I'm really excited to be given an opportunity to play this game, to see where this series originated. ?So far, I am quite impressed by what I've seen.
The manual included with the copy I was sent was one of the first things to impress me. ?Next to the character biographies within are the names of the voice actors who play them, which is something I've never seen before in an RPG - usually I have to use imdb or wait for the credits to find out the names. ?So far the game has been very nearly fully voiced, so this is definitely a plus. ? The most notable name on the list is Yuri Lowenthal, playing the main character Roddick.
The game opened with a gorgeous anime sequence during which a planet exploded. ?Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds. ?From there it went into the engine, showing off some incredibly detailed 3D environments and attractive sprite characters. ?It seems as though the localization team went all out in this game, as even the artwork has been edited. ?There are signs above many of the shops that are clearly legible in English.
The battle system seems to be similar to SO2, though my very fleeting experience with that game (less than 5 hours) is probably not the best judge. ?Regardless, it's fun, if somewhat simple. ?I've also played with the crafting system a bit, which seems to be much less infuriating than the one is SO3.
I'm just over three hours in now, and I'm looking forward to getting really deep into it tonight.
09/24/08 - 01:35
Anyone who's played an SO game before knows about Private Actions. ?While they were done in an almost invisible way in SO3, SO1 and 2 use a system that more closely resembles the skits of the Tales series. ?In any case, the few I've come across so far have been really amusing, but one that I just came upon just shows some awesome attention to detail. ? It's so silly and yet somehow it totally impresses me. ?I'm speaking to a character in a bar, and every time I talk to him, a new empty bottle appears on the table. ?It's little things like that that really bring a game alive.
09/25/08 - 10:15
I have to say, I'm quite surprised just how easy this game has been so far. ?I suppose it could change, but considering it was originally on the SNES, I have to consider that perhaps Square-Enix retooled the difficulty some. ?While I ended up grinding for about half an hour at the beginning of the game, since then I've been able to move at a decent pace, just fighting what comes at me.
There's probably something to say about it being difficult to find some places. ?There has been a lot of walking, but the battles are over pretty quickly and don't really get in the way. ?One of the specialties, "Scouting," allows you to lower or raise the encounter rate at will, and you can get it early on, which is helpful for lengthy trips through old territory.
Speaking of specialties and item creation, I'm simply in awe of how easy this system is to use compared to SO3. ?Why they changed it at all I'll never know. ?There are so many different types of item creation and a lot of them that I've unlocked I haven't even had a chance to use because I haven't found the necessary materials. ?What's even better is that unlocking these specialties often grants bonuses to character stats as well. ?You can buff your character and learn item creation as a side-effect: this is a near-perfect system.
Finally have a full party, which is making combat a LOT easier. ?Up til recently I've been making do with three, none of whom were a healer. ?Luckily all this did was force me to cook a lot, which wasn't that big a deal.
09/26/08 - 00:20
Somehow, I have inadvertently managed to turn Roddick into a demigod. ?Not literally, of course, but in my first experiment with the Customization specialty of the crafting section, I created a Holy Sword with almost 700 attack power on it. ?By comparison, my other fighters are using weapons with roughly 200 attack power on them. ?Needless to say, he is very, very strong now.
On a lighter note, four of my characters just went binge drinking and passed out. ?Good times.
09/26/08 - 11:30
As I mentioned in my last update, I turned Roddick into a demigod by customizing him an awesome weapon. If he was a demi-god then, he's a full-fledged god now. His new weapon, obtained by customizing the aforementioned Holy Sword even further, has a staggering 950 attack power and heals him for half the damage he inflicts! Striking between 1000 and 2000 damage, he heals himself for about 1/10 to 1/5 his total hitpoints with every swing! He is virtually unstoppable.
Thinking back to Star Ocean 3, it seems to me as if this is the way Star Ocean was meant to be played. Item creation allowed you to make yourself powerful enough to storm through everything in your way, and the same seems to be true in Star Ocean: First Departure, except without the frustration of SO3's poorly implemented system.
At this point I feel like I'm nearing the game's conclusion, and as such this will be my last entry in this blog. Look forward to a review on October 17th.
Maybe I'll log out and check my e-mail or something...