Thoughts on Star Ocean 4 : The Last Hope

For the last 2 weeks, I have been playing SO4: LH non-stop and managed to finish couple days ago ,thus, I would love to share my readers what my thoughts are about this game. Speaking of Star Ocean series, one can expect of a great battle system and storyline. I believe those two are what defines Star Ocean series or a good RPG. Some may lean towards one or the other but I believe both work together to create a great RPG. Since it’s originally released for XBOX 360, there has been couple changes here and there for the PS3 version, however, I would not discuss it as PS3 vs Xbox360 comparisons can be easily found via Google or Sankakucomplex.com. Before I continue further, please be warned that this post may contain spoilers so stop reading at this point ^^ if you worry about ruining your enjoyment of SO4

Battle System

Square-Enix (SE) did a good job on keeping the same battle system since the original Star Ocean with some minor additions here and there. They kept most features in SO3 and added couple more features such as Blindsides, Rush, Bonus Board and BEAT system. I used Blindsides a lot early in the game but as I progressed through the game, I found it to be almost useless. Meanwhile, I love Rush and Rush combo and they both are great for dishing damage without getting knockback/interrupted. Two thumbs up  for SE for adding this features.

For those who played SO3 before, you should be familiar with Bonus Board. Even though it’s not the same but the concept behind is pretty similar and it’s a way for gaining extra EXPs, HP/MP recoveries, Fols and/or SPs. For me, Bonus board is good and bad at the same time. The good thing about is all those extras I mentioned earlier and the bad thing about is that I have to be extra careful when controlling a character because I need to avoid critical hit on me, otherwise, I lose those bonuses :(. I stop caring about Bonus Board after I have access to synthesize where you can synthesize FOL/EXP factor to your weapons and armors.

BEAT system is closely related to Rush. There is 2 types of BEAT: BEAT S and BEAT B (SE won an award for the best names ^^;). BEAT S is good for blindsides but the extra stats that it gives makes totally not worth to max it in comparison to BEAT B. Lets compare the two below:

BEAT B
Default: Increased critical hit chance during Rush Mode
Rank 5: Rush Gauge increase rate up
Rank 9: MP cost 25% during Rush Mode
Rank 13: Rush Gauge decrease rate down
Rank 17: Damage -5% during Rush Mode
Rank 20: Rush Gauge increases during Rush Mode

BEAT S
Default: Increased damage to Blindsided enemies
Rank 5: Chain Combo entry during Blindsides
Rank 9: Double Blindsides enabled (avoids counters)
Rank 13: Blindside charging enabled while attacking
Rank 17: Freeze nearby enemies when Blindsiding
Rank 20: "No Guard" status while Blindside charging

When you max Beat B, you can keep your Rush Gauge for the whole friggin battle which means you can kill enemies faster and cost you less MP to use skills. I think Beat S is pretty useless, thus, there is no need to introduce the BEAT system if it’s clearly that one will be used by everyone except maybe Meracle. When I just started the game, I expected that both BEATs would be great and there would be equal advantages and disadvantages between the two. SE fails on this one feature.

There’s still MP damage in this game just like SO3 but, there is no MP kill sadly. MP kill is (arguably) the best idea ever in an RPG game and it makes the game more challenging and interesting. Not only that you need to worry about your HP but you need to be aware of your MP. Too bad that SE removes this from SO4

Story

I was quite disappointed to be honest and it certainly didn’t live up to my expectation. The story was quite linear with one plot twister towards the end or one may call it ‘too cliche’. It has ‘Save the world’ theme in it. While I didn’t expect it to be something like Code Geass (plot twisting in almost every episode ^^;;), I thought SE/Tri-Ace could do better than this. Despite the lousy story line, cutscenes are awesome and I really enjoy all of them, although, sometimes it kinda sucks that you can’t pause in the middle of cutscenes.

Characters

When I thought the story was disappointing enough, characters development clearly takes the podium. Each characters is very very very lacking in developement and the 2 main characters, Edge and Reimi, don’t have what it takes to be the main characters of the story. There is no/very minimal backgrounds/stories about Edge, Reimi and Crowe’s power as Seed of Hope and what it is/ what it does. Through out the game, Reimi is pretty much Edge’s b1tch (excuse my language here) and Edge, himself, tries to be cool and the stuff that he said is just too cheesy ^^;;. In the middle of the game, due to some incidents, Edge became so irritating that I couldn’t stand and listen to him at all; thankfully, he became better and better.

Lymle, one of the usable characters, is also annoying with her ‘ mmm kay’ on every friggin sentence she says during ENTIRE game. First couples , it’s pretty cute but after a while, she is so damn annoying, although, I have to admit that I enjoy Lymle and Faize Private Actions (PA) the most but I also enjoy ecchi PAs like the one above ^^.

Replay Value

This is where SO4 and other SO series  truly shines. There are enormous side quests and post game dungeons for those who are looking for more challenge. In addition, there are 2 additional difficulties, Chaos and Universe if you think Galaxy level is not challenging enough for you. Too be honest, Galaxy is level is pretty easy because through out the main story (before post game), my characters die less than 10 times. Don’t ask how many times they die during post game though ^^;;. If you have hours to spare then this is the perfect game for you.

Others

Before I play this game, I read couple reviews for the XBOX version and majority of them said that Reimi is majorly overpowered especially her critical hits and Crimson Squall (Barrage arrows). Some said that in PS3 version, Reimi’s critical hits has been reduced but I think she is still quite overpowered especially with her Crimson Squall which is great against bosses. After post game, you will get Savage Sparrow which is guided arrows so you don’t need to aim anymore  ^^;;.

For some reasons, Myuria’s AI seems to be broken or something. She keeps going forward and try to hit an enemy with her staff, thus, she always dies first ^^;;. Not sure if this is a bug or what but it didn’t matter what strategy that I put on her, she always goes forward -_-;;.

Final Thoughts

Since everyone’s taste in RPGs greatly differs, please take what I said with a grain of salt and explore the game yourself ^^.

Rating: 7/10

[poll id="33"]

My main/most used characters are Arumat, Reimi, Myuria and Sarah so what are yours ?

  10 comments for “Thoughts on Star Ocean 4 : The Last Hope

  1. Indus
    March 2, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Great review, I haven’t played many jrpgs (Besides FF) in some time but maybe I should check some out? Do you have any recommendations?

    Maybe we’ll see a review of FFXIV on this site? I heard from a little birdie that alpha invites just went out. But there will be a Closed and then Open Beta soon/eventually. Huzzah

    • March 2, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks :D

      If you want to get into Star Ocean series, I would recommend to play SO4 > SO1 > SO2 > SO3 since SO4 is a prequel of Star Ocean series. I always enjoy the gameplay/battle system of Star Ocean series.

      Not sure what consoles you have but if you have an xbox360, I recommend Tales of Vesperia and Eternal Sonata (also available in ps3).

      I also recommend Valkyria Chronicles. It’s more like an RTS than RPG but you may enjoy it if you like Final Fantasy Tactis. In addition, I like the story a lot as it’s quite unique.

      If you still have your ps2, I recommend Ar Tonelico.

      Most jRPGs tend to offer post game content, unique battle system and at least decent story line so if you are looking for those features, you may enjoy the games that I recommend.

      FFXIV review is definitely in the planning and SE will start sending invitation emails on March 1st and start Alpha testing on March 11th. I am keeping my finger crossed but don’t want to get my hope too high ^^;;

      • .kelb
        March 3, 2010 at 2:47 am

        Cross Edge looks pretty good.

        And do look forward to Last Rebellion (i heard its terribad but… see for yourself), End of Eternity(has a different name for INTL release), and Trinity Unity(? i think).

        • March 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

          Just checked End of Eternity / Resonance of Fate. Kinda reminds me of Dirge Of Cerberus. It’s developed by Tri-ace so it’s probably decent.

          Last Rebellion graphic is really bad ^^;;.

          • .kelb
            March 5, 2010 at 2:47 am

            Yes – i heard Last Rebellion is a strong contender for the worst game of the year. EoE/RoF looks tasty though – i hope its something similar to PEve1 :3

  2. March 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    It has been a long time since I have sat down with a decent RPG title. Star Ocean has always been a pretty decent series so I may pick this up. Though I only have an Xbox at the moment so I guess I will have to deal with Reimi’s hellish advantage lol.
    .-= Kairu90´s last blog ..Kisuke Urahara Cosplay =-.

    • March 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      I heard they tone down Reimi’s oshiri on ps3 so you will be able to enjoy it more on xbox 360 :P

  3. .kelb
    March 3, 2010 at 2:44 am

    tbh i was a bit disappointed by SO4 (so far). Currently @ ROAK.

    IMO -
    they did a wonderful job on the world setting and design of the armors and such. Its oozing with high-techniness (its not a word!).

    BUT – i feel as if theyve toned the system down so much that it feels like im playing an FF game. Pretty much JRPG EZYMODE – which is not what SO is all about (usually). The battle system is terrible compared to SO3 and even 2. Feels a bit too…static for some reasons. The blindsides are fun but everything else is a bit of a let down. I dont really get that EPIC feel anymore (except for Baccie’s missile barrage or pretty much all bossfights) (baccie is currently my favorite attacker despite the lack of skirt)

    The crafting system is way too easy and way too simple compared to 3…or dare i say 2. Though supposedly its easier to abuse too – so i suppose i shouldnt complain about it :)

    Camera Angles from hell…. bright colors and detailed background + rubber-bandy camera views. I actually felt sick the first time i wandered around calnus. But have since then developed a resistance to it. BAD SQENIX! BAD!

    Though on the other hand. SO4 is one of the earliest NewGen console JRPG. So i cant help but sympathize with how SO4 turned out. Its still a good game though – just not as good as what i expected.

    ps: i hate emo characters…right now i feel like hurling the controller at the screen everytime i see edge. help!

    • March 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm

      Lol I thought I was the only that has problem with the camera angle. I felt weird in the beginning but got used to it after a while.

      I do miss MP kill in SO3 and wish they keep it in SO4. I barely use bacchie as my main is Reimi ^^;;.

      SO1 to SO3 craftings are much more complicated than SO4. You can abuse fol/exp synthesize easily in Xbox360 but they somewhat nerfed in SO4.

      I feel your pain with Edge and glad that it’s over ^^;;.

      • .kelb
        March 5, 2010 at 2:55 am

        Yes – MP Kills are awesome. So are SO Girls w/ skirts. Nel and Maria tag team :3 MP damage all the waaaaaaaaaaaay~! (And a side of moe overdose)

        Yea Reimi is not bad – though the problem is for me it takes a long time for her to set up her first skill powerful as it may. And her Crimson Squall is overkill for small fries, thats why i use bacch for random encounters – and spam missile barrage like a VF pilot. Bacchie = Green MEGAMAN!

        Haha – its good to know that its not permanent -_-; otherwise i might have to drop the game. *sigh*

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