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Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PlayStation 2) artwork

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PlayStation 2) review

"I'm going to begin this review saying that I pretty much like, or tolerate everything about this game. The Star Ocean universe is engaging and after playing the game for a few hours, it will occur that you've fell upon something quite grand. "

I'm going to begin this review saying that I pretty much like, or tolerate everything about this game. The Star Ocean universe is engaging and after playing the game for a few hours, it will occur that you've fell upon something quite grand.

Star Ocean 3 is an Action RPG with a sci-fi setting but you'll spend most of your time exploring environments as on a planet like Earth. Our protagonist Fayt Leingod finds himself stranded on an under-developed planet due to a sequence of unfortunate events that comprise the introduction to the game. Fayt is soon searched for by the intermediary, anti-federation group Quark, because well, let's just say his last name implies that he's worth searching for. Fayt befriends Cliff Fittir, the hot headed former leader of Quark and they are soon caught in the tangles of a war that they can't ignore, as they have crash landed their shuttle into a civilization that is the equivalent to medieval Earth.

I find it hard to put into words the exact magic that this game puts over me, but a magic is there. The pacing of the game maintains a certain sense of urgency that seems to suck one into its world. Maybe it's that when you think the game is being melodramatic with run of the mill awkward voiced dialogue, Cliff's character chimes in to make light of a situation. Fayt retorts at Cliff, telling him “now is not a time to be funny.” Sometimes Cliff will make risqué comments that are uncalled for, too, and its moments like this in cut scenes or regular dialogue that tend to give the plot it's momentum. I see it as a metafiction that the game partakes in, but only very subtly in the way that it does this, does it give a convincing vitality to the plot and sequence of events as they unfold. The voice acting is average, but I especially love the voice actor for Cliff. I mention him a lot because he's probably one of the coolest side heroes in an RPG I've encountered because of his humor and how well his voice actor rounds off the voice acting in general. He's the guy that knows what's going on, and he's got it going on.

Let's talk about the battle system which is one of the game's greatest draws. When you encounter enemies that you see wandering the over world, you'll become engaged in a real-time battle. You control the lead character and can switch between who to control between a party of three at any time. Each character has their own style of attacking but each character functions in the same manner. You have a weak and strong attack for short range and long range. When you use battle skills or attack you consume fury from your fury gauge which is used for attacking and moving. When being still your character's fury will regenerate and at 100% you have the ability to stun the enemy if they attack you with a weak attack in this state. As you level up you'll learn battle skills that can be assigned to the weak and strong attacks in short and long range and can be activated by holding down X or O. Once a battle skill is activated you can cancel-bonus onto another skill by timing the next button hold. Finding the right combinations of battle skills will prove extremely effective and satisfying. Each time you chain, a bonus damage percent counter goes up.

Let’s go through a regular beat down. Cliff does a weak punch, then quickly holds down X (BONUS 150%) to initiate Sphere of Might, then chains into Hammer of Might by holding O, (200%) and then back to Sphere of Might (for a whopping 300%) Chaining battle skills is the true method of defeating bosses bloated with HP. You'll find a lot of variety is possible between the different battle skills each character learns, and will discover which are more or less useful after powering up their proficiency, that is, the usage of the skill. I find that this is a draw for replay value, when you can start a new game and see what other character's skills are like, and what kind of damage output they're capable of. You'll be surprised at how much fun you'll have kicking ass with Peppita, the enigmatic dancing child, or with Roger, a dangerous helmet toting raccoon boy who thinks he's really manly, or with any of the other fighter characters. It's mind-numbing the kind of destruction you can bring upon enemies once your party is a cohesive whole and has some good skills under the belt. It'll make you feel like a badass.

The item invention system isn't incredibly handy for progressing through the main storyline but proves necessary to utilize for post-game content. Until you beat the game, you can have fun creating items from the cooking talent like the Fat Tuna Head which restores a crap load of HP and MP and appears giant and steaming on a white plate. That's the cool thing about the item creation. There are 3D models rendered for all the different stuff you can create, and let me tell you, some of the food looks really appetizing. Various types of Japanese wine, Japanese snacks, roasted crab, various entrees, soups, or desserts like Spicy Cake that when eaten will MP-kill the character it's fed to. In the post game you'll synthesize powerful effects into weapons to make uber stat-pumping weapons. With a long list of effects from accessories that you can synthesize from, it becomes pretty rad when your character's attacks can not only freeze the enemy, but also shoot balls of light and damage for 600% more damage. Look at that HP bounce! You can also make potions, accessories, armor and items to use in battle.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was Square-Enix's biggest effort since they had merged together, and I think they showed what kind of production value they were capable of with this title. The FMV's are top notch. A sweet battle system, crisp graphics and a great soundtrack from Motoi Sakuraba; Tri-Ace's take on the RPG genre with SO3 is an addicting one. There are 300 battle trophies to collect so you can earn more battle costumes, a music test, and Universal and 4D difficulty modes. Earning the 4D difficulty mode takes a pretty ridiculous amount of effort, but Tri-Ace has given it to their die-hard fans. Battle trophies are basically battle achievements such as to take down a boss within a minute or deal exact damage of 7,777 among many others. And the bonus dungeons add at least another 15 hours of content, too.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time manages not to take itself too seriously, but at the same time, creates an engaging story for the player to partake in. An in-game dictionary will archive all the terms you come across in your adventure, and you can read elaborate descriptions of places, people and history. This is the icing on the cake as the dictionary fills in a lot of information about the Star Ocean universe as it exists.

I invite you to take this “fantastic space odyssey,” I recommend it.

Aquas's avatar
Community review by Aquas (April 07, 2008)

Aquas is an STG fanatic, score-chaser and arcade lover. He hosts the Shooting Game Weekly on Youtube, a show that goes in depth on various shmups with passionate fans of the genre. Favorite video game: EarthBound.

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