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Xbox 360 Game Review

Star Ocean: The Last Hope


Format: Xbox 360
Square Enix
RRP: £44.99
5 060121 825079
Age Restrictions: 12+
Available 05 June 2009

The year is S.D. 10. In the aftermath of World War III, humanity voyages into the stars in search of a new home - and a second chance. A prequel that combines sci-fi and fantasy elements, spanning multiple planets and the vastness of space itself to recount the origins of the Star Ocean universe. It also features CG movies by Visual Works, the cutting-edge studio whose previous work includes cut scenes for the acclaimed Final Fantasy RPG series...

Star Ocean: The Last Hope continues the franchise's soaring space opera, blending science fiction with fantasy for a unique RPG experience. The refined gameplay features four party members and team-oriented combat, while maintaining the innovative real-time battle system that has become a trademark of the franchise.

Those familiar with RPG's will feel right at home here as this game uses the basic level system which incorporates experience points and skill points for abilities, but after you've played through a couple of battle along comes a unique feature for serious RPG fans. The battle trophies are unlocked by playing as a certain character and making them do certain tasks - such as win a battle without being targeted, or land a certain amount of attacks in a row without taking damage.

As you begin the game you quickly realise that there is going to be a huge story - which slowly unfolds over three discs. To start off with there’s a basic tutorial which is skipable if you want to just rush headlong into the action and pick it up as you go along. The tutorial takes you through the basics, such as moving and how to get to grips with the combat system. After you've completed this there’s a long stream of cut scenes to get you into the story and familiarising you with the characters. This segment lasts for a good 20-30 minutes and is great if you want to get into the spirit of the game.

After all of the cut scenes you are introduced to a massive area of land to explore and search, but you are soon attacked by the local inhabitants - huge hungry bugs - which allows you to feel your way around the battle system if you decided to skip the tutorial.

As you continue to explore your surroundings you soon start to encounter more different types of enemies, including giant wasp like bugs and huge beetles. When encountering these enemies you will find that they can move around the map and if you go near them they will pursue you. If they manage to make contact when your character is facing in the opposite direction then the enemies get an advantage and attack you before you can act in battle, but this can be turned against them by catching them off guard in the same manner. This means that you have time to think before attacking them.

When fighting you are set into a real time combat system where you have to think on your feet and move around freely rather than sat on the same spot giving orders, this gives much more freedom to battles. The battle system is set in an arena style of environment with walls around the outside and you're able to move your character around the map attacking when you wish by pressing (A) on the controller. This allows you to unleash a combo or a basic attack with your character's weapon. Your characters are not limited to just basic attacks, they are able to use special attacks, in mid combo, to use a more powerful attack on the chosen enemy.

By pressing the (Y) button you can pull up a mid battle menu which includes commands such as using items or escaping, there are also commands to use skills and symbology - a magic like command - and a command to change characters mid battle. You can also change your tactics mid battle. Tactics are used to let your other characters be controlled by the AI, whilst you control the character you wish to use, but only the character you choose to act with can obtain battle trophies, which can give a variety to battles.

There are plenty more things in your environment other than enemies that you can find such as things to harvest (like fruit and herbs) used to make potions or to use raw - both of which can be helpful in battle. The other things that can be found are ores used for creating items - but these can only be done once the required character has been unlocked.

There’s one thing about your surroundings that stands out are the lush environments. Whether its colourful flowers or amazing waterfalls it just seems to glow in almost every way. Then there's the impressive looking beach that you have to venture across at the beginning of the game.

Another thing that excels everywhere in the game is the music, which can be relaxing and intense at the same time but never too much, giving the game a mellow and relaxing feel all the way through.

Another element that makes this game so impressive are the cut scenes which look and sound superb. The opening sequence has some unbelievable nuclear explosions and facial detail that is just remarkable.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope has a lot to offer with battle trophies to unlock and some cool hidden dungeons throughout the game, giving you a lot to explore. But it doesn’t stop there you can play the game through again with some of the things you have unlocked the first time through - such as all your battle trophies, and you also unlock a new difficulty to give you more of a challenge.


Carl Simpson

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