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Star Ocean The Last Hope

By S.A. Renegade on March 17, 2009 in Reviews

Final verdict: B
Final playtime: 99 hours

This is one of the games I was most excited about. Star Ocean 3 was absolutely brilliant, one of the best games of the last generation. And trust me, there was a lot of good shit last generation. Nothing like this shitty generation at all. At this rate kids won’t even know what’s good anymore. Fortunately I’m here to tell you what’s good and what sucks. You can trust me completely. I’m nothing like professional reviewers. I actually know what the fuck I’m talking about. Because I actually play the games for more than ten hours.

As you can see by the score there, SO4 failed to live up to the greatness of its predecessor. I’m sadder than anyone about this. Well, actually it’s a mixture of sadness and anger. What pisses me off the most about SO4 is that it could have easily been great. It had everything going for it, Tri-Ace had a winning formula going on with SO3, so most of the design work was already done. But of course, just because most of the work is already done doesn’t mean you can kick back and do NO work. And it seems this is what Tri-Ace has done. SO4 simply has too many stupid design mistakes that bring the whole thing down. You were on notice for your recent crappiness Tri-Ace, and like I said in my Infinite Undiscovery review, SO4 was your chance at redemption. You blew it. Sure, B is a good score, but I expect more out of you. You used to be cool, Tri-Ace. But our relationship is over.

In any case, let’s get to the meat of it. On the surface, SO4 looks really good, in fact, it took me until past the halfway point of the game to realize its shortcomings. That’s 50 hours of gameplay. Like I said before, no professional reviewer is going to play a game that long to find out if it has shortcomings or not. But that’s what I’m here for. Because I don’t judge a game lightly. In general, SO4 is more or less solid. An RPG fan without my finely-honed critical eye would probably love it. First, let’s get the good things out of the way. The story isn’t too bad, in fact, it’s downright very well done at times. But only at times. Character interaction is great, especially during the times when you’re warp traveling to a new planet. The scenes that play out between characters during these periods are masterfully done and highly entertaining.

While I stand by my repeated assertions that a real-time battle system in an RPG is never better than a turn-based one, the one in SO3 (and by extension SO4, because they’re very similar) is about as good as you’re likely to get. Item creation is still here and still fun, as is skill allocation.

Whatever. Enough with the good stuff. Fair’s fair. Let’s move on. Probably the first bad thing I noticed when I fired up this game was how moving in the field felt very strange and sluggish. There’s actually a split second of lag between when you first move the control stick and when your character actually begins moving, which feels very jarring at first. You do eventually get used to it, though I’m not sure why it’s there in the first place. It doesn’t happen during battle.

Next, the main character Edge, is your generic, uncool, overemotional anime faggot #47. Of course, it’s like this in every Star Ocean, so hey. I guess they do this so the player will identify with the character more? Well guess what, fuckers, I’m not interested in identifying with a character. I’d rather play as a cool guy.

Next, sometimes the levels are too big and too empty. The ratio of empty space to item box distribution is disproportionate in outdoor areas. It almost reminded me of MMOs with all the pointless empty space in some planets. And running through it all to get where you want takes way too fucking long. The first time, no problem, but when you’re backtracking? Fuck it. And teleportation doesn’t open up until the end of the game.

Something that really fucking pisses me off though, is that SO4 has consistent freezing issues. Every time I had a difficult battle, the game would freeze. Every. Single. Fucking. Time. It happened most often in the coliseum whenever I beat a difficult fight that I was too low level and terribly equipped to win. This led me to believe that the game simply couldn’t handle difficult battles. That whenever I managed to come out on top the game would be all like “Wait, shit, what? You’re not supposed to win that fight! Insolence! *freeze*”

Turns out the freezing was being caused by a certain character casting a certain spell in battle. To avoid it, you have to disable it so it’s not used in battle. Careful though, because some people report freezes still happening even after doing this. Personally, it worked for me, but this is still unforgivable. I had to go god knows how long just dealing with the freezes until I found out the solution. What the fuck? How can you assholes possibly fail this much? This isn’t PC gaming where freezes and crashes are the name of the game. This shit shouldn’t happen at all with console games, especially not this consistently and especially not on a game exclusive to a single platform. What in the ten thousand cunts were the testers doing? This isn’t some obscure glitch. Your game is fucking broken. They say a tester has to try out a bunch of crazy shit to try and find bugs and break a game. Well how about you PLAY THE FUCKING GAME NORMALLY. There’s your god damn bug right there. Son of a bitch. You lazy assholes make me sick. This is just further evidence that developers need to go back to making games for the PS2. I guarantee that this shit wouldn’t happen on the PS2. Did SO3 have freezing problems? No. So fuck the 360 and the PS3 and their graphics. They’re just a waste of resources anyway. Resources that could be used to make a game not suck.

And you think that’s the full extent of their bad coding? No. Someone explain to me, why I have to keep switching discs every time I go to a different place. Actually, don’t bother. It’s just terrible programming. You go to the coliseum, change to disc 2. You want to go back to your ship to make items, change to disc 3. You wanna go back to the dungeon you were in, switch back to disc 2. Oh, you forgot something back on the ship? Switch to disc 3. Fuck. You.

Now, another very annoying thing is that there is NO reliable way to switch targets during battle. You heard that right. You want to attack a specific enemy? TOO FUCKING BAD, BITCH. You’ll just have to run at him and pray that the fickle reticule decides to switch to it. Sometimes it won’t and you’ll just run back to attack another enemy. I’m not making this shit up. We’re into 2009 now and we can’t even switch targets? Fail. I can barely comprehend how someone could possibly be stupid enough to make this design choice.

Another very big problem with this game is that I like all of the guys, but none of the girls. I mean fuck. Just look at this shit. The first one is your typical childhood friend who thinks it’s hilarious to hit the main character because he went into the bathroom while she was taking a shower. Great. Just fucking great. If there’s something that pisses me off, it’s girls who get all uppity thinking it’s “cute” or “cool” or whatever and you have to put up with their shit. Oh noes, I am in the same room while you’re taking a shower. Big fucking deal. Stop acting like children.

Another one is a cat girl. Enough fucking said. I hate her on principle. What the fuck is it with the japanese putting cat girls in fucking everything. Give that shit a rest already. It’s not even cool. You fucking furs.

Another one is a ditzy airhead with a “sweet” voice that is so excruciatingly forced and fake-sounding that it makes me want to rip my fucking ears off. God damn. The very second she started talking in the game I already wanted to fucking strangle her to death.

Then another one is an indecent skank whose boobs look like they’re going to spill out of her impractical bra at any moment. Ugh. I want a character, not fap material. This would be bad enough, but on top of that she thinks she’s above everyone else and teases people just because she’s older and already gone through one marriage? Newsflash, sister, being old is a bad thing. Especially if you’re a woman.

The girl I dislike the least is the four-year old. And that says a lot considering the fact that I hate children.

And then the coup de grace. There are no pair endings in this game. WHAT.

Let me say that again.

WHAT.

Now I’m convinced Tri-Ace doesn’t know what in the fuck they’re doing anymore. One of the cool trademarks of Star Ocean has been that depending on your choices throughout the game, you could get different endings where the main character pairs up with any of your party members. Sure, Star Ocean 1 didn’t have this, but hey, series evolve and get better. So why in the fuck did SO4 take so many steps back to the way SO1 was? I don’t care what reasons they might’ve had, they’re idiotic. Did they get a different team to make it that didn’t even bother playing the other games? Do they want to destroy their flagship series? Are they on drugs? It’s just baffling.

It doesn’t matter what I do in the game because I’ll always get shoehorned into an ending with the lead female who I don’t even like? Fuck you. When I found out the game didn’t have multiple endings it hit me so hard that I didn’t even want to finish the game anymore. I’m not even joking. Of course, in the interest of critical integrity I had to.

Because Tri-Ace games always have good bonus dungeons after you beat the game. Or well, at least they used to. I know I said the coup de grace was the lack of pair endings, so I guess this would be like peeing on someone’s corpse after they’re dead. I go into the bonus dungeons and what do I find? The traditional Mission to Deep Space song is not used. I hope you burn in hell for all eternity, Tri-Ace. Mission to Deep Space is supposed to play in all of your god damned bonus dungeons. Why the fuck do I have to keep saying this? You were on notice for not using it in Valkyrie Profile Silmeria and Infinite Undiscovery, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt and thought “Well, they’ve used it in every single Star Ocean game. There’s no way they’d leave it out of SO4.” And what do I find? You don’t even give a shit about tradition. But oh, you don’t even give a shit about making a game worthy of the Star Ocean name. Why would you ever give a shit about a song? You don’t even know how disappointed this made me. It just finished killing the game for me.

And you know just how stupid I was? Even after not hearing Mission to Deep Space in the first bonus dungeon, I actually still had faith and thought “hey, I’ll finish this bonus dungeon and move on to the next one, surely the next one will have it.” WRONG. I finished the Cave of the Seven Stars, moved on to the other one and it didn’t have it either. That was it. I wasn’t playing that shit anymore. Fuck you all.

If this had been just some no-name RPG it would have been good. But this is Star Ocean. I expect things. Great things. Actually, not even that. I expect you to not make the most idiotic design choices imaginable and bring down a once great series. SO4 had everything going for it. It would have been so easy to make it great. All they had to do was not be a pack of complete dumbasses. But clearly this is too much to ask these days. This game is an insult. It’s a shameless slap on the face to fans of the series. And you know what’s even more pathetic? This is still the best game on the 360. Because there is not a single great game on the 360. Way to underachieve, guys. You think just because everything on the 360 sucks you can get away with pulling this shit and I’ll just accept it? Wrong, motherfuckers. I still have my PS2 to remind me of when games didn’t suck. Of when Star Ocean was made by people who actually cared. But now that’s all in the past. I no longer believe in you, Tri-Ace. Maybe I’ll replay SO3 sometime and relive the days when you were still cool.

Final Verdict: B

Final Playtime: 99 hours

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