TGS 2007: Star Ocean: First Departure hands-on
As a Super Famicom game, Star Ocean impressed with its epic space story, huge cartridge memory size, and voice work, but it never saw release outside of Japan, and while we later recieved the sequels, non-Japanese gamers missed the maiden voyage of this series. The PSP version, named Star Ocean: First Departure, is a total overhaul of the original title, featuring loads of new features and original animated cutscenes.
The demo opens up with an anime introduction, which looks vivid and impressive on the PSP's screen. Headshots of the animated versions of these characters are displayed with the dialogue during gameplay, tying in the animation style into the game nicely. Most of the dialogue in this TGS demo was accompanied by speech, all done with top-notch voice acting. And while we're on the topic of sound, it has to be said that the animations and gameplay are set to an incredible fully orchestrated musical score.
The game's locales are prerendered (think Final Fantasy VII), but are beautifully detailed and lush. The TGS demo did not permit much exploring, but everything shown looked great, and it was easy to see that a lot of work was put into the small details.
The TGS demo had players walking around a town and into some random enemy encounters. Star Ocean battles take are a bit different from most turn-based RPGs with its real-time battle engine, which has each party character running around to approach or avoid foes. This battle system is a good fit for a portable RPG, and it works out great with Star Ocean: First Departure. Visually, these battles compare to the ones of currently available titles like Star Ocean or Tales series games, which is a pretty feat impressive for a portable game system.
First Departure updates a classic never-before-available (aside from fan subbed projects) role playing game in English, and adds slick animations, new graphics and voice. This serves current series fans and opens the door for newcomers. The TGS demo was short, but we saw enough to say that fans of the genre should look forward to this.
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