Star Ocean: The Last Hope
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Game Reviewed: Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Xbox 360 (also on PS3)
ESRB Rating: T
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World War III is over and mankind has barely survived. The Earth is dead and everyone is living underground. Those that do exist decide they should embark across the vast Star Ocean (space) in search of a new planet. The finely tuned warp drive technology is the last hope for humanity. The newly formed World Republic Federation is part of the Greater United Nations and they commission the three USTA (Universal Science and Technology Administration) ships with this recon mission. One ship is destroyed, another lost and one ship arrives at its destination. It is this ship and its crew that the gamer will control.
The main character Edge Maverick is a 20 year old with extremely high ambitions for promotion within the USTA. He is accompanied on this mission by his childhood friend, 19 year old, Reimi Saionji. On each planet they encounter they must stop the Grigori from taking over. The Grigori believe that it would be best if normal evolution was eliminated and creation was started over by them. They want to eradicate all living things except themselves so they can create a universe the way they would want it. The gamer must ultimately defeat the Grigori, if they can find them. Also each planet has an indigenous people on it that they must save from some sort of catastrophe. This game takes them through both time and space, seeking to not only find a place for humanity to repopulate but making the Star Ocean safe for all beings.
The game play is very similar to many other Role Playing Games (RPG). Each character will start off with a basic weapon, magical abilities and skills. There is a thirty minute Battle Simulator at the beginning of the game that will familiarize the gamer with all the necessary controls. It is very helpful. As the game progresses the gamer will be able to upgrade all of these categories as well as add members to the team. So the gamer will start with two players to choose from but will ultimately end with many more than that. The thing that sets this game apart from other RPG’s is that once the gamer is engaged in fighting off a variety of creatures the battle does not stop. It is continuous action until the battle is won or the gamer is defeated. The gamer will search the planet by traveling on foot over great distances. Once an enemy is spotted in say a forest, the gamer can choose to attack the enemy or run on by. Winning battles is vital for upgrading characters and earning money to spend on much needed food, health and clothing items. The cut-scenes in the game are extensive and play like a twenty minute episode. They are what move the story along and keep it connected to the action gameplay.
What Parents Need to Know
This game has fantasy based violence which means the characters control abilities, use weapons and fight creatures that are not real. The fighting is a continuous third person view. The gamer controls one character while the others are controlled through a preset option by the game. The main weapons are sword, cannon, bow/arrow and symbology (control of nature). Each character specializes on one of these.
There is no blood or gore in this game.
The weapons impact the enemies in forms of flashes of light or explosions. When an enemy is defeated it disappears immediately.
The cut-scenes are very detailed and life like. They deal mostly with furthering the relationships between the main characters in the game by explaining who they are and where they came from. The game is realistic in that most aliens encountered are human like while the creatures that must be defeated bear resemblances to animals/plants found on Earth.
D**n in various forms twenty-one times
H**l eighteen times
A** one time
B*****d three times
These words can be heard at times when a battle begins or during the cut scenes.
Some of the female characters have tight and very revealing clothing. The clothing would border around bikini style in form. During the cut-scenes of the game the inappropriate clothing and enhanced female parts are obvious. There is also suggestive conversation about one of the characters “becoming a man” with a woman he likes. There is also several innuendos other than the one mentioned that take place throughout the game. Sexual jokes are made as well such as one character saying “no way he could handle a woman like me”. There are no sexual encounters, however, between characters in the game except for some hand holding and some kissing between male and female characters.
When the characters begin to embark on their new journey across the Star Ocean there is a request to pray for the success of the mission. God is mostly a vaguely defined being that can guide or help people in their problems. On one of the planets the characters are mistaken as “gods” because of their special abilities and advanced technology. They are also referred to as holy ones. This theme continues throughout the game with any underdeveloped people meeting a more highly advanced people. A good point in the game is when the characters tell the people to stop calling and treating them like gods. They go on to explain how they are not gods but just from another planet. During a crucial point in the game when the characters are all safe they are heard saying, “thank god for small mercies”. There is an alien race in the game that is called the Cardinains and they claim to be gods. They are working for/worshiping the Grigori which are seeking to end the evolution of the universe.
Evolution is a dominant theme throughout the game. The Grigori want to start creation over because they feel that evolution has let them down. There is too much pain and suffering in the universe and they want to end all that by recreating the universe in the mold of mindless beings controlled by one large Grigori. They promote this by saying that it will bring a heaven like existence with no more pain, suffering or sickness. One of the characters that join the team is called a Feather folk and has strong similarities to an angel. One of the levels in the game is called the Purgatorium where the gamer must fight their way through several levels to be free.
There is an archfiend seeking resurrection on one world. He is clearly bad and wants to consume the world in a cleansing fire. His worshipers say you can worship any god you want so you must choose the archfiend. They also teach you must destroy to create. The archfiend is a demon like character who wants to absorb all things into his fire. The Grigori who are the ones trying to eliminate the universe are referred to as the root of all evil. Also one of the key Grigori leaders name is Satanail. This game flirts between similarities to Christianity to forms of postmodernism of believe what you want, do what you want.
The characters in the game have magical abilities. They can control all forms of nature to be used to attack the enemies. It is not really made clear where this ability comes from, just that only a few select in the universe have the ability to use nature as an offensive and defensive weapon. This is mostly attributed to the fact that they may have a genetic anomaly or are enlightened. There are characters in the game that can summon animal like creatures to attack enemies as well. There is also jewelry that is supposedly endowed with magic abilities to protect, heal, defeat or resurrect other players. There is a scene where one of the characters is about to be sacrificed to the archfiend by his followers. There is a Muan mythology that surfaces that seeks to explain why a couple of the characters have special abilities. It is more legend than religion that focuses on genetics.
Star Ocean 4 is a fun but frustrating game to play at times. It was an easy game to play with lots of customizable features per each character. Sometimes, however, during the game it was difficult to know what to do next. It also seemed like the bosses or key enemies at the end of a level were either too hard or too easy. It would have been nice if battles were a bit more balanced. There is a lot of content for parents to consider when deciding if Star Ocean 4 is a good fit for their child or not, hopefully this review helps.