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Mr. Ja Vaughan "JV" (London)
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Star Ocean: The Last Hope International (PS3)
Star Ocean: The Last Hope International (PS3)
Offered by Digitalville UK
Price: £23.54

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vast and exciting, but flawed JRPG, 15 April 2010
If you've played a Star Ocean game before, you've no doubt bought this game, completed it and are now attempted to obtain the 900 battle trophies.
This review however, is aimed at people new to the series. This game is by no means perfect, it has some pretty serious flaws, but if the linearity of FFXIII doesn't really appeal to you, then this might well do.

I've broken down my review into sections about the game to make it easier to pick out whats important.

Story:
Following WWIII man sets off to the stars in order to find suitable second earth to migrate to. This goes awry with the discovery of the Grigori who are hell bent on destroying the universe and as a group of steriotypical JRPG heroes (teenagers) its up to you to stop them.

The story is delivered through distinct cut scene segments in between dungeons or exploration. The story may sound stale and reused, but it has enough plot twists and hooks to keep you interested enough to press on.

Characters:
The hero (edge), his childhood friend (Reimi) and the enigmatic and quiet third character (Faize). So business as usual. However, the supporting cast are much more interesting; A cyborg scientist, the cat girl and the lady who decided the best form of armour is a bikini. Each character has enough of a back story that you empathise with them and (with the exception of Lymle) all of the characters are completely tolerable and overall make a very good bunch of space heroes.

Battle System (Gameplay):
The battle system is where this game truly excell, IMO far better than FFXIII, its all in real time and you control one of your four battle party (you can change both the character you play as and your battle party on the fly), this means that if you run into a difficult boss, where you need more support characters you can change them in and modify your tactics (as opposed to FFXIII's "retry" system). The combat is pretty fast paced and the difficulty through the main game is largely linear with a few slight jumps up. Each character can assign special attacks to the shoulder buttons, with up to three in a combo on each allowing for huge damage combos. With the rush gauge, blindside, rush combos, killer moves and variety of character play styles its impossible to get bored of combat; I'm 150 hours in and still love each battle.

outside of battles are the cities, dungeons and map sections. At cities you can buy new armour, weapons, rest etc. there are also LOADS of side quests: shop orders and other quests, ranging from fetch quests to synthesis to additional dungeons and with 201 quests in the game theres loads to keep you entertained. If this isn't quite enough, there is always item creation, which is streamlined and easy to master, just develop recipies using party members, find the components needed and your away.

Graphics:
The game is no doubt inspired by anime, the character models have big eyes and some interesting hair colours, but are very good. the textures are also very good, there are a few hit and miss textures earlier in the game, but overall the graphics are very good, especially as this game was first released in Feb 2009. the in game cut scenes are also well animated, although the majority are in game rendered as opposed to FMV (full motion video), although these do occur occasionally and are of a very high quality.

Sound:
The music in the game is varied, from rock-y dungeon music to more subdued music for villages. It fits with the scenery and adds a nice atmosphere to the game. But then.. the voice acting... I warn you now, that the voice acting from Lymle and to a lesser extent Sarah, is pretty dire, kay? If Lymle's repeated use of the word "Kay?" doesn't make you change to the japanese dub or at least tuen the volume down i don't know what will xD thankfully, the rest of the casts voice acting is solid.

So, in conclusion, I really do recommend this game, yes some of the voices are terrible, and the story is a bit bland, but this game excels where it matters, in the game play and content. This game is great for the casual player as the main game can be completed with minimal grinding/ side quests/ item synthesis, but its also great for people who want collectables and tons of side content. With the quality where it matters and enough material for a playthrough to be anywhere between 60-150 hours this game really caters for everyone. If your bored of linear RPGs were the game play seems largely superficial and a means of telling a story then you should buy this game. :)

Story: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Game Play: 10/10
Graphics: 9/10
Sound:7/10

For the fans/ Hardcore:
Post Game:
Aside from all of the quests/ IC etc, post game there are the two additional dungeons (Cave of the seven stars & Wandering dungeon), COTSS is a gentle introduction to what can be expected post game: brutal boss fights and the overpowered equipment. Gabriel Celeste and Etherial queen also make appearances :P Wandering dungeon is truly for the hardcore, with 20 levels of randomly generated dungeon, with a boss every 2 floors and Etherial queen on the 20th it is truly formiddable (luckity Santa has set up shop in the dungeon with the usual overpriced wears like tri-emblems). The best IC gear also requires you to kill both GC and EQ 5 times to get the feathers required for the best gear.

Trophies:
DO NOT buy this game if you expect to platinum it in 50 hours, with 900 battle trophies to get, every item to synth, every chest to open and every quest to complete a platinum will take 400 hours+. But its an accolade if you get it :P

Post Game Content: 10/10
Trophy difficulty 10/10
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