Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 06/15/2005


On July 19th, 1996, a Japanese developer by the name of tri-Ace saw fit to create and release one of the most advanced games available on the SNES. This game was known as Star Ocean, which unfortunately never saw an official American release. This game featured impressive graphics and had a number of voiceovers. Fortunately, its sequel, Star Ocean: The Second Story, was deemed fit for US shores. The success of these titles spawned a second sequel, Star Ocean 3: Til the End of Time, which was also released here, complete with all the extras included in the Japanese Director’s Cut version of the game.

Set in the same universe as the first two games, players take on the role of a human college student named Fayt Leingod, who is on vacation with his parents and his childhood friend Sophia Esteed. After a series of events, Fayt eventually finds himself stranded alone on an “Underdeveloped” planet. Mindful of the Federation’s UP3 law of noninterference, (Star Trek’s Prime Directive, anyone?) Fayt is rescued by the locals, eventually solves a rather large problem they’ve been having, and is immediately ‘rescued’ by two members of an anti-federation organization, simply to swiftly crash onto another underdeveloped planet. The rest is, as they say, history. At least it will be once you play the game.

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You’ll be fighting an awful lot of battles!

Speaking of playing the game (Wow, that was an awesome transition… *cough*), the game plays much like its predecessors did. The 3-D battle system is much improved and possibly the best thing about this game. Monsters are visible on the map so it’s possible to avoid fights with relative ease. The battles are in real-time, and you can move freely about the battlefield to strike at foes. Attacks consist of a strong attack, weak attack, special moves, and Symbology, which is this game’s version of magic. Normal attacks can be ‘Cancelled’ into special attacks, which can in turn be cancelled into other special attacks, providing a considerable bonus to damage, beginning at 175%, all the way up to 300%. The actions one can do are limited by a ‘Fury’ gauge. Fury is depleted for every action you perform, although a few seconds of remaining stationary is enough to restore it back to full. At 100% Fury, you are able to block most weaker attacks, though stronger attacks can shatter through your defense and leave you vulnerable. Enemies are also capable of blocking your attacks with a full fury gauge, therefore it’s important to know which attack to use when.

One thing that sets Star Ocean 3 apart from other RPGs is MP death. Once a character is reduced to 0 MP, they die. Thusly it’s important to monitor both HP and MP throughout the course of a battle, as enemies are able to deal devastating damage to both. There is, fortunately, a chance that any killing blow dealt to a character will reduce them to 1 hp/mp as opposed to killing them outright, which is very useful.

Another handy feature is the Battle Bonus Gauge. This slowly fills up as you attack enemies, eventually granting certain bonuses at the end of a battle depending on the type of attack used to fill the gauge. These bonuses consist of double Fol (the game’s currency), an increased chance for items, bonus healing at the end of the battle, and triple exp. This bonus stays with you as long as the character you’re controlling doesn’t die or take a critical hit, and you don’t reset the game. Additional bonuses accrue as you fight more battles, and it’s possible to have all four bonuses at the same time. In addition to this, the game adds a Battle Trophy system, which allows you to unlock extras such as alternate costumes or higher difficulty settings. Battle trophies can be attained in nearly every way imaginable, from killing certain bosses within a specific amount of time to pressing a button in battle many, many times. One drawback to having battle trophies enabled is that they take up a hefty amount of memory card space. But getting a trophy for having moved 42.195 km in a battle is worth it.

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Overlooking a city

The skill system of the previous games has been far simplified in this installment, now limited to increasing HP, MP, attack, and defense. However, item creation remains in tact, with each character possessing a set score for each creation type, which ranges from smithing to alchemy to cooking. It’s also possible to recruit NPCs to help you create items, each specializing in specific item types. Characters are also able to synthesize weapons, making them far stronger than anything one could obtain through normal means.

Motoi Sakuraba returns once again to compose an excellent soundtrack, varying from the heavy guitar riffs of the dungeons to the somber melody of the town of Kirlsa. The voice acting is very excellent, and fits the characters superbly. The visuals in this game are also well done, and while not the best the PS2 has to offer, are certainly better than most. The backgrounds, characters, and monsters are all very detailed.

After all is said and done, Star Ocean 3 is one of the best RPG experiences the PS2 has to offer. With a great plot, excellent character development, superb sound, and deep and addictive gameplay, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is a worthy successor to the Star Ocean name.

-Quinton Alexander

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Legendary
Story Good
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Very Good
The Verdict: 8