alex9234’s Sunday Review
Welcome back to another episode of Sunday Review. This time I’m going to review one of the most underrated JRPGs in the PlayStation 2’s lineup. The game that takes place last in the Star Ocean timeline, and what is the last great game in the series, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, which came out on the PS2 in Japan in 2003 and in the West in 2004. This is also the last game that was published by Enix before Squaresoft and Enix merged.
Star Ocean 3 first brings us to the planet of Hyda IV, and follows the story of 19-year old Fayt Leingod, the son of scientist Robert Leingod. Fayt, who is currently a college student, is on vacation at a resort on Hyda IV, and takes every opportunity he can to avoid doing his homework, like taking place in Virtual Reality combat simulators. He is also accompanied by the rest of his family, as well as his childhood friend, Sophia Esteed. After him and Sophia finish a session in the VR machine at the resort hotel, the planet is suddenly attacked by the Vendeeni – an alien civilization with advanced technology – and starts a war with the Pangalactic Federation. Fayt and Sophia manage to escape on the starship <em>Heire</em>, but are seperated from Fayt’s parents. However, the ship is also attacked by the Vendeeni, and then Fayt and Sophia are seperated. Fayt’s escape pod then lands on the planet Vanguard III, which has technology equiviliant to 16th century Earth. While exploring the planet, Fayt notices an off-world criminal, Rezerbian Norton, who wants to take over the planet. Then, Fayt runs into Cliff Fittir, a member of the organization Quark, and helps him defeat Norton. Cliff then tells Fayt that his mother, Ryoko Leingod, is safe, but his father has gone missing. Cliff tells Fayt that Quark’s leader wishes to speak with him, but Cliff does not want to reveal the reason why. Anyway, the two of them go to Cliff’s spaceship, and Fayt is introduced to Cliff’s assistant Mirage, and then the three of them head off to see Quark’s leader.
However, the three of them are attacked by the Vendeeni once again, but they manage to escape. However, their ship takes damage, and crash-lands on the planet Elicoor II, which has technology equivilant to 17th century Earth. They land in the capital of the Kingdom of Airyglyph, Fayt and Cliff are taken prisoner while Mirage manages to escape. Also, the Kingdom of Airyglyph believes that Cliff’s ship is a weapon developed by the kingdom that they are at war with – Aquaria. Fayt and Cliff are then rescued by an Aquarian spy, Nel Zelpher, who believes that the two of them are engineers from Greeton – a continent of Elicoor II that is technologically advanced. Nel agrees to work with them, as long as they aid her country with their technological knowledge, or else she will kill them. This, of course, leads Fayt and Cliff into the war with Airyglyph and Aquaria, and during a battle, a Vendeeni spaceship appears in the sky and starts massacring solders on both sides. Fayt, oddly, manages to destroy the Vendeeni spaceship with powers that he never knew he had. After the battle, the leader of Quark, Maria Traydor, lands on Elicoor II and meets up with Fayt and Cliff, as well as Mirage who reunites with them. Fayt then learns from Maria that Quark and the Vendeeni had learned about Fayt’s unusual abilities, and is shocked to discover the fact that that was the only reason the Vendeeni attacked Hyda IV – to capture Fayt. The group then fends off Vendeeni forces in a temple that holds an “out of place artifact”, and Aquaria and Airyglyph sign a peace treaty, ending the war between the two countries. Fayt is then finally reunited with his father, Robert, but Maria is desperate to interrogate him over his “crimes.” However, while on their way to leave Elicoor II, Robert is killed by Vendeeni forces.
After leaving the planet, a new threat appears in the galaxy. Ultra powerful space beings known as “Executioners”, who start waging war across the entire galaxy, attacking both Federation and Vendeeni forces, who are powerless against them. Then, the group, using a hint from Robert, heads to the Federation’s Moonbase research station. When they arrive on the Moon, the group is reunited with Sophia, and then they run into an angelic-looking Executioner that calls itself the “Proclaimer.” After fighting off the Proclaimer, the group then investigate the records room in the research facility, and reveals the truth about the Executioners and their goal. They learn that while a group of scientists, which included Fayt’s parents, were on the planet Styx, they discovered a Time Gate. When they activated the Time Gate, it told the scientists that their research of symbological genetics had angered the “Creator”, and that humankind is to be destroyed. They were not warned – they were sentenced to death. Fayt also learns that he, Sophia and Maria were experimented on and had embedded symbols into his genes, which gave Fayt the power of destruction, Sophia, the power of Connection, and Maria, the power of Alteration. which allows them to go up against the Executioners. Can Fayt and his group stop the Creator and the Executioners in time before they wipe out mankind?
The Star Ocean series is the sister series of Namco’s Tales series, and has gameplay very similar to that of Tales games. Star Ocean 3’s gameplay is action JRPG based like Tales is, and takes place in real time like Tales too – casting spells takes time, using items takes time, but you can move your character across the screen attacking enemies at will. Also like Tales, you can choose the tactics used by other characters in your party, as well as switch which character you want to control. It’s open world is smaller than that of Tales though, and is slightly more linear, as you are traveling along certain paths to towns, dungeons and what have you. There are no random enemy encounters, you just pick your own fights with the enemies that you see on the field.
Like the first two Star Ocean games, Star Ocean 3 has an Item Creation feature that allows you to create, enhance, or upgrade a multitude of items. The trades that are available are: Cooking, Alchemy, Engineering, and Smithery. Item Creation workshops are scattered throughout the towns of the game and you can invest money to allow a wider variety of items to be made there. Once you invent an item, you then file for a patent, and earn money from selling the items you created in shops. You are also able to recruit new inventors in order to aid them in creating certain items.
Also, there are multiple endings too, as you can get an ending with the character that you have the highest friendship level with.
Fayt Leingod – Age: 19 – Fayt is the main character of Star Ocean 3. He is a college student who studies Symbological Genetics – the field that his father, Robert, is an expert in – at the Bachstein Science University. Though he is a serious student, he can be very lazy when it comes to completing his homework while on vacation, and finds every opportunity he can to avoid doing his work while on vacation on Hyda IV. However, the conflict between the Vendeeni and the Pangalactic Federation causes him to be more focused on the issues at hand, and ends up becoming mankind’s last hope.
Sophia Esteed – Age: 17 – Sophia is Fayt’s childhood friend, who also accompanies him on his family’s trip to a resort on Hyda IV. Since she is very close friends with Fayt and his family, Fayt’s parents, Ryoko and Robert, consider her to be a member of the family. She is odd girl for the time and age she lives in, as she enjoys cooking, cleaning, and everything else that is considered “feminine.”
Cliff Fittir – Age: 36 – Cliff is from the planet Klaus III, and is a member of the organization known as Quark. He often works with his partner, Mirage Koas, and possesses incredible strength, as well as stamina that is greater than that of Earthlings. He is also very intelligent, and possesses a massive knowledge of military tactics and politics. He considers himself to be Fayt’s bodyguard and guide for most of the game.
Mirage Koas – Age: 27 – Mirage is a member of the Quark organization, and is also Cliff’s partner-in-crime. She is also a longtime friend of Cliff too. Like Cliff, she also possesses incredible strength, thanks to her father being a Dojo owner. She and Cliff have learned to fight at her father’s Dojo club and have had many matches with each other.
Maria Traydor – Age: 19 – Maria is the leader of the Quark organization, and like Fayt and Sophia, possesses strange powers. She is a voice of reason for the group, and is usually very blunt. As the leader of Quark, she uses the organization’s resources to help her discover the origins of her powers, as well as track down Fayt’s father, Robert Leingod. She then learns that her genes were experimented on by Fayt’s parents, and was given the power of Alteration.
Nel Zelpher – Age: 23 – Nel is a spy for the Kingdom of Aquaria, and a highly skilled one at that too. Her father was the chief intelligence officer of Aquaria, and passed the position down to her. Due to her father being killed in action, she expects the possibility of a similar fate. Her loyalty to the queen and her country motivates her every decision. She is prepared to sacrifice herself and others around her for the sake of accomplishing her mission, but she hates doing it, as it shows when she went to rescue two of her subordinates while Fayt and Cliff were imprisoned.
This was my first Star Ocean game. I remember picking this up for only $8 (a steal, literally!) at my local retro game store, and when I played it, I believed that this game was worth more than what I got it for. I was absolutely blown away when I first played it. The battle system is very well done, and I like how this game’s system is similar to that of it’s sister game, the also excellent Tales of Symphonia on the Nintendo GameCube. It was very easy to get used to, though the controls can be a bit clunky sometimes. The story was also very solid and full of bizarre plot twists, especially the very big one at the end that reveals what kind of a universe the Star Ocean series is taking place in – which many fans hate the game for. Seriously, that’s the only reason fans hate Star Ocean 3. Nothing about the gameplay, characters, or story, just that one plot twist. Anyway, the cast of characters are also pretty decent, though there are some characters that can be very unlikable. The dungeons were also designed well and very challenging. The open world was also well designed, and easy to get used to as well. One thing that I was not a fan of, however, was the Item Creation feature. No particular reason why, I just don’t like it. The soundtrack is also okay, not the best, but I think some of the tracks work for a game where the universe is about to come to an end. Don’t be told otherwise, this is a very good JRPG for the PS2’s lineup, and one of the best Star Ocean games.
My score: 8.75/10