I have been a fan of the Star Ocean series since Star Ocean (2): The Second Story on the PlayStation 1. Since then, I have played a few more entries, as the series has lost some of its appeal lately (at least to me). I have Star Ocean: The Last Hope to blame for my current indifference towards it.
The Star Ocean Series seems to have suffered from the same evil that at times plagues the long running Tales Series. It no longer carries enough innovation, and is plagued by pedestrian storytelling. So, today we look back at a time when the series seemed to be on an upward trajectory, and its games were very good.
The Last Great Star Ocean Game?
2004’s Star Ocean (3): Till the End of Time, was a much welcomed entry in both the series and the genre. At the time, my favorite RPGs on the PlayStation 2 had been Final Fantasy X, and Suikoden 3. Star Ocean’s 3rd entry would join those games as one of my favorites on the system.
The game greatly improved upon both the aural, and visual quality of its predecessor. Truly, the PlayStation 2’s horsepower – in contrast to the PS1 – had a huge part to play on the game’s technical improvements. But, it also seemed like SquareEnix had diverted a big amount of money towards making Star Ocean: Till the End of Time one of the better looking J-RPGs on the system.
The game ditched the over world map that graced the second entry for a more ‘contained’ approach. I was not a big fan of the trend of ditching over world maps, but Star Ocean 3 made it work. The fields that I had to traverse out side of towns, were larger, and more interesting than the largely linear ones that plagued FFX.
Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time, like its predecessor before it, is a game geared towards the hardcore fanzine of the genre. Grinding, and leveling up is not enough to succeed in the game. Star Ocean 3 expected players to take their time and invest hours into battling in order to explore and master its complex item creation system.
I found the item creation system to be much more complex, and at times a bit more frustrating than the one featured in Star Ocean: The Second Story. I remember spending hours grinding just to earn enough Fol to spend in great quantities in order to create items that would power up my weapons.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for my orichalcum (an item you have to refine) fused weapons, I don’t think that I could have beaten the game. But, Star Ocean Till the End of Time had a very good story that kept me going, especially after finishing DVD 1. So, I powered through to its mind bending “Matrix” inspired conclusion.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a Must Play for Fans of the JRPG Genre
In retrospective, I believe that I have come to appreciate Star Ocean: The Second Story as the best game in the series. However, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time can proudly stand beside it as the next best entry. Holding an 80 Metacritic rating, Star Ocean Till the End of Time isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But, if you are a fan of the genre, it is definitely worth a try on PS4 (through the store app).
Because the game can be easily purchased in the PS Store, finding a real physical copy of the PS2 version is both, easy and cheap. Today is as good a time as any to give this classic a try!
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