Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness

My latest excuse for not writing any posts is that I haven’t been home all month. I was in Japan, so I’ll write something about that eventually… maybe after I finish writing about my trip from two years ago…

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But my other excuse is that I’ve been playing Star Ocean 5. As should come as no surprise to anyone who has played the other games in the series, it wasn’t very good. So why have I played every single one…? Honestly, I can’t really say. I do think I enjoyed 1 and 2, but since then it’s been pathetic. 3 I couldn’t finish because it kept crashing on my PS3, and 4 I just forgot about.

First, what I liked about the game. The flow of gameplay was amazing. Probably the best RPG I’ve ever played in this regard. The only time you ever have to wait for something to load is when you switch map areas, and it’s only a few seconds. But the battles are absolutely seamless. No loading time to enter and leave a battle. You don’t even have to press a button to accept how much experience you’re getting. It just takes you straight back to walking around. It’s great. This is one of the things that annoyed me the most about the other recent game I played, Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Every time you enter a battle it takes a long time to load. Every time you leave it takes a long time to load. Every attack takes a super long time to execute. I spent much more time waiting than I did playing. That’s not the case in Star Ocean. So my compliments to the programmers.

Now, for the parts that sucked:

  1. The story.
  2. The characters.
  3. The combat.
  4. The cut-scenes.
  5. The quests.
  6. The crafting system.
  7. Walking everywhere.
  8. The world.
  9. The enemies.

Pretty long list here. Most of these are more or less a given in Star Ocean games. Of course the plot is dumb. This one was even worse than usual though. We were fighting to save the lolis. Ugh. The characters had no depth whatsoever. We had the usual bland protagonist and the childhood friend, and somehow those were the strongest characters. Then there’s witch who wears a naked checkerboard, stupid captain, random swordsman, and Science Girl. Only the stupid captain ever had much to do with the story, the others were just kind of along for the ride.

On to #3, the combat. You are supposed to control 7 characters at once. Obviously, this is impossible. So the AI does most of the work. And the only character that really matters is the healer. Make her not get knocked over and spam group heals constantly, and the fights are pretty easy. On the off-chance you happen to lose a battle, just eat some food and you’ll win easily.

The cut-scenes also sucked. This was one of the stranger design decisions. They decided to let you move around during the cut-scenes. Which sounds like an interesting idea. Except… it means that you can’t look at anybody when they’re talking. Couple it with the fact that these can get pretty long, and you’re trying to move the camera around to look at people talking, and it gets annoying.

One of the most annoying things was that so much of the game simply felt utterly pointless. For example, there were a lot of quests you could do. At first, I did all of them. But then I realized that the vast majority barely got you anything, and took forever to do. Similarly, the crafting system was offensively pointless. At first I tried to collect things for crafting, which entailed grinding shitloads of enemies and walking all over the world. The problem is that everything you craft gets tossed for better equipment you can buy at the shop immediately after you finish the next dungeon. A complete waste of time. There were two other similar things, a role system where you can get some bonuses to combat, and skills you have to train. I didn’t bother much with these either.

Frustratingly, a good portion of the game consists of walking back and forth across the entire world. Really fucking annoying. You can teleport only near the very end of the game, and only to a few locations. Super frustrating. And when you do walk around the world, it feels so tiny. And you just see the same enemies over and over again with different names. They even reuse the bossess…

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