Preview: Star Ocean 4 on the Xbox 360

Next-gen debut for Star Ocean

The Star Ocean series is making its debut into the "next-gen" era. So far, things are looking out of this world.

One of the more surprising parts of Tuesday night's Xbox 360 RPG event in Tokyo was Star Ocean's new graphical style. Developer tri-Ace has made the transition from PS2 to Xbox 360 mean quite a lot, by using the hardware to achieve a more realistic, Final Fantasyish (think fantasy armor made of sci-fi materials) look, as producer Yoshinori Yamagishi explained: "...Star Ocean for PSX only had 2-D characters and then for the PS2 the characters were made in 3-D because the hardware enabled them to evolve in that way. For the Xbox, this is next generation hardware and obviously there's brand new technology and new abilities that can be put into the game that tri-Ace had held off on prior [to now] because the hardware was not able to handle it."

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The story is not a continuation of Star Ocean 1, 2, and 3, but rather a prequel to the trilogy, "...depict[ing] how Star Ocean came to be." In fact, during development the dev team was calling it Star Ocean 0, but changed it to 4, with the official subtitle of "The Last Hope" to avoid the negative connotation of zero. WWIII pretty much levels the world with a heaping helping of "weapons of mass destruction" so mankind heads out into the stars to escape. Looking at the amazing view from the spaceships in the CG trailer, you can't help but think how unrealistic that portrayal is-a zillion stars glowing brightly in what is scientifically mostly empty space-but it's so breathtaking you don't mind.

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When asked whether the title was Xbox exclusive, Yamagishi replied, "I think your question probably translated to, 'Would it be coming out on the PS3 as well?' and the answer to that is here are really no plans, nothing set in stone at the moment. We can't say right now that it will come out or it won't come out for sure. It could go either way." He did confirm that it will be on 360 first, sometime in 2009 for Japan.

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