Having grown up in the era of the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Nintendo 8-bit systems, the only RPG that ever crossed my path was the original Zelda game. Since then, there have been many games that have caused boys and men alike to sit in front of their television sets for weeks on end and challenge every aspect of their personal and business lives. Sweethearts get ignored, caffeinated beverages and junk foods are consumed en masse, and nerd points are accumulated as one video game geek after another calls in sick to their workplace in order to beat the game.
Well, it’s time to kiss your love life and job goodbye, because Star Ocean: The Last Hope is now available on the PS3 from Square Enix. The dangerously addictive game, the latest in a long line of popular Japanese RPGs, follows the plight of several humans in a post-apocalyptic world, who venture into space as part of a colonization mission. Our main hero, the aptly-named Edge Maverick, is a young Captain Kirk-type of fellow, who assumes command of the spaceship Calnus following a disastrous crash-landing onto the planet Aeos. Soon, Edge — along with his lady-friend Reimi Saionji — pair up with a friendly Eldarian alien lad by the name of Faize.
From there, the trio venture back into the vast Star Ocean above to search for a missing ship from their fleet commanded by Edge’s best friend, Crowe) — discovering one treacherous peril after another, as they hop from planet to planet. New characters (each with their own unique abilities) join the party along the way, including cyborg Bacchus (who looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Buzz Lightyear), a creepy little girl who says “‘kay” too much, a feisty cat-woman, a ditzy winged woman, and a big-eared, big-breasted alien woman who is also on the hunt for Crowe — albeit for different reasons.
Like all good RPGs, Square Enix’s Star Ocean: The Last Hope is loaded with exciting battles, major missions, hidden goodies, and dozens of sub-missions. As players venture from one planet to the next, they encounter a variety of enemies — growing stronger and wiser as they defeat each one. And, should you grow tired of fighting, you can always adjourn back to the Calnus to visit Welch, the Calnus’ annoying hologram, who will guide you through the research and development of new items from food to weaponry.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope was previously issued by Square Enix for the XBOX 360 in February 2009, but this new International version offers up a number of improvements. For one thing, the whole game is included on one disc, whereas you had to switch discs on the 360 release. Two other major enhancements here are multiple languages (you can listen to the dialogue in either its English audio, French, Italian, German, Spanish, or the original Japanese audio — English subtitles are available either way, should you feel like a change of pace), and the ability to change the menu layout from its default “CG” graphics to a more traditional “Classic” style which has more of an Anime look to it. Additional characters are also available in the PS3’s International version.
Visually, Star Ocean: The Last Hope – International offers up some beautiful High Def graphics in terms of its scenery and background. The characters are also well-designed (many players will no doubt “enjoy” the developers’ tendency to focus on the pixilated curves of the female crewmembers), although some people may find the often-expressionless faces of the androgynous characters a bit grueling.
In the sound department, Star Ocean: The Last Hope – International boasts a very rich musical score which doesn’t get too terribly tiresome — even after a good week’s worth of playing. The sound effects can tax your patience after a short while, but fortunately, all of the music/sound effect levels can be adjusted to your liking. I haven’t had time to check out the Japanese audio on the game yet, but I have to commend Square Enix’s English audio here: it may not be award-winning work, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the dubbing jobs you hear on the average DVD these days.
In short: Star Ocean: The Last Hope – International is an exciting and thoroughly addictive game.
Break out the Mountain Dew IV, hook up the catheter, and get ready to kiss your social life goodbye.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope – International is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.