Armored Core

With the launch of Armored Core V, and since I enjoyed Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls so much, I went back and looked at From Software’s game lineup.  There were a couple choices: King’s Field, Tenchu, Otogi, but I ended up going to back to Armored Core, as I have a soft spot for mechs.  My only experience with the series was a few hours with Armored Core 2 on the PS2.  It seemed fun, but I also don’t have any distinct memories (which isn’t a good sign).

With over a dozen titles in the series, I thought it clever to go back to the roots before trying one of the newest entries.  So I picked up copies of the psx titles, and will hopefully be reviewing them in the coming weeks.  The title and cover of “Master of Arena” is so bland I put it off until last.  “2 Disc Game!”

The Reviews Explained

So I spoke a little about how the rating system will work.  It’s a critical system, but because there will be more 2s and 3s than usual, I thought I would explain the stars in greater detail.

It’s really a four-star system, with a fifth star reserved for rare situations.

The stars:

★  Bad Game.  Not redeemable.

★★ Average Game.  In the same way that a “C” in school is supposed to be average, but no one ever wants to get one.  Leaves little or no reason to play it.

★★★ Above-Average Game.  They’re good but you can’t put your finger on what’s hollow about the experience.  Many big-budget sequels would fall into this category.

★★★★ Great Game.  An undeniably positive experience.  It falls short of being a masterpiece, but it’s well worth your time.

★★★★★  One of the best of a generation.  Succeeds in both execution and originality.  The kind of game you still think about years later.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Review

Crisis Core:  Final Fantasy VII

Platform:  PSP
Price I Paid:  Gift

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If I’m being completely honest, I probably wouldn’t have played this game if it wasn’t a gift.  I already know way to much about the FF7 universe, for someone who claims not to care about it, and I was sure I couldn’t lie with a straight face after playing another game in the controversial series.  My desire to waste time got the best of me and I did jump into it. 

The positives: It’s gorgeous (like most Square games), complete, and the story is more redeemable than expected.  Zach is a fucking idiot, but somehow endearing.

The negatives:  There is zero challenge, zero.  Literally, zero.  It might take a little effort to collect all the extras, but it hardly feels like it would give any sense of accomplishment.  The battle system is simple, and the story is not really THAT interesting, just simply better told than you would expect.

Rating: 3 stars

Jikandia Review

Jikandia: The Timeless Land

Platform (Format): PSP (UMD)

It looks pretty cute, right?  The outside is charming enough I bought the game for $10 before a flight to Europe.  As an iOS game I would still consider it quite unpolished.  The characters and story are generic, but have the potential to bring the whole thing together into something worthwhile, but sadly they are the most unbearable part.  The fact that the translation was run through something like babelfish acts as a constant reminder while playing how much of your time you’re wasting (much like an iOS game).

The gameplay is enough of a grind that you develop a routine after the first few levels (go in for a few minutes, die, reequip and gain bonuses from meeting goals, go back in for longer and beat the boss).  Even on an Atlantic plane ride I couldn’t bring myself to play it longer than a couple hours.  Although I can’t help but feel it might have been pretty funny in it’s original Japanese.

Rating: 1 star

Adding Reviews

I haven’t posted anything for awhile (if you don’t count the post from five minutes ago, which I actually wrote months ago). But I have new motivation in the blog, and that’s to add a review section.

The goal:  To provide short reviews, that are (hopefully) not biased by any previously published scores or impressions.

The score system will be borrowed from what I consider the best video game magazine that was ever published, Next Generation.  It is a simple 5 star system, but because of the simplicity the entire scale will be used.  This is in contrast to a 1-10 scale, where most games place between 7-9, with anything below not being worth playing, and anything above being considered great (really what is the difference between 8.5 and 9, or even 8 and 9 for that matter?).  At that level, the real question is it a 4 star (God of War 3), or a 5 star game (Demon Souls)?

Crisis Core I guess

So I think I mostly finished ZHP.  There are about a dozen endings but they basically require you to replay the same parts of the game until you quit from boredom (like most games from in that genre they never really end, you just sort of stop one day…).  Which is my biggest complaint, just too much bullshit to wade through to feel any real sort of completion.  But still it was fun while it lasted and it managed to hold my interest until the normal game had finished.

I’ve started playing Final Fantasy Crisis Core as it was a gift from a friend.  I almost quit after the first hour as Zach is inhumanly stupid.   I tried to find a suitable picture for Zach but all of them make him look like an emo poser (which is the only more redundant personality type in JRPG than “young brash stupid solider”) which thankfully Zach is not. 

ZHP

So I’ve cycled through a bunch of games and finally settled on one that I’ve had the patience to dive into.  Z.H.P.  Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman. 

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It’s not that ZHP is a great game, it’s just that it’s not an average game.  The back claims that you’re in one long boss battle through the entire game, but that’s not really true.  It’s more of a plot gimmick than anything else, but it’s an original plot gimmick.  But originality is really the best thing the game has going for it:  the mechanics, the progress of the game, and more importantly the writing.  In fact you only have one character for the entire game (like original Dragon Warrior style one character), but it works.  In a way it streamlines everything. 

So the writing is pretty bizarre from the get go.  But there is a point when a little squirrel character is describing a problem with his squirrel girlfriend that I literally had to put the handheld down and take a moment to comprehend what was on my screen. 

  “Uh… Besides bruise her uterus?”

Dive back in

I’ve mostly been sucked into ipad games lately (Jet Pack Joyride and revisiting Oblivion Stone). But I decided to fire up the PSP today. The copy of Prinny 2 that was sitting in the PSP had scared me away from the thing for so long. But I’ve learned to accept that I won’t actually beat the game, at least not in the near future. Instead I decided to unwrap the shrink wrap of one of the games that have gathered a thick coat of dust on the bottom shelf.

I originally thought about something action based, but since I finished God of War awhile back I considered a FPS. In the end I decided to settle on Knights in the Nightmare, as the packaging promising an RPG mixed with bullet hell experience was too much too pass up. Intro video was the same lame fantasy bull-shit I’ve seen a hundred times over, but I’m willing to ignore that. More to follow.

Perhaps for the best?

Ys 2 has been slow going as of late. The game is much longer than the first, but requires no less hacking, slashing, and backtracking. It seems to be moving into the final stages as the level-cap has almost been reached and more and more important monsters are killed.

I read an article about tactics ogre. It was almost painful to read about the game. I know I want to play it again but the thought of it is so daunting at the moment it’s almost nauseating, because I know if I do I will go for finishing the game without a single character being knocked out.

Here’s the article that sparked it:
http://www.kidfenris.com/valkyriegames.html