PS3 Review – Star Ocean: The Last Hope

The game even incorporates an original idea into the combat–the ‘blindside’ techinque is the game’s version of the bullet-time effect. If any enemy is locked onto the character you’re controlling, simply hold down the circle button, charge the effect, then at the last possible moment, flick the left analog stick, and if you timed it correctly, you’ll confuse the enemy as you get a clear shot behind slo-mo! If you didn’t time it correctly, Edge will be exhausted and left open for an attack. It’s a unique concept that doesn’t always work. Combat can be so hectic at times that it seemed to me that it only worked effectively in boss battles because most of the time the bosses are either huge and slow, or by themselves. The blindside system is a cool and original idea, although it isn’t always particularly useful.

The Rush Gauge is another new idea that has been added to the SO combat system. It works similarly to the ‘limit break’ system that the Final Fantasy series has always featured. Take enough damage or deal enough damage, and once your rush gauge hits 100, press square and you go into Rush mode. Tap R2 or L2 to activate one of your special arts which allow you to chain together moves from not only the character you’re using, but also your other characters in battle. This attack ends once your rush gauge is exhausted, so make sure you time it wisely. Just be careful though, as enemies also have a Rush gauge. While this doesn’t usually matter when you’re fighting enemies, once you get to a boss battle (which usually last a good while), prepare for pain. Bosses love to abuse the system and kick your arse with them. You’ve been warned..

The game also features a ‘bonus board’. Let’s say you kill two enemies at once. The game will reward you with a chip on your bonus board. These chips could be anything from 10% more experience or fol (the game’s currency) to more skill points earned during a level-up. Be cautious though–if an enemy lands a critical attack on you, you could lose all of the chips you’ve earned so far.

A smart idea the game implements is that you earn XP for just about anything and everything you do. Find a treasure chest and open it? XP! Destroy a large item blocking your way path? XP! Harvest items from the side of a mountain? XP! Sure, it might not be much XP, but I leveled-up several times while doing some of the things mentioned above, and it was a satisfying feeling. Hopefully, future RPGs will take notice of this idea.

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