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Star Ocean 4 : Middle of Disc 2 Impressions *spoilers*

I really missed out on a great RPG last April; that RPG is Star Ocean 4 :)

I think I've reached the middle of the game now; the in-game combat system is now showing some level of sophistication. It's nice how you can switch characters in the middle of a battle sequence, and how your party isn't 'wiped out' unless everyone (and absolutely EVERYONE) gets killed.

Not that it makes things any easier. Later on enemies will use attacks that are harder to overcome and you have to manage your party's tactics correctly to win. And use the 'food' that's in your inventory to even stand a chance (some food items buff your stats before a battle). Maybe it's my fault for not level grinding so much that I had to depend on in-game items; granted, I did go for a lot of grinding in one planet where your party stays for quite a duration. But upon reaching what seems to be the middle of the second disc, I think I need to do a bit of work with my characters. Since combat is becoming more challenging, it shouldn't be too boring.

The cutscenes in the game are great; immensely watchable and enjoyable. I like the voice acting in the game, and I like how it makes a lot of the scenes pretty humorous, too. There are some cutscenes that are borderline Metal Gear Solid 4-esque in terms of length, but they never drag on and are really entertaining. I like how the plot has some good twists and turns for the characters; it really keeps you hooked because you always have that feeling that you want to see what happens next.

***spoiler***

The game had this really good storyline involving traveling to an alternate Earth at some point near the end of disc 1. Imagine; traveling to other civilizations, if you're not careful, you could actually doom another civilization....maybe that's why on Star Trek they have that 'Prime Directive' and how Federation officers have to keep that in mind when dealing with remote worlds. It's nice to have something in the game that is a bit thought provoking.

***spoiler***

Overall, thus far Star Ocean 4 is proving to be quite an entertaining game. The only thing I'd probably nitpick is all the walking you have to do on some planets. There's a LOT of walking. It does reinforce the notion that the game's set of worlds are really vast, and you won't be able to see everything in one playthrough. The game isn't open ended, but it does give the impression that there's a lot of things to find if you take your time with the game.

Since I haven't finished the game, I can't really rate it because that wouldn't be fair. I will say this, though:

Count me in line as one of the people looking forward to End of Eternity/Resonance of Fate, another Tri-Ace JRPG coming out some time this year. Star Ocean 4 definitely proves Tri-Ace is quite a talented developer when it comes to this genre.

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