Star Ocean: The Last Hope Review – Good, But Not Great

The game that was initially meant for the Xbox 360 was remade to look much better on both the PS4 and PC. Although some speculate as to why this is even here, to begin with, most don’t really seem to mind. The remastered version definitely retained some the good aspects of the original, but that also means that the bad is still in there as well.

Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC, PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: tri-Ace
Release Date: November 28, 2017
MSRP: $20.99
This review is based on a review copy provided by Square Enix.

Let’s start off with the story. World War III has managed to completely ravage Earth. All those who have survived its aftermath have decided to form a truce to ensure humanity’s survival; as well as to try to find new and habitable planets for a better future. So the SRF (Space Reconnaissance Force) promotes Edge Maverick and gives him the important task of finding humanity’s next home. Edge becomes the captain of the Calnus, an SRF spaceship, and he alongside with childhood friend and fellow member of the SRF Reimi Saionji,  go off on their mission and meet tons of friends, enemies, and a threat so big that it endangers all life in the universe.

There’s one major problem with the story. It’s the fact that they tasked a 21-year-old with humanity’s survival. You would think that with a mission as big as this, they would pick someone more….dependable. I understand that this is a JRPG and young main characters are a thing, but this is pushing it. The cast of characters that you meet along the way isn’t exactly the most entertaining bunch either. Character development is there, but it doesn’t exactly compel you to care that much about the main protagonist and his party members. Although it’s there, it’s not as good as other modern and classic JRPG’s. However, there is one mechanic that makes you look forward to seeing your characters grow, but we’ll get to that soon.

The English voice acting is just as irritable and cringe-worthy as the original. It’s great that there’s an option to change the voice acting from English to Japanese. Although the Japanese dubbing isn’t that great, it’s still miles better.

Let’s move over to the gameplay. The game utilizes the same real-time battle system as the previous titles in the series. It’s not like other JRPG’s where you’re thrown into random battles at any point. Instead, you see the enemies on-screen and you engage them however and whenever you wish; or if they decide to choose to bring the fight to you. The game has 2 unique battle features known as the new Rush Gauge and Blindsides. With the Rush Gauge, you’ll be able to do a preemptive strike on an opponent, or it allows you to use special abilities or an attack. Blindsiding allows players to get an upper hand on enemies by slipping past them and striking from behind.

If you want to make the most out of the game, then you’ll have to fully utilize these 2 features. The reason is that the game is such a chore early on. While it’s understandable that any RPG or JRPG has grinding, how you do it here is very repetitive. You go up to a monster, do the same attack and special combo, and repeat until you level up. It doesn’t help that the environments you visit are huge and that the monsters are spread out so far apart. Although, when you manage to get a ton of special moves, that’s when the real fun starts. You can chain a lot of combos together in any way that you want, and this makes combat really engaging. It’s just unfortunate that the build up to that point is slow, but it’s still worth it in the end.

Another thing that’s nice is the ability to revisit worlds easily. All you have to do is enter the Calnus, choose the destination you want to go, and there you are. This helps with the grinding and the gaining materials for better equipment. But the problem of the environments being too big at points can really make these side missions taxing on the player.

What is nice though is the return of Private Action system (or PA). This is a feature that has been prominent in the previous entries in the Star Ocean series. Basically, you allow the main character to interact with the party members and build up their relationship. It’s nice to see the characters engage in both serious and funny cutscenes as it tells you that they’re actually gaining character development. Just remember to switch the voice acting to Japanese as these cutscenes can tend to get…awkward; especially if it’s in English. Plus, doing these private actions can change certain end-game cutscenes, so they’re worth it.

Finally, let’s talk about the graphics. The fact that this game was remade to support HD and 4k really shows when you boot it up. Whether you’re using a PS4 Pro or your PC, everything looks really good. It’s also worth noting that the PS4 version allows players to change resolution, set shadow quality, anti-aliasing, draw distance for character models, self-shadowing, camera blur, texture quality, and depth of field. You wouldn’t really expect these options to be in a console game, but they’re there if you want to change them. However, it’s best that you don’t touch them unless you’re playing the PC version, as doing so may cause some frame rate issues.

If you have an optimal PC and if you don’t touch the PS4 settings, then everything looks really good. The character models are great up close, environments are rich in detail, and the lighting quality is superb.

It’s just a shame that the soundtrack isn’t all that memorable. While there is an effort that’s clearly shown in its creation, it just doesn’t immerse the players when they’re battling, exploring, or even during certain emotional cutscenes.

All in all, the game can still be fun, but it’s just not as good as one would hope. The graphics upgrade is definitely the main focus if ever one decides to buy this title. It can still be enjoyable despite its flaws, but it’s a far cry from today’s modern JRPG’s. So if you want to, give it a shot as the price for this game is actually pretty reasonable.

 

7
Star Ocean: The Last Hope - Review
Score Definition
Pros
Amazing in HD and 4k resolution
Easy to learn battle mechanics
Fun combo chaining
The Private Action System
Cons
Cringe worthy character development
Slow and repetitive start
Badly done English voice acting
Questionable Story