With both Star Ocean 1 and 2 on their way to the PSP and Star Ocean 4 tentatively scheduled for mid-2009, in addition to the likelihood that I will, in fact, be playing and reviewing all three, I decided to break out the third game in the series and play through it again, just to complete the set of reviews. ?It's been a long time since I played this game, but I did enjoy it back when it was released, despite a few issues. ?I'm about four hours in now, and so far, aside from not being nearly as good at it as I once was, it's still as enjoyable now as it was a few years ago.
Man, I really forgot how much I love the soundtrack to this game. ?Sakuraba outdid himself. ?Infinite Undiscovery reminded me a lot of this soundtrack, but hearing it in all its glory again is just fantastic. ?I'm in <span class="spoiler">Arias</span> right now and the music here is just fantastic. ?Still don't like the techno-rock pieces thrown in, though. ?They just seem out of place.
The game should be pretty easy for the first half, thanks to a trick I picked up on my first time through the game. ?Completing one of the earlier maps and selling a few things netted me enough cash to buy Fayt a Holy Sword, a weapon that the game doesn't really intend for you to buy until midway through. ?As a result, he destroys things pretty quick, which should help me progress a bit faster.
Unfortunately, I'm sort of playing this game as a side project. ?Other games are going to be dragging me away on a fairly consistent basis, so this blog might not actually be finished until close to the release of Star Ocean 4. ? Whenever I'm between games, I'll be jumping back into this, so just keep an eye out for updates.
<i>09/22/08 - 08:25</i>
Ahh, the crafting system. ?I knew it would rear it's ugly head eventually. ?This is undoubtedly the most frustrating part of the game, because, while it's unquestionably deep and complex, far more so than pretty much any other RPG in existence, it has the single worst method of actually creating the items ever. ?It is literally impossible to make serious use of it without a strategy guide or several dozen hours to experiment.
Luckily I happen to <i>have</i> the strategy guide so I will be able to make great use of it. ?Huzzah! ?But seriously, the crafting system sucks. ?Fix it for SO4 please, tri-Ace. ?Please.
Just about to leave <span class="spoiler">Peterny</span> now. ?As I recall, <span class="spoiler">Roger makes his first appearance soon. ?Always liked that kid.</span>
<i>09/22/08 - 10:25</i>
Gotta love that <span class="spoiler">Roger. ?Such a two-faced little brat, but something about him is just so adorably awesome.</span>
I've been noticing something odd with the gameplay during this playthrough, and I think it's because I'm using a PS3. ?I recall playing the game originally on my PS2, you really had to press the button down hard to active a skill. ?However, this time around using a Sixaxis, the skills go off with hardly any press at all. ?In fact, I'm activating skills by accident a lot, and it's really annoying because when I accidentally use Side Kick it cancels Burning Blade. ?Anyone else noticed this playing other PS2 games? ?Does the DualShock3 maybe have buttons more akin to the PS2? ?If so, I may go pick one up. ?It's really freaking annoying.
10/11/08 - 00:25
After putting it down to play SO1 and Sonic Chronicles, I'm finally back into it. The war just ended, so that's another major event behind me.
I did end up picking up a DualShock3, but so far it hasn't really been an improvement. I've still found myself activating skills I don't want to, but alas, I guess I'll have to live with it. Eventually it won't matter anyways, since I'll be doing so much physical damage MP damage will be pointless.
10/15/08 - 13:15
I spent a lot of time on the game tonight. Got through the <span class="spoiler">Urssa Lava Caves</span>, which reminded me just how spiky the difficulty in this game can get. I went from decimating enemies with Nel's Shadow Wave attack in the <span class="spoiler">Ruins of Barr</span> to doing 0 HP and MP damage. I tried switching to Fayt and using Ice Blade, but the attacks weren't much better. 2 MP damage instead of 0. At least I could kill them, if I put enough time into it.
Instead, after dealing with the events, I grit my teeth and dealt with what I was dreading... the awful item creation system. And it is BAD. The strategy guide helps a ton, but the success rate is so god-awful and selecting and reselecting "Original Creation" until the right item value appears is so utterly stupid I have to wonder if the game designers were high or something. Eventually I was able to make a couple of Orichalcum and refine them once each, giving Maria and Fayt an extra 1000 attack power. That let me deal with the enemies there quite effectively.
At this point, I'm now about to leave <span class="spoiler">Moonbase</span> after a massive leveling and item creation spree. I've refined both Maria's and Fayt's weapons to +3000 attack power, which should be more than enough to finish the game. I still have a ways to go before I can upgrade Sophia's weapon with Dark Matter, but the time will come. Until then, she's just a useful healer.
God, I already miss SO1. Hopefully they don't try to pull this crap with SO4, because I swear, I will rip tri-Ace a new one in my review if they do.
10/16/08 - 07:40
I just arrived in <span class="spoiler">4D Space</span>, home of the infamous plot twist, and now that I'm experiencing it again, it's really not as bad as I remember it being. It certainly doesn't flow properly from all the events that lead up to it, but it's interesting in its own way. And a lot of the stuff that people have complained about not making sense are explained to a certain degree, though only briefly. Particularly, <span class="spoiler">the question of how exactly computer programs from a virtual world could gain a physical existence in the real world is explained by Maria's "alteration" gene, which has the power to alter the state of matter. If that's the case, it's possible that she subconsciously manipulated molecules in the air to reproduce their bodies. It's no more far-fetched than the virtual world concept to begin with.</span>
10/17/08 - 12:00
I'm now in the final dungeon, so the game will reach it's conclusion tonight, most likely. As such, this will be my last update.
It's interesting how differently a bit more experience in the game world can change your view on a game. I recall when I originally played the game I had major problems with the story and item creation system, but I loved the battle system, but this time around, all three have had their problems. However, the story, strangely enough, has grown on me. There is far too much coincidence at play during the second part of the game, but the plot twist really isn't as bad as I remember it. It makes a strange kind of sense. I'd completely forgotten how irritating Fury is, as well as anti-attack auras.
One good thing that's come out of this is that I've found a good way to spend time between new games on my review list. I have a personal issue with starting a new game I know I'm not going to be able to finish (it just bugs me), but when the game is one I've already played, it's not that big a deal.
So, the question now, then, is what do I play next? I could continue down the tri-Ace path and replay Radiata Stories for a review, or I could hop over to my other favorite action-RPG series and replay Tales of Symphonia, my all-time favorite game for a review. I'll let you guys decide, and I love both of those games and would love to play them again.
Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...