Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Hands-On

We get a little playtime with Square Enix's upcoming sci-fi RPG sequel.

Square Enix had Star Ocean: Till the End of Time in playable form at its E3 display, and we took a few minutes to try the game out. The version of the game on exhibit hadn't undergone any noticeable localization efforts, so we made our way through the demo area and considerable amounts of Japanese text as best we could. Despite the language barrier, the game played quite intuitively and seemed like it will be a solid entry in the sci-fi RPG series.

The demo of the newest Star Ocean didn't contain any cinematics or dialogue to speak of. Rather, we just ended up running around a little bit. Enemies will be visible on the overhead map before an encounter, and of course this means you'll be able to avoid them at times if necessary. As in previous games, you'll engage in battle in real time, and you'll only be able to control one character at a time--the other members of your party will be controlled by the game's AI. Once in a battle, you can attack enemies in real-time, switch to other party members, and open a menu to access items, special skills, and the like. It seemed like the AI was doing a pretty good job of controlling the other party members, as they were making intelligent choices during battle and not just blindly rushing into the thick of things.

The one demo area on display at Square Enix's booth was an odd sort of crystalline platform floating in space, and the design and implementation of this area were really quite good. The background looked a bit abstract, but if it's any indication of the graphical quality of the overall game--and current screenshots suggest that it is--then Star Ocean: Till the End of Time will be one of the better-looking RPGs on the PS2.

From what we saw, it looks like Till the End of Time will successfully transition the Star Ocean series to full 3D. The game is currently slated to be released next spring, so stay tuned for more information in the months to come.

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