will allow the two AI party member to run up right into the area of Power Dance’s effect, gaining ATK boost before attacking. This helps in taking out random mobs with higher levels extremely faster and more efficient.
SO4 does not offer such formation customization at all. You are fixed in a straight line of 4 people. You can’t even drop your mages at the back of the formation to make them safe when the battle start.

– ‘Preset Leader’ system was also removed. In SO3, setting a character as a leader makes that character under your control at the start of every battle, no matter who you ended the battle with. SO4 removed that, changing you to the character you were controlling before the previous battle ended. This might sound like nitpicking, but it negates any possible ‘Auto-Leader’ Tactics that was available in SO3.
To further explain this, I have a party of Sophia, Cliff, and Maria in SO3. Cliff works fine under AI, so there is no problem. Maria is a long range fighter, and while she can fare pretty well at close range, it’s not exactly healthy when you have full long range setups on her. Sophia is fragile and she will die in under 5 hits. As you can see, there are two characters that need your care in battle. An ‘Auto-Leader’ Tactic allows you to make simple micromanagement at the start of the battle. To do this, set Sophia as Leader with her AI tactic ON while setting Maria’s AI tactic to ‘Do Nothing’. When the battle starts, initiate a magic chain with Sophia and immediately swap to Maria. This will force Sophia’s AI to camp at the same place as she chains her spells till the end of time, while you have full control of Maria without her AI doing something stupid before you swap back to her. Any consequent battle will also start with this setup. This tactic will allow you to put your mage or support character to safety while giving you full control of the other character you wish to control.
Such degree of strategy, while possible in SO4, requires that you open your menu and reset your leader back to the first character again, and it can become a chore.

– Not really a bad thing, but I kind of miss the Optional Character Recruiting system and always thought it was a staple of the series.

– No epic ending theme with characters running under the Star Ocean D:

Overall Impression

As a stand alone game, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is definitely not as bad as I saw people claiming it to be. At the very least, I enjoyed it a lot more than Star Ocean: The Second Story.

Like I said in the introductions, this game had a love-hate relationship with me. I’ve been to the point that I hated it so much that I thought about selling it after I clear the game, and I’ve also found stuffs that I really like about it. I had fun playing the game, and I am actually doing post-game contents right now.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ‘awesome’, this game gets a solid 7.5 from me.

Nice graphic, a story that setups the history of the series, and a solid game play all made up those score. There are stuffs I wish it could have been done better and there are stuffs I really wish they didn’t scrap from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Because of that, I cannot rank this game above SO3. Many of my friends were joking around, telling me that my first reason SO4 can never surpass SO3 was because of the lack of Sophia. Well, behind the scenes, I admit that there are biased factors that prevent me from liking SO4 more than SO3, but hey, I’m trying to share an unbiased experience, lol.

In any case, let me tell you this; SO4 was an extremely close contender. And I haven’t accepted any game as a close contender to SO3 in a while too.

Thanks everyone for reading this random personal review. I hope you guys had fun reading this and I’ll see you again next time.

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13 thoughts on “M_C’s Star Ocean: The Last Hope Review

  1. Pingback: M_C’s Top 10 Male Characters of 2012 | Mad_Cartoonist's Insane Blog

    • Really depends on what you are looking for. In terms of story, this game, like many other Star Ocean games, does not offer any special or unique story / character of sort. Some people even hate some characters because they are annoying, but I got high tolerance, so I didn’t really hate them, lol.
      Gameplay-wise, if you give it some chance, SO4 easily has one of the greatest combat system, second only to SO3 (IMO). It is fast pace and landing special attacks are satisfying.
      There are many sidequests for you to do, so if you enjoy many small stuffs that take up your time, this game has lots of it.

        • BIASED WALL OF TEXT WARNING! You have been warned.

          There is ‘nothing’ special about Reimi. Her character is just as cliche as any other Star Ocean heroines. With the exception of Rena from SO2, all SO heroines are the protag’s childhood friend, but that doesn’t make them any different. All of them are dreamy girls that love the dense protag.
          Yet, Reimi is getting praises she doesn’t deserve from the fan base as the best Star Ocean heroine ever.
          The worst part is that, Sophia, my favorite girl which can pretty much never be taken down by anyone, is frequently compared to Reimi, with Sophia always being considered inferior. Reason? She has less than half of the screen time Reimi does due to the fact that SO3’s story was obviously cut short.
          It was never a fair contest.
          Battle-wise, It wasn’t until at least half way into post game that Reimi gains her ‘broken’ battle skill (which I don’t even know how truly ‘broken’ that is). Any time before that, she is always the first character in my party to die. Not to mention that the fan service for her is also being shoved down everyone’s throat. We saw her naked at least 3 times in the game, and the camera zooms at her ass during her victory pose.
          Oh, and Sophia never gets to be naked or show her ass, so that’s a minus according to the fan base. Also, you’re not gonna believe how much people attack her for not zipping up her pants early in the game.
          Have I mentioned that the original SO3 belief that “Sophia sucks in battle” has been proven wrong by me? I’ve spent the whole year proving otherwise and she is now accepted among the vets that she does contribute something valuable to the party, and that is ‘safety’. Once Sophia gets to lv42, you can pretty much say good bye to the game over screen. Reimi never contributed anything like that to me for the whole time I was playing SO4, aside from always being the first to die. It was when I thought I played her wrong that I asked around the place and realize how overly hyped everyone was at Reimi’s ass.

          Sorry for the wall of text >_<

          • Naked as in the shower scene showing her bare back? O_O
            If Reimi has Sophia’s personality, would you have accept her?

            • Yup. She gets two optional shower scenes (And not just bare backs, mind you. You literally see the silhouette of her whole naked body) and one mandatory scene in main game where she woke up with nothing but a piece of blanket covering her.

              Personality-wise, all Star Ocean heroines have the same personality, so that really doesn’t matter. And in any case, no one will ever surpass Sophia anyway because she earns a special place in my heart.

              Let me emphasize that I have nothing against Reimi as a character. The reason I do not like her is because of how the fan base is treating her.

  2. I click that PA scene you link. God! Welch exists even in the prequel? And she calls herself Auntie. How old is she exactly? All least she’s acting slutty as always.

  3. So I have to press start button to choose which enemies I have to target, instead of using analog stick to choose the enemies I want to target? That’s so lame X(

    • Pressing START button scrolls through the target selection. You can’t directly pick the target you want. Also, after you got your target, you have to press the R3 stick to make your cursor locked onto that target, otherwise it’ll just screw up and pick another target nearest to you.
      Yup. I hate this game’s targeting system. It was more manageable after I know the Lock-On button, but still, I prefer SO3’s.

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