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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Final Fantasy Type-0- Out in Japan

This post is a couple days out-of date, but Final Fantasy Type-0, the latest entry in the excellent franchise, is out in Japan. It's for the PSP as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis project that includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII.



The game hasn't been announced for a U.S. release yet, due to the poor market for PSP titles in the U.S. (as Square Enix president Yoichi Wada puts it). Recent polls I've seen place Type 0 as one of the most anticipated RPGs over here in the states, right beneath Skyrim. The game looks fantastic- an epic tale of war, with more bloodshed and tragedy in any FF game we've seen up to this point. I know I'm not alone in hoping to play this game soon. Come on, Square: make it happen!

My Review: Final Fantasy V (GBA)

My Review: Final Fantasy V (GBA)

When it comes to the three SNES Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy V is probably the most overlooked. Final Fantasy IV began the series’ penchant for epic, character-driven narratives, and Final Fantasy VI is widely regarded as the best in the series- it would be hard for any game to live up to that kind of pedigree. In addition, Final Fantasy V was the last of the ‘lost three’ (as I call them), the three Final Fantasies that didn’t see release in North America when they were initially released. The fact that it got so little attention is a shame, because while Final Fantasy V may not be the most epic or groundbreaking title in the series, it’s still an immensely fun title that stand as one of the most interesting RPGs of the 16 bit era.

STORY

The story of Final Fantasy V is similar to those of the first and third games, with a series of crystals and a group of four destined heroes serving as the focus of the story. It’s a simple premise that RPGs (and Final Fantasy games) have revisited time and time again, but V does a good job of making this clich├ęd premise work as an engaging narrative. When the world’s crystals begin to shatter and their natural elemental forces cease to function, a young traveler named Bartz stumbles across the missing princess of Tycoon, Lenna. Meeting up with a bumbling old man named Galuf and the sultry pirate captain Farris, the four adventurers are chosen by the Crystals to wield their power and save the world from an evil warlock who seeks to return the world to a state of nothingness.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dark Cloud: First Impressions

Like I said earlier, I haven't decided if I'm going to play Dark Cloud for review, but I've been revisiting this old favorite for a few days, so I might as well say what I think of it so far.

The game is fun. Really, really fun. It's kind of simple- the story is pretty bland, the music is cheery and the atmosphere is generally lighthearted and upbeat. What the game is, essentially, is a combination of Zelda, Sim City, and Mystery Dungeon. You play as Toan, a young boy whose villiage is destroyed by an evil genie. Toan is told that he can rebuild the world by finding the scattered pieces of it sealed inside stones called 'Atlamilia'. By traversing randomly generated dungeons, you open the Atla and claim something from the old world, which you can then use to rebuild the town you're in.

I'm only on the second dungeon, but so far the game is pretty fun. Because the layout of each floor is always different, each dungeon entry becomes an enjoyable puzzle- you have to find the Atla, any treasure on the floor, and the key to the next floor, all while battling whatever monsters ended up spawning on the floor. Combing the dungeons makes for an enjoyable enough timesink as it is, but the 'Georama' townbuilding feature seems to be where the majority of the game is. You use the parts you find in the dungeons to rebuild the town you're in however you like. You're rewarded, however, for following the requests of the NPCs.

I don't know if this will be the next game I play all the way through, but so far Dark Cloud is a really fun roguelike/zelda clone. Hopefully it doesn't wear out it's welcome later in the game.

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011: What Next?

So I finally beat Final Fantasy VIII, and my review is up. Overall, it was a very enjoyable RPG. The final boss was absolutely pathetic (I didn't even have to use Squall- Irvine's limit break took her out), but the ending was nice.

For now, I'll probably work on finishing up Final Fantasy V is my spare time, but I'm trying to decide what my next console playthrough will be. I already decided that I don't want to start the next game on my backlog, what with the school semester growing more hectic and the upcoming holiday season, so I've been deciding on an older title to replay. I was fiddling around with Dark Cloud today, which was a game I've never actually beaten. It's Level 5's debut title, and it's a fun little game with randomly generated dungeons and a town building minigame, sort of like Zelda mixed with Harvest Moon. I found a new copy for $3 at a CD Exchange, so I might try to actually beat and review the game. If I don't do that, I'll probably replay The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, since lack of a Wii means I'll have to wait a while to play Skyward Sword (not that I'm bitter or anything).

As far as upcoming titles go, I probably won't get War in the North or Skyrim as soon as they come out (hopefully I'll have the chance to try them soon enough, though). I plan on preordering Final Fantasy XIII-2 at some point, though.

Right now, Dark Cloud is in the 'Now Playing' header, that might change in the coming week.

My Review: Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)

Finally, I have a brand new review up! Well, here it is. A review of an imperfect but still enjoyable RPG from the 32-bit era.




My Review: Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)


You’ve really got to respect Square for being so experimental with their key franchise. Even when following up an enormous hit, they always end up reinventing the wheel with each of their games, when so many other companies would simply release more of the same. When the game you’re trying to succeed is the world-famous Final Fantasy VII, though, you’re going to have a hard time no matter what you do. Square stuck to their guns with Final Fantasy VIII, implementing numerous stylistic and gameplay changes. The important question, however, is not if Final Fantasy VIII can live up to its predecessor- rather, is it a great game on its own?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Escapist: Horrible Journalism

I had to post this because it pissed me off to no end.

You know why modern game journalism can't be taken seriously? BECAUSE OF CRAP LIKE THIS. Regardless of what the journalist's opinion of the game (s) he's talking about, until he reviews it he should simply report the news. To literally title the article "Type 0 is here to ruin your day" is not only biased, it's bad form through and through.

Now, I've stated my opinions on the Final Fantasy series before. The series hasn't gone ANYWHERE. The games are still great and fun RPGs. And Type-0 looks like the best one we've had in years. I can understand if the guy doesn't have the same opinion as me, but his job should be to keep these thoughts to himself unless he is actually reviewing the game. All he should be doing here is relaying some news.

So what's this guys beef? Apparently, the anime-styled characters don't go well with the gritiness of the trailer. Good grief. The journalism here is bad enough, but the guy is reporting his personal biases in a racist way as well. Great.

Game journalism is in a sad enough state as it is, and reporting news like this is one of the reasons why.

Final Fantasy VIII- Almost There!

So, after stocking up on spells from the Heaven/Hell Islands, I managed to get Bahamut. Thanks to Squall's new 100 Ultimas and a timely Limit Break, I defeated him in three moves. So, I'm going to start progressing through the story again. I've got a three day weekend, so I might as well make the most of it. We just got the Ragnarok, and are heading to Edea's house to pick up the next quest hook.

That means that I'll hopefully have a new review up soon. It's about time I wrote a new one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

I love Starcraft. RTS games may not be my favorite genre, but I do enjoy them, and Starcraft is one of the best RTS games available. I'm not very good at it, and the original hasn't aged perfectly, but it's still fun. The sequel is excellent as well, and with Blizzards decision to make Starcraft 2 a three-part game in and of itself, we have a lot of Starcraft to look forward too.

Anyway, the new trailer is out. Check it out below.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/trailers/4858-Starcraft-2-Heart-of-the-Swarm-Teaser-Trailer

You wanna piece of me, boy?

Uncharted 3- Drake's Hysteria

While I'm not a huge fan of the Uncharted series, I do appreciate the games. With phenomenal graphics that really showcase the power of the PS3, great voice acting and characters, and exciting gameplay, the games are well-done action-adventure titles. Needless to say, they deserve a large fanbase.

That said, recent reception to Uncharted 3- Drake's Deception's reviews has been rather frightening In this article by the great-and-slightly-mad Jim Sterling, we see Uncharted fans simply OUTRAGED that a game in the series can get a score lower than a 10.

This isn't the first time this has happened with Mr. Sterling (Gears of War 3 and Arkham City are the other 'offenders', even though an 8/10 is a perfectly good score). Gamers these days seem to think that certain games are 'entitled' reviews, which puts pressure on a reviewer to gloss over a game's flaws in favor of giving it a large score. Even worse, if a game falls below this 'entitled' score, gamers throw a hissy fit. I remember when Final Fantasy XIII came out, and people were saying that because the game earned a score of 8.9, it was a horrible game because it was below a 9. Ridiculous. If a game is flawed, it should be reviewed as such, but to expect a title to 'earn' a score because it 'deserves' it is simply ludicrous.

I would understand the anger if the game was given an undeservingly low score, but an 8 seems pretty fair to me. And honestly, all these hysterics, over Uncharted? It's just a modern-day Indiana Jones ripoff. Sure, the game is pretty and very cinematic, but narrative-wise it's the video game equivalent of National Treasure.

Hoenstly, people. Grow up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Update!

So I finished the Ragnarok section of FFVIII and am now on my way through the Disc 3 sidequests before proceeding any further with the story. I already got Cactuar, so next on my to-do list is the Deep Sea Research Center, home of Bahamut and Ultima Weapon. I'm still looking for advice on how to go about beating Ultima Weapon (aside from Junctioning resistances to Quake and Meteor spells), but hopefully I can pull it off. The 100 Ultima Stone bonus is pretty nifty.

In V, I'm still grinding away, trying to master a few more jobs before the final dungeon. Hopefully I'll have the game finished and a review up in a week or two.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Old Review: Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (PS2)

It's weird. I honestly do like this game a lot. I can't call it a good Breath of Fire game, but it did do a lot of unique things, and I don't regret playing it. I can't say I recommend it, but I found it to be somewhat enjoyable. Anyways here's the review.

My Review- Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (PS2)

When it comes to RPGs, there are many great franchises that simply don’t get enough attention. While nearly everyone has heard of the virtues of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, too few have heard of equally great series like Suikoden, Wild Arms, and of course, Breath of Fire. Capcom’s RPG franchise has been around since the SNES days, and while they do star a boy who transforms into dragons, the first four installments of the series have been traditional console RPGs to the bone. That said, Dragon Quarter stands out as the black sheep of the Breath of Fire family, featuring so many changes and odd design choices that it is difficult to recognize the last Breath of Fire game as part of the series at all.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Reviews! Eventually.

So I'm FINALLY in the home stretch for Final Fantasy V. The game isn't particularly long by RPG standards, but playing multiple RPGs during the school year made it take twice as long as it should have. I just need to master a couple more classes, then I'll head into the Rift for the (obscenely long) final dungeon and fight Neo Exdeath. As for Final Fantasy VIII, I'm farther in the game than I though I was (I just found the Ragnarok and am about to do that stupid monster-hunting minigame), so that review will be a little longer away. I plan on trying my luck with Ultima Weapon, so hopefully that goes over well.

I'm not sure what I'll be playing once I'm done with VIII and V. I've already decided to save Dragon Quest VI for after the holidays (trying to play a Dragon Quest game during midterms and semester exams would be a BAD idea). I might give Vagrant Story a shot after VIII (I've heard great things about it, and it's relatively short), but otherwise I probably won't play anything else until Christmas as well. Granted, my backlog will grow much larger, but at least I won't be neck-deep in a game when the holidays roll around.  I might use any free time I have to finally read the second Song of Ice and Fire book, though. If I do end up playing anything, it'll most likely just be a replay of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I've kind of has a Zelda itch for a while, and with no way for me to play Skyward Sword right now, I'll have to settle for replaying an old favorite. :)

Old Review- Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

I love this game. While I enjoyed all of the subsequent titles, the original Kingdom Hearts is still probably the best in the series. Birth by Sleep may have stronger gameplay, but Kingdom Hearts 1 is still the best blend of Disney and Final Fantasy roleplaying we'll ever see.

My Review- Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

Kingdom Hearts is one of Square’s most popular franchises, possibly even more so than Final Fantasy. While today the series spans more than eight installments, with more on the horizon, it all began with the original Kingdom Hearts, released on the PS2 in 2002. A strange yet enticing mix of Square role-playing and Disney properties, Kingdom Hearts is a classic Action-RPG.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Old Review- Final Fantasy X-2

My Review- Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2)

Since its 2001 release, Final Fantasy X has sort of become the standard by which modern console RPGs are judged. This isn’t very surprising, as it’s an excellent game, as well as an incredibly successful one. Due to this success, Square decided to revisit the land of Spira by making the first direct sequel to any main series FF title. Final Fantasy X-2 also has the distinction of being the first Final Fantasy title to be released by the then newly formed Square Enix. Is X-2 a worthy follow up to it’s lightning-in-a-bottle predecessor?

STORY

WARNING- THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT PLAYED OR COMPLETED FINAL FANTASY X.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Old Review: Dragon Quest V (DS)

My Review- Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (DS)

In my opinion, a remake or release of an old game can be a good thing if done properly. Revitalizing an aging classic with a fresh coat of paint can bring great experiences to gamers who might have missed them the first time around. Square Enix decided to remake the ‘Zenithia Trilogy’ of Dragon Quest games- IV, V, and VI- for the Nintendo DS. Dragon Quest V, the personal favorite in the series by it’s creator, is one of the two in the series never released in North America until the remake. Combining the series’ classic formula with a moving story, Dragon Quest V stands as not only the crown jewel of the Zenithia games, but perhaps the entire Dragon Quest series as well.

STORY

Each title in the Zenithia trilogy is know primarily for a major twist on the Dragon Quest series tradition, making each game a noteworthy installment. For Dragon Quest V, the traditional ‘Hero’s Quest’ of the story is split into several generations. Your hero begins the game as a child, traveling the world with his father, Pankraz, who is on an important mission. Some small adventures with his friends fill the early hours of the game, but our hero’s happy childhood does not last very long, when he discovers that his father’s mission is to rescue the hero’s mother, who was kidnapped shortly after her son’s birth. Forced into slavery for ten years, our hero becomes a man in the captivity of the same people who stole his family from him. From there, the true Dragon Quest V experience begins. Your hero will travel the world, choose a wife, and even father children over the course of this epic journey, all while seeking to end what his father started, and put an end to the evil force that has plagued his family since his birth.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Upcoming Games I'm Looking Forward To.

In case you don't know, the next year is going to be AMAZING for RPG fans such as myself. Without further ado, let me list the upcoming games that make me really excited for the coming years.

EDIT: Added a couple of games to the bottom of the list!

Chrono Cross: Technically, this isn't a new game, but the ESRB recently rated this PS1 classic, meaning it will probably be re-released soon. Chrono Trigger is probably my all-time favorite game, so I'm looking forward to finally playing the sequel.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: This is probably the biggest RPG released this year. While I wasn't Oblivion's biggest fan, I enjoy a good fantasy yarn, and Skyrim's gorgeous looking open world already has my interest piqued. 11/11/11 can't come soon enough.

Final Fantasy XIII-2: I've said my piece on this before. I really enjoyed XIII, despite it's little flaws, and any opportunity to play a Final Fantasy game on a modern console is great. It looks like they've improved on XIII's biggest problem (lack of exploration), and I'm all set for the next Final Fantasy. Besides, it'll be a nice appetizer before Versus XIII.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Final Fantasy VIII/V Progress

Made it to disc 3 in Final Fantasy VIII. I'm kind of punching myself for stupidity, because I forgot to draw Alexander from Edea. -_- Going to have to work harder at Junctioning, I plan on taking on Ultima Weapon for Eden and the Ultima Stones you get from him, which should make the game considerably easier. Of course, beating Ultima Weapon is never easy. Right now I'm in Esthar.

In V, I'm in the open-ended third act of the game, where you can go do sidequests and get the Legendary Weapons before going into the Rift to fight Exdeath. I've gotten six of the tablets right now, as well as the Fork Tower quest. I also got Syldra from the Pirates Cave, and the Magic Lamp. I'll go to North Mountain and get Bahamut once I have the rest of the Legendary Weapons. Right now, Faris is training as a Ninja after mastering Samurai, Lenna is finishing up mastering Black Mage, and Bartz has mastered Knight and Dragoon. I'm having him train as a Monk for the extra HP once he masters it (and Counter).

Well, that's where I am right now. I'm not sure what I'll play next, I have a rather large backlog that will only grow larger with time (Skyrim drawing nearer...). The only handheld I have on deck (for after FFV) is Dragon Quest VI on DS. I have five games in my console backlog- Xenogears, Final Fantasy IX, Vagrant Story, Dark Cloud, and Dragon Quest VIII. I want to play something short before the holidays, so if I have time I'll probably try Vagrant Story once I'm done with VIII, but if I don't I might just replay Twilight Princess for the fifth time. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Final Fantasy: Type 0 Trailer

Another awesome-looking Final Fantasy game coming out in the near future (please?), Final Fantasy Type-0, formerly known as Agito XIII, has a brand new trailer clocking in at a whopping 12 minutes. The trailer is very gameplay oriented, but the game looks really cool. Hopefully we don't miss out on this one in the states.

Am I the only one who gets a SeeD vibe from watching this? :)

Old Review- Final Fantasy X (PS2)

I really love this game. It has it's weird moments, to be sure, but it's such a fun RPG. And yes, I still believe that X and XIII are very similar games.


My Review- Final Fantasy X (PS2)

Final Fantasy X marked a change in the Final Fantasy series. It was the first installment to not be directed by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who left Square halfway through X’s development. It was also the first fully 3D installment (without prerendered backgrounds), and also the first to have voice acting. Despite this, Final Fantasy X managed to not only evolve it’s series, but also to preserve what makes Final Fantasy great- wondrous storytelling and solid RPG gameplay.

STORY

Listen to my story. This may be our last chance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Skyrim and Dragon Age

I won't lie- I really hate Oblivion. To me, Oblivion is probably the most overrated game this generation. Sure, it has a big open world, but it's ridiculously buggy, the NPCs and characters look stupid, the voice acting is terrible, and the gameplay is clunky.

But this? This I'm excited for.

I've been trying to ignore Skyrim ever since it was announced. I honestly didn't care about it, because I hadn't liked Oblivion, and I couldn't fathom what the big deal was. Now that I've finally seen the game in action, though, I'm definetly excited. From the looks of things, they've improved on everything I hated about Oblivion, as well as crafted a beautiful world to explore. Truth be told, from third person it reminds me a bit of Zelda: Twilight Princess, one of my favorite games, simply because the world looks so fun to experience. I know it's not quite the same thing, but still.

On a side note, I finally might get around to playing Dragon Age: Origins soon. It's really the only Bioware game I'm interested in (KOTOR was fun because of the Star Wars connection, but Jade Empire was lame and Mass Effect isn't on PS3). It looks like they put a lot of time and effort into the game's creation, something I always appreciate. The best games are ones created with the intent of creating a great experience. So, looking forward to that as well.

Skyrim is released on 11/11/11. And less than a month away, I'm finally excited to play it.

Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV Online has the dubious honor of being the only unquestionably bad Final Fantasy game. Not really because of bad design- the game could've been great- but because the game was rushed out the door eight months after it was announced (possibly in order to beat Cataclysm to the market). The game was, simply put, released unfinished- a buggy, boring slog of a game. The game's poor reception led to Square Enix cancelling subscription fees indefinetly and steadily patching the game, promising to improve it into the game it should've been. President Yoichi Wada even publicly apoligised, saying that the Final Fantasy name has been damaged by XIV.

It appears that Square is about to make do on their promises. Square Enix just announced that between late November and early December, more than a year after the game's spectacularly failed launch, the free-to-play period will come to an end. Final Fantasy XIV's 2.0 version will be released next year, featuring numerous changes that will, according to Square Enix, make the game what it should've been when released. "I promise that we will continue to give all FINAL FANTASY XIV players our full attention as we do everything in our power to provide a high-quality service, and as such, would like ask for your continued encouragement and support," says Yoshida. It has also been reported that, in the year leading up to the 2.0 patch, existing players will expirience a new story leading up to the huge change that will effect the world of Eorzea.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Old Review: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

I wrote this review back in April when I finished the game. It took me two months and well over 60 hours to beat, and I left easily half of the game's content untouched. With all the sidequests, hunts, optional areas, and the huge scope of the world and story, Final Fantasy XII is a truly massive expirience. I still stand by my score here- the game has problems, to be sure, but it's probably one of the best RPGs released on the PS2, and certainly one of Square Enix's best games. I think I could've worded a few things better, but that's about it.


My Review: Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

There is little I can say about the Final Fantasy franchise that hasn’t already been said. Square’s flagship series has been around for fourteen main installments and countless spinoffs, gaining both fame and notoriety with each successive installment. Indeed, the only constant with the series is that with each new game the series’ fanbase will be split into opposing camps of ardent supporters and vicious detractors. In my opinion, the detractors are often mistaken in their feelings towards each game, their thoughts mired in the series tradition and failing to recognize the benefits in the series’ ever-evolving gameplay. Final Fantasy XII was, in it’s time, one of the most frequently derided games in the main franchise. It made significant changes to gameplay, some of which were loved and some of which were hated. Does Final Fantasy XII preserve the series’ spirit or mutate it beyond recognition?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Alright, seriously, why haven't I been paying any attention to this game until now?

RPGfan.com, a really excellent website if you haven't checked them out, just did a podcast about this game, which was the first time I'd ever heard any significant information about it. Two things strike me about this game. One, it's a big fantasy-RPG that isn't Dragon Age or Elder Scrolls. Two, the world and history of the game was written by R.A. Salvatore.

R.A. Salvatore is one of my favorite authors. He does the excellent Legend of Drizzt books, as well as the Demonwars Saga, several other liscenced DnD novels, Vector Prime (a Star Wars novel), and Echoes of the Fourth Magic. The game itself features a non-class based, open-ended character development system, an open world to explore, and great combat.

Sold. Definetly going to give this game a look.


EDIT: Found some really cool gameplay footage here. It's the E3 demo for the game.

Yu-gi-oh! ZeXal dub.

I've been into Yu-gi-oh! for a long time. That is to say, I really enjoy playing the card game- it's a lot of fun. I do watch the anime, but only the Japanese versions with english subs. 4kids, the company that dubs the series, has a history of censoring their shows, and the Yu-gi-oh! franchise has been completely mangled by this- crappy voices, card name changes, thematic censorship, and more have made a cheesy if fun anime into an unbearably kiddish slogfest. They never even finished the second series, GX, cut entire episodes of 5'ds because they were too dark, and generally ruined whatever they got their hands on.
The recent anime, Yu-gi-oh! ZeXal marks where I stopped watching the Yu-gi-oh! cartoons. Even in the Japanese version, the franchise reeks of jumped shark with this series. Somehow, despite being in the middle of a massive lawsuit with TV Tokyo and Konami, 4kids is somehow able to dub Yu-gi-oh! ZeXal. So how did they do? Well, it seems like they made one small improvement, and several steps backwards from their earlier schlock.
First of all, the backs of the cards FINALLY look like their real-world selves, the one improvement ZeXal made as a whole to the franchise. The life point and ATK counters remain unchanged, which is rare for 4crap. These are the only positive changes, though. ZeXal was stupid enough in it's native language, and the dialogue and characters appear to have only gotten more annoying. And what's with the monsters saying their names? What is this, Pokemon? Doesn't help that the new card types (once called Exceeds, now called Xyz for some inane reason) are retarded. Yuma is still the worst protagonist the series has ever had (he makes Judai look compelling). The Augmented Reality Duels don't make any real sense (at least Riding Duels, while silly, added new rules to the game. ARDs aen't any different from normal duels, so what's the point?).
I used to be a fan of this series, and while I'll continue to use my own deck for dueling (Dragon/Synchro FTW!), I'm going to continue to pass on ZeXal. This series, for all intents and purposes, just killed itself.

Avengers Trailer

Thanks to Moviebob for posting this video. I'm really amped for this movie. The idea that this is what Iron Man/Incredible Hulk/Thor/Captain America have been leading up to is pretty awesome.

Also, I see a new Hulk. :D

Final Fantasy XIII-2: New Trailer

I'm honestly really excited for this game. I'm a huge fan of Final Fantasy, and while I understand why some people really didn't like Final Fantasy XIII (it was different), I still thought it was a good game overall. That said, I'm really looking forward to playing this one. From the looks of things, they've fixed the biggest problems with XIII (excessive linearity, lack of NPC interaction), and I'm quite happy to be playing a new console Final Fantasy game in between this and Versus XIII. The new trailer looks awesome, click the link above (the title of the post) and give it a look!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Old Review- Battle for Middle-earth (PC)

The original BFME was my first RTS, and it's still one of my favorite PC games.


My Review- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth (PC)

The Battle for Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game based on the LOTR films. Like The Third Age, it is a well-done game despite being a licensed product. The Lord of the Rings films are really a perfect for a strategy game, and BFME succeeds both as a LOTR game and as a quality RTS.

STORY

BFME’s story is split into two campaigns- the Good campaign, which more or less follows the events of the films, and the Evil campaign, which is an alternate scenario in which Middle-earth is conquered by Sauron. The story is conveyed through movie clips and short in-engine cutscenes before important battles, but otherwise, it’s pretty simplistic. The game assumes that you are familiar with the LOTR world and provides little background save the opening sequence, which is narrated by none other than Sir Ian McKellon. You progress through the story is a slightly nonlinear way- occasional story missions occasionally must be played to progress further, but you are otherwise able to choose which territories to conquer across Middle-earth and which of your armies to do it with. The game also takes a few creative liberties with the story, such as Boromir surviving the battle of Amon Hen and Gandalf successfully slaying the Balrog without dying. This doesn’t really bother me because the game is fun, and doesn’t sacrifice this fun in order to be more true to a story we already know.

My Review- Star Ocean: The Last Hope (PS3)

My Review- Star Ocean: The Last Hope (PS3)



NOTE- This is a review of the International version of SO4 that was released on PS3. The game was originally released on Xbox 360 in 2009. There aren’t very many differences between the two versions- the International version is on one Blu-ray instead of three DVDs, there’s a slight (miniscule) graphical update, and the option for Japanese audio, but that’s about it.

Tri-Ace is an interesting developer. Most of their games were published by Enix, and now are associated primarily with Square Enix. They’ve made numerous classic games over the years, such as Valkyrie Profile, but their most famous achievement is the Star Ocean series of action-RPGs. Beginning as a Super Famicom game that never saw release in North America, the Star Ocean series has seen installments on the PS1 (The Second Story), the PS2 (Till The End Of Time), and now the fourth game in the series, The Last Hope, see’s it’s release on the 360 and PS3. A prequel to the other Star Ocean games, how does Tri-Ace’s latest fare?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Final Fantasy V Progress

I made a bit of progress in Final Fantasy V yesterday. Now that Krile joined the party, we made our way to Castle Exdeath, which is one of the more difficult dungeons in the game. I got a lot of pretty cool loot in the dungeon (Twin Lance!), and after solving one of the most annoying puzzles in the game so far (figuring out which tiles led to the next area or which ones sent you into a pool of lava), I made it to Exdeath.

As far as Final Fantasy villains go, Exdeath is a cardboard cutout of a villain, but we haven't seen any motivation for him yet so I'll reserve my judgement on him. All I can say is that the boss fight against him was incredibly fun. He has a lot of HP and some nasty attacks, but he isn't cheap, so figuring out the proper strategy to defeat him was great. I ended up casting float on my Samurai/Ninja/Thief hybrid Faris, and on my White/Black Mage Lenna, while my Dragoon/Knight Bartz pummeled Exdeath from the air with our newly-acquired Twin Lance. After the battle, you're transported to the third main world map of the game, so it'll be interesting to see where the game goes from here.

On the Final Fantasy VIII front, I'm on the last part of Disc 2, the Garden War, which kind of marks a halfway point for the game. Recently, the Trabia Garden flashbacks provided some of the character depth i felt was mission from VIII, although not really enough. I think my problem with VIII's character's is that their function is to support Squall's character arc, rather than function as independent characters. Rinoa is really the only other playable character to have received significant attention (for obvious reasons). I'm still enjoying the game a great deal, though.

I'll keep posting my progress on games here the further I get. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Game Informer WKC2 Review

I'm not the kind of person to get hung up over review scores. At least, not for the reasons most people would. If I'm looking forward to a game, no amount of bad press or word of mouth will prevent me from trying the game out for myself.

Recently, however, I have noticed a disturbing trend with modern video game reviews. Specifically, I have a problem with 'JRPG's getting noticeably lower scores than their western counterparts, for no genuine reason. People often say that JRPGs are stagnating, that they don't provide the innovation that WRPGs apparently provide (which simply isn't true, more on that some other time). However, there seems to be something uglier than that afoot- a simple refusal by so-called 'game journalists' to give these games a fair shot at all, only begrudgingly giving a good game a decent score (see Gametrailer's review of Disgaea 4 for an example), and jumping on the smallest possible flaw. These games are criticised unfairly, plain and simple. A recent example I found was Game Informer's review of White Knight Chronicles II, a PS3 exclusive RPG that came out last month. Now, the original White Knight Chronicles was an average-at-best affair, which was dissapointing coming from the great developer Level 5. I can safely say that White Knight II is a vast improvement on it's predecessor, and in a gaming generation that lacks too many great JRPGs, you can't go wrong with a game featuring a giant midieval robot. Game Informer isn't known for particularly great reviews, but their review of White Knight Chronicles 2 is such an unfair piece of writing, I feel it is worth discussing. I'm going to pick out some lines from the review, and say why I feel they are wrong.

Old Review- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)

So this is one of my older reviews from a while back. Usually I find my opinion of a game shifts a bit over time, but I honestly still stand by my original opinion of this one. It's a fun, unapologetically old-school RPG that will satisfy anyone like me who loves 8 and 16-bit era RPGs. Anyways, here it is.


My Review- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (DS)

Role-playing video games have come a long way since their inception with the Wizardry and Ultima games. We now have the ability to create vast worlds, weave epic tales, and spend millions of dollars on cinematic presentations. Despite all of these advances, it never hurts to remember ones roots- console RPGs owe a lot to pen-and-paper games like DnD, and today’s multi-million Final Fantasies, Star Oceans, and Mass Effects owe a lot to classic NES, SNES, and Genesis RPGs. Square Enix, a respected RPG developer with more than a decade’s worth of fantastic titles under its belt, attempts to revisit this lost age of swords-and-sorcery with Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, a game with retro mechanics that pay homage to Phantasy Star, Dragon Warrior, and the older Final Fantasy titles. Did a developer now infamous for flashy and over-the top cinematics succeed in crafting an adventure in the spirit of the classics, or does the game fall short of the mark?


Personal Review Style

Just a quick blurb concerning how my reviews are organized. I'll have an example (one of my older pieces) later.

I write reviews in five sections. The first is an introduction, providing backstory on the game. The second is story, where I summarize the game's plot and then describe my thoughts on it. The third is gameplay, where I describe the game's systems and mechanics, and any flaws in them. The fourth is presentation, where I talk about the game's graphics, music, and voice acting. Finally, I have a concluding paragraph that summarizes the review. I do give the game a letter grade based on the number of flaws I find, but that's probably the least important part of the review.

I can't say any of the sections are more important than the others- story, gameplay, and presentation are equally important for making a game enjoyable. If one is lacking, the entire package suffers as a result.

If I'm posting an older review, I'll say so in the title, and I might include a small section before the review if my opinion of the game has shifted at all since I reviewed it. I also try to review a game as soon as I beat it, which on average takes me a month.

I should have my first review up on the blog soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Final Fantasy V- First Impressions

Final Fantasy V is one of the 'lost' Final Fantasies, one of three other games in the series that weren't localized when they first came out (the others being II and III). 16 bit RPGs are among my favorite games to play, so expiriencing the 'missing' counterpart to Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI (two of my all-time favorite games) is a real treat. The game has a few flaws, but so far it's very fun.

The story is pretty standard for the series- four warriors are chosen by the cystals to save the world from an evil force, so far so basic, but the story goes a bit further than usual for a game with this type of story. The main characters (Bartz, Lenna, Faris, and Galuf) are all very likeable and full of personality, making them far more fun to travel with than the cookie-cutter characters from III (the DS version). The game's writing is also very good, as well as quite humorous. The adventure is lighthearted, but so far hasn't degraded into complete silliness as many lighthearted RPGs so- it still is telling a good story, but the characters seem to be having fun with their travels, and so it becomes fun to experience their story. The game also looks and sounds great, as 16 bit games usually do to me.

Also very cool is the Job System, a class system that was introduced in III, but arguably perfected in V. In Final Fantasy V, characters can choose any of the Jobs currently available to them, and select one ability to use as well as the default ability the job has. Characters gain Job levels in battle, earning new abilities with each level and eventually mastering the Job. The great thing is, not only is there no penalty for switching Jobs, any ability learned by levelling up the Job can be selected for use by a new Job. For example, switching from a White Mage to a Black Mage doesn't mean you can't keep using healing spells- just have the Black Mage select 'White' as his skill, and he'll be able to use both 'Black' (his default ability) and 'White' magic.

One thing that I have noticed is that the game's battles have a LOT of lag. Usually the more enemies you're fighting, the more the game will lag- the ATB bars have frozen for almost twenty seconds once. I'm not sure if this is a result of the port to GBA or not, but it is a noticeable problem.

Final Fantasy V is so far a very enjoyable old-school RPG. I'm about halfway through it right now. More on it later!

Final Fantasy VIII- First Impressions

I've been a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series for years, but I've never had the opportunity to play most of the games until recently. This year has been a blitz of gaming for me, as I've obtained and played through most of the series this year. I got all three PS1 FF games over the summer, and now that I've beaten VII, I've turned my attention to one of the more controversial games in the series, VIII.

I'm about halfway through Disc 2 (out of 4) right now, and I must say that I'm enjoying myself quite a bit. I really love the RPGs of past gaming generations, and the three PS1 FFs so far (haven't started IX yet) are great games. Final Fantasy VIII does have some strange elements to it, though. Like most FF games, it almost completely reinvents the wheel, featuring a number of changes such as a magic-based character growth system and level scaling. Yes, every enemy in Final Fantasy VIII outside of a few rare exceptions will be at the same level as your party. This creates an odd scenario in which leveling up isn't a very good thing, as your stat increases will be minimal and every enemy will have leveled up as well, making things more difficult for you.  Characters also level up every with every 1000 experience points they earn, rather than an increasing amount. In order to combat the level scaling, mastering the Junction System is imperative. I won't go into too many details until I review the game, but suffice it to say that the Junction System, so far, is a massive headache. How it works is that every character stockpiles magic spells (up to 100 of each), and then, after equipping a Guardian Force (the iconic Summons of Final Fantasy), a character can 'Junction' a spell to any of their stats. The amount the stat is increased by is determined by the type of spell and how much of it you have (for example, 100 Curagas are good for HP Junctioning). That's all I'll say for now; the system is almost stupidly overcomplicated at times.

As for the story, Final Fantasy games are known for good stories, and Final Fantasy VIII still tells an engaging tale. I'm really digging the pseudo-modern setting of the game (sort of a cleaner version of FFVII's world, but not as sleek as XIII's), as well as the political situation concerning the evil Galbadian Republic. Having the main  characters be mercenaries (SeeD special forces) is an interesting touch which adds a unique flavor to the typical 'evil empire' storyline JRPGs are so fond of. What I don't like is that, so far, Squall is the only playable character to have a major character arc. Aside from Laguna (a playable who you control for brief flashbacks), the rest of the party has so far been strangely lacking in character development, which is dissapointing for a Final Fantasy game. Hopefully they'll have more to do later in the story.  I'm also rather dissapointed in what is arguably the most famous aspect of Final Fantasy VIII, which is the romance between Squall and Rinoa. Granted, I'm only two discs in, but so far Rinoa has got to be one of the least appealing love interests I've seen. Again, hopefully this aspect of the plot gets better, especially considering that the game's logo is the two of them embracing.

For now, I'm still enjoying FFVIII despite my criticisms. I'll have more on it later.

New Blog!

Hey, folks! Well, as my profile says, my name is Peter and I like video games. So, I'm going to talk about games here. Maybe you'll actually find what I have to say interesting.
I'll post my thoughts on recent video game related events, as well as talk about what games I'm currently playing (which you can see at the top of the page). I've been writing reviews and posting them to my Facebook for the past year, so if you're one of the people who actually read those, this is where they'll be, now. I'll eventually get around to posting my old reviews on here.