Star Ocean: The Last Hope

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Star Ocean: The Last Hope

There are 95 active-duty astronauts currently at NASA, but with only one or two shuttle missions a year, most of them will never leave the earth's atmosphere. Whereas the space race once rocket-propelled scores of men, women, dogs and monkeys up through the stratosphere, space-exploration is too unprofitable and its benefits too indefinable to justify the enormous expense these days. And yet humanity still enjoys a common sense that beyond the confines of our planet there lies a universe of opportunity and bright discovery. This yearning for the stars broadens the boundaries of our stories and even the horizons of our games: once we've flown across Super Mario World where else can one go but the Super Mario Galaxy?

But those hoping that the JRPG's escape from the confines of terra firma might loosen its tight, divisive conventions will be disappointed. Star Ocean has always been aptly titled. Here, the great expanse of space assumes the exact role of a Final Fantasy ocean - a transitional area to be traversed en route to the business proper of exploring, fetching and grinding on new lands. Sure, the SRF-003 Calnus blinks and hums with Kubrick-esque flair, the saturated purples and whites of its sheen plastic interior a far cry from the creaking timber of a Dragon Quest galleon, but peel back the metaphor and you'll find familiar, antiquated systems churning underneath.

Even so, this is one of the best-looking science-fiction RPGs yet seen, trumping even Mass Effect for imagination and realisation of its worlds. The planets you visit are gigantic and vivid. A white granite castle pokes its parapets out from a duvet of snow, a half-mile of frozen lake a bedspread before its drawbridge in a scene of arresting composition. On another planet, a brilliant sun warms the thick foliage of a jungle that shimmers in the wings of its insects and, much later in the game, a return to a post-World War III planet Earth is a glorious highpoint. This most recent title in Enix's sci-fi series, a prequel to Till the End of Time, offers the most diverse clutch of planets yet, even if it struggles to fill them with people or stories of much variety or interest.

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UK charts: The Sims 3 rides high

Red Faction close, Star Ocean not.

The Sims 3 enters the UK all-formats Chart at number one this week, claiming the fourth biggest opening weekend for a PC game here - behind the two World of Warcraft expansions and Championship Manager 4.

Star Ocean 360 gets US/Japanese date

Out early next year. Europe date TBC.

Microsoft has announced that Star Ocean: The Last Hope will launch in Japan on 19th February and the US on 3rd March. Europe's date is "TBC". Wicked.

Star Ocean 4 to be Xbox 360 exclusive?

Star Ocean 4 to be Xbox 360 exclusive?

"No plans" for PS3 version, says Square Enix.

Square Enix has said there are "no plans" to bring the fourth instalment in the Star Ocean series to PlayStation 3.

That's according to Wired, which spotted the info on Yahoo! Japan's financial site.

The news comes just days after Square Enix announced Star Ocean: The Last Hope, as it's titled, will be released for Xbox 360 in 2009. No mention of any other versions of the game was made.

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Square Enix reveals 360 release dates

Square Enix reveals 360 release dates

Star Ocean, Last Remnant, Inf. Undiscovery.

Square Enix has listed a load of release dates at the Xbox 360 RPG Premiere event in Tokyo.

Star Ocean 4, or as it's officially titled Star Ocean: The Last Hope, will be released for Xbox 360 in 2009. There's been no mention of when, or indeed whether, it will turn up on other platforms.

Next up is Infinite Undiscovery, confirmed as a 360 exclusive and down for a European release on 5th September. The US will get it three days earlier while Japan will have to wait, for once. But not for long, as the game's out there on September 11th.

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Star Ocean-themed PSP revealed

Nothing confirmed for Europe.

Square Enix has taken the wraps off of a fancy Star Ocean-themed PSP Slim & Lite in Japan, which it will release bundled with SNES remake The First Departure in December.