This game disappointed some fans of the earlier Star Ocean games, but I’m not among those disappointed. However, I do not love The Last Hope for the same reasons that I love The Second Story.
Unlike TSS, where I remember the gameplay much more than the story and characters, I vastly prefer the story of TLH to the other games in the series (note that I’ve hardly played Til the End of Time, another divisive entry in the series). The gameplay, on the other hand? I don’t remember it as well as the story, and I didn’t prefer the changes to the Item Creation and Private Actions.
In terms of presentation, the game has nice and clean graphics, but I don’t think that the character designs were a great fit for the game. The art looked better in the original 2D illustrations than in the polygonal realm, which sadly fell into the dreaded realm of the uncanny valley at times.
No, where the game really shone for me was in the story and characters. I like this game’s take on the near-apocalyptic scenario, and how Edge and his crew had to defeat the Missing Procedure, a unique and inhuman force for a villain. I was pleasantly surprised by the characters, their development, and the plot twists.
In terms of being a prequel, TLH is more successful than Silent Hill Origins, because it has fan-pleasing references instead of questionable retcons and wasted potential. In hindsight, Origins is kind of fanficesque, and not in a great way.
This may be one game that was more successful with critics than fans. For example, it got a score of 34/40 from the Japanese game magazine Famitsu.
The VGJ itself is OK, I guess. There were plenty of details that I caught, but others that I missed, I’m sure. Some of the original writing was cheesier than a Swedish dairy farm, so I had to tone it down. There were also some outdated references that I cut or updated.
TLH was rereleased on the PS3 with the International edition. It featured some extra options and improvements, such as: the option to switch to the original Japanese dub track, as well as the option to switch to the original Japanese version’s menu design. The game also came on one blu-ray disc as opposed to three DVDs, a la Final Fantasy XIII.
In recent years, tri-ACE seems to have fallen by the wayside and has lost many staff members. But what remains of the company is forging on with Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, a new sequel that takes place between TSS and TtEoT in the timeline. I’m not sold on it yet, but I hope that it will be a good game. I’m iffy on the subtitle because it sounds like a half-baked political slogan.
TSS will be ported to the PS4 and Playstation Vita. Isn’t that kind of like admitting that it’s the most popular game in the series? 😉