|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tri-Ace||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: Feb. 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Blindsided system involves luring an enemy into targeting you and then pressing the B button and running quickly to one side. When this mode is triggered, a short cinematic scene will be triggered, and you will be able to attack their weak points for a short period of time. However, this system also allows for enemies who might fall victim to your Blindsiding to perform counter attacks, so it is wise to proceed with caution. Although the Rush and Blindsiding elements of the battle system certainly add some more challenging (not to mention strategic) elements to the gameplay, I found using the simpler attack mechanics to be much more effective in battle. And even though the game awards you plenty of incentives for using these elements (via in-game bonus trophies and experience multipliers), I really didn't find myself using them all that often.
As far as graphics are concerned, Star Ocean: The Last Hope has a lot of things going for it. Different environments are huge, and everything from lush jungle environments to frigid arctic wastelands is presented in vivid detail with a striking color palette. These large environments also sport a fair amount of detail and have an immersive amount of depth. However, even though looking at the different settings can be awe-inspiring, there are some technical issues that permeate the visuals. First of all, enemies and NPCs suffer from a substantial amount of pop-in and sometimes don't appear at all unless they are right in front of you. The game's framerate also drops occasionally when there is a lot happening on screen. Although these issues are a little bit on the annoying side, they don't really detract from the overall visual presentation, which is definitely a good thing.
The sound scheme is also very good, and the music in particular shines in this title. Series composer Motoi Sakuraba is again back for the music, and the sweeping orchestral melodies in this title are very nice to listen to. However, as good as the music may be, the voiceovers do leave something to be desired. While certain characters like Edge and Faize don't sound half bad, other characters, mostly female, suffer from very hollow voiceovers and a lot of mismatched dialogue. And, in case you were wondering, there is no Japanese voiceover option, so you're stuck with the hit or miss English voiceovers.
It's no secret that the recent string of Xbox 360-exclusive JRPGs like The Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery from Square-Enix have been less than impressive. However, Star Ocean: The Last Hope bucks this trend and manages to be the first really great RPG on the Xbox 360 so far this year. Although series producer Yoshinori Yamagishi has said that it is the last in the series, I can't help but hope this is not the case and we can look forward to even more Star Ocean in the future. The Last Hope is a fun adventure, and one I would love to see continued in some form.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor