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Star Ocean: The Last Hope – hands-on

Despite the scanners  indicating no substantial life forms on the planet, the crew are surprised to find giant, irritable insects roaming the surface. While this won’t surprise the player, again it holds atypical significance as the serene bastion for humanity is revealed to have a dark underbelly. This leads to Star Ocean’s signature real-time combat, which for the uninitiated may provide an engaging alternative to the standard “characters stand around and take potshots at each other” found in many RPGs.

While roaming the map, you can see enemies patrolling around, and so can avoid them to a certain extent. Once an enemy “touches” your party leader, a familiar battle transition occurs, but you’re plopped down in an arena that you can run around at will, dodging enemy attacks, circling them, and flanking them. A sort of hack-n-slash approach will be the central part of combat, but you can lock on to enemies, block attacks, and swap control of characters instantly with a button tap. Currently the camera is a bit odd because fights always start with enemies off to the side of your view, instead of in front of you where you can see them, so there’s an annoyingly unnecessary step of rotating the camera at the beginning of every battle. Hopefully that will be changed in the final game, as it’s a small irritation that may grow tiresome after the 500th time it must be done.

The Last Hope also features the series’ signature item creation aspect, where ingredients are harvested from the environment, MMO-style, to use in recipes. From what we saw, it didn’t have a grindy-feel to it, so for the MMO-phobic, not to worry. While it’s nice to see favorite features returning, we didn’t get a chance to see anything ground-breakingly new. For now, the game appears to be a next-gen souped-up version of the universe fans have grown to love. However, the game is clearly massive, so we may yet see some cool leaps ahead in gameplay. Even if it’s not the case, the story certainly hints at some unexpected twists to keep players slashing their way through real-time fights, all the way to the end, if only to see how this saga began.

Feb 5, 2009

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5 comments

  • Japanjack - February 7, 2009 4:42 p.m.

    I am quite excited for this entry. I've downloaded the Japanese trailers and it just looks so amazing. It's incredibly beautiful to boot.
  • Jaces - February 6, 2009 6:56 p.m.

    First! Muwahaha! Anyways I don't care for this game to much, the last one didn't do a lot for me to look forward to the next installment.
  • shockolate - February 8, 2009 2:43 p.m.

    I've never played a Star Ocean game before, but it looks like the combat is similar to the Tales series. Am i wrong or?
  • Corsair89 - February 7, 2009 12:38 a.m.

    I love the Star Ocean series. I just hope that this game is good.
  • BodyDamage - February 6, 2009 7:21 p.m.

    This game only being on the 360 is REALLY upsetting to me. I don't mind it being there, but it would do me a world of favors if it was also on ps3, especially considering its been a Playstation series since SO2 and one of my absolute favorites.

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