Review by KCF0107
"Till the End of Time? Unfortunately, that appears to be the case"
I will come out and say it. I regret spending so much time playing this game. I will remember this till the end of time(had to get a pun in). Unfortunately, it will be for all the bad things(as the game was littered with them). I am not a complete stranger to the Star Ocean series. I have had the PS1 game, Star Ocean: The Second Story for quite some time. I really did enjoy that game. I was thinking that Tri-Ace could work its magic again on the third installment. Boy could I have never been more wrong. I might as well begin with some of the positives, or at least none of the worst qualities.
Sound: 7/10- I will give them kudos for having some of the best voice acting in a PS2 game, but that is pretty much it. You will hear what seem to be the same few tunes on the world map and it isn't like they are all that great either. When you are sometimes at a town, you will sometimes wonder, Is it supposed to be silent? The music is sometimes so soft, that you need to turn the volume up by 200% just to hear the music. Battle music tends to get tedious and I can't begin to emphasize how much you will be annoyed by ally AI and how they repeat the same phrase over and over again. This is in EVERY SINGLE battle!!! There was much room for improvement, but stellar voice acting partially made up for it.
Visuals: 9/10- By far the most, and only, consistently good thing about the game. From a graphical standpoint, cut scenes, NPCs, monsters, towns, you name it, looked great, but not always perfect. The full and responsive 360 degree viewing angle on the world map was great when I wanted to scout for monsters, treasure chests, and other peculiar things. There really wasn't a major flaw, but everything could have improved in some way, just nothing major was needed.
Story/Characters: 1/10- WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? This was the clincher. This destroyed the game. This is probably the worst story I have encountered in a RPG. This is the reason why I stopped playing it for two years until I decided to suck it up and finally finish the game. It starts off a bit cliched. You, Fayt, and your family are having a vacation when the planet is under attack. You get separated from your family and you eventually board an escape pod that takes you to an unknown planet. That is when the story truly begins. After finishing the story, I really wish that Fayt's escape pod blew up in space or something so I didn't have to waste 50 hours in this game. Now it wasn't all that bad from the beginning. I actually enjoyed it for most of the first disk, though there were parts I couldn't stand. Near the end of the first disk, a lot of bizarre information was jammed down your throat in such a short period of time. Did Square Enix and Tri-Ace really expect people to be content with that? The story never recovered. It became more and more ridiculous. That is when I decided to take a two year leave of absence before returning. It was that bad. I always held that glimmer of hope that the story would suddenly be remotely decent later in the game, but alas, my dream was crushed. It took so long for a main antagonist to be established. They shifted it several times. There were too many frame stories, and most of them were horrible and a giant waste of time. They also threw in random bosses for hell of it. I mean they had no impact on the story in any way. Why include them? They also threw in some random playable characters. What was up with that? What keeps me from putting a zero down for this is that a grand total of three characters, that includes all NPCs and playable characters, were actually decent. I will go out and say that they are Cliff, Mirage, and Nel.
Gameplay: 4/10- The battle system is actually quite good. It is in real time. Fury is what allows you to attack, guard, and use magic. It goes down when you attack and use magic. You recover by just standing still and doing nothing. If your fury is at 0%, you can't do anything and some attacks require a higher percent of fury than others. It gets annoying when a foe has full guard right in the middle of you attacking. That stuns you and leaves you very vulnerable. Difficulty in the beginning of the game was bearable, but quickly turned unbearable at about the same time the story fell apart. Unless you are a super grinder, you will be overmatched in most battles you face in the second half of the game. Allied AI is so dumb in this game that I didn't actually fight anywhere near as much as I did in the first disk. I had to be the team healer and heal every ten seconds or so because of how powerful the monsters were and how pathetic my allies were. It also doesn't help that they have what I call the MP Death Rule in effect. Not only can you die by losing your entire HP, you can die by losing all you MP as well. It wasn't like each character had 50,000 MP points, so not only would I have to heal, but I would frequently have to use items to replenish MP.
Other than inventions, there was a lack of good side quests, or even side quests at all. Even the invention feature soured over time. In the beginning it was fine. There were a low amount of inventors, so it was easy and, dare I say, fun to compete. Over time, there became too many inventors. You are able to recruit any inventor to your team, but that takes too much time and effort for it to be worth it. In addition to their being too many inventors, I would be in a dungeon and no joke, by the end of the dungeon, there would be over ten new inventions. It wasn't like I was going to just drop the main quests to teach some inventors whose boss. I just abandoned it all together. It was fun while it lasted though.
Value/Replay Value: N/A- I won't score this, since it is a RPG and all, but I will say a few things. The main game itself should last around 40-50 hours, so it is time consuming if that tickles your fancy. The invention feature is very deep and I can see a lot of time potentially being spent on it. There are also battle trophies that you can earn, but you need to defeat bosses under certain conditions, such as a time limit, or various things; not very compelling if you ask me. There is an optional dungeon that is over 200 floors. I would never engage in something like that, but if you have days to spare, why not clear the dungeon?
Overall (not an average): 3/10- I won't even bother explaining it. Just don't touch this game at all. If you want a good Square Enix or Tri-Ace game from the same time frame, get Dragon Quest VIII or Baten Kaitos: EWatLO.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/08, Updated 10/02/09
Game Release: Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (US, 08/31/04)
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