I've pondered this question to myself over the last few years and have yet to replay the game and actually answer it for myself... but does Star Ocean 3 still stand up?
I should probably admit that this is the game I bought my PS2 for... which retroactively sounds terrible in this day and age.
Anyway, what brought this up was I am preparing to write a small blurb about the Second Story OST, which got me thinking about the review of the game in GamePro magazine. I subscribed to GamePro through a good chunk of the PS1 days and they kind of slammed SO2 in the graphics and sound departments which got me thinking about how it compares to SO3 and what the PS2 allowed them to do over the PS1.
As for knocking SO2 for its graphics... I have to wonder if this is really fair when considering the battle system. As anyone here who has played it knows battles in that game can get really hectic (especially late game when you have the best Killer Moves) and the game does manage to keep its performance pretty consistent IMO. But I wonder, could the PS1 really have handled that much action with better graphics? Given everything the look of everything in combat (I won't say that it is "pretty") seems/may be a necessary evil and the reviewer may have not been considering that.
Which brings up to SO3 and it's combat. I have to wonder, even today and having been away from it a long time, I am still kind of star struck with how good and fast the combat in SO3 was. I mean I can help but still be impressed with that leap over the PS1 even though you only have three characters instead of four. Does anyone else feel that way? To be honest I was pretty damn impressed with how much fireworks was going on on screen back then... and the fact that slowdown ironically only seemed to occur in other areas like the world map.
Musically, GamePro's review called SO2's music "sonically stank" and gave it a 1.5 out of 4. Now am I correct in thinking this is one of those scores (much like Breath of Fire III's jazz laden experience) were video game music enthusiasts have a higher opinion of this soundtrack than the general game playing public? I mean personally I can see what people see in BOFIII's music but in that case I can kind of see what its detractor's see more... but when it comes to SO2 I'm more in the VGM community's camp. I'm not saying that one side is wrong and the other is right (or vice versa) but I'm a little confused where SO2 stands. I don't really think it qualify as a cult classic, does it?
Anyway, sorry for rambling but if anyone can give me their input I think I would be more equipped to write this small blurb and with less hesitation.
Also, I should probably mention: I own Star Ocean 4, haven't played it. I've heard the soundtrack and no, I have no idea what Sakuraba was trying to do on it other than kind of make me feel that SO3's synth has become kind of dated.