STAR OCEAN: TILL THE END OF TIME

Genre: RPG
Console: PlayStation 2
Players: Single and multiplayer
Disc(s): 2
Rating: T (Teen)
Developer: tri-Ace
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: August 31, 2004 (North America)

My Rating Key

Characters: How original or appealing the characters designs are and how much the player can connect to or do with them.
Story: The originality and content of the story as well as the cutscenes and dialogues.
Music: Quality of music arrangements and how well they fit with the mood of the scenes and overall game.
Voice Acting: How well the characters are portrayed through the voice actors.
Graphics: The quality and amount of detail in the graphics.
Battle System: How well the player can navigate and control the characters during battle and the organization and controls during battle.
Gameplay: The overall controls in the game and how it is set up as well as navigation.
Difficulty: How challenging or difficult the game can be.
Extras: Extra content aside from the main storyline, such as side quests, secrets, extra missions, secret bosses, etc.
Content: The overall elements and aspects of the game.
Replay Value: Amount of replay value for the game.
Overall Score: Total score of the game.

*Each Category will be rated out of 5 points.*

Characters

The main character, Fayt is a character you can easily connect with and since he’s a college student, he has the intelligence to make well thought out decisions depending on your choices in the game. I also have a thing for characters with blue hair, so this was a big plus for me. XD With a good main character, you can connect more to the game and be interested in knowing what will happen to him, so this gives you more reason to stick to the game.

The character designs were the first thing that drew me into the game. I was shown some 3D rendered images of some of the characters in the various outfits they could wear and I instantly fell in love with them. There is great originality in the designs as well as the variety of styles and colors. I think everyone can find at least one character they’ll really like or at least one of their outfits that appeals to their taste. There is a total of ten playable characters and a good amount of male and female ones that would appeal to a wide audience. All of them have distinct personalities and neat styles of fighting and special attacks, which vary from small scale to big “eye candy” ones. There, however, were one or two playable characters that I didn’t find as appealing or as interesting to use, but they play a smaller role in the story.

Because the story tends to pair Fayt with at least one of the other characters in the ending, it makes you develop pairing ideas through the course of the game as you get to know them more. The game starts with a certain amount of “affection points” that the other characters have for Fayt and that Fayt has for them. And depending on how you answer in the private actions you encounter through the game, it will either reduce or add more points to either side, depending on their “personality” or how much the other characters would favor that answer. These points are important in determining the ending and who Fayt will pair up or “not” pair up with. But as far as I know, the affection points are not visible in the game itself, but are in the internal system of the game, but you can find out more about these points online and how many you get at the start of the game. I think this system makes the game much more interesting as a RPG game and really makes the characters feel more realistic, and allowing you in some way to “choose” your own ending is something that makes this game have a good replay value.

Not only are the playable characters interesting, but you’ll find many of the enemies and bosses very amusing at times as well. You’ll find a lot of comedy among some and with the great voice acting, they portray them very well and definitely bring out laughs for no reason at all. XD I never found this much variety and “vividness” of enemies with RPG games as much as I have for this one, so you’ll definitely love the various characters in the game. Overall, you can definitely connect to the story with these unique and often lovable characters and how the game allows you to “change” their feelings towards other characters.

Score: 5 out of 5

Story

The story has nothing to do with the previous Star Oceans, so anyone who has no knowledge of them can play this without being lost in the story. When I first started a new game, the cut scene immediately drew me in, with the protagonist, Fayt Leingod on a vacation at a resort with his childhood friend, Sophia Esteed. This takes place in a futuristic setting along with natural vegetation, which is a nice combination. You’ll later encounter “underdeveloped” countries and towns, so this game provides a lot of variety for the setting. You can definitely get right into the story and connect to what is going on once they start their dialogue. I am “rarely” taken in completely by a game’s storyline (just as long as it has interesting characters that it would keep me interested), but this game has both a very interesting storyline as well as characters too. I don’t think I have ever been this engaged to a story in an RPG game as much as this one. You’ll just keep wondering what will happen next, because of how well the sequences and story is put together. This is the kind of game you’ll want to keep playing until the end, because of the interesting twists and turns that come about for these characters.

Score: 5 out of 5

Music

The music in my opinion was quite good. Some music really gets you pumped up in battle, while others really fit with the mood of the scene or location. Some songs in particular you can be addicted to or like very easily. Sometimes through the game you may hear songs with vocals, which may be really nice. I still recall this one “rap” song they played during this one boss fight of this mechanical helicopter that is so random. XD The ending song is also very beautiful with nice vocals, so the music selection is quite good.

Score: 4.7 out of 5

Voice Acting

A rare occasion where the English dubbing of a RPG game truly stunned me. o_o Being a huge fan of Steve Cannon’s voice, he played the perfect role for the main character, Fayt. He puts full energy and emotion into the dialogue; the screams, yells, and attacks. I only found Sophia’s voice to be a bit too much after some time, especially how she screams or yells out a lot, but you can choose to have her in your permanent party or not or if you find it that distracting. And there’s EVEN an option where you can turn OFF the voices during battles and just have the sound effects. o_o However, I HIGHLY recommend you leave them on, especially for the battle scenes, because the game would be so blandwithout it. I almost think the voices MAKE the game. o_o And just NOT hearing them when you fight makes it feel so empty and dull. This just shows how well the voices are done and how much life it brings into the game. The parts where I think the voices truly shines is when they yell out the attack being performed or when they say something in battle, such as a taunt or responses to enemies hurting their team members. This is probably the only game that I’ve seen where the characters have so much responsiveness and interaction during a battle. For example, if you and one other party member have a good relationship with each other (or have high affection points for each other) and if they get hurt a lot or if they get killed, your character may say something like “Oh no!!,” “You got a lot of guts doing that!” or “You’ll pay a thousand times for that, fool!” depending on the character. XD These dialogues and superb voice acting brings so much vividness into the battles and make it much more exciting. And even if they die, they may say things like “Noo!!!,” “Sorry…” or “There was so much I wanted to do…” o_o Their dialogue may vary depending on your relationship with them and the choices you make in the private actions. I think the great voice acting and dialogues throughout the game is definitely one of the BEST aspects that makes it feel so energetic and real.

Score: 5 out of 5

Graphics

Also nicely done. For all the locations in this game and the various architecture, scenery and characters are portrayed and rendered very well in this game. The colors are very fitting to the sceneries and setting from lights to darks. From a far perspective, such as in screenshots, they won’t show how detailed the buildings themselves could be. Every house and nook and cranny are very well modeled and in my opinion. There are even some locations where the lighting is so well done that you feel captivated by it, such as the town Gemity.

A great aspect are the 3D models of all the items in the game. They made a model of just about everything you can obtain in the game. They are so nicely done and very detailed, I would think it had to take them a long time just to do this part of the game alone. o_o

The clothing detail may seem a bit “stretched” in some parts and there are some sign of polygonal shapes in some others, but I think it’s hardly that noticeable. The heads for some of the characters may seem a little big for certain characters or like “Barbie dolls,” but in my opinion they portray the anime-style quite well and a lot of them actually do seem cute. ^_^ Even the CG sequences in the game are very well done and have rich color and light in all the right places. You just wish there was more of it. XD

Score: 4.9 out of 5

Battle System

This battle system may take only a little getting used to if you’re more familiar with the “typical” role playing games, such as the Final Fantasy series, where you usually just stand and take turns doing attacks and moves. But in this game, it completely allows you to roam free within a huge perimeter with the enemy or enemies and do the attacks you want. The only thing is that there’s a “Fury” meter which is like your stamina that you’ll have to wait a little to charge when it runs out each time. But the neat thing is that you could switch between the three playable characters in your party anytime you want during battle with a press of a button. This allows you control whoever whenever you want aside from the leader of the party. (There are the maximum of three playable characters in your party on the screen.) Another good thing is that it pauses the game when you want to choose an item to use, which is very helpful during a critical time in battle. However, you’ll have to wait a little longer before using another item right after because of a small meter that has to be charged.

There are two camera angles during battle that you can choose from, the default, where it focuses more closely to your character and their close surroundings, while the other view is zoomed out where you can see everything going on, but the characters will be smaller. The responsiveness of the buttons and easy-to-control characters make this a very engaging and action-packed game. You’ll get so used to this battle system and being able to roam freely to attack that you’ll almost “hate” going back to the standard RPG battle system where you usually have to stand and wait to attack. Definitely a unique and addicting battle system that most games our there don’t have.

Score: 5 out of 5

Gameplay

The controls in this game are surprisingly good. I had no trouble getting used to the roles of each button and the accuracy of the character controlling are very good as well. With the automatic camera angles and responsiveness of the characters, you won’t feel like you are losing control of the character at all. Everything that happens in the game, you’ll mostly see. The battle system is also my favorite probably out of all the RPG games I’ve ever played. You can run around in the battle field with the enemy in it and attack it any way you want to, which is great, because you have a lot of freedom. The small map on the top corner of the screen also allows you to tell where the enemy and you and your party members are, so you can plan a tactic or stay in a certain place away from danger. You can also use items whenever you want as long as the several seconds interval pass between a use of an item. Bringing up any menu during a battle will freeze everything that is going on, which is a big plus, especially when you are in a tight situation. You can also switch to any of the three characters in your party at any time while the other 2 will be controlled by the AI. The special moves and techniques could also be customized and set with the button you want as well as arranging certain tactics and positions for each playable character in your party. You’ll get so hooked to this kind of battle system and gameplay that you would wish every RPG game you played had this. XD

Score: 5 out of 5

Extras

There are SO many extras in this game, it would blow your mind if you knew them all o_o. This game will keep you busy for months to come because of how much it has. Probably one of the best extras in this game are the battle trophies you can obtain when performing a certain task during a battle. Some can be obtained by playing it normally throughout the game and some takes strategy or special conditions to be met in order to win them. Some examples of the trophies you can get are “win a battle without getting hit”, “one hit kill”, “Simultaneously Defeat 3 Enemies”, the list goes on… There are 300 in total… And obtaining certain amounts of these trophies unlocks special things such as new costume sets for each playable character, harder modes in the game, music test, or full active mode. You’ll be wanting to get these trophies just for all of the character’s costumes o_o. So this alone will make you want to keep playing the game over and over. There are also many secret bosses, some which could only be accessed when in a certain part of the game. There are also multiple endings, one solo ending with Fayt or one with another character in your party as a “pairing” ending. The ending you get depends heavily on the private actions and different choices of answers you give for the cut scenes.

A special feature in the Director’s Cut is the Versus mode (in this release), which can allow up to two players with or without the computer to join in. The total is up to 3 characters to fight in the field and the moves are divided by styles, which are limited to only certain amounts, depending on your choice. Here is where the trading cards you collect in the game comes into play. Each card displays a character with a new outfit, and that outfit is the one you’ll be able to use in the Versus mode. They are very interesting to look at, but are only really visible most during character selection or in their winning pose scene.

Another thing that is also very interesting is the item inventions. This is actually something you should do if you want to survive against the harder enemies. There are SO many different weapons, foods, accessories, crafting and alchemy things you can make or combine, it’s crazy o_o (in a good way). For instance, they even make “spicy cake,” “steak” or “dummy” items that can lower stats of your character. It’s an activity in itself to discover or “invent” all of the possible items and to read their interesting descriptions. The 3D rendered images for each is probably one of the best parts about it, since they are so nicely made and detailed. Some of the foods you can make here are very unsual, such as Dragon potstickers, King crab legs, natto, kimchi, spicy stew.. the list goes on and on. XD This alone makes this game VERY interesting and very detailed indeed. I have to say again that it had to take them years to make models of all of these items and just everything in this game in general. I don’t think you can go through this game successfully without a strategy guide or walkthrough. There are just so many minor details and secrets that could be missed. I could go on with the extras, but there is just so much, it would take forever to write. XD

Score: 5 out of 5

Difficulty

Definitely not a game for those who don’t have patience, because some things in this game are quite complicated to figure out. I even needed a walkthrough in order to get through most of the stuff, so I suggest getting the walkthrough or strategy guide for this game before heading blindly into this game. There are just so many locations and sometimes it’s hard to keep track where they all are, because there is no “World map,” only a real-time map of current area around you. It also requires you to walk on foot to a different town or location, whether close or very far, so you’ll either have to remember where it is, map out all the locations in your head, or actually jot it down on paper. XD Another thing is that you have so much freedom in the game that you almost don’t know where to go next. They rarely restrict you from places that don’t have to do with the next objective, so you may do things in different orders or even miss a special event or “secret” cut scene without notice. This alone could confuse the player and make them need a walkthrough. Not only that, but there’s also many rooms or mazes in some areas as well, and you can very easily get lost in some of them if you’re not playing attention to your surroundings, so it is VERY recommended that you get a walkthrough or strategy guide if you want to make most of this game and see everything it has to offer. The item invention and obtaining of the battle trophies also require some thinking and strategies. They will range from easy to very very difficult and challenging. To play through this game on the easiest mode will at least have some challenges along the way, but you won’t be awarded with the battle trophies, which are actually important for getting new costumes and new features in the game. Because of this, it almost inevitably makes you have to play on a slightly harder mode in order to get the special items. This is definitely not the kind of game you can just “breeze” through, but requires strategies and tactics as well as thinking. Definitely a game more for the intellectuals and ones with patience.

Mild to Very Difficult
Score: 5 out of 5

Content

The content in this game in unbelievably detailed, well-made and very creative. People tend to overlook this game, since it seems to target an audience who pay a lot of attention to small details and stragey, but I think it should definitely be given a try because it has so much to offer that many other RPGs can’t. You may find this to be a game on your favorites list, because it will surely get you attached as long as you have the time and patience for this great journey. ^_^

Score 5 out of 5

Replay Value

Score: 5 out of 5

Overall Score

Score: 4.9 out of 5

Comments are closed.