Star Ocean series started all the way back on the SNES however it didn’t get mainstream attention until the release of Star Ocean 3 on the PS2. The original games are fondly remembered among the fans of the series but the shift to 3D made the game transition to a completely new audience. Sadly, ever since then, the series has never managed to retain its quality level with inconsistent releases like Star Ocean 4 and 5, that were meet with a mixed reaction from the fans.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope is the 4th game in the series and the first one that was released on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It was then later improved with an international edition of the game that fixed many of the flaws from the original release. Despite having a great combat system, the game has suffered from a lackluster story and terrible visual style. This doesn’t mean the game is bad, infact, it is quite simply a better product than Star Ocean 5, but it just doesn’t reach the height of Star Ocean 2 or 3.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope Remastered is a full 4K remaster of the game for the first time on the PS4 and PC. The game was originally released for the Xbox 360 and PS3, however this remaster is more than a simple port by letting the game render at native 4K and improving the frame rate along with it. It simply offers a much better experience than the last generation release of the game.
One of the area that seems to have benefited heavily from this release is the combat. I have always enjoyed the combat featured in Star Ocean games and 4 has some of the best combat available in the series. The remaster has pushed the frame rate to target 60 fps in combat and during exploration and believe me when I say it, it makes a lot of difference in how the game plays now. Skills and attacks now flow more smoothly in battle while previously, the frame rate could drop that usually resulted in a mild stutter during combat.
One aspect of the game that caught my eye was how the developers have given us the option to actually have the full PC visual settings integrated directly into the consoles. So if you prefer, you can now toggle some of the effects like depth of field, motion blur and draw distance. The game even allows you to select your rendering resolution so you can run it at native 4k on the PS4 Pro or if you are having issues with the frame rate, you can tone it down a little and get more stable performance.
The remaster might have improved the visuals and performance but it is still the same game that was criticized at launch due to its shoddy story telling and visual style. The story is full of the same old JRPG tropes so if you are expecting a Japanese Mass Effect adventure here, it is best to temper your expectations. That said, the combat still shines brilliantly offering you the chance to perform a flurry of combos and special moves on the enemy.
The combat might be fun but it doesn’t appear as such in the start. The lack of abilities makes it harder to enjoy defeating enemies because you will be mostly repeating the same moves. However, as you make your way through the story, you will learn new abilities and gain party members which alters how each combat plays out. Speaking of the story, there is nothing positive to say here. It is a fairly stupid plot that deals with humanity being on the verge of extinction and looking for a new place to settle down after the end of World War 3 destroys Earth. You assume control of Edge Maverick who is a part of the survey team tasked with finding new habitable planets.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope Remastered is not the best entry in the series, but it does offer plenty of content. The improved performance and visuals might not be a big incentive to replay the game again, and there is a lack of new content here, but if you haven’t played it before, now is the right time to check it out.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope Remastered Review (PS4)
Game description: From the creative minds of Square Enix and tri-Ace, STAR OCEAN - THE LAST HOPE takes place at the very beginning of the Star Ocean series. This action-packed RPG takes players on the epic journey of mankind’s last stand, with exploration and battle across some of the most mysterious, dangerous and fantastical worlds of the universe.
The fun combat system is somewhat held back by terrible characters and the story is not exactly memorable enough to make you care for them, but as a whole experience, it is enjoyable to some extent.