Star Ocean: First Departure Review
Star Ocean: First Departure box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: Square Enix 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Square Enix 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 21, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Unlike many other Square Enix RPG titles, First Departure eschews the turn-based battle system found in games like Final Fantasy for a more action-heavy format. Combat plays out in real time with you controlling the main characters and the others in your party acting in accordance with adjustable pre-set behaviors. You can freely roam through the chaos, while attacking with a simple button press, using equipped skills with the L and R triggers, casting spells, or easily managing items as needed. Tapping the Circle button pauses the action to let you switch between characters on the fly, and if you fall in battle, control will automatically jump to the next living character in your party.

Star Ocean: First Departure screenshot

The problem with battle lies mainly in the automatic targeting system. Tapping the X button will send you running towards the nearest foe to swipe at them. You can only hit them from the left or right side and it's too easy to get stuck in between two foes who take turns pummeling you from both ends. Also, your teammates' A.I. isn't the greatest. They'll tend to blindly rush into battle and get clobbered pretty quickly. Fortunately, most encounters don't take very long. The auto-target also ensures you'll likely settle into the routine of mashing buttons during most non-major battles. Boss encounters typically require some measure of strategy, but the battle system seems a little rough around the edges at times.

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Going into Star Ocean: First Departure with the expectation of finding an adventure that's in line with current generation RPG fare is going to result in disappointment, but the strong genre mechanics are all here, well-oiled, and mostly in good working order. This classic remake is a great update of a solid old school game, and it gives hardcore JRPG and Star Ocean fans the opportunity to revisit the early days of a series that has come a long way over the years. Is it groundbreaking? No. However, that shouldn't stop you from taking a trip to the past.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
A generally beautiful update on the classic.
3.5
Control
Battle controls can be clunky. They often devolve to button mashing.
3.9
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Tons of great voice over work and an interesting audio score.
4.0
Play Value
A long and satisfying quest that successfully mixes science fiction with classic fantasy.
3.9
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The origin of the Star Ocean franchise, available for the first time in North America.
  • A completely rebuilt game: new engine, new graphics, additional characters, new animated scenes, full voice dialog.
  • New events and side-stories added, creating a more immersive storyline.
  • Master the art of symbology (magic) to create devastating attacks.
  • Use special arts (non-magical attacks) repeatedly to increase their power.
  • Customize your characters with special skills and talents.
  • Item creation - create weapons and other items to help you in battle.
  • Surprise attacks - During battle, your party could be attacked by additional enemies; stay alert and focused to win.


  • Screenshots / Images
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