Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Review

posted 9/14/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
There is a huge contingent of gamers out there who will swipe up anything with the Square Enix moniker on it, no matter how horrible the product, even if it has the words UNLIMITED SAGA on it. Call ‘em fanboys but at least their passionate about their company. Now the latest game has rolled off the Square Enix production line and it’s quite a deviation from what most have come to known the company for. Nearly two years after the merger was announced, gamers are finally starting to see the second half of the deal come into fruition and it begins with one of Enix’s lesser known, but well crafted franchises.

Star Ocean is a sci-fi RPG that takes place well into the future. Interplanetary travel has been revolutionized and entire planets are devoted to vacationers. This is convenient because it just so happens that our main character will be vacationing on one of those planets when an event changes his life. While Fayt and his family are relaxing on the shores of Hyda IV the planet is attacked by an unknown enemy. As the vacationers flee Fayt’s father hints that he may know the cause of the attack but is separated from his family before he can reveal his thoughts. Fayt and his childhood friend, Sophia, are rescued and place upon a transport ship where they are able to rest off their worries, but before they can call it a night that ship is also attacked and the two become separated. As they flee they’re sent in different directions and Fayt is left to fend for himself as he searches for his loved ones. Of course these sorts of things never go quite as planned and before it’s all over, you’ll travel all across the galaxy as you embark on a massive quest.

As the game’s namesake implies you will be doing a little time traveling as well, but not in the most orthodox manner. Instead of physically warping between time periods the game takes place in one set time. The “time travel” actually occurs when your characters travel to different planets in varying stages of development. Early on you crash land on a planet that has developed to the equivalency of 15th century Earth. Laws have been instilled to ensure that further evolved planets don’t interfere with the development of lesser ones. This is done by preventing the use of technology and objects that wouldn’t normally be available at the stage of development. This was an amazingly brilliant move on the part of the developers. Other games place artificial limits on what the player has access to, here the game instills a more practical one that’s understandable by all parties.

Throughout the course of the game you often find yourself in the role of the reluctant hero. When your craft crashes into the middle of a medieval town your first priority is to escape and search for your parents, but that’s before you get imprisoned. Soon afterwards a spy from a neighboring town will come free you on the condition that you help them win their ongoing war. This is how Star Ocean’s structure generally pans out from the start, placing you in situations that don’t necessarily have anything to do with your quest, but may play a crucial role in the balance of the universe.

In addition to Fayt you’ll take control of several characters throughout the course of your adventure. They all have their own reasons for fighting alongside Fayt and you’ll soon grow to love them. Being the smart-ass that I am I immediately fell in love with Cliff, the wise-cracking sidekick with the boyish good looks. He adds plenty of much-needed comic relief, his comments about a predominantly female kingdom in particular.
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