Star Ocean 3 Till The End of Time is one of my favorite games of all time. It's hectic battle system,
awesome- if not confusing- story, and so much extra content that it brought a tear to my eye,
gave me hundreds of hours of entertainment and joy. So when I heard Star Ocean IV was coming
out, I understandably got excited. It took me 3 years to finally play it, and now I sit here and write
this review a very sad and disappointed man.

You step into the shoes of Edge Maverick, a young man who is about to launch into the first space
exploration mission. When something goes wrong during the warp, they're forced to drop out and
crash land on an unknown planet. After an alien race known as the Eldarians shows up to help out
the earthlings, Edge is sent along with 2 companions to continue space exploration. Through this
plot you'll uncover a threat that will destroy the universe, and travel from planet to planet recruiting
a diverse group into your party to help you on your mission. Sound familiar?

The hectic fast-paced battles from Till The End of Time return. In fact, there is very little difference between this game and it's predecessor except the addition of the Blindside maneuver, which allows the player to slip behind an enemy and score extra damage. There are a few minor changes, but nothing outstanding that sets this addition to the series apart from 3. Returning players will find that there's very little setting 4 apart from it's big brother. At least now you can flesh out your experience with quests, which are also a good way to earn a little extra experience and money to strengthen your party. However, I was so over-leveled throughout the game and was so rich from all my battles, I had no incentive to go on these bonus quests. Even though it's similar to it's predecessor, the combat is not a total loss. It was plenty of fun filling up the bonus board- which is a board onscreen during the battle consisting of 14 empty slots, which you fill in by accomplishing a certain action in battle to get bonuses to experience or money- and I enjoyed leveling up characters to get ridiculous stats that can blow your mind. However, these things weren't enough to make everything else tedious, nor did they keep me from rushing through to try and get to the end.

 When you make the sequel of a game, it's important for the developer to note the previous game's flaws and in turn, make the next game better. This is one of The Last Hope's greatest flaws. Not only did Tri-Ace fail to correct the wrongs from the last game, they also failed to come up with an original story, or anything original at all. The battle system was fun at first, mainly because of the wave of nostalgia that struck me the first few hours of gameplay, but after playing for 48 hours plus, it got repetitive and just plain tiring.

This game has raised the standard for terrible scripting everywhere. Corny lines,redundant sentences, and painful jokes abound. It was so bad I eventually muted the television and listened to music instead. You'll feel no attachment to the cast at all. (Except Bacchus. He was awesome) And besides one character's obscene amount of cleavage, you won't pay much attention to them. If you get attached to the characters and enjoy the cutscenes- well that's fantastic for you. If not, then I feel your pain, and recommend you take advantage of the International aspect and switch the subtitles to English and turn on the Japanese dialogue.

The graphics are where this game was done right. I was in awe when I took my first steps outside
the ship onto a lush alien planet. The sun shines, there are critters in the grass, and there are bugs flying around. I was truly captivated by the beautiful work on the environments. The combat contains a whole lot of eye candy to accompany the tight controls and hectic pace as well. The music is again very similar to Star Ocean 3, with it's upbeat tone it sounds pretty much the same throughout the game. Even though the music is forgettable, the voiceovers are a different story. You know there's a problem when you hope something awful befalls your characters. Their voices range from whiny to completely obnoxious, and when they're accompanied by the terrible script- you can guess the rest.

So bottom line, newcomers may like it, but unless you're a diehard fan- you'll be very disappointed by all the significant flaws I really don't want to talk about anymore. It retains it's fun battles and it has spirit, but Star Ocean IV The Last Hope International, in my eyes, is a disappointment.