Nineteen hours have passed, and I’m on the second disc as I traverse to yet another planet searching to co-exist with other species or help out underdeveloped planets, with a dash of time-traveling to boot. That is the gist of Star Ocean 4; a fine cocktail of Star Trek and standard anime conventions and extravagant designs. So far, it’s looking pretty decent, with both good and bad bits standing out like a sore thumb.
What Star Ocean games live and breath is by their customizability and combat: each and every character has a lot of skills to tinker around with so that they can craft weapons and items at a hub (in this case, the good ship Calnus), and the battle system is both button-mashing friendly and systematic at the same time. Combat is done real-time, with you controlling one person (the main character’s the default) and the rest using decent A.I that operates on either “kill” or “not kill”. One nifty tactic is the Blinside system, where your character can do a special dodge when being targeted by a close by enemy, resulting in a back attack that always does critical damage. As per the video below, a few examples of how frenetic combat can get.
Regardless of how epic the story presents itself to be, it wouldn’t help matters if it’s not edited properly. Star Ocean 4’s writers basically came from the Hideo Kojima school of plot exposition and redundant dialogue, and it really shows. If you aren’t sick of hearing Edge or Reimi, the obviously-going-to-hook-up-sometime-on-the-third-disc main characters, asking them about alien life forms and planets repeatedly, get ready for about a few hundred more. Also, I would love to talk about how some of the voice work needs a little fine-tuning, but I’ll just borrow a comment from one of our posts to sum it up:
” I don’t wanna hear some American high school kid’s voice when I’m playing this game.”
Believe it or not, some of these voices make high school kids sound like Abe Vigoda in the Godfather. Don’t believe me? Check out this video of some of these cut scenes taken out of context for added laughs. Long story short: stay for the combat, and be thankful the game allows you to skip crucial cut scenes.