First off, remember that this game was made when 16 bit graphics were top of the line and RPG's were still some what few. This first installment of Star Ocean now re-released for the PSP features newly designed graphics and voice overs. After clearing this game in little over a week, I've come up with my final thoughts which I hope are helpful to any potential buyers of the game:
Graphics- A nice conversion from 16 bit into 32 bit. The foot hills, mountains and other backgrounds are quite a nice sight. The characters I'm afraid are pretty boring to look at along with the monsters but remember, this used to be an SNES game!
Storyline- Decent enough. Starts out interesting but slows down a bit at times. Not exactly as captivating as I would like an RPG to be.
Gameplay- You're pretty much gaurenteed at least 25 to 30 hours of front to back gameplay. However, there are a couple of spots in the game where it is not entirely clear on what your objective is and this can cause you to easily become stuck and frustrated. After getting stuck a few times, it may dicourage you from continuing on. There are also a couple of fun mini games throughout the game.
Battle System- In my opinion (which I hope you can trust, I've been playing RPG's since 1989) the battle system is a huge plus to this game. It's completely free roam once you enter into battle. You control your main character using magic and mostly melee attacks and you can also access your menu screen to give commands to your other characters. You can switch your contollable character any time during battle. The battle system is fast paced and never drags on for to long.
Character development- Along with the basic EXP. leveling, you also gain personal skill points to level up certain aspects of your characters such as earning extra strength as you level up or using certain battle skills better. This pretty much gives you the freedom to develop your character the way you see fit. One slight disapointment though is that all skills are the same for every character. I thought it would have been neat for each character to have their own different personal skills.
Voice overs- Sorry to say, I thought that the voice acting in this game was rather lame. That is however to be expected in most RPGs unless of course it is a higher budget game like the legendary Final Fantasy series. The characters are always shouting out the names of spells and skills while in battle and eventually it becomes old.
I'd say once again Square-Enix has made yet again a playable RPG. Star Ocean First Departure isn't the greatest of games, but it is worth taking a look at especially if you are a die hard fan of the genre. Don't buy it with a 39.99 price tag, it's definately well well worth at the most 29.99.