Friday, February 18, 2005

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time mini-review

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the third game in the main Star Ocean series and is published by the newly formed Square Enix company (though developed at Enix before the merger). The PAL version is based on the Director's Cut.

The game is developed by tri-Ace whom are not as well known in the West as their titles are mainly niche Japanese role playing game (JRPG). They also developed the original Star Ocean and Enix's very rare and underrated Valkyrie Profile game. It isn't necessary to play the other games in the series as Star Ocean 3 has a complete narrative by itself separate from the series, rather much like each Final Fantasy games has its own different set of characters and locations.

The combat here is in real time different from many RPG titles which uses turn based mechanics. The closest I can describe is that it plays rather like Valkyrie Profile, but a friend of mine says that it is more like .hack. I never played .hack (should I?), so I don't know, but right now the closest I have ever played to an action based RPG is Valkyrie Profile. Like all RPG, EXP can be gained from defeating enemies and stats can be improved over time through levelling up. Combat is in real time and you can run around hacking and slashing.

Star Ocean 3 story first begins in the imaginary planet of Hyda IV resort (similar to the resort where Bruce Willis visited in The Fifth Element), where Fayt Leingod, the games protagoninst, is on holiday with his family. While there an alien race the Vendeen Empire attacks the planet which triggers a war. Fayt manages to escape with his friends but his parents were separated. Consequently Fayt was also separated from his friend when his ship was attacked. The plotline is very compelling and different from many usual RPG games.

The graphics are very impressive for the PS2 although it falls short of challenging even the smallest budget PC game out there. Characters are deformed though nothing like Final Fantasy VII. Polygons are visible and characters more or less appear like dolls on the screen. Locations on the other hand are beautiful with the futuristic sci-fi setting detailed and believable, though nothing comes close to being realistic. Voice acting is minimal and can get annoying during battle as they scream around.

This is a wonderful game that truly deserves an enthusiast attention. If you are a gamer heavily into good storyline as well as a RPG fan, then you should check this out.


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