I think Dale was more insulted by this title than I was, though I was particularly appalled at the horrendous art direction. Like some kind of outsourced nightmare, everything from the cut sequence, to the pre-rendered backgrounds, to the character sprites, don't just look as if different teams did them, they look as if different companies did them! There isn't any visual cohesion to ground all the other elements in the game.

This isn't an easy game to get into either. There's confusion right from the start and the initial setup before the actual meat and potatoes of the game seems to drag on forever. The dialogue is needlessly long and seems to plague every conversation. That wouldn't even be so bad if it wasn't so poorly written. The game is riddled with RPG cliches and stereotypes. Everything pertaining to story seems recycled and regurgitated.

Still, I gave it a slightly below average review because for the most part it delivers what I have come to expect from the genre. There's an extremely long quest (for better or worse), a huge cast of characters, and attempts at innovative gameplay such as the private action sequences, numerous endings, and extensive skill development. Unfortunately, none of these positives can overcome the overwhelming level of mediocrity and staleness. For me to sum up Star Ocean, I need to refer back to those tiny 16-bit RPG characters, who were only able to express emotion through little gestures such as a drop of sweat or jittery shaking. It was cute and clever years ago considering their graphic limitations, but when huge 32-bit cousins try to incorporate the same conventions, it's a bit like watching an adult behave like a baby. What used to pass for adorable is now tired and actually rather disturbing. Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui

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