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Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Star Ocean: The Last Hope is an action role-playing video game developed by tri-Ace and Square Enix who also published the game, initially only for the Xbox 360, and the fourth installment in the Star Ocean series. Famitsu revealed that the battle system featured four party members, and was more team-oriented. The game also features more of a sci-fi emphasis than past titles with the ability to control your own ship. This ship is quite large, and is able to land on at least 5 planets or other space-based destinations. Players are able to travel through the "star ocean," jumping across planets. The game takes place a few centuries before the original Star Ocean . The game's plot revolves around Edge and his crew combating a mysterious threat called the "Grigori".

An international version of the game was released by Square Enix as a worldwide PlayStation 3-exclusive on February 9, 2010. Officially known as Star Ocean: The Last Hope International, the game contains both Japanese and English voices as well as new content that is exclusive to the international version of the game.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope Gameplay

The Last Hope utilizes the same real time battle system like previous games in the series, new features include a new Rush Gauge and Blindsides. The Rush gauge allows players to perform a preemptive strike against his opponent or use a special ability or attack. Each character will have and utilize their own individual Rush gauge. Blindsides allow the player to counter attack an enemy who is targeting the player by slipping behind the enemy quickly out of his line of sight and launching a preemptive strike on the enemy from his back. One noteworthy change in the system is the number of characters that can be controlled and fought with in battle returning to four, as in the first two Star Ocean games (it was limited to three in the previous title, Star Ocean Till the End of Time).

Edge, Faize, Reimi and Lymle attacking enemies in Star Ocean: The Last Hope International

A new feature in The Last Hope is allowing the player to take the role of captain of the spacecraft, the SRF-003 Calnus, which has been sent to scout new frontiers by the USTA. The Calnus possesses a flight deck where the player can select which planet he would like to fly to, a recreation room where the player's teammates can hang out and interact with one another as well as a conference room where the player gathers with the crew to come out with new ideas for Item Creation. The battle arena contains the battle simulator, a feature from previous games such as Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, which allows the player and his teammates to practice combat. The crew's quarters allows the player to choose which characters share the same room, and the correct pairings can lead to special actions between characters known as Private Actions.

The Private Action system (often shortened to PA) is a feature that returns from previous games in the Star Ocean series, where the main protagonist, Edge, can interact with his teammates. PAs consist of actions such as conversing with them during rest after exploration or battle, the player can form a rapport with him/her, which increases the member's affection or respect for the main character. Choosing the correct choices during actions would unlock special events or cutscenes between Edge and the team member. Placing characters in the same room also builds up rapport and unlocks even more PA events. If a member is severely injured in battle, a special "Rage" mode can be unlocked which allows close members to attack enemies with more power. PAs are also able to change the ending of the game with different cutscenes being shown, there are a total of about 100 PAs which can be unlocked in the game.

Reception
Famitsu awarded the game a total of 34/40, composed of a 9/9/8/8 score.

Overall, the game was far better received than Square Enix's other next-gen console RPGs such as Infinite Undiscovery and The Last Remnant, both of which had mixed reviews from critics. IGN awarded the game a score of 8.0. In its review, IGN stated that despite the rough pacing in the storyline that could be told in a much more engaging manner, tri-Ace and Square Enix's latest RPG holds together quite well with action-packed gameplay. One of the small annoyances encountered during the game is the disc-swapping, which requires players to switch discs if they need to travel between planets later in the game. The review also feels that the Japanese voice track should have been included as an option in the North American version, as the English voice track and lip-syncing are horrendous. IGN gave The Last Hope International an 8.5, applauding the inclusion of the Japanese voices, and the original anime portraits. X-Play gave The Last Hope 4 out of 5, stating that the story is epic, engaging and well-paced from start to finish, and combat is frantic, complex and smooth. X-Play criticized the game for having bad voice acting, and objectives that aren't always clear to lead the player. TeamXbox awarded the game with a score of 8.5, praising the balanced and addictive combat which allows the player to bring both strategy and gaming skill to the fray. The Official Xbox Magazine gives a score of 8.5, citing the addictive mix of combat, quests and storyline as a plus, but criticizes the long stretch of cutscenes and a lack of save points around.

The game has sold 166,027 copies in its first four days on the Japanese market placing it in third place behind Blue Dragon and Tales of Vesperia for sales of Xbox 360 games in Japan. 24,584 Xbox 360 units were also sold during the week of February 16, 2009. The Last Hope has since become the best-selling Xbox 360 game in Japan, with 208,438 units. As of May 31, 2009, the game has sold 450,000 copies worldwide.

GameZone's Steven Hopper gave The Last Hope International an 8.5/10, saying "With the inclusion of the Japanese voice track, this is the definitive version of The Last Hope, and a worthy purchase for Japanese-RPG fans. While the core game hasnít changed from the original 360 version and there are a couple frustrating issues, this is definitely a solid RPG and a good investment of time."

PixlBit gave The Last Hope International a 4/5 stating, "If you own a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and are looking for the definitive version of Star Ocean: The Last Hope, look no further. The PlayStation 3 version has no disc swapping, while the Xbox 360 version spans 3 discs, and it also features Japanese voice-overs. Finally, the game features a variety of other small enhancements that improve the overall experience in the PlayStation 3 version."

1UP gave The Last Hope a letter grade of B- and The Last Hope International a letter grade of B stating about The Last Hope International: "The PS3 version of Star Ocean 4, while coming out a year after its 360 counterpart, at least brings a few highly desirable additions. For one, you can listen to all the game's dialogue in Japanese -- a feature more games should include (It even made me want to play through the game without the voiceacting turned off completely!). And you can swap the game's menus to a brighter, more anime-inspired look. If, like me, you thought the 360's 3D character portraits looked out of place, it's nice to switch over to the original Japanese art."


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