Chaotic Soul Gaming

Took me way longer than I expected, but I think I’m ready to review this baby.

Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope International is a re-release of previously a 360 Exclusive JRPG of the same name, released about 1 year later on PS3 with added content, and as a single disc release. The game is developed by Tri-ace and published by Square Enix.

Story:

I won’t talk much about the storyline, because I don’t want to spoil anything about it, but I have to say that it’s was pretty decent for the most part, except for a place where it was getting on my nerves.

At the most basic level, the story can be summarized as this, The human race screwed up their planet by blowing it up with nukes, found alien technology and used these to go in space to colonize new worlds. You are part of the initial colonization project, and it doesn’t take long before everything goes to hell.

The game has a decent length in size, though near the end I kind of hoped it would end earlier, I will talk about why later on. Nonetheless, there is quite a lot to do in this, lots of side quests, items to create, etc. At the end boss, my clock was running at 43 hours, and I didn’t even though half the side quests.

The exploration part of the game is also standard JRPG fare of this generation, you see the enemies before hand so you can evade them, being touched from the back means a surprise attack on you where the enemies will have an advantage in the manner of their burst gauge(more on this later) being already at 40%. On a similar manner, if you touch the enemies from the back, you will gain advantage, but your burst gauge will be at 0% nonetheless (kind of seem unfair to me).

The battle system can be quite hectic with you controlling one of the character, and the other three of your party will be AI Controlled, unless they’re set to “manual” in which case they’ll remain motionless. During battle, you can attack, “jump” (more like a side-step), block, and use special attacks using L1,L2,R1,R2. The annoying part of this is that more often than not, the targeting system seems completely random in targeting a monster, you can help yourself a bit by pushing start to cycle through enemies, and click R3 to lock on, but it is rather cumbersome to do. Also, you can try to blindside enemies by holding the jump button while being targeted and then moving, in most cases this will make you blindside an enemy, bringing you behind it and each blows will generate a critical hit to the enemy. A warning though, some enemies can counter these if you move too early out of their attack.

Also, some of the boss battles can seriously drag on and on.

At some point in the game, you will gain the ability to create items via synthesis, this can be quite addictive for some people who like these kind of features, but I had to say it is rather simple compared to other games like the Atelier series. A lot of items can only be earned through this process, but it can be quite time consuming hunting down the materials, this is made even worst by the limit of 20 items of the same kind.

Sound and Musics:

The musical score is once again composed by music composer veteran Motoi Sakuraba as with most of the previous Tri-ace games. I have to say the musics are quite good in this too, as it usually the case with his compositions.

Voice acting on the other hand can seriously be grating in both Japanese and English, almost wished there was a way to disable them sometimes. Unlike the 360 version, this one has both English and Japanese voices.

Graphics:

I’m not talking much about graphics as to me, graphics don’t make the game, but for those who wants to know, the graphics are pretty good in this, good details on the characters, flashy effects during battles.

Conclusion

All in all, I think the game is good, but somehow I don’t think I will replay it for quite a while due to the final dungeon, which I will talk about after the conclusion without spoilers. 😉

The Good

  • Decent length for a JRPG
  • Lots of items to be created
  • Good soundtrack
  • Entertaining battle system

The Bad

  • Some characters can get on your nerves
  • Some boss battles can really drag on
  • Final Dungeon

I don’t really have a planned article to follow this review, but I thought I’d write a little section on this game and how to improve some of the awful design choices they did.

1: One of the biggest flaw to the game, is also one of its draw, and that is the battle system of the game, it’s realtime, action packed. But it suffers from a god awful targeting system, relying on the start button to cycle through them. Why couldn’t they have used the system used in Tales of Vesperia? hold a specific button for three seconds which pauses the game, and lets you select the target you want. This is particularly imported in a realtime system, you don’t want to waste 20 seconds to find the right target, and this is made even worse considering it’s a single way cycling, you CAN’T go back!

2: Also in the battle system, if you’re going to include a blocking feature, MAP IT TO A BUTTON! In this game, you’re constantly in motion, but the only way to block, is to remain motionless. This is a mistake, since you can’t know for sure that you’ll be blocking or not! Map this to a button please.

3: Artificial Difficulty for bosses, this one irked me a lot, bosses are hard for a few reason, and most of them bad ones. They have massive HP, and I’m talking in the near million HP, coupled with a massive defense, it will take forever to kill them. The final boss is the worse of them all on that matter. Not only you do barely any damage, but bosses can juggle or spam attack you for which you can’t evade once hit once, and each hit can deplete over a third of you HP, most of the bosses have no strategy to them, it’s pretty much spam attack it before it does you.

4: The burst gauge. This would be a good feature, if not for the fact that for the enemies, and bosses included, their burst gauge raises a whole lot faster than yours. And by that I mean, you hit once, you gain roughly 5%, but the enemy will gain 15%.

5: The final dungeon. Through the whole game, every dungeons, maps, worlds had quite a lot of save points, sprinkled around. Except the final dungeon, the world itself where it is has plently of saving, but not in the dungeon itself, the save is near the final fight. But the way the dungeon is designed, with passages that won’t appear unless you’re near them, makes it hard to navigate, easy to get loss and with the amount of fighting you have to do, you’ll wish there was a save point somewhere. Not only that, but with reports of this game freezing in that area for lots of people (I didn’t experience this luckily), a save point would be welcomed.

6: And finally, if you’re going to have achievements/trophies on a feature like having 100% item created, have a way for people to be able to track these! There are thousands of different items you can make with the item synthesis, but not a single way showing you which ones you already created vs ones you found lying around!

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