In the future, there was a nuclear war and as a result mankind developed the power of warp space travel. Using this power they were able to visit distant galaxies they call “Star Oceans”. Who will survive in a world of… STAR OCEANS!
So that actually sums up the basic plot behind the game. This game is a prequel to any other Star Oceans and stars off with World War III nuclear strikes ravaging Earth and decimating it’s population. Soon after mankind looks to space for survival and five ships are tasked with colonizing a new planet. You play a crew member from one of those ships named Edge Maverick (parents must have got the name from a list of generic space heroes).
Non-fantasyesque story. The first thing I noticed is how vastly different the feel of the game is from Star Ocean 2, the only other Star Ocean game I played. Where Star Ocean 2 felt more fantasy than sci-fi, Star Ocean 4 feels defintely more sci-fi than fantasy. So people who are looking forward to a JRPG that breaks the typical storyline mold shouldn’t be disappointed.
Battle pace. First off no random battles makes me a happy camper. Two new mechanics, blindsiding and rush, help break up monotonous button mashing. Blindsiding allows your character to sidestep around an enemy to get a free guaranteed critical strike in. Rush is like a super meter that, when full, can be activated to get increased stats for awhile. It’s definitely something new and makes battles feel more dynamic and like a fighting game-like.
The dubbing. I know that JRPG’s can have good dubbing as made evident by Tales of Vesperia and Eternal Sonata, but I would rank Star Ocean 4 even beneath Infinite Undiscovery! (Listen to Welch and tell me this isn’t true). It makes it even worse when you hear the same two victory quotes after every battle. However even Infinite Undiscovery’s dubbing grew on me so we’ll wait and see how it pans out.
Lots of story, no action! Like most JRPG’s, there is a lot of exposition you are given before you get to actual gameplay and when you do it suffers from what I like to call “I don’t know where to go next”-itis in which sometimes you’ll be wandering around for a long time before you figure out the next trigger for the storyline. This has always been a huge pet-peeve and I hope that it doesn’t happen as often in the future.
Generic characters. Yeah the overall story is cool so far, but the characters you play as have felt very flat and one-dimensional. I’m hoping that we see some actual depth to these characters as the story goes on.
If you’re looking for another JRPG to get sucked into, you could do a lot worse. However with stuff like Eternal Sonata, Tales of Vesperia and Persona 4 out there you could also do a lot better. If you RPG’s that break the mold of the traditional fantasy world (not to say it doesn’t have it’s fair share of swords and sorcery) I would definitely say give it a try. If you already got your plate full with other new releases I think it can be passed for now until a drop in price.