Star Ocean: First Departure is not the greatest Star Ocean game there is, but it's still pretty good and worth grabbing for your PSP.
The story is solid, and not as lean as some of the later titles, but don't expect to be totally satisfied by it either, for it offers up plenty of contradictions and mysteries too. What I really admire more about this game is the characterisation; they're very fun and personable, and despite the story sometimes seeping into anime territory, it stays the right side of quirky.
The gameplay is really something; Star Ocean has some of the best gameplay mechanics of any RPG out there, making combat and exploration a synch, aided by some pretty good control work too. The single analogue stick is not as problematic as in other games, and everything is bound in a way that feels realistic and natural.
Visually, the game is fairly underwhelming, although that's unsurprising given that this is near enough a port of a SNES title (even if one expected them to overhaul them). Still, there are some cut-scenes lobbed in to make things a bit more appealing. Aurally, the soundtrack is once again wonderful, keeping to the high standard for the series, and even if they're taken verbatim from the earlier games, they still provoke the right response. The voice performances are also very good for the most part, although again the anime tone makes it seem gratingly quirky and irksome sometimes.
Your playing of the previous SO games might taint your expectations here, because this isn't as good as the Star Ocean we've seen on the PS2. However, there are some insane side-quests for completionists and diehards, while the game is simple enough for the uninitiated too.
I suggest this game for review and could not believe it was not already here!
I am a huge fan of the Star Ocean games even though I did not play them until a few years ago.
I first played the ps2 star ocean: till the end of time and loved it I then wanted to go back and play the older games but could not find them as they were so old when I heard they where coming to PSP I was just over the moon!
Ok game wise the story starts off in a small village called Roak, you are a guy with blue hair named Roddick, your village has being struck with some disease that you know nothing about and you set out to find a cure. You do not have much luck finding one however you soon meet 2 earthlings who transport you into the past in hope of finding a vaccine.
The story is not as good as I expected, most of the game it is just average but towards the end it gets a lot more interesting.
The battle system is fun, I found it fun throughout the whole game even though you are basically just button bashing, it's very limited with only a few skills to use at once. I have not played the original version of this way back but I imagine it is a big improvement on that from what I have read when the game was in production. Overall the battles I liked even though you can only use a few skills. It still keeps to the star ocean I know and love just a more cut down version the the ps2 one.
I am very glad I played it and one day I do want to play it again but for now I will not go back to it for a while in terms of replay value it's not so good, I mainly wanted to play this game to see what was before the ps2 one.
I was really impressed with the amount of hours in the game though, for a handheld game I was shocked as I managed to get around 25hours out of it without doing any side stuff, though there is not that much side stuff but you can see that it will still last you a while, way more than some other games if you ask me!
Don't forget to read my review on star ocean second evolution either as that game continues from this one...
Explore the stars with a cast of charismatic characters. Vanquish your enemies with real-time battle and magic commands. High quality graphics and music coupled with awesome movie sequences created by Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell) immediately immerse you in the STAR OCEAN universe.