Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

02/01/2012 at 9:53 PM | Posted in PlayStation 3 | 2 Comments
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As most of you know, a few months ago I was flown out to L.A. by Square Enix and got to give FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 a preliminary spin. I’ll be honest, prior to attending this event, I was skeptical about XIII-2. Granted, I was excited for the game, the announcement trailer looked quite promising, as did the subsequent trailer featuring gameplay. Even so, after FINAL FANTASY XIII, I was unsure about a sequel. Don’t get me wrong, I liked XIII, a lot actually, I find I’m one of the bigger fans of the game. Criticism notwithstanding, I still felt wary about a XIII-2. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I finally got my hands on it, and almost instantly felt a lot better. It was clear right from the get go that Square Enix took XIII’s criticism to heart and worked hard to improve on things in XIII-2.

Now Square has thankfully given us a full review copy of the PS3 version, here is my final impressions of their attempts to win back some of the pessimists. Continue Reading Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review…

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Star Wars The Force Unleashed II

11/04/2010 at 10:35 PM | Posted in PlayStation 3 | Leave a comment
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Star Wars The Force Unleashed II Review

When I played the first Force Unleashed game I thought it was excellent and it ended on bit of a cliffhanger so I was really hoping for a sequel. When the sequel was announced and I saw the first teaser, I was in heaven and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I’ve finally gotten it and played it to completion, that didn’t take too long, but more on that later. Continue Reading Star Wars The Force Unleashed II…

Final Fantasy XIII

03/17/2010 at 8:20 PM | Posted in PlayStation 3 | Leave a comment
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Final Fantasy XIII Review

4 years in the making and finally, no pun intended, I have Final Fantasy XIII in my hands. This game is, single-handedly, the longest I have ever waited for a video game release. But enough dwelling on the past. I have it, I’ve played it, time to review it.

Final Fantasy XIII is an RPG for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, however I am only reviewing my experiences with the PS3 version. It was developed and published by Square Enix and it was released on March 9th, 2010

Story

Final Fantasy XIII takes place on Cocoon, a city-world floating above a wild planet named Pulse. The residents of Cocoon fear Pulse and anything from it. When a Pulse fal’Cie, a god-like being from Pulse, is discovered to be on Cocoon, a massive panic starts which triggers Cocoons government to immediately order the Purge: the removal of the fal’Cie and anyone in close proximity to it, which includes an entire town. Lightning, a soldier, is searching for her sister Serah, who has been turned into a l’Cie by the Pulse fal’Cie. A l’Cie is given superhuman abilities to complete a task given to them by the fal’Cie. They are feared almost as much as the fal’Cie themselves if not more. Through extraordinary coincidences, this search brings all of the main characters together and, like Serah, they are turned into l’Cie by the Pulse fal’Cie as well. Here is where the story really begins.

Score – 9

Gameplay

In Final Fantasy XIII you’ll explore the worlds of Cocoon and Pulse. If you engage in battle with enemies on the map you will be transported to a separate screen where an active turn based battle will commence. Battles are normally a group of three characters against a set of enemies with you controlling one of those characters as the party “Leader”. The other characters are controlled by AI.

As you wait for your Active Time Battle or “ATB” gauges to fill you will choose actions and execute them on an enemy of your choice once the gauges fill up completely. You can also execute some actions early by pressing the Triangle button. You can’t actively move your characters around the battle field but they will move automatically. This means there can be some skill involved when it comes to the timing and executions of your actions. In FFXIII every action is determined by the ATB gauge meaning MP is not a feature in this game.

FFXIII also introduces what’s called Paradigm Shift. It allows you to assign certain roles and abilities for different characters that you can actively change in the heat of battle. For example, you could have the 3 members of your party in the “Commando” or attacking role. Once your HP gets to a certain level you could use paradigm shift to change their roles, maybe changing one, or even two party members into the “Medics” or healing role. Learning how to properly use Paradigm Shift is the only way to be truly successful in this game.

For an extra bit of help, you can also summon Eidolons, powerful beings that are assigned to each of the l’Cie. Most Final Fantasy games features summons, but the way FFXIII incorporates them into the story is quite interesting.

Score – 9

Graphics

Once again, Square Enix wows on a platform with truly stunning graphics. Pre-rendered scenes are, of course, top notch, but in-game graphics are some of video games greatest to date. I’ve been following this game forever and I was always impressed with how it looked, Square really did next-gen Final Fantasy well. In a first for the Final Fantasy series the game was apparently lip synced to the English language versions. However there are times where it looks as if they thought they didn’t need to change some of the lip movements because they were “close enough”. Also I have a thought that the Japanese lip syncing is a lot better than English. However, as a die-hard fan, I am nit-picking. Overall everything is done really well. The game occasionally drops a few frames but this rarely happens. If it does happen though, I find it is mostly in cutscenes.

Score – 10

Final Note

Final Fantasy XIII was everything I could have hoped it to be. Once again, go figure, I’m really impressed with Square Enix. I think it’s worth mentioning that, the game looks as good as it does, yet load times, with the exception of loading the game up, are nearly non-existent, with no install needed. Battles could be a lot more fun because they could be harder as, 1, you no longer have MP, and 2, you are fully healed after each battle. At first I didn’t like that, but now I realize every battle can be truly exciting and challenging because of it. I have a few, VERY minor issues with FFXIII but they didn’t affect my playing of the game that much. This game really had a lot to offer, whether you’re deciding what Paradigms to use, upgrading your Crystarium (think an improved Final Fantasy X Sphere Grid), upgrading your weapons or taking part in a bunch of optional missions, you’ll spend a pretty fair amount of time on it. Naturally, I really enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII and I think I will be enjoying it for some time.

Overall Rating

FullFullFullFullHalf

Star Ocean The Last Hope -International-

02/17/2010 at 4:44 AM | Posted in PlayStation 3 | Leave a comment
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Star Ocean The Last Hope -International- Review

When Star Ocean The Last Hope was first announced, I was really excited. I had played Star Ocean Till The End of Time and loved it. Then it was announced as being for the Xbox 360, FML. Fast forward almost a year later and Star Ocean The Last Hope for PlayStation 3 becomes available. What a relief it was to finally be able to play this game.I actually wanted this out on Monday but I was feeling pretty ill and was unable to type it up. Regardless here is my review.

Star Ocean The Last Hope -International- is an RPG for PlayStation 3. It was developed by tri-Ace, published by Square Enix and released on February 9th, 2010. This version features an option for the original Japanese Audio, multilingual text options, and selectable character portraits. These additions don’t seem like much but when you factor in the fact that this title in now playable on the PS3, they seem just fine.

Story

Star Ocean The Last Hope takes place in the somewhat near future. The effects of World War III have pushed humans mostly underground due to contamination on the surface from the effects of nuclear weapons. The powers of Earth banded together to form the Greater United Nations and with it, established The Universal Science and Technology Administration or USTA. The USTA was charged with finding a new planet for the people of Earth to move to. A scientist named Trillas Bachtein succeeded in his warp drive experiments which was a breakthrough in space travel. The USTA quickly put in motion its Space Reconnaissance Force or SRF project, this project would eventually send the first humans into outer space to locate a suitable planet. So our story begins, on the day of the SRF’s first mission. We meet Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji of the spaceship Calnus, one of 5 ships in the SRF fleet. It is on this first mission that things don’t go exactly as planned, and sets the stage for the entire story. The story itself was interesting as it is the oldest story in the Star Ocean universe. I felt as if some things were a little cliché at times but it didn’t bother me that much.

Score – 8

Gameplay

The controls are quite simple, you tilt the left analog stick to move in any direction, press triangle for the menu, press cross to examine things or talk to people etc. One complaint I do have is with the camera controls. They are a bit strange in that the higher you want the camera, the farther it gets from Edge, likewise, lowering the camera brings it closer to Edge as well. It got a little annoying but by now I’m quite used to it. In battle though the camera seemed fine and I didn’t have any complaints. Like in past Star Ocean titles, The Last Hope uses a real-time battle system. You encounter an enemy on the field and the battle commences. You are given a confined space to dispose of a group of enemies with your own group of allies. You can have 4 characters in battle at one time and can switch back and forth between these characters freely with the press of a button. You can also switch out any characters for reserve characters at any time in the battle menu, a new feature. In battle, the Rush Gauge will fill when a player is being attacked or attacking, when the gauge is full, players can press square and activate Rush Mode. In Rush Mode, the players speed is increased and they cannot be knocked back by enemy attacks. The Rush Gauge also allows players to perform powerful combos once the gauge has filled. The Last Hope also features a new ability called “Blindside”. When they are being targeted by an enemy, players can wait until until an enemy is close enough by holding circle and with a tilt of the analog stick can quickly break the enemies line of sight, come up behind them and strike the enemy, often resulting in a critical hit.

Score – 9

Graphics

Star Ocean The Last Hope -International- looks really great, the jump from 360 to PS3 was kind. Unfortunately this game lacks many CG cutscenes. However, I will say that there were times where I was expected a CG scene and when the scene started I thought it was, however it ended up just being in-game. Getting tricked like this I would consider to be a good thing. I have a few complaints however, the lip syncing is god awful, and before you tell me that it wasn’t changed for English, I’ll tell you that I watched some scenes in Japanese and the lip syncing was… god awful. Another issue were the character’s faces, mainly their facial expressions, many characters seemed lifeless, especially Edge. He looked lifeless and bug eyed. This annoyed me, but naturally it didn’t make the game un-playable. Occasionally the game would slow down with too many enemies on the field etc. or sometimes in battle. It didn’t happen too often so I wasn’t really bothered by it.

Score – 9

Final Note

Star Ocean The Last Hope was another game I was really looking forward to playing. However it did come with a few disappointments. Altogether it felt a little lower budget than say, Star Ocean Till The End of Time. For one, I was hoping the game was going to be a little longer. I felt it was a little too easy, mind you I did play on the standard (Galaxy Mode) difficulty, but even so, this was one of the few games that I can remember I have finished without ever getting a game over. Another thing that irked me was the soundtrack. I couldn’t help but notice the same track being played multiple times in very different settings. Other than being redundant, one track in particular would work kind of well for one scene and be totally out of place for another. I don’t know, maybe I’m comparing this game too much to it’s predecessor, but really, being the first Star Ocean for this generation I feel it should have trumped the others.

Overall Rating

FullFullFullFullHalf

White Knight Chronicles

02/09/2010 at 3:32 AM | Posted in PlayStation 3 | Leave a comment
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White Knight Chronicles Review

So, White Knight Chronicles was one of those games that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, I hit a few potholes on the way but I got it, played it, and beat it. I was kind of hoping that I would play enough of the game in order to have a review out simply a week after its release but I ended up beating it. So now I can review it having played the game, but then again, oh darn there’s no more game to play. Although that’s not necessarily true, is it? Finishing the story left me wanting and it was slightly bittersweet, although I’m getting ahead of myself. For now I can be happy with the fact that I can get right into playing Star Ocean: The Last Hope International when it comes out tomorrow.

White Knight Chronicles is an RPG for the PS3. It was developed by Level 5 and Japan Studio and it was released on February 2nd, 2010. Let’s get one thing out of the way. Other reviews were this game were less than favorable citing all kinds of reasons as to why the game isn’t to good. I felt as if most of these reviews were a bit harsh and I had a slightly better opinion on this game as I do for most things. This game features an approximately 50-hour Story Mode and then there are missions you can do using your Avatar either solo or online with up to 3 other players. The “International Edition” features the full game, 50 disc based online quests, custom personal virtual lobby (Georama), and Voicechat & Live Talk.

Story

White Knight Chronicles is about the Kingdom of Balandor and of a boy named Leonard who crashes the princess of Balandor’s Coming of Age Party. This lovely banquet is disturbed when it is raided by a group known as the Magi. In an attempt to protect the princess Leonard runs off into the castle with her and discovers a suit of armor that transforms him into the White Knight. Unfortunately, the princess is kidnapped by a mysterious member of the Magi known as General Dragias. This sets Leonard and his companions on a journey to rescue the princess and take the Magi down. I’ll tell you right now, the game doesn’t really end. Some games finish the story and leave off potential for a sequel, some games, with a sequel in mind, finish the story and still manage to leave some sort of closure. Compare to say Kingdom Hearts where you go through the game, figure out that Ansem is the real culprit, you beat him and all that jazz but then there are some loose ends where given a sequel you would tie up. In White Knight Chronicles however, you go through the game, find out who the real culprit is, and don’t kill him. It just felt like there wasn’t any closure. I mean I easily (I should mention it is a pretty easy game) beat the game with my party’s level averaging 35, that should tell you something right there, as far as a normal play of an RPG is concerned.

Score – 7.5

Gameplay

The controls in this game are rather simple although at first I was quite frustrated with them. You will spend your time navigating around different areas using the left analog stick and using the right stick to move the camera. There are two Control Modes (A and B) and you can freely choose between the two although there are little real differences. Battles are seamless, and once you click on a enemy to target them, the battle begins until all the enemies near you are either defeated, or you run away. In battle, once the command menu shows up, you will choose a command from the bar with the directional buttons as you wait for the “Command Ring” to fill up. The speed at which this ring fills is based off of a few factors, your current weapon, current armor, etc. During battle you gain “Action Chips” by either attacking or getting attacked. You also need at least 7 AC to transform into the White Knight, more Chips means more powerful skills when you transform. You can then use these AC to use more powerful attacks or self created combos. I found this to be truly annoying as you never seem to have enough. Even mundane actions later on in a skill tree costs at least 1 and on top of it some even cost MP as well. The first few skills of an attribute in a skill tree don’t cost any AC, however, later in the game these attacks are just to weak and make not using AC frustrating but doable. I eventually found myself using hardly any skills that required AC and simply wished that Action Chips didn’t exist and that they went with a meter for transformation.

Score – 7.5

Graphics

White Knight Chronicles looks fairly good in the style that it is done in. I did find myself in favor of some of the game’s original design but the final product is nice. The environments are pretty large and you’ll spend quite some time actually getting through them, I found myself sometimes reminded of some environments from Dark Cloud 2 but I wonder if that is just because I know the game was developed by Level 5 and I was constantly comparing the two. Although quite frankly I think there was nothing wrong with that as I have been dying for a sequel to DC2 and this game felt like it a little in spirit with some of its concepts, design, and music.

Concept Art

Score – 9

Final Note

So, White Knight Chronicles isn’t perfect, there are definitely a few, actually a handful of things I did not like and yes most of these complaints come from the battle controls and battle system. As far as the battle system goes, I feel if they had managed to recreate what they first showed the battle system as being, things would have worked out MUCH better. Another big complaint I had was with your inventory. I don’t really want to get into it but let’s just say it isn’t exactly the simplest thing to acquire an item from the field and then give it or equip it to a particular character, that being said equipping armor and weapons isn’t really straightforward either. I often found myself a little confused about certain things that should have either been explained in the in-game Help menu or at least the manual. Little tidbits like this reduced the enjoyment a little but the story is what really keeps this game alive even though it even has some issues. Let’s just say that with a sequel already in development, they have a bunch of things that need to be nipped, tucked, tweaked, and overhauled.

Overall Rating

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