Finally it is here, the game that we've been waiting for and an RPG that sparks a lot of interest in ways unimaginable. Surprisingly enough, the game is fairly addictive with the themes of a good RPG right off the bat, a good story, loveable characters and a grand battle system. Star Ocean begins with Fayt, a boy staying at a hotel resort with his parents and childhood friend Sophia. Everything is going nice and well until the resort is suddenly attacked by starships piloted by the evil force known as the Vendeeni. Fayt and company end up having to evacuate the resort but ultimately Fayt is separated from his parents and childhood friend. Now he is stranded on an unknown planet to fend for himself and find his friends. It starts off nice and simple but as the game goes on the story developes more and becomes a bit more complex than it sounds. Star Ocean is a little different from the traditional RPG. It eliminates random battles and instead you can see all the enemies running around on the field. Each time you touch an enemy you initiate combat and this is where Star Ocean is the most interesting. The other interesting tid-bit is that its all real time battle, and free roaming. When in battle you can run around as one of three characters freely either doding attacks or blocking them. This makes the game more fun than it actually sounds. In battle, each character has a "Fury" gauge. When at 100% the character can attack swiftly without fail, and block certain attacks. The more "fury" you have the more success you'll have in combat. If your characters fury guage reaches 0 then they don't act and instead droop over. Luckily, the fury gauge fills up INCREDIBLY fast when you stand still (its literally only one second out of the battle). In Battle there are three characters but you can only control one at a time. You can switch between them as well. Each battle plays out with a set of strong or weak attacks set to the circle and X buttons. Weak attacks can be used almost instantly while the stronger ones take more time to charge. You can also see if an enemy is charging up an attack, which will give you time to back away. Each character also gets "Symbology" which is Star Ocean's form of magic. The magic is diverse in terms of how much there is and what they do (stun enemies, deal wide areas of damage etc.). Some skills cost more than others but its an RPG I'm sure you knew this. But even battles in Star Ocean Till the End of Time have their drawbacks. Battles pace incredibly fast and if you let your guard down for even the slightest moment things could go awry, especially as you get further into the game. The game apparently wants you to battle a lot as well, some bosses are no cakewalk. So even though it is possible to go through an entire dungeon without touching an enemy, its obvious you're supposed to battle everything. Dungeons are also incredibly huge! This is great for exploration but they're also populated with TONS of enemies, and because the boss at the end of a dungeon is hard the game insists that you fight them. This wouldn't be such a problem if the game allowed you to carry more than 20 of each item. You use up healing items rather fast at times and often I found myself leaving a dungeon to buy more items and then rushing back in fighting more hordes of enemies. It is a long game but as you can imagine most of its lentgh will come from leveling up. But as you get further into the game there are more and more items to heal you and it is relatively easy to dodge enemies should you have to (and probably will) backtrack. Star Ocean also has an "inventors" system. Each character, playable and non-playable, create inventions based on what they're best at. Some characters are best at cooking and make several different foods. Others are good at smithing and create useful weapons. When an item is "invented" it becomes availible to buy. Some characters will create some pretty useless things but it makes the game bigger. Star Ocean also features a system in which the characters have a hidden attribute as to how much they like you. Depending on the decisions you make will alter what the characters think of you and will also give you a different ending. The North American Director's Cut Version also has some pretty nifty features. The North American Version is 2 Disks long full of extra cutscenes and cinemas as well as two additional playable characters. The North American version also has an unlockable versus mode and less bugs than the original japanese version. The game looks beautiful. Not quite as good looking as previous PS2 games before it, but those who liked the look and feel of Xenosaga will feel right at home. The games graphics look a little anime style with the big eyes and the multitudes of hair. The game is simply gorgeous. The game also sounds really good. The voice acting is top-notch for a video game and the character voices go along quite well at times. The overall music isn't bad but takes a while to get used to. Not quite as deep as other games but it suits the situation just fine. The game has A LOT of dialogue and the cutscenes are long but luckily you can skim though most of it without having to listen to each character word for word. If you read faster than the characters actually speak you might want to just turn off the talking all together. You can also skip cutscenes, but at least the game isn't as drowned out in dialogue as several other games out there (Xenosaga anyone?). Star Ocean is a pretty good game overall. It has a few small problems but as far as games go, it stand above many out there. If you're an avid RPGer you might want to get this game and try it out.
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