I am not one to say that one specific genre of video games is superior to any other. All games are fun and enjoyable in their own rights; First Person Shooters, Third Person Shooters, Real Time Strategy, Turn Based Strategy, Puzzle, Sports Games, Platformers, Point and Click, and just about any other genre you can think of. They are all wonderful and it all depends on the game you are trying to make and you either succeed or fail within your given field. A game like The Stanley Parable is a far more superior to a game like Aliens: Colonial Marines. Even though Aliens: Colonial Marines has more content on just about every level, The Stanley Parable is a far better and more successful game because it succeeds at its goal far better than a game like Aliens: Colonial Marines.
However!… If you were to twist my arm, I would be more inclined to give more props to Role-Playing Games. RPGs simply have so much that goes into them. A humongous and expansive world that you can explore and interact with, giving the sensation that you have actually been transported to this world and have become this protagonist, and the ability to customize your own character to your style of game play. Role Playing Games just have so much to put into them and when you create an amazing one like Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or the early Final Fantasy games… You are pretty much guaranteed an instant classic.
While I still hold to the idea that no one genre of video game is superior to the other… I’m just saying that RPGs make it hard to say that there isn’t a clear front runner. All of this is leading to the fact that I recently had the chance to play an older JRPG that took me back to my days of playing games like the early Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, Star Ocean: The Last Hope. I have not had the chance to play any of the other games in the Star Ocean series before this game. But talk about an introduction to a series! This is the type of game that I have been missing from games like Final Fantasy XIII! A very fun, expansive, explorative, and by all accounts amazing RPG.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope is set in the ‘not so distant’ future. After Earth (Dear GOD not the movie) has been completely annihilated by the popular plot point of Nuclear Holocaust that is World War III, the powers that be put aside their differences and form a coalition to find a new planet to inhabit since Earth is basically just a gigantic radiation covered crater. Our main character Edge Maverick (you wish you have a name as cool as that) is the pilot aboard one of the exploration ships called the Calnus. Along with four other ships, one of which is captained by Edge’s friendly rival Crowe, the ship takes off to find other inhabitable lands.
The five ships experience a problem in their warp and are all forced to crash land on their assigned planet called Aeos. There they find the planet is inhabited by several insect like creatures who are impervious to rail guns but are weak to weapons such as swords and arrows (Go figure… But hey at least an explanation as to why this futuristic people do not use guns). After hearing a distress from one of the five ships, the Eramius. The crew makes their way to the wreckage where they learn of an evil worse than the insects from one of the dying crew members who later comes back to life and attacks them. But luckily Edge and his crew mate/obvious love interest Reimi are assisted by an ‘Eldarian’ (or elf, whatever works) Faize who helps vanquish the foe. The group returns to the now quickly built space fort. The story then follows Edge Maverick and his team as they meet other alien races, explore new and unique worlds, and learn what was the strange creature that attacked them on the beach.
This game will give you that good ole RPG feel that I personally have not truly experienced since I played Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix and tri-Ace truly went back to their roots with this adventure and expanded upon what was already a great RPG system. The combat in the game is on par with some of the best out there and is very immersive with the creatures you can see wondering on the map. I also love the fact that your party of eight or so is represented by the one lead character, it is a small thing in RPGs but one that reminds me of the old days. Everything about it screams old school Final Fantasy RPG and in my opinion is a better representation of that particular series than Final Fantasy XIII could ever be.
The Concept with Plausible Explanations
This was just a damn cool idea. Granted the World War III Nuclear Holocaust ploy has been played several times over but it took it in ways that I was not expecting. Propelling it to the reaches of outer space, giving a VERY plausible reason why the protagonists are using swords and bows and arrows as opposed to futuristic guns. There are several planets to explore and new and creative aliens to interact with as opposed to some magical fantasy world. Though don’t get me wrong, those are pretty fun also. But this game deserves credit for creating a very plausible and cool and colorful world.
Considering that this game was first released in 2009, I could almost call it a precursor to Skyrim for the realms of exploration and customization that the game allows. Combine this with a tight story and fun cast of characters, you have yourself a receipt for success.
Your Team is the Standard JRPG Squad
This is a trend that happens with every JRPG and I’m not sure how to classify it as a pro or as a con. But the team of misfit protagonist in JRPGs has only changed with few exceptions. But the protagonists of this game go as thus. You have Edge Maverick. He is your standard JRPG hero. He is the only slightly effeminate male protagonist. He is a sword wielding badass soldier with spectacular hair. Then you have Reimi. She is the strongly hinted romantic interest of Edge. She has that cheerful, preppy, but shy personality and wields a bow and arrow. Then there is Faize, an Eldarian (an elf basically). He is even more effeminate than the protagonist, makes him look manlier by comparison. He is the mage of the group and the one who would most likely be the subject of the most fan fictions. They are your big three. Then you have the rest of the team which equals out to a big bruising warrior, an absolutely adorable little girl, a cat girl for good measure, and finally one nerdy girl with glasses. (There are a few others as well)
I am not sure if I should call foul on this since it seems like a cheap cut and paste system that every JRPG seems to use to create the characters of their game… Or if I should praise this as being a staple of the genre and one of the things that makes a JRPG a JRPG. I’m not sure how to classify it and is certainly something that is worth the discussion. For both the pros and the cons.
The English Voice Acting is Terrible
It is just bad. Flat out bad. There is no other way to put it. The English voices do not match at all with how I would expect the characters to sound and most of them speak in this strange sort of pronounced monotone. If there is a reaction that must go beyond monotone, it becomes either a louder version of monotone or a softer or even cuter version of monotone.
I’m sure the Japanese version is much better, but for me I focus on the English versions and the English dub is just inexcusable. There are good voice actors out there, use them! It will really enhance what is already a great game to another level of greatness. But as it stands, this is one of the black spots to what is already a great game.
This game is a ton of fun and brings the full RPG experience. The characters are colorful and exciting, all be it the same archtypes, the world is expansive, fun to explore, the story is tight, and the graphics are a testament to the genre. The English voice acting is BAD but for most people you can look past this or even switch over to the Japanese version. Overall, it is just a fun game and a fun experience.
Final Score 4/5
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