Star Ocean: Till the End Time Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 2
Release date:
August 31, 2004
Square Enix
Square Enix

Star Ocean: Till the End Time

Is Square Enix's most anticipated RPG this year worth the wait?

Review by Mike Butler (Email)
October 4th 2004

Easy-bake RPG! Enjoyment for all!

-Take one melodramatic/aloof/introverted young male with several minor psychological issues -combine with an heroic or otherwise abnormal name
-add one physically inept/magically inclined female quasi-love interest; smother hero
-stir in one not-so-eloquent beastman, man-beast or some other brand of strong, silent type
-add other characters to taste. add as many as you like, since only two will actually be pertinent to the story
-whip your way through hundreds of random encounters and talk to countless NPC's who offer a bare minimum amount of helpful information. CAREFUL! Not talking to every single NPC could severely affect the filling of the game, causing it to fall short
-bake for 20 hours until the actual plot becomes apparent, then bake on discs 2 thru 4 for an additional 30 hours or until burned out

Give or take a few ingredients, this is what could be considered the industry standard WYSIWYG RPG formula. I suppose it goes without saying I’ve developed a distaste for the current flavor of the RPG genre, however, I am always willing to give a game a chance if it claims to have something new/hot. Which leads me to Star Ocean - Till the end of Time; one part new hotness, two parts old and busted.

What sets this game apart from the cookie-cutter RPG's is it's combat system. This is actually one of the only things setting it apart from every other game in the genre. The new system is only slightly new, adding an intricate and malleable combo system and more hands on control over the outcome of the battle. Switch allies, cast spells, use items and special techniques or just plain attack, all in real-time. Reigning over the chaos is the Fury Gauge; sort of a timer to keep you from mashing or otherwise going crazy-go-nuts. Keep your Fury Gauge full, and your opponents weak attacks will be deflected and potentially cause damage, depending on the skills you've learned. Run out of Fury and your attacks will fail frequently, resulting in a recurring "game over" screen. Luckily the other members of your party require little to no human interference in a brawl, however stock up on revival items, since your artificially-intelligent comrades will often valiantly run off and get themselves killed. RTS players will find an easy time with this, as micromanagement is an absolute must. The payoff comes in the form of Bonus Battles, your reward for success in battle. Do well in combat and you will find yourself on the receiving end of a 300% exp multiplier, or an increased chance of getting that rare monster drop. The bonus' stack up, too! Combinations of bonus exp, money and increased rare items await those skilled enough to keep the bonus chain going. The downside to this one critical hit received by you or either of your party members renders the bonus' you've accrued null and void. Also new is the Battle Trophy system, a halfhearted attempt at getting some replay out of the game by giving you false rewards for such accomplishments as pulling off 100 combos or taking 10,000 steps in battle.

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