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Star Ocean: The Last Hope - Tokyo Game Show Impression

Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix
JP Release: 02.19.2009
NA Release: 03.03.2009

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Let me start by stating my personal bias up front. My first staff review for RPGamer was for a Star Ocean game, and the PS2 entry to this series is one of my favorite RPGs on that console. So it should be no surprise that I was looking forward to playing Star Ocean: The Last Hope in Microsoft's booth. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. This game, along with others, is helping make (if not already made) the Xbox 360 the must-have console for RPGamers.

"Out of all twelve games I played on the show floor, this one was my personal favorite."

The floor demo had a party of four characters walking through a dungeon and going through several battles, which were triggered by running into monsters on the screen as in Star Ocean 3. The battle system is very fast-paced like its predecessor, and a new feature has been added: the Rush gauge. This gauge builds up during battle for each character and when full enables that character to unleash a special attack. The load time between the battles and regular gameplay is negligible. Also included in the demo was a walk through a snowy field and a town environment.

Voice acting is top-notch for most of the characters, and graphics probably represent almost the best CG work to date on consoles (but not THE best, that goes to some PlayStation 3 titles). However, it boasted the best graphics of any playable title on the floor.

The Star Ocean series is kind of a love/hate affair with RPGamers, and if previous titles have turned you off before I won't blame you for ignoring the game, as many of the mechanics in previous iterations are still preserved here. For those that loved the series, this game might be enough to get you an Xbox 360. Out of all twelve games I played on the show floor, this one was my personal favorite, and North American gamers will get a chance to sample it for themselves in March 2009.

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