From Star Wars to Ender's Game, the greatest sci-fi epics roll characters, conflict, and technology into one captivating story. Star Ocean: The Last Hope does not. Riddled with unbearable dialogue and awkward plot points, The Last Hope's narrative flubs up almost every opportunity to forge a connection with the player. A weak story is a critical flaw in any RPG, but Star Ocean makes strides towards redemption with its gameplay. The real-time combat is more than just button-mashing thanks to excellent additions like the Bonus Board and Blindside strikes, and the array of special skills means you've always got cool options available. I also was happy to see the backtracking issue from Star Ocean: Till the End of Time addressed; the sense of progression and accomplishment is now more defined. Once the game opens up and lets you explore its mechanics, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is hard to put down. The real challenge is fighting the urge to give up during some of the more strained verbal exchanges and ludicrous story developments.