Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Review
The end result is an enjoyable experience, even if the game does not boldly go where no game has gone before.
The Star Ocean series is comfortably nestled in the space-faring future, in a universe of diverse races, unexplored galaxies, warring federations, and other such trappings that wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Star Trek. In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, you'll follow the adventures of a young man named Fayt Leingod, a human from Earth who has an uncanny knack for falling into all sorts of disaster. Along the way, you'll meet up with some memorable characters, visit alien worlds, and dispatch countless foes with the game's fully 3D, fully real-time battle system. While some design choices mire aspects of this futuristic game in the dungeon-slogging role-playing-game past, the end result is an enjoyable experience, even if the game does not boldly go where no game has gone before.
Everything begins on the idyllic vacation world of Hyda IV, a tourist-laden hotspot filled with sunny beaches and recreational opportunities. The blue-haired college student Fayt is on holiday with his parents and his childhood friend Sophia Esteed, enjoying a break. It all goes swimmingly until the world is attacked by starships manned by the bellicose Vendeeni (a hostile race from Another Sector), intent on ruining everyone's day at the beach. The evacuation doesn't go smoothly; Fayt ultimately ends up separated from his parents and friend, adrift in space until he crash-lands on a primitive planet and is forced to fend for himself. Armed only with a conjured sword to match the local level of weaponry and a Prime Directive-like edict not to interfere with planetary development, he sets out to find his loved ones and a way to escape.
You'll fight entirely in real time, controlling the movements of your characters on a 3D plane. You'll have four standard attacks to begin with: strong and regular attacks at both short and long range. Regular attacks will happen immediately, while strong attacks require a bit of a charge, during which time your character will glow with a purple nimbus. (Enemies will also sport this nimbus, so you have time to move out of the way or hit them first.) As you progress, your party will learn various battle skills that can be mapped to your X and O buttons both at close range and remotely (which attack you pull off depends on your distance from the target), as well as passive skills that do things like let you regain health while standing idle. Such skills often cost you "fury," which is essentially something like vitality that is completely separate from your hit points. When you're standing still, your fury is at 100 percent, and you'll be able to do things like block attacks from nearby enemies. If your fury reaches 0 percent, your character will droop instead of initiating attacks, waiting to gather more strength--fortunately, the fury meter fills quickly when you stop moving.
Battle skills themselves are diverse; some have wide areas of attack, some of them will stun foes, some of them will increase your chances of scoring a critical hit, and so forth. Your characters will learn a wide variety of skills, but they only have a certain number of points they can assign to battle skills, and some skills cost more points than others, so you'll have to do some thinking about which skills you want equipped on each character for the best effect. You'll also have access to symbology, which is just the Star Ocean fancy-pants term for magic. Symbology will allow you to heal members of your party or to attack enemies with powerful elemental spells.
You can control only one of your party members at a time; you can field up to three of them at once. In practice, you'll likely find yourself switching between characters often, to initiate a certain kind of battle skill or to make sure a character will be healed properly. The hectic, fast-paced battles are engaging and satisfying when your characters are well prepared, and the wide variety of monsters and humanoid enemies you'll encounter will require you to adjust your tactics on the fly. There are a few different AI settings you can adopt for members of your party, but none of them are really efficient to the point that you can choose to play one character for any large amount of time. Healing your characters definitely requires quick reactions--when things go badly in Star Ocean, they tend to go very, very badly, very rapidly.
That leads to a balance issue in the game--the battles themselves. All enemies you'll face in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time are visible on the world map or in the dungeon you're currently navigating. It is often a simple matter to circumvent these enemies. Taking things a step further, it is possible for you to traverse an entire dungeon without touching an enemy once, if you're careful. As expected, such activity will often result in your getting severely tenderized by the next boss you come across, but actually, the difficulty of the enemies rises quite steeply fairly quickly. In fact, it rises so quickly that you have to spend quite a lot of time leveling, often by making sure you run into large numbers of monsters, making the fact that you can avoid encounters almost purposeless, since the game is designed around having you fight scores of them on a regular basis.
- Player Reviews: 325
- Game Universe:
- Star Ocean: The Last Hope International (PS3, X360),
- Star Ocean: Second Evolution (PSP),
- Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP),
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2),
- Star Ocean 3: Director's Cut (PS2),
- Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time (Japan) (PS2),
- Star Ocean Blue Sphere (GBC),
- Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS),
- Star Ocean (SNES)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: