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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Changing the Paradigm: Final Fantasy XIII and Narrative

Changing the Paradigm: Final Fantasy XIII and Narrative

            "Cocoon—a utopia in the sky.

Its inhabitants believed their world a paradise. Under the Sanctum's rule, Cocoon had long known peace and prosperity.
Mankind was blessed by its protectors, the benevolent fal'Cie, and believed that tranquil days would continue forever.

Their tranquility was shattered with the discovery of one hostile fal'Cie.
The moment that fal'Cie from Pulse—the feared and detested lowerworld—awoke from its slumber, peace on Cocoon came to an end.

Fal'Cie curse humans, turning them into magic-wielding servants. They become l'Cie—chosen of the fal'Cie.
Those branded with the mark of a l'Cie carry the burden of either fulfilling their Focus or facing a fate harsher than death itself.

A prayer for redemption. A wish to protect the world. A promise to challenge destiny.
After thirteen days of fates intertwined, the battle begins.

—Official Prologue

            Final Fantasy XIII, technically the latest entry in the storied Final Fantasy franchise, is for some reason one of the most controversial titles of this generation. For me personally, I find a lot of the game’s most commonly heard criticisms to be unfounded or blown out of proportion. After it’s lengthy and problematic development, it seems to be a miracle that the game turned out at good as it did. It does have its fair share of problems, and is rather average for a main series Final Fantasy game, but overall it’s a pretty damn good game. We could get into a lengthy discussion about linear gameplay, gorgeous graphics, or automated combat, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I’ve already reviewed the game; we don’t need to mention any of that. No, today I am going to delve into one area in which I think Final Fantasy XIII meant to excel, but ended up stumbling on: it’s narrative.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Review: Kingdom Hearts- Birth by Sleep (PSP)

My Review: Kingdom Hearts- Birth by Sleep (PSP)

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again: I don’t think anyone could have predicted exactly how dense the Kingdom Hearts series has become. Squaresoft’s little Disney crossover game has spawned one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, and with each game the overarching narrative has only grown more complex and, at times, convoluted. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, a game that was teased at the end of Kingdom Hearts II, plays an integral role in the Kingdom Hearts saga: as a prequel to the original Kingdom Hearts, as well as an establishment of where the series will go in the future. Is this portable adventure up to the task?

Destiny is never left to chance.

As mentioned earlier, Birth by Sleep is a prequel, set ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts. The game focuses on the adventures of three protagonists, Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, who are apprentices to Keyblade Master Eraqus. After a series of events drive the heroes apart, they each set out on their own journey across the myriad worlds, dealing with their own internal conflicts and struggling to maintain their friendship in light of newfound revelations concerning themselves and their Masters, all while combating the evil Unversed, monsters that are born from negative emotion. Ventus is attempting to uncover the truth about his origins and his connection to a mysterious masked boy named Vanitas, who appears to lead the Unversed. . Aqua attempts to bring Ventus back home and watch over Terra, while questioning the morality of the orders from her Master. Meanwhile, Terra is struggling with the dark power inside him, trying to discover its place in him under the tutelage of Master Xehanort, who may have other, more sinister objectives…

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Guest Review: Gran Turismo 5 (PS3), by David Olgers

Well, folks, this is the first guest review on this blog! *cue victory fanfare*. Today, my friend David will be reviewing Gran Turismo 5, a popular racing game for Playstation 3. While David did try to write the review using my own reviewing structure, I left his review mostly unedited save for a few awkward phrases and some spelling errors. Enjoy!

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

Gran Turismo 5 is a racing game by Polyphony Digital, and the latest in it’s series. The end goal of the game is to reach level 40 by participating in races, as well as to obtain all of the various licenses that can be earned by participating in 9 tests of different kinds (turns, braking and the like) and a small race on a course using the different things you learned in the tests.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Short Explanation

Alright, it'd be evident to anyone that I haven't posted anything since the Final Fantasy retrospective. Largely, it's because I'm really pressed for time. I do want to fit some gaming in, I've been reading George Martin's excellent Song of Ice and Fire novels, and I also need to do well in school. Aside from that, though, I really feel like I should produce better content for this blog rather than continuously pumping out quick blurbs that really don't make for good reading.

So, the main product of this blog will continue to be my game reviews, and I'll review each new game I play. I'll also try to do the occasional article (I have ideas for other retrospectives) or timely news bite (maybe an E3 post?), but I'm not going to say much if there's nothing to say.

Also, my buddy David will be doing a guest review of Gran Turismo 5 sometime in the near future. So, look forward to seeing something a little different than my own, RPG-centric talk. David's a great guy, a very avid DnD/Pathfinder fan as well as something of an expert when it comes to World War 2.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

PG Retrospective: Final Fantasy

PG Retrospective: Final Fantasy

            It’s no secret that I love Final Fantasy. It’s one of the longest running and most influential series of role-playing games in history. Still, something I find strange about the Final Fantasy series is that there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground anymore in regards to people’s opinion of the series. Some of this could be the result of shifting sensibilities in the games industry, some of this can be blamed on nostalgia, but whenever Final Fantasy is brought up today, you’ll see a litany of frothy-mouthed fanboys declaring their love for Sephiroth, snobs turning up their noses at the series and it’s fans, or nostalgia-blinded older fans bemoaning the latest entry. Fortunately, if ever there was someone to find the common ground on something, it’d be me. I do love the series, but my experience with Final Fantasy is actually relatively recent. It was only in the past year or so that I actually played all of the games. This, I feel, puts me in a better position to judge the individual games properly, rather than some thirty-year old who refuses to take off the rose colored glasses, or some gun-crazy twelve-year old douchebag. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on each entry in the Final Fantasy series.

Please note that I have not played the two MMORPGs, and so we won’t talk about XI and XIV. I also won’t be covering the Crystal Chronicles games, the Tactics games, or Dissidia. Needless to say, since we are talking about these games, there may be SPOILERS.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Old Review: Twilight Princess (GCN)

This is one of the first reviews I ever wrote, waaaaaay back in 2012. Looking at it now, there are a few things I would change or wouldn't completely agree with now, but I do have a great fondness for Twilight Princess. The game was my very first Zelda game, and remains a milestone in my development as a gamer. So, here's my review.

My Review- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is, at the time of this writing, the most recent console Zelda game. It is also another favorite of mine, as it was the first game of its kind that I ever played, and made me realize that video games could be a storytelling medium. Twilight Princess is a fantastic game, arguably the best console Zelda title- timeless gameplay, great graphics, an intriguing story, and a level of polish rarely seen in games. Please note that this review is of the Gamecube version and not the Wii.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's 2012! Time for a Backlog Update

Well, the holidays are over, and school is about to resume. This means two things- one, my backlog of games has substantially increased thanks to the generosity of my family and friends. Two, my free time is about to be significantly reduced. My to-do list of games may yet expand further as several new releases are around the corner that I am interested in.


Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)
Final Fantasy IX (PS1)

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3) (preordered)
Ni no Kuni (PS3)
Final Fantasy Type 0 (PSP) (coming to the states?)
Final Fantasy Versus XIII (PS3) (pls?)
Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
Dark Cloud (PS2)
Ico (PS2/3)
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2/3) (HD Collection w/ Ico)
White Knight Chronicles (PS3)
White Knight Chronicles 2 (PS3)
Xenogears (PS1)
Vagrant Story (PS1)

Final Fantasy I (PSP)
Final Fantasy II (PSP)
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
Radiant Historia (DS)
Dragon Quest VI (DS)

So, yeah, I'm going to be very busy. And quite happy. :) With the holidays over, I will return to this blog's primary function, which is to publish reviews and tidbits of news I find interesting (hmm, haven't done that for a while). Happy new year!