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Patrick Hope: Hope is the thing with space

One of the more fun developments the past couple console generations has been the rise of trophies and achievements in games. Recently, I was looking at the most difficult games in which to obtain the Platinum Trophy, which is awarded for getting...

Patrick Hope
Patrick Hope

One of the more fun developments the past couple console generations has been the rise of trophies and achievements in games. Recently, I was looking at the most difficult games in which to obtain the Platinum Trophy, which is awarded for getting every other trophy, most of which involve some degree of completing the game to 100 percent and/or messing around with the multiplayer enough to unlock everything.
And then I found that the Platinum for “Star Ocean: The Last Hope” on PlayStation3 takes anywhere from 450 to 1,000 hours to obtain, depending on your luck. Considering this is an astronomical number, with the minimum required being about 2½ weeks of straight playing to obtain, an idea for a game to write about was born.
“The Last Hope” is the fourth game in the “Star Ocean” series, otherwise known as Enix (and later Square Enix’s) big series attempt to be a space opera. Unfortunately, because the writers for the series are apparently very unimaginative, your heroes almost always end up crashed on an underdeveloped planet, which means due to the “Star Ocean” universe’s own version of the Prime Directive, you can’t use any of your new-fangled space technology. This happens every game.
Anyway, “The Last Hope” is the first chronologically in the series, set pretty soon Earthlings set off to explore the, ahem, Star Ocean of space. Your hero this time around is young captain Edge Maverick, who appears to have been afflicted with the worst case of Rad Cool Name-itis video games have ever seen. And because he is the hero of a Japanese role-playing game, he uses a sword. Because they all use swords.
Edge and his crew are sent off to explore space as part of a vanguard of a bigger colonization force. Of course, things don’t go as planned and Edge and pals have to fight a vague universe-destroying evil, in this case, something called the Missing Procedure, which turns living beings into weird phantom versions of themselves or forces evolution. Honestly, most of this is explained by a massive info dump like two-thirds of the game. It’s not exactly the best pacing.
But most of my gripes about “The Last Hope” stem from its very silly story and pretty bland characterization, with stereotypes ranging from “childhood friend” to “stoic robot” to “cat girl.” It’s really uninspired. The gameplay is very solid. If you’ve ever played one of the “Tales” games, you’ll be right at home with “Star Ocean.” Instead of magic, you have Symbology, which does about the same thing, and you lack the great, flashy moves that you tend to expect from role-playing games, but so many things you’ve gotten used to, like crafting systems, long dungeons, and boatloads of sidequests.
The battles are definitely more fun than a handful of the “Tales” games as well. But the story and characters really, really bring the game down.
This game is super-cheap now on both the PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 and will keep you busy for a long time, especially on the 360, which was known for being starved for JRPGs.
Of course, there are better options on both systems too, but well, it’s probably the most sci-fi oriented of the series, so it’s got that going for it. It certainly blows the second and third games out of the water in that regard. And it must have had something going for it, as “Star Ocean 5” is supposed to be coming out this year.
Hope is a local attorney and video game enthusiast.
As “Star Ocean 3” revealed our universe was just an MMO, this game never actually happens, I guess?

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