Star Ocean: Till the End of Time - PS2

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Viewed: 3D Combination Genre:
Adventure: Role Playing
Media: CD Arcade origin:No
Developer: Tri Ace Soft. Co.: Square Enix
Publishers: Ubisoft (GB)
Released: 1 Oct 2004 (GB)
2002 (JP)
Ratings: PEGI 7+
Features: Analogue Control Compatible: analogue sticks only, Vibration Function Compatible
Accessories: Memory Card

Summary

Introduced on SNES in 1996, Enix's Star Ocean RPG was second only to Dragon Quest. It was massively popular, and a PlayStation successor soon followed. Years later, the highly anticipated Star Ocean 3, dubbed 'Til the End of Time has been finished and is finally headed towards the UK under the Square Enix brand.

Developed by Tri Ace, 400 years have passed since the climactic battle of the "Ten Wise Men". Humans and aliens now co-exist in a world filled with wealthy societies and poorer, third-world groups. But when Star Ocean protagonist Fate Linegod brings his family to the Federation-managed holiday resort of Hida, things turn sour. In a surprise attack from an unknown force, Fate is separated from his loved ones, and so an emotional search to find them begins.

Truthfully, it's a strong story that is easily comparable with the likes of Final Fantasy, but as a game, the two are quite different. The overall feel of this epic is much more futuristic, and the underlying play mechanic is rather unique.

Whilst the dialogue, character interaction and exploration aspects of the game are like many others, things change for the better when engaging in enemy encounters. Here, random encounters have been disposed of, but more importantly, so has the menu-driven play mechanic seen in so many other RPGs. Battles are now real-time, affording RPG-purists the option to fight as three characters at any one time. Players can unleash their own attacks, move around the battlefield more freely and even automate other characters by choosing from a number of 'scripts'. For such a complex battle system, it's remarkably intuitive and easy to use.

The single-player quest is know to boast in the region of 80 hours play, but in theory it can be finished in less than half that time. However, rushing such an in-depth affair would be bad. Even though side-quests and mini-games are not compulsory, they do add to the overall adventure and shouldn't be missed.

For such a popular Japanese RPG, it's surprising to learn that 'Til the End of Time is in fact the first 3D game in the series. It's true that this could have been a contributing factor that resulted in the delay of the game, but the wait has been well worth it. Though purposefully devoid of realism, Star Ocean for PS2 is pleasing to the eye from the very beginning. The visuals are clean cut and smooth, and the graphical effects seen in battle are breathtaking, as the screenshots will no doubt attest.

Star Ocean 3 is a truly gorgeous game and a destined classic.