Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Lost Odyssey of Final Fantasy XV   Leave a comment

I just started playing Final Fantasy XV for the PS4 after holding off on it for so long. The game has been in production since 2006 and was planned as a spin-off title for Final Fantasy XIII. It shares the same mythos found in that game, but set in a completely different world. The game was retooled and became a main line title in 2012 and was finally released in 2016 after numerous delays.

The game starts with words from the developers saying this game is made for new and returning players. That’s supposed to say “trust us, you guys,” but I’ll have to see it for myself.

You’re thrown into the story of events already happening sometime in the future for a few minutes. Then it cuts back to the present with the main character and his friends heading out of the huge castle with barely anyone (non-playable characters) around, sent off by the king and his advisor with encouraging and hopeful words for their journey and the task at hand. Your car breaks down and your characters push it to the nearest shop. Cue in Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine) and her rendition of “Stand by Me” swells in the background as the camera pans and zooms out, showing the horizon of this big beautiful, yet somewhat empty world. Then the title, “Final Fantasy XV,” is on screen. You reach the stop called Hammerhead and met with a plucky character with a Southern American drawl for some reason, named Cindy, who becomes the game’s mechanic for your main characters. Her grandpa is a character named Cid. From here on out, you get to interact with the world and experience the game’s battle system.

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You control the main character, Noctis, prince of the kingdom of Insomnia, during onscreen battles while your friends, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto help out. You can issue commands to your friends or execute linked attacks. You gain experience and on leveling up, gain AP which you can use to fill up your character’s skill grids. These grids unlock more powers, skills, and abilities that help your character. Typical Final Fantasy flair for the most part. But that’s basically it. This huge world is filled with side quests right from the start of the game. You can indefinitely hold off on main story and do as much of the side quests as you want, except for those locations that are blocked for game and story reasons.

When I did decide to continue with the main story, I was shown clips of negotiations going horribly bad for the King of Insomnia with no sound or context. The next thing, the main character wakes up in bed from where they were staying and hears the news from his friend that his kingdom has fallen. This is where you start to see the cracks and where the developers hodgepodge-ed material from FF Versus XIII to fit the story of FFXV, or whatever story they have cooked up to finish and justify the 10-year development of this project.

I’m 17 hours into the game and barely touched the main storyline. I’ve been doing most of the sidequests and developing my characters’ levels and skills. This is why I miss the old Final Fantasy titles: Story.

I don’t know if it’s the limitations of the tech back then, but story/mythos was center stage on top of gameplay. The more recent FF games seem to have focused on gameplay while having trouble executing a coherent story. I saw the same thing with Kingdom Hearts 3, which underwent its own development hell. I just don’t feel a connection with the characters right now. In previous games, you spent a lot of time learning about the story and the characters. You can play mini-games, but side quests were off-limits until further down the line. In FFXV, you’re basically doing your own thing from the get go like Fallout 3 or Fallout 4. Maybe it’s the whole “open world” strategy that has worked well with titles like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed, but it’s not working out for this game when the story is incomplete to begin with. Assassin’s Creed, especially, has a well-established mythology that sprinkles all that information throughout the game. Previous FF games pepper you with this information. FFXV lazily attempts to do that and right now, I just don’t care about these characters.

Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, left Square-Enix and formed his own company. He created Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360. The game is praised for its story, but people were turned off by the outdated turn-based battle system. I think that’s what’s missing in these more recent Squeenix JRPGs. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you’re supposed to feel like you’re on this epic journey… an odyssey. I’m hoping at this point where I’m at in the game picks up the pace and the story. But based on numerous anecdotes and reviews from people who’ve played the game and its numerous DLCs over the past few years, I’m not hold my breath.

I’m done.

Games I’ve Played in 2015 (1st Half)   2 comments

1. Girl Fight – This fighting game was on sale for $1.99 on the Playstation Network. There’s a reason why it’s so cheap. Other than having all female fighters, this should not be compared to the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat. Clunky controls and fighting mechanics. Not that great.

2. Puppeteer – This actually caught me by surprise and is quite good.

One dark moonlit night, a young boy named Kutaro was carried away by the maleficent Moon Bear King to a black castle where the unlucky lad was transformed into a puppet. Kutaro displeased the terrible tyrant, who devoured the boy’s wooden head and cast away his body. But the headless hero was not alone, for he had discovered a very special pair of scissors to help him on his harrowing adventure to find his head, and his way home.

As the headless puppet, Kutaro must use Calipers (the magical scissors) to gather all the moonshards and free other lost souls. He also encounters various puppet heads and use their powers along the way. It’s an innovative platformer that sets the game as a grand puppet show.

3. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara – This is the arcade port of the two Dungeons & Dragons game that came out in the 90s. I remember playing them in the arcades as a kid. You could play with up to 4 people and work together. The years have not been kind to the graphics, but they’re still as fun as I remember them.

4. CounterSpy – It’s a stealth game similar to Metal Gear Solid, but played as a platformer. Using the Cold War setting, you are C.O.U.N.T.E.R. agent who retrieves information from both the Socialist (Soviet Union) and Imperialist (United States) nations. The goal is to try and remain undetected, if possible, and not raise the DefCon level to 1 (5 lowest, 1 highest). If you do, the countries could launch their nukes. So you go back and forth between the two sides stealing information, power-ups, weapons and lower the DefCon threat level.

5. Silent Hill: Homecoming – This is probably the last good Silent Hill game. I’m currently playing Downpour and this one just have much better controls. Alex Shepherd, a soldier returning from war, to his hometown of Shepherd’s Glen (a town outside of Silent Hill), where he finds the town in disarray, and his younger brother missing. As he continues on his search to find his younger brother, he discovers more about the Order, a cult, as well as the town’s history, and his own past.

6. Tokyo Jungle – Humans disappeared (died?). The only ones left are animals. Pets have gone feral and taking over the cities of Tokyo, now overrun by plants. You get to play as one of these animals. Your goal is to survive for as long as you can without dying from other predators bigger than you, starvation. You will also mate and create a family and try to extend your family tree for as many generations as possible.

7. The Unfinished Swan – Artistic games never disappoint.

8. Crime & Punishment: Sherlock Holmes – You play Sherlock Holmes and try to solve murders. It has clunky controls, but I’ll try to beat it. Like most games in this list, I got it for free.

Batman: Arkham Asylum   Leave a comment

Batman: Arkham Asylum is the best superhero videogame. I am super late in playing this game. It came out back in 2009 and I just played and finished it in 2015 thanks to PlayStation Plus’s free games per month.

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The story begins with Batman in the Batmobile, racing towards Arkham Asylum with Joker in handcuffs in the passenger’s seat. Supposedly, Joker broke out of Arkham Asylum. Batman found him and is taking him back. Batman sensed something wasn’t right. He thinks Joker just handed himself easily. He accompanies the staff in making sure Joker won’t try anything funny. It turns out he did. He put the entire facility on lock down for the staff and got most of the dangerous patients freed, including Harley Quinn, Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and the Scarecrow. The entire area also includes Blackgate Penitentiary. Now it’s up to Batman to investigate and save the Arkham Asylum staff from Joker.

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Joker’s ultimate goal is to complete a serum (Titan formula) based on Bane’s blood and some of venom from Poison Ivy’s vines and inject it to a few Asylum inmates to transform them into deformed, powerful titan like creatures. While Batman is busy stopping Joker, the Riddler is also leaving behind puzzles and clues to mess with Batman (I managed to solve all of the Riddler’s riddles and sent his coordinates to the police).

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The Scarecrow also managed to inject Batman with his fear toxin. Batman started hallucinating about his childhood, Commissioner Gordon dying and switching places with Joker, who shoots him in the head. Somehow Batman was able to overcome the effects of the fear toxin, despite being injected multiple times (Scarecrow lamented on how Batman could still be standing). While running away from Batman, Scarecrow ended up in Killer Croc’s lair and took him out.

As far as enemies go, Harley Quinn was the weakest. Batman put her out and locked her back in her cell. Poison Ivy is a special one. Of all the patients in Arkham Asylum, she is locked up in the Botanical Garden.

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In the final battle, Joker got Batman to fight two titan henchmen. After that, he injected himself with the Titan formula and transformed. Batman was able to beat him. The police from Gotham stormed in and locked up the prisoners again. Scarecrow somehow survived and will probably come back in the next game, Arkham City, set a year after Arkham Asylum.

Apparently, the Arkham Asylum director took credit for stopping Joker and became a major. He deemed both the asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary no longer suitable to hold all of Gotham’s dangerous criminals. Instead, he purchased Gotham’s most notorious slums and converted them into one huge prison they called Arkham City.

I’m done.

Posted June 7, 2015 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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Assassin Turned Templar   Leave a comment

Assassin’s Creed Rogue is the standalone Assassin’s Creed (AC) game released in 2014 along with Assassin’s Creed Unity. Within the franchise’s timeline, Rogue is the direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and the prequel to Assassin’s Creed III, with the last mission being the prologue to Assassin’s Creed Unity. Rogue is set during the Seven Years’ War between Great Britain and France.

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Unlike other AC games, Rogue follows Shay Patrick Cormac, a former pig farmer from New York of Irish descent during colonial times. He worked with the Colonial Assassins around this time with a younger Achilles Davenport as the brotherhood’s mentor (from AC 3). In search of Precursor sites (ancient sites from “Those Who Came Before” men), Shay grew resistant to how the Assassins’ gather intel and the killing of people who couldn’t defend themselves.

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His last mission as an Assassin to obtain the Precursor artifact from under an old church in Lisbon drove Shay to turn his back on the brotherhood. After stealing the manuscript holding the location of Precursor sites and shot in the back during his escape, he was found by the Templars. He helped the Templars in a few missions before his official induction into the Order of the Colonial Rite by their Grand Master, Haytham Kenway (also from AC3). Shay’s story shows us how Achilles’ Colonial Assassins Brotherhood ended.

As a gamer, you are playing as a new Abstergo Entertainment employee in the present day, tasked with studying and reliving Shay Cormac’s genetic memories through the Animus. It looks like several months have passed since members of the modern Assassins infiltrated Abstergo Entertainment (events in AC 4: Black Flag). The present day gameplay is the same as in AC 4: Black Flag.

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As far as the game is concerned, Rogue is everything that you experienced in AC 3 and AC 4: Black Flag. Controls are still the same as the last two main AC games. Shay has two pistols and fights with a sword and long knife combo. There are three main locations which you have access to: The Northern Atlantic, River Valley (Hudson) and New York.

I haven’t played AC Unity, but I’ve seen the gameplay videos and know of the entire story. Rogue should have been a longer game rather than a companion game to Unity. Shay’s story felt very rushed (only 6 memory sequences compared to the normal 12 memory sequences in most AC games). At the same time, Shay’s adventures were in-line with the modern Templars (Abstergo) objective. Their purpose was to prove that the Assassins are wrong and show why an Assassin became a Templar. As for the story, Rogue shows us that the Assassins are not always right. Shay felt responsible for all the deaths that they have caused trying to retrieve Precursor artifacts and betrayed the Assassin Brotherhood to save the world.

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If you enjoy watching Let’s Play videos on YouTube, I’ve recorded my walkthrough of the game from start to finish, focusing on the main story mission.

I’m done.

Posted April 21, 2015 by StupidSystemus in Games, Reviews

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A Bunch of Games I Completed   Leave a comment

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I bought the Dual Pack Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves back in 2013, I believe. The game is like an Indiana Jones type adventure, looking for a lost forgotten treasure, getting there before the bad guys do, collecting artifacts along the way, lots of climbing and shooting, and just great storytelling. I didn’t see much change in the controls as in the Drake’s Fortune. The story has improved as well as the graphics. It’s still one of the better games to come out for the PS3 and I’m glad I got to play it. I just need to make some time to play the next one, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

The Walking Dead Season 2: A Telltale Game Series

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said with the first game. It’s based on the the Walking Dead series. It takes place in the same area, with different characters. The story picks up several months after the first game. This time, you’re playing as Clementine.

Not much has changed from the gameplay. It’s a story-driven game that factor’s in your responses and decisions. There are segments that let’s you move around to explore an area or timed events such as shooting walkers and avoiding them. As for the story, it’s a lot sadder and makes you feel hopeless for the characters. The main difference this time compared to the first game are the multiple endings.

The first game was mostly one-sided. There were some decisions that affected who lives and dies based on who you choose to save. This time, the last few decisions in the last episode affects the endings. There are 5 branching scenarios. Each of them are as valid as the other. It really depends on which side you choose and your reaction. They’re also planning a sequel. The decisions you made carries over to the next game.

Bioshock

I didn’t play this game when it first came out 2007. The game is set in 1960. You guide the protagonist after his plane crashes in the Atlantic ocean near a tiny island with a lighthouse. It turns out this was a bathysphere terminus that leads to the underwater city of Rapture.

Long story short, a very wealthy business magnate created an underwater utopia for society’s elites to flourish outside of government control. Of course, left unchecked, they were free to do all their scientific experiments, including gene manipulation and splicing. This divided the inhabitants into two camps, erupting into a war inside Rapture. That’s where your character comes in.

It’s a story-driven first person shooter unlike any other. There’s something fundamentally messed up with the overall story. I think it has to do with people playing god. There’s also the scare factor of the splicers (mutated inhabitants) in Rapture.

Rainbow Moon

Rainbow Moon is a tactical, turn-based RPG that borrows elements from dungeon crawling games. As far as game mechanics is concerned, it’s a complete game. The story is weak and generic at best. The game also relies too much on grinding to level up. That’s actually a turn off for me.

SkyDive: Proximity Flight

After watching the skyfall cheat in Grand Theft Auto V multiple times on YouTube, I thought about buying the game. Then I realized that I’d just be buying the game because I wanted to do the the skyfall cheat. So I looked around to see if there are any games centered on skydiving. I found two games on the PlayStation Network. One of them is SkyDive: Proximity Flight.

The name is actually a misinterpretation. This is a wingsuit flying game with a focus on proximity flight (falling with style). Probably the most fun I’ve had in any game.

DuckTales: Remastered

The first game came out for the NES. They remastered and converted the 8-bit graphics into HD. It’s the same gameplay that I saw other people play in the shopping malls when I was a kid. Definitely worth the nostalgia.

I’m done.