Set before the other Star Ocean games with an entertaining cast of characters,beautiful visuals,fun and fast combat.

User Rating: 9 | Star Ocean: The Last Hope International PS3

I found Star Ocean The Last Hope to be an entertaining and beautiful to look at JRPG.

It's story takes place before either some or all of the other games in the Star Ocean series(I'm not sure)but anyways,Earth has had a nuclear war and most of the human population has been wiped out and the planet's surface is uninhabitable.Survivors live underground and it's decided to send humans into space to search for new habitable worlds.

The main character in the game is named Edge,who is a blonde-haired ship technician who voulenteers for the mission to search for other habitable planets and his friend since childhood named Reimi who is a pretty,female character also goes on the mission.The people on the mission do find new worlds and new characters including aliens and characters of various backgrounds join Edge and Reimi's party and big plot twists happen that I doubt you will predict and that have quite an emotional impact.Also,the history of the worlds you visit can be interesting because some of them are shrouded in mystery.

The story has romance and I like how most of the characters are charming/funny and there's some very funny story scenes that can be a bit perverted or relate to various other themes that brightens up the mood in a story that's driven by a very serious issue(nuclear war).

The battle system is fun and has the fast,real-time feel that Star Ocean Till the End of Time has.You'll directly control 1 party member and the AI controls up to 3 other party members.You can freely run around battle environments and try to get behind enemies and attack their blindside.Most of the enemies can be beaten with simple button mashing but against some enemies you'll need to be picky for when you time your attacks and for how you position the character you're controlling and against some of the tougher bosses you'll need to utilize various character abilities(your party members with ranged attack weapons are more effective against flying enemies but they're vulnerable up-close so you'll need to protect them by distracting enemies with your melee fighters).

You can give your party members orders to be aggressive or defensive or conservative with MP.You can chain combo attacks together too.

However,the AI for your party members can be dumb at times and they'll get themselves hurt of killed by making silly decisions and you'll need to heal them and it can make a battle which should be easy much harder than it needs to be.

SO TLH's equivalent of magic is named 'symbology' and can be used for attacking purposes or for healing,buffs etc.

If you're a die-hard fan of old-school JRPGs,you might appreciate the fact that SO TLH lets you explore towns and talk to NPCs and the world maps are quite large and you can or will need to spend a lot of time exploring/traveling through them.It's not the typically linear JRPG exploration wise.

Some of the puzzles are frustrating and require you to walk back and forth too much.Thankfully this game doesn't have random battles.

Even though I've said a lot of mixed things about the gameplay and characters,the story/characters and gameplay are fun in a way that makes them addictive and entertaining.

The visuals in SO TLH have a nice blend of artistry and realism.Some environments are very colorful and you'll see beautiful ocean scenery,realistic tropical areas and the way the landscape blends with the ocean(such as how you'll see cliffs near the ocean and beachside areas)looks beautiful and there's grassy plains(with realistic looking vegetation)and you'll also travel through snowy regions and cave/dungeons with mysterious technology you'll travel to some futuristic cities that look amazing and of course you'll explore the interior of a starship a lot.

The CGI's make the characters and environments look life-like and show beautiful footage of Earth(even though earth's surface is uninhabitable you'll still see beautiful sunset/sunrise blend with a polluted atmosphere)and the footage of the other planets is stunning too and looks realistic too.

During regular cutscenes,the characters have faces like dolls.But Reimi is still pretty with her long,black straight hair and pretty face.I like how the characters dress in bright colors.I like how some of the alien-humanoid characters look such as Faize who has pointy ears like an elf and green hair and the cat-humanoid alien named Merry who has bright blue hair as well as aliens that are enemies which can be huge and some have tentacles or are giant insects or robots or reptilian humanoids.

The battle music uses the electronic style music that suits the fast-paced battles and futuristic theme and uses nice,relaxing music for when you're exploring lovely tropical environments but the game uses some nice eerie music for when you're exploring the more daunting landscape regions such as snowy areas.I like how the music for the futuristic city is very fast with a touch of piano and electronic sound.

Overall,I think Star Ocean The Last Hope is a great JRPG and it might seem cliche/generic at first but it has some surprising plot twists and lots to learn about the worlds and it's very charming and beautiful and fun and addictive.