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80 breathtaking hours of gameplay are set in a dynamic fantasy sci-fi universe with an open-ended plot including many side quests and sub-events. Numerous difficulty levels add yet another challenge, providing incredible replay value and catering to most gamers, from beginners to hard-core players. Good graphics, an original dynamic battle system and a ton of extra features add up to make this a must-have for RPG fans. ___ |Story | * Please note there are a few spoiler to the start of the game here *
It is 772 SC and humans and other advance life forms Co-Exist. Fate Leingod and his friend Sophia Esteed are on holiday on the planet Hyda IV with his parents. Sophia wants to explore and lie on the beach but Fate seems more interested in playing computer games, which upsets her a little. (Seems similar to my relationship with my girlfriend). The holiday soon turns bad after an attack by an unknown enemy military force, forcing them to evacuate the planet and leave Fates parents behind. Not content there the unknown force then also attacks the evacuation shuttle and Fate and Sophia get separated in different escape pods. Fates pod crash lands on an underdeveloped planet a few earth days later. Not knowing whether he will ever see his parents or Sophia again, he synthesises a sword using his escape pod to protect him (to match the planets weapon technology) and goes in search of a village. This is where the game really begins. There are plenty to of plot twists along the way to keep most gamers entertained. There is even an encyclopaedia to look through to give details on any main characters, planets and creatures you find. Everything story wise has been well thought out. The only downside is cut-scenes at some points can be too long or come too often. Though I was originally unsure if I’d like it since I don’t really like Sci-fi I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed it. ________ |Graphics | The graphics of this game are good. They certainly aren’t the best the PS2 can offer but it is up there. Characters are in a Japanese ‘manga’ style. Largish eyes and blue hair are present but no exaggerated spiky hair from martial arts animés. Clothes all look real enough and luckily don’t just look painted on. Creatures are mostly all unique and designed well. There is a few re-colours or re-skins (for different time period) but nothing too bad. Backgrounds are all well detailed and town are all uniquely designed. Dungeons are dark and have a nice eerie feel to them being. Dimly lit with torches on the walls. At cliffs you can see far down to the land or sea below. There is always the right atmosphere created anywhere you go. There is however few whether effects to talk about though, not even a wind effects, except in a few cases though. _________ |Gameplay | The game is great, though you’ll find you’ll spend most of your time exploring or in towns. I was playing for around 30 hours before I got a trophy for 5 hours spent in battle (more on those later). However the strange thing is you’ll never notice time going by because you are always doing something even if it’s just shopping for new health restoring items. Random battles are not present in the game, which is a plus. Some hardcore Rpg fans may not like the idea, but I personally hate having to travel backwards and forwards between places being forced to fight tons of enemies along to way. The only problem is you may become lazy and stop fighting them causing you to get stuck further along, but its your choice. Sadly there isn’t much else to do outside of towns unless you want to uncover all of the ‘cloud of war’ (or whatever its called) from the mini map, which will get you a reward. Problems do arise though as sometimes you don’t really know where your going when a road splits ways and you could find yourself facing enemies that are far more powerful than you. ______ |Controls | controls are simple and the only button really needed is the X button to interact with objects and people. In battle X and O are your attack and Skill buttons and L1 selects which character you play as and R1 switches your between manual and AI control. Both in and Out of battle L2 and R2 can be used to rotate the camera. ____ |Battles| Out the window the traditional turn-based style Rpg battle system has gone and instead we have a real time battle system. You and 2 other members of your party attack the enemy at the same time. You have freedom of movement around them and can attack or use skill at the press of a button. You can even switch between team members and play as one of them during battle if you want. Magic requires you to select it in the pause menu though but that only minor as you’ll probably use skills more anyway unless you need to heal someone. Tactics for battle can be set in battle for your AI party members so you can have them use melee striking attacks or just skills etc. There is even battle trophies to earn but I will mention them later. Hardcore fans of RPGs may be disappointed by the lack of a turn based system but it has been implemented well into the game and in my opinion makes it more fun to play. ___________ |Battle Trophies| One of the unique features in this game are the battle trophies. These can be obtained for meeting certain criteria in battle including such things as finishing in 30 second, to beating a boss without taking damage. After collecting enough trophies you are rewarded with some extras including extra costumes for battling. The downside is it takes up an extra 1.4Mb on your memory card and you only have one chance to start collecting near the start or you cant at all. _______________ |Music and Sound | The music is well done. No matter where you are it always seems to fit the mood and location and seems to cover quite a few genres. Sound effects are well done and bring the game to life whether it’s the roar of a space ship, birds chirping or a running river they are done well. The only down fall is some of the voice acting is bad or annoying but only in a few cases. The main character Fate seems very quiet and doesn’t show much personality through his voice and sometimes the music is louder than him so its hard to hear. Luckily subtitles are standard in games so I was still able to read it. ______ |Difficulty| You can choose what difficulty you want to start the game ranging from Earth to Universe (easy to very hard). Getting through the game should be too hard though as long you level up at a steady rate and not miss out most of the enemies. I haven’t tried and level about normal difficulty though so those may require near constant battling. To get anywhere. ________ |Side Quests| Like most RPGs there are some side quest to do that are non-essential to the main plot with some good rewards for completion. These can range from a simple treasure hunt where your given clues as to where to find stuff to a completely optional dungeon with some tricky puzzles but probably the best reward of all if you know what to do with it. What’s good is you can usually run into them by accident and they are fun to do. _________ |Directors Cut| I Star Ocean: Till the End of time they have included the Directors Cut Extras from the second Japanese version. They include new characters, enemies and areas including a new optional dungeon. The best of all though has to be the inclusion of a multiplayer option (see below). These features of course only help make this game be even better. _________ |Multiplayer| This is technically a new game all to itself and is called Paracelsus Round Table. It is essentially a battle game so its nothing special and interestingly enough came about because the programmers found a glitch in the code that caused the characters to attack each other. You can have one on one matches or one on one on one matches. 1 player can even fight the computer so its quite well done. You can even fight in any area you have visited before. It’s a good little mini-game but don’t be fooled by the box that says “for 1-2 players” as you have to find and unlock it (which can be done just before the half way point in the game) _____ |Overall | The game is really fun. There is plenty to do to keep you entertained. The graphics are pleasing enough to look at and the story is one of the best I’ve seen in a game for a while. The only downsides are lengthy cut-scene and a few bad voice actors but everything else seems to be top notch. The even have the NPCs act realistically in curiosity and fear when they accidentally arrive in some planets. I think most gamers will enjoy this though as long as they are prepared for a story and not just get stuck into the action and there’s quite a bit of storytelling. Hardcore Rpg fans and those used to the Final Fantasy style battling may also feel a little out of place until they get used to it.
I got this at GAME for £30, however I recommend buying it at Play.com as they are selling it for £17.99 now. Good price for a good game.
I just love RPG games and the FF series and although I may find this game a bit strange I'm sure I would soon get into it . It always helps if you can add a price and where to buy the game for those that are interested in buying it. Nice presentation and informative review. Fionaxx