6.5

Too much backtracking! Dull melee combat, but nice skill system. Not enough to keep you coming back for more though...

If you're going to play Star Ocean, be prepared for a LOT of to-and-fro. You'll be journeying from one side of the bland map, only to find out that, once there, its time to go ALL the way back over to the starting line again. With some games, this isnt an issue, but with Star Ocean: First Departure, it feels like a chore.

The combat, particularly the melee element, is a tad boring. It's set in real-time, where you take control of one character at one time. You have the option to pause, and switch who you're controlling in battle. You can also set up particular strategies for your AI counterparts, which actually do an okay job. There aren't many variations on enemies, and you're limited to attacking with a basic three hit combo. Some of the spells are impressive, but it isnt enough to pick up the experience of ANOTHER random encounter, with ANOTHER set of those similar looking enemies.

It's not all bad though! There's a pretty in depth skill system that pads out the game. Your characters collect skill points to spend with every level up, and this addition can make the game more interesting if you invest time in it.

But the skill system isn't enough to drag the player back to their PSP. The story is pretty weak, especially after the first half hour or so. The Arena section is quite fun, until you complete it, which happens fairly quickly into the game.

It just feels as though SquareEnix could have made this a better game, but havent. It's missing too much...fun? You gather no sense of achievement from beating bosses, as boss battle don't feel like boss battles!

Basically, if you're out of RPG's to play, then go for it. But don't forget you can always complete Final Fantasy 7 one more time...

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