E3 2003: Star Ocean: Till the end of time: Hands-on impressions
Most people know Square for their Final Fantasy series. However, these guys actually do make other good games, and the Star Ocean series is an example of that. Star Ocean: Till the end of time is the latest installment in the series and was on display at this year's E3. Not much of the story was available, but I did get a good look at the battle system, which was impressive.
Star Ocean sports some pretty sharp graphics, with lots of rich texture and detail. The area I found myself navigating was a ruin overrun by vegetation. All the enemies were on screen, too, and they looked just as nice as the backgrounds. In battle, the enemies looked even better, with fluid animations and lots of textures.
Once I got into battle, I found myself in a totally free roaming 3D battle. There was both a strong, slow attack and a quick, fast attack. There really wasn't a whole lot of difference between the twoMy enemies would movie about the screen and try to flank me, but I could maneuver quickly enough to turn the tables if I worked at it a bit. There was a really nice balance to the system. If I went on the offensive, I would be able to force my enemies to retreat, but if I retreated myself I would find myself running for some time.
I could also get aggressive enough to earn a 'bonus attack' which was basically just a stronger attack that I could perform by pressing both the square and circle button at the same time. The bonus attack was much stronger, without being too much slower, making it a really nice addition to the combat system.
While nothing of the story was really apparent when playing Star Ocean, the graphics, control, and gameplay all worked really well together. Square-Enix has been working to beef up their collective image since the merger, and Star Ocean: Till the end of time might just be the game that gives the Square-Enix label something else to brag about. In the meantime, make sure to check out our additional updates as we post them.
5/18/2003 Ryan Hartmann