Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Comparing the PS3 and Xbox 360 Versions of the Long-Awaited Game

Star Ocean 4 box
Star Ocean 4 box. Square Enix

Square-Enix has released the long awaited Star Ocean: The Last Hope: International for PS3. How does this version stack up against the Xbox 360 version released a year ago? Not too bad, but there are a few caveats.

What Is Different On PS3

The PS3 version has a few definite benefits. First, the whole game fits on one Blu-Ray, so you won't have to switch discs 500 times over the last third of the game.

Second, it includes multiple language tracks as well as the option of anime character portraits instead of the CG portraits in the 360 version.

The game has also been re-balanced with some character stats changed and certain skills and abilities shuffled around so you learn them at different points in the game. One disappointing non-change is that the extra characters and missions and stuff that were promised when the game was first announced are nowhere to be found. Yep, they lied. There is nothing extra of any consequence in the PS3 version.

Presentation

Presentation wise, the addition of the anime portraits and the ability to use Japanese voices is definitely appealing. Personally, I didn't mind the English voices (and even found Lymle's "Kay" to be adorable instead of annoying) so this wasn't a big deal for me. I also have to say I prefer the CG portraits over the anime ones. The cartoony anime portraits seem out of place when everything else in the game is so sharp and high tech.

One other presentation element that needs to be addressed is that the PS3 version has a definite softer look than the 360 version (looks all soft and slightly blurry, kind of like a TV soap opera). It still looks nice, just not as sharp and detailed. One specific area that comes to mind is the city of Tropp on Roak where a thin layer of water flows on top of the streets.

On the 360 it is amazing looking. On PS3 you can barely tell it is supposed to be water.

Gameplay

I have to say that I'm not a fan of the way the game was rebalanced on PS3. It used to be that you got Reimi's critical hit ability very early on and could just tear enemies up after that. Now you don't get a critical hit for quite a while, which makes the first half of the game much more difficult than it was on 360. Item creation has also been massaged a bit so you can't abuse it quite as much (specifically making items that grant ungodly amounts of XP or money).

You can still create similar items on PS3, they just aren't nearly as beefy as on 360. I think the controls should also be addressed. The PS3 controller doesn't feel quite as good for the game as the 360 pad. You cast all of your special abilities by pulling the triggers, but because of the exceedingly long pull on the PS3 triggers, sometimes you won't pull it far enough to activate the ability and your combos get screwed up. You do get used to it, but it isn't optimal.

Which Version Do I Recommend?

I'm one of the few people who actually really love Star Ocean: The Last Hope (see my review), so I should be qualified for this.  My ultimate recommendation comes in two forms.

I do think the Xbox 360 version is better (better controller, nicer graphics, more enjoyable gameplay due to ability layout), but the disc swapping stuff will drive you absolutely crazy at the end of the game and you don't have to worry about disc swapping on PS3.

If you never played the 360 version, then most of my gameplay and graphics complaints won't really matter to you, so by all means, go with the PS3 version. If, however, you have played and loved the 360 version and are eying the PS3 version as an upgrade, I don't recommend it. I greatly preferred the gameplay on 360 and if you are used to taking a certain path and playing a certain way already, the PS3 changes are going to be hard to adjust to.

  • Never Played It Before - Buy PS3 version
  • Already Have (And Love) Xbox 360 Version - Keep it on 360. PS3 isn't much of an upgrade.

Other recommended X360 JRPGs include Tales of Vesperia, Nier, Operation Darkness, and Blue Dragon.

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