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    Star Ocean:(4) The Last Hope



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    Star Ocean:(4) The Last Hope

    Post by Nikkolas on Thu May 16, 2013 5:22 pm

    "Help me Generic Sword-Wielding Anime Protagonist, you're my only hope."

    Sorry, what was that? I was too busy staring at your.....kneecaps.

    So about a year ago I played Till the End of Time.  If there had been no disk 1, I might have liked it more. Sadly there is a disk 1. I did not play a sci-fi JRPG to be stuck on a crappy fantasy planet. Apparently this is a common trait for all of the first three games, even 2 which seems to be the general fan favorite.

    But hey, in SO4, you can actually travel to different worlds! Meet different races and cultures! It's crazy, I know, but this RPG about traveling through space mostly takes place in space.

    I'm getting ahead of myself though. I started The Last Hope because I recently got a PS3 and a lot of people I talked to online said this game was crap. Now I guess you can say I have a bit of a White Knight problem - if something gets hated on enough I just get sick of all the hating. Even if it deserves it, I get tired of it eventually. Even still, I wanted to determine for myself if this game deserve the hatedom.

    I had a similar situation with Final Fantasy XIII. After i got a 360 I bought FFXIII to play. It too received a lot of harsh criticism as I'm sure everyone here is well-aware. I went into FF13 expecting to love it; to get online and say how werong everyone was.

    That...did not happen. I never intend to play that game again. It wasn't so much outright bad as it was just nto very fun and everything good about teh game fell apart about halfway through. By Orphan's Cradle I just didn't want toe ver touch the game again. I approached SO4 with a similarly sunny disposition. And this time I was rewarded.

    I loved Star Ocean: The Last Hope. It's not my favorite JRPG ever or anything but I had a ton of fun from start to finish. I would say it's pretty much better than FFXIII in almost every way except for two areas which i'll get to later.

    For one thing, the plot is very fluid. You will never feel like you're just spinning y our wheels. The only time you might feel like that, it's intentional because our main hero is in a bit of a mental and mortal crisis.
    There is mystery upon mystery, all starting with the meteor that caused our heroes to crash just as they're finally venturing out into space. The subsequent run-ins with a brutal alien race leads to more revelations about the meteor as well as even more mysteries. After a short narrative detour to expand on our lead's personal growth,some things are answered while new questions arise.

    All-in-all the game never leaves you wanting for "what's next?"

    I greatly appreciate that after the entire godforsaken first disk of SO3 was irrelevant and stupid.

    Leaving the exact nature of the Missing Procedure and the Grigori unexplained was an interesting move. I mentioned in my MGS2 Appreciateion thread a long time ago that fiction that leaves you with a lot to talk about with others is the best kind of fiction. SO4 certainly isn't on Sons o Liberty's level in that department but I still like that some thigns are left to our interpretation.

    The cast of this game can be called a Cliché Storm but not in an unpleasant way - at least not in my view. The people on SomethingAwful once dubbed FFXIII "The Biggest Anime" (using "anime" in a pejorative and stereotypical sense) but it has nothing on this game. Even still...I liked about half of the cast and the rest I was indifferent to. I ended up really liking our hero EDGE MAVERICK (how's that for a name) after a certain point in the game. He's a leader who takes the burden of leadership very seriously as he knows so many lives are resting on his shoulders.. He's young, somewhat insecure and usually gives dire situations the respct they deserve. I just can really relate to him.

    I wasn't so sold on Reimi but she still had a sweet little romance with Edge. Some of the optional scenes - "Private Actions" - you can get with her are genuinely touching.
    The best one was Edge's birthday.

    Faize...I didn't care much about Faize. I didn't hate him but he never did anything for me.
    I did not predict him being the Final Boss but him ended up on teh bad guy's side was pretty obvious. I thought it was a cool turn of events though. I certainly was more interested in him when he started to get unhinged.

    Lymle...My fondness for Lil' Lym is probably due to me liking lolis. I won't deny it. Nevertheless I thought she was probably the third or fourth strongest character in teh game from a storytelling POV.
    I certainly did not expect the inhabitants of her hometown to all die. I know the "Doomed hometown" is a cliche too but that's for the main character! I didn't count on poor Lym only joining us for good because her friends and family are all dead.

    I'm not sure how I feel about her and Faize's relationship.... I definitely did not predict they were gonna go for a sort of love story between the two of them. I mostly think the relationship did more for Lymle's character than Faize's though.

    Bacchus...Bacchus is the man. There's no other way to put it. He's voiced by  Travis Willingham(Roy Mustang), he has probably the coolest design of any of the party members and he has quite an interesting past for how little we hear of it.

    I'm gonna skip right now to Myuria. Together with Edge, Lym and Bacchus, she was part of my final party and those four characters are my favorite members of the cast. Next to Bacchus she had the best voice of any of the main characters. Her sassy personality complimented a pretty sad backstory and motivation that I think everyone can empathize with.
    Sure it was beyond obvious that Crowe didn't kill her husband but I still think her grieving was well-portrayed and written. Her snarky demeanor was just her way to try and distract herself from the pain.

    And then there was the rest. Sarah was adorable, Arumat arrived way too damn late for me to possibly care about him and Meracle...well, Meracle had potential but I don't think they used her enough. She ends up feeling like the developers just had a check list of archetypes they had to shove in the game and Cat Girl was one of them.

    I think I'll bring up one area I prefer 13 now. It's the voice-acting. If I had to rank the two English dubs, I'd give SO4 a C+ and XIII an A-. One of the many areas The Last Hope gets hated on for is its dub which isn't anywhere near as bad as some make it out to be. I mentioned Bacchus and Myuria as notably good but I felt the entire main cast performed at least adequately. I can see why some people can't possibly tolerate Lymle's or Sarah's voices though. If it was just those eight then I'd probably give the game a B or B-. Sadly there are some pretty important side-characters who just fail miserably and ruin scenes. Kyle Hebert's Crowe (I think he also does Arumat) was very disappointing, especially since I know he's a good VA.
    The worst performance is definitely by Milla Bachtein. That lady just couldn't act worth crap in the scene and she took what was supposed to be a dire and somewhat tragic scene and robbed it of all emotion. Shimada's VA was the second worst but he at least wasn't heard much and he was never in really important scenes.

    I wonder what the dubbing budget was like. Laura Bailey had a couple big roles as did Hebert and I'm pretty sure I heard Michael McConnohie around 3 or 4 times in the game. (then again he's often cast for two roles in the same series...dunno why)

    While we're on an audio topic, let's talk music. That is the second area I prefer XIII. Oh, don't get me wrong, SO4's OST is quite good. It just doesn't have quite the number of sandout tracks like XIII does.

    If I had to list my favorite pieces of music from teh game...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhWpcCXbFj8 It's fortunate that this track is so awesome because you'll be hearing it for a long time. I know I heard it for a good 20-30 minutes at least when fighting a couple bosses. And i was playing on the Earth (Easy) difficulty. I actually did a lot better at this game than i did with SO3 so I might try a Galaxy (Normal) run.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZFKsybhalE Quite a unique choice for final dungeon music. The Palace of Creation was amazingly short too which is also surprising. Anyway, this tune isn't very ominous or creepy but it fits the rather bright and vibrant POC. Overall the dungeon and dungeon music were both very different but very good.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnD-o5FI4zo This is apparently a remix of an earlier SO game song. It is by far the best battle theme in the game and it makes even the 1,000th normal battle seem awesome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpOqfjDcatU While this game is no Baten Kaitos, Sakuraba proves that he is by far the king of RPG battle themes. The guy can crank out so many gems per game.
    (if you really want to see the master at work, GO PLAY BATEN KAITOS ETERNAL WINGS AND THE LOST OCEAN)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikhOpIbRyDM This game's OST is pretty different from Baten Kaitos' in a few ways and one way is the large number of "dark" tracks in this game. This is a really beautiful but somber exploration theme and it made it a lot easier to spend hours grinding for items let me tell you.

    But I'm getting tired so let me wrap this up.

    I think it's healthy to approach different things with different standards or expectations. Now if I went into this game expecting Xenogears, I probably wouldn't have much cared for it. HOWEVER, I knew what this game was and I accepted it. I don't view that as lowering my standards or anything but if you do, that's fine. This game is far from perfect - there is some pretty clunky dialogue here and there, and it's especially bad in the ending when they constantly use "evolution" in both a real and metaphorical sense. They also just use the word too damn much in the climax.

    But in spite of its failings, I thought Star Ocean: The Last Hope was a neat little game with some nice ideas and characters. I'd highly recommend it over FFXIII at any rate. That might be small praise but there you have it. Perhaps later I'll talk about some of my favorite scenes. I might start a Galaxy playthrugh later today as well.

    For right now however, what did you all think of the game?

    How about SO4 vs. FFXIII?


    Re: Star Ocean:(4) The Last Hope

    Post by Guest on Thu May 16, 2013 6:42 pm

    SO4,I've played it and liked A LOT,though it's been months I don't touch it,but I intend in playing it a bit soon,it was original,fun,had a great plot and gameplay,same for the stage designing and musics.
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    Re: Star Ocean:(4) The Last Hope

    Post by chibi on Fri May 17, 2013 9:48 am

    Not particularly in the mood for a long post, but I will say that I enjoy SO4.  I saw all of the hate it got, and it kept me away from it for quite a while.  Then I just decided I needed to give the game a chance and see for myself.  Sure, it's got a lot of flaws (blink, characters, BLINK!), but it's still a fun game.  Also, Lym and Faize are both adorable. <3

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    Re: Star Ocean:(4) The Last Hope

    Post by LadyTwi on Wed May 29, 2013 7:21 pm

    I started this game a while back and didn't get very far before I was distracted/school stuff happened, but I fully intend to get back to it. What bit of it I did play interested me and I can't wait to see where it goes. I'm very okay with cliché️s and stuff like that, so I think I'll be all right.

    As for FFXIII, I bought it but have never gotten around to playing it. I like to form opinions of things myself instead of going by reviews and things like that, but I know so many people who didn't like it that it's actually turned me off it. Sometime when I'm bored enough I may tackle it, just to say I've played it.

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