Repost: Star Ocean: The Last Hope International Review

Star Ocean: The Last Hope International is a ported version of the previously released Xbox 360 version of the title almost a year prior to the PlayStation 3 exclusive International version. Included in this version is the original Japanese audio, multilingual text options, and changeable character portraits, otherwise the game does not have any other huge changes to the actual gameplay.

PlayStation 3 owners were missing out on this great tri-Ave developed title, and Star Ocean: The Last Hope International was the first Star Ocean that I played. The Japanese RPG uses a lot of the same standards that the genre of the East is known for, but it does a few things differently that keep the action moving and doesn’t slowdown the story. Though the occasional grind was necessary.

Plot

Through the long introduction of the title, it is learned that two warring factions destroyed the surface of the Earth through the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction leading to the formation of the Greater United Nations who form Universal Science and Technology Administration, given the mission to locate a new suitable world for colonization.

Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji are introduced as crew members of the SRF-003 Calnus who are on the secret mission of finding a new homeworld for the surviving population of Earth. The wormhole technology that is developed by the USTA leads the Calnus and the other ships on the mission to a new world where Edge must step up and take on the mission of searching the bordering worlds and complete the mission of the USTA.

The Look

Players who jump into Star Ocean: The Last Hope International and are playing on HDTV should prepare for a very bright game. From the onset of the title, Star Ocean: The Last Hope International pushes a lot of light in each environment even in the darker areas.

The visuals are staggering in the mixture of the anime-influenced character designs and the more realistic background environments. The cutscenes show off the graphics engine particularly well as it appears that many use the in-game engine rather than full motion video, though these play in specific plot elements.

Taking the approach of not creating 100% realistic characters helps the title because the emotions of the characters are easily realized and the enemy design is impressive for an RPG title. With the controllable camera, there is a lot to see, though here and there, artifacts do show up in the gameplay, pushed more prominently by the default brightness of the title.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope International is a visually impressive game, of that there is no doubt.

The Sound

Given the two options of English or Japanese audio, I will always choose the original audio. And since Star Ocean: The Last Hope International has the option of Japanese and after reading the original Xbox 360 reviews, I chose the Japanese. The soundtrack is sweeping and consistent with the genre and especially the Japanese RPG genre.

It is a nice touch that there is a lot of dialogue in the title, including battles and talking with everyone. A lot of the title does use text, but the voice overs do take the primary role. The strange issue with Star Ocean: The Last Hope International is that it supports surround sound, but in the options menu it does not accurately push audio to the proper speakers, though this could just have been with my personal setup.

The title isn’t overly loud, but specific scenes do push the audio strongly through the speakers. Just be prepared for a lot of talking either in English or Japanese.

Function

Star Ocean: The Last Hope International doesn’t use the aged turn-based system and uses a real-time battle system that is both a fun strategic element and also the most annoying system possible. Supporting character’s roles are defined by a battle tactics system that is easy to use and defines roles well, but for the main character, most of the battles is mainly button mashing and hoping that attacks will break the enemy’s.

During the beginning of the game, characters are given so little options that the level grinding becomes so paramount to surviving on the first worlds. Once characters are upgraded and defined, combat does what it promises in the beginning and is a lot more fun because of its faster gameplay.

The customization of the weapons, items, and symbology is the core of the combat and the title creates a large amount of options. Using the Item Creation menu is one of the highlights because of the use of the different character attributes creates some interesting items. The different characters in the game are defined in their combat roles which makes battle a bit easier, but the lack of save points throughout areas makes Star Ocean: The Last Hope International a little annoying.

Decisions

Any RPG fan who missed Star Ocean: The Last Hope on Xbox 360 should pick up Star Ocean: The Last Hope International. The Japanese audio adds a lot of depth to the story, even if the audio isn’t even understood. The plot is fast paced except for the early required level grinding and maintains a lot of interest throughout.

Expect to put some time into Star Ocean: The Last Hope International because it does have a lot of content besides the main storyline with side quests popping up everywhere. Though Star Ocean: The Last Hope International is decidedly a J-RPG which may turn off some people, expect a good conclusion at the end of the journey.

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