reviews\ Sep 19, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time - PS2 - Review

I can still remember when Star Ocean 2 came out for Playstation several years ago. After one of my friends purchased it we all went over to his house to watch him play it for a while. After watching him play it for 30 minutes or so, me and another friend promptly went out and each purchased a copy to be inducted into our gaming library. That game had a lot of good ideas, and was a blast to play. Some time after it was released we all heard about a new Star Ocean game being developed for the Playstation 2, and we were ecstatic with anticipation to see what the next chapter would bring. Now that Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has finally arrived to the American shores, but was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.

Throughout all of these years there has been very few details released about the storyline, and after playing it I understand why. In order to prevent any spoilers for you, I will give you a quick set up for the game. It is the year SD 772, and you are placed in the shoes of a young Earthling named Fayt Leingod. He is on vacation on the planet Hyda IV. His parents are renowned authorities on symbological genetics, and this is their first real vacation in ages. Joining them on their trip is Fayt’s childhood friend Sophia Esteed. Fayt is enjoying this trip because it gives him the opportunity to skip out from doing his homework and playing on the battle simulator for hours on end. Then out of the blue, a space force attacks Hyda IV, destroying everything in its path. Fayt must now escape and find his parents, while protecting Sophia from any danger. From that point on the story will take you on a wild trip that you won’t forget!

The enemy won't know what hit them!

As in most RPG’s, you will follow this simple formula: Go into town and gather information. After all the information is gathered you will have an idea on what this particular “mission/quest” will be. Go to that area and fight numerous enemies, which gets your experience higher to help you defeat the impending boss. Throughout this you will find out information that will unravel some important information pertaining to the plot of the game. Repeat.

While this sounds repetitive, it really is not, and it is all because of the battle engine. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time features one of the best battle engines I have seen in a RPG in while. You will find yourself pumped and ready for the next battle, because fighting the enemies in this game is extremely fun. Unlike many other RPG’s where you take turns fighting, all of the battles in this game are in real time. This means that you will take direct control over any one character at a time, you can switch between the three at the press of the button, and then see if you have what it takes to defeat that enemy. I know what you are thinking, the AI for the other two characters must be pretty shoddy, well fear not it is really good.

Since you can manually control one character, you can also assign different skills to help during the battle, such as battle skills, which are special moves that help when you need it most. The “X” button is for minor (weaker) attacks, and if you hold the button you can activate a long or short battle skill. The “O” button if for major (stronger) attacks, and if you hold the button you can activate a long or short battle skill. If you combine that with all of the symbology (magic attacks) and different Tactical Skills you can create the ultimate warrior.

This game also has an inventing system similar to Star Ocean 2, except light years better. Inventing something means that you can modify or create something completely new such as food, armor, weapons, and different accessories. It is really easy to invent something, all you have to do is enlist in the craftsmen guild and receive your Compact Communicator, which allows you to start creating and modifying things to your hearts content. This really adds a lot to the game, because you can become distracted from the main storyline for hours trying to create the ultimate weapon.

Not only is Star Ocean: Till the End of Time an RPG but it also features a Fighting mode. This allows you to test your skills against the computer or another human in a duel. In order to play in this mode, you will have to explore the dungeon, find the treasure, show it to a particular person, and then you can go into the fighting area, and duke it out to your hearts content. There is also a Battle Trophy room, which you can try to obtain all 300 different feats in the game, such as defeating an enemy in under 30 seconds or have the finishing blow on a monster over 20 times. It is things like this that greatly increase the replay factor of the game, and make players continuously coming back for more.

Choose your fighter wisely.

Just like in all RPG’s, if you don’t level up enough you will get slaughtered when you attempt to fight the boss, and this game is no exception. If you are not in the mood to fight, or you are on the verge of dying, the developers made finding and fighting enemies very easy since you can see all the of them on the screen. If you don’t want to fight, you can just slyly walk past them and fight them another time. The only problem is that it is very easy to walk past a lot of the enemies, and you will tend to do this, but if you don’t take the time to level up you will never make it to the end of the game.

Another really interesting thing about this game is how the map is laid out. Unlike other RPG games where you can see the entire world from the beginning, this game has a “fog of war” setup going on. What I mean is when you enter in a new area the entire map is gray, and when you walk around you will start to uncover the map. If you uncover the entire map for that section, you can even get some very cool accessories and items, so this gives gamers more incentive to uncover the entire map.

The graphics for this game are really good. Lately there has been other RPG’s that have been and are about to be released that look better, but at this time, you will highly enjoy looking at all of the different environments that you see in this game. Just like in the previous game, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a very “anime inspired” theme to it. All of the different environments that you will transverse through have their own unique look and feel to it. The CGI effects are once again really well done, which is to be expected from a Square Enix game. One of the things that impressed me the most is that if you have the equipment, you can play the game on a wide screen HDTV with progressive scan. This is something that if you have the equipment will make this game even better to play.

The musical score for this game is brilliant! All throughout the game the music captures the emotion that the game will go through. What is disappointing is the quality of the voice acting in the game. It didn’t seem as if the voice actors really tried to become one with their characters as some of the more “emotional” parts of the story, the voices really didn’t carry the passion that should have been heard. While they get the job done, I have heard much better voice acting in numerous other games.

Talkin often helps uncover story points and secrets.

One of the neat options in this game is the ability to turn the voices completely off. If you don’t like to play games with voice acting then you can select the “subtitles only” option. I thought that it was a very good idea that many other developers should adopt. Also when you are setting up the game for the first time you have the ability to select which type of audio setup you have. You choices are: mono, stereo, Dolby Digital Pro Logic II, and headset. If you have Dolby Digital Pro Logic II, you can use the speaker-positioning tool, so you will be able to get the most from the audio experience.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is rated T for Teen blood and violence. It requires 175kb on your memory card for game saves.

Review Scoring Details for Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Gameplay: 8.9
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a blast to play. The battle engine that this game has is one of the best I have seen in a long time. In certain RPG’s I dread having to go into battle once more, but this game makes it fun and rewarding each time you are in a battle.

Graphics: 8.8
I have seen a few RPG’s that do look better than Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, but that does not mean that this game does not look good. The game has a very nice graphical atmosphere, that will draw you in as you play through it. Also including the ability to play this game in wide screen HDTV makes it even better!

Sound: 8.0
While the musical score in this game is moving, the voiceovers are not. The inclusion the speaker-positioning tool was a great idea, and I think more games should include one to make the most of your audio equipment.

Difficulty: Medium
When you first start the game you can choice your difficulty level of easy or normal. Once you pass some requirements you can unlock the hard mode. In recent memory I have not seen an RPG include something like this. The game can get a bit challenging but you always have to remember to be aware of your levels in order to be successful in your quest.

Concept: 8.7
I really like some of the subtle tie-ins this game contains to Star Ocean 2. Also the ability to use Wide Screen HDTV and setup your Dolby Digital Pro Logic II is a very nice bonus. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has one of the best battle engines I have seen in a RPG.

Multiplayer: N/A
Even though this game contains a fighting mode that you can play with another human character it is not dedicated enough to score this section independently.

Overall: 8.8
Even though Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a few shortcomings you should not miss it. This game has one of the best battle engines I have seen in an RPG and it would be an absolute shame for you to miss it! With over 10 endings, a fighting mode, Battle Trophy room, and the ability to obtain different costumes for the main characters, this game is not to be missed!


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