Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope was a bit of a divisive game in every sense, from how it began life an Xbox 360 exclusive Japanese RPG right down to the nuts and bolts of how it plays. After an eight-year break Star Ocean is back in this, its 20th anniversary year - and this new title, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, seems to be aiming to please those who liked Star Ocean 4 and those who preferred the first installment in equal measure.
With a new and simplistic combat system that has a rock-paper-scissors style take on strengths and weaknesses and a seven-strong party that all appear on the field at once, this latest Star Ocean is exciting to look at, at least - though how well it'll hold up over the course of a full-length RPG isn't clear. Mechanically it feels to show a lot of promise, however, as detailed in our video preview.
In the confines of a two-hour taster session for a hands-on preview, however, it's hard not to be impressed. The PS4 version of the game, the only version launching in the West, is ridiculously good looking and runs at a solid 60 frames per second, even when things are getting ludicrously busy - with 7 party members all popping off flashy moves and spells at once, things can get very intense-looking indeed - but this cross-platform game handles it well.
The character models are stand-out pretty, while the environments are a little flat, betraying this title's cross-generation lineage in the form of flat, repeated grass textures and so on.
Particularly exciting is the ability to control any of the game's 7 party members in real time while setting AI routines for those you're not directly controlling. It's no doubt a simplified system, but it's one that for the two hours of a hands-on held up remarkably well - and actually felt quite refreshing, striking a stronger balance between the chaos of real time action and the feel of traditional turn-based than many JRPGs that have gone down this path have managed.
Importers and Japanese fans have complained about a lack of depth and length, but that certainly wasn't surfaced in this hands-on - and we're looking forward to seeing if and how that might materialize in a full review closer to the time.