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Star Ocean: The Last Hope Review

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JRPG lacking fizz

★★★★★

While few gamers would question the quality, imagination and depth of the most renowned Japanese role-players – and particularly those unleashed by the geniuses at Square Enix – the latest Star Ocean lacks the dizzying innovation and sharp sense of immersion RPG aficionados have come to expect, and feels like it's just going through the motions despite the new standards of excellence set by Western swashbucklers such as Fallout 3.

A bewilderingly earnest Far Eastern space adventure starring a spiky haired maverick and his friends who'll never, EVER give up in their quest to scupper the evil plans of a super villain, Last Hope’s achingly familiar action finds players battling monsters to earn experience, looking for treasures in the most obscure places and nattering endlessly to the people they meet along the way. But while this winning formula has been the cornerstone of RPG gaming since the dawn of time – and is now wrapped in the lustrous presentation and incredible visuals the Xbox 360 allows – the game's irritating voice work, leaden-paced plot, widely-spaced save points and repetitive battles are enough to turn off even the most devoted JRPG nut.

Even Last Hope's stunning soundtrack and clever crafting sequences aren't enough to distract attention from the generic nature of an adventure you've seen a hundred times, and shows how even the most accomplished developers need to work harder than ever to make an impression in extraordinarily competitive times.

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