Review: Star Ocean: The Last Hope 4K & Full HD Remaster (PS4).
Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a prequel to the entire six-part jRPG series about the beginnings of human conquest of space. Originally released a few years ago on previous-generation consoles, it has just returned to sale after a general facelift. Is on PlayStation 4 this title has kept its old charm?
When the PS3 came to my house quite a long time ago, Star Ocean: The Last Hope was one of the first games on the upcoming list. Many reviewers advised me not to buy it, saying it was a little crap, and criticizing every aspect of the game. Personally, however, I did not believe them and I was happy to let myself be drawn into the created world. Apparently against the black PR, many people had feelings similar to me, since Square Enix decided to release a visually renewed version of the game on PlayStation 4.
Since so many years have passed, let’s first remember the plot. Although The Last Hope officially is the fourth part of the series, it describes the events before the main series. In the second half of the twenty-first century, the Third World War broke out and nuclear missiles went on the move. The earth turned into a scorched desert, and the remnants of humanity were forced to descend under its surface. The remaining resources were used to find a new planet viable and create the appropriate propulsion to get there. Thirty years after the war, five starships were ready to travel through the depths of space, and one of them, Calnus, is served by a pair of young heroes – the young man Edge Maverick and the girl Reimi Sajonji. Unfortunately, not everything goes as planned and Calnus has a really hard landing on Aeos. Moreover, the new world turns out to be not as welcoming as it seemed at first.
Of course, a visit to paradise is only a shy introduction to an interesting space opera, during which we will command the ship ourselves, collect a galaxy of various characters, visit unknown planets, and at the end we will save the universe. A blueprint as old as the world, but it works really well in this game. The main events were told quite specifically, without breaking into unnecessary threads or building up tension in trivial matters. The scenario seems to treat some issues briefly, but these are only appearances, because many things have been explained in more detail in the available encyclopedia or during the Private Actions (genre scenes). Although today such solutions are archaic and players do not want to tear through the walls of the text or pick out information hidden between the lines of trivial dialogues, the whole story drew me again, especially since I discovered new flavors that I had not noticed before. You can stubbornly stick to the painterly clichéd heroes, but each of them is so unique in character and appearance not to complain too much – such as the charming cat lolita Meracle, winged Sarah, polite Faize or the sinister Arumat. Some bring humor and color to the game, others deliberately cool. It is a pity that the story in the remaster was not enriched with new threads, but nobody expected them.
All the creativity of the creators went to improve the quality of the graphics, although it must be admitted that in this respect Star Ocean: The Last Hope on PS3 it was one of the leading jRPG games released on this equipment. Regarding PlayStation 4 it is not so good anymore, but the game was incredibly nice anyway. Of course, the owners of PS4 Pro will see the most changes, because for them there are 4K and Ultra HD resolutions to choose from, but the owners of the usual four will also notice a significant difference with the usual Full HD. In addition, a move was decided not to be found in console games, giving players the opportunity to rummage in graphics settings in the manner of PC productions. Although the number of options is not shocking, the few FXAA3 anti-aliasing solutions, shading, the degree of blur (or lack thereof) of the image, the distance to draw objects or the quality of textures and so on can do visual wonders. Unfortunately, there is no rose without thorns and by activating all these options, you have to take into account the occasional drops in animation. Although the game offers a smooth 60 frames, we have to choose between performance and quality, which involves the exclusion of some “beauters”. Personally, however, I think it’s better to focus on fluidity, because the available settings, whatever they are, we won’t mask the fact that the game comes from a previous era, but it’s a personal choice of each of you. On the other hand, developers should be praised for allowing us to adjust the visual setting to our own preferences. The music and acting of the actors were left in the old way, without creating new arrangements, which in the case of English dubbing for some players will be a disadvantage, because in the original edition this one was heavily criticized, although I liked it quite well.
The rest of the production remained unchanged, although some corrections would be advisable. It is still an action jRPG focused on spectacular, incredibly dynamic fights between a team of four and opponents. The system used is still almost identical to the one used in the Tales series, and at the same time, just like it, it makes a lot of joy and gives a lot of possibilities for tactical plays and flashy special attacks. The principle of “if something works, don’t fix it” was applied here, although I had expected three annoying issues to be resolved: speed of loading battles, more enjoyable training sessions in the simulator (battlenet), and overly lucky boss fights – but I didn’t get it. Also, the loading times of subsequent locations, despite their shortening, still take a little too long. However, he still enjoys a very extensive system of creating new items, exceeding even what can be found in the Atelier series.
Sum summarum, despite a few minor glitches, remastered Star Ocean: The Last Hope should be assessed positive. Although people who have already played on PS3 will not find anything new for themselves here, the release of the revamp is a treat for players who have missed this pleasure for various reasons. The quite reasonable price of PLN 89 encourages you to buy, so it’s really worth trying.