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REVIEW: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

May 9, 2011 2 comments
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

Beautiful, man.

In the year of 1997, video game company Square released Final Fantasy VII for Sony’s PlayStation, which revolutionized the Japanese role-playing genre as a whole. Its monumental popularity overshadowed the release of several other games that year, including designer Matsuno Yasumi’s critically acclaimed Final Fantasy Tactics. Nearly ten years later, the game was re-released in 2007 as Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions for Sony’s PSP.

When players start the game, they engage in a snowball fight they are greeted by Arazlam, a modern-day scholar. After asking your name (as RPGs do) and birthday, he tells you of the conflict for the throne dubbed by historians as “The War of the Lions” which occurred over 400 years ago. Set in the Kingdom of Ivalice (yes, that’s the same Ivalice as Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII) following its defeat in the Fifty Years’ War, the hostility between Duke Larg of the Northern Sky and Duke Goltanna of the Southern Sky escalated to massive amounts of bloodshed after the King’s untimely death. Arazlam tells the player that the climax of the political struggle saw the rise of a young man named Delita Heiral, who went down in history as the hero of the Lion War.

However, he has reason to believe that another, named Ramza Beoulve, who was condemned as a traitor and heretic, may have been more involved in the outcome than initially reported. He then invites you to join him as he attempts to unravel the truth of what really happened behind the scenes of The War of the Lions. Word to the wise: if you are not a fan of intricate and convoluted storylines in video games, avoid this one. To quote my friend Dave [little Dave -ed.], it is similar to opening to a random page in a history book and reading. This game doesn’t hold your hand or explain every little thing to you. However, if you are feeling confused, the game does provide a chronicle detailing all the game’s characters and past events for further information. Read more…

Categories: Reviews, Video Games

REVIEW: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable

April 24, 2011 1 comment

Ladies and gentlemen, Chad Grover!

Player Characters in Persona 3

Dave wanted to play the girl, just cos the guy stole his haircut.

You take on the role of a mysterious transfer student who arrives in Iwatodai via train late one night only to discover that something spooky is going down. A dark green aura fills the air, the moon glows with a warm yellow light, and filled coffins litter the otherwise empty streets. Supposedly, there is a hidden 25th hour to every day, known as the Dark Hour. During this time, beings known as “Shadows” roam around the city attacking anyone who has not transmogrified into a casket. Yes, they are coming after you. But, why have not you changed just like all the others? And what is the meaning of this eerie and disconnected time span? Keep reading to find out.

That is to say, if you haven’t played this game already. And if you haven’t, you really should (unless you’re short on free time, then avoid it like the plague). What’s your excuse for not playing it? If it’s not “I don’t like good games” then you shouldn’t have any. I mean, it’s already been released a total of three times. First as Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 back in 2007 for the PlayStation 2. Then, boasting roughly 30 extra hours of bonus content, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES in 2008. And finally, distributed last July, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable for the PlayStation Portable. As its name implies, the game is indeed compact. Many sacrifices were made to fit the original game onto a Universal Media Disc, which can hold up to merely two gigabytes of space. Anime cutscenes are dropped, most navigation is done by way of a point-and-click interface, and “The Answer” from Persona 3: FES is missing. Even so, this is easily the greatest 45 dollars I’ve ever spent on a video game. The main addition to this version is the ability to play as a female protagonist, which radically changes certain elements of the game (I’ll touch on this later). My first play through took me about 100 hours or so to complete, and I cannot even imagine doing so again from the female perspective any time soon. This is serious bang for the buck. Read more…

Categories: Reviews, Video Games

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Minecraft

April 22, 2011 2 comments

DAY ONE

ohsweetbabyjesusthecreepers

You wake up alone on an island. You desperately begin punching a tree. This, my friends, is the opening to every game of Minecraft ever played, and if you know your priorities to survive your first night, you know that this tree punching is absolutely vital. You punch a tree to get wood, you make planks from wood, you craft sticks from planks, you set up a crafting table, you make some basic wooden tools, you start mining stone, you make stone tools, you find a vein of coal, you mine that coal, you dig your way into the side of a hill, you light the living crap out of that hole with torches you make from the sticks and the coal, you seal it off and you wait until morning. Outside, you will hear the hellish moans of monsters from beyond the grave, but right now, those aren’t your concern. Your concern, right now, this very second, is punching that tree with your entire everything.

Minecraft is the latest indie darling to make like Arcade Fire and become massively popular for what an outside observer can see as no particular reason. It’s been compared to Lego, in that it gives you the same sense of creativity and accomplishment. However, Lego never made me question my safety, or wake up alone, outside, at night, with an archer from hell attempting to take my life about twenty feet away on the beach while all of my stuff remains safe in my apartment in the side of a hill. I’m glad I left the door closed, but we’ll get to why I’m stuck in a literal four block deep hole in the ground with a block of dirt over my head on the beach shortly. Read more…

Categories: Reviews, Video Games

The Escapist video series review round-up!

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, again dear readers, I’ve arrived at today unprepared. Much like last week’s article with sport, today I’ll be talking about something near and dear to me–some things near and dear. You see, today, I became a registered member of the escapist magazine–an online magazine dedicated to games, gaming culture and articles/reviews on same. I’ve been a frequent visitor of their site for a few years to watch a review series called Zero Punctuation but recently, I decided to check out some of the other video series on the site as well. And, as I have nothing planned, I figured I’d force you to sit through my reviews of same. Enjoy! If you really want to.

REVIEW: Zero Punctuation (the originator!)

Zero Punctuation

He's mad as hell, and gonna tell you all about it.

Let’s get some perspective up in this to start off with. If you’re entirely foreign to the escapist or video game culture in general, you will have no idea what Zero Punctuation is, or is about. On the surface, and as it’s often characterized in negative press, it’s a review series. Every week, host Yahtzee Croshaw (author of Mogworld, the most recent book I enjoyed entirely) takes one game into the corner of his living room and delivers a beat-down of such magnitude that most games would be lucky to have one element deemed mediocre. Yes, it does seem a little reductive on the surface to give every single game a negative review–that’s why occasionally (but only very occasionally)–Yahtzee will talk about a game he loves. There are reviews like Too HumanKane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, or Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II that are thrown under his foot to be flattened like the insolent crud I can only assume them to be. There are also moments like his review of The Orange Box (Portal specifically), No More Heroes or Shadow of the Colossus when his modes are set to praise. Take note of those games, for they should be worth playing. Read more…

REVIEW: Ghost Trick

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment
Sissel and Lynne

He can manipulate things from beyond the grave. She dies a lot.

I don’t read. I don’t know at what point I forgot that simple fact about my personality, but I did along the line and now for some unfathomable reason, I have reviews of a novel, an anthology and now a visual novel on this site. I don’t know what, exactly, reading did to me as a child, but I’ve been against it since before I can remember. I’m a very capable reader, but the story has to interest me for me to finish it. Ghost Trick, the new book from the author of the Ace Attorney series of video gam–I mean books, is a delightful read. Lots and lots of reading. So very much reading. It’s delightful reading and engaging reading, but reading nonetheless. They aren’t called visual novels in Japan for nothin’, folks.

A visual novel is a unique kind of video game that’s almost exclusive to Japan. Its gameplay to story ratio is perhaps the lowest I can imagine; it’s almost entirely sold on the story of the characters and what they go through and its plot and the gameplay is just an interesting quirk of the experience. Visual novels, or at least the ones I’ve read thus far, have a visual style highly reminiscent of comic books and anime, with sprites in often static poses while reams and reams of dialogue scroll through a box under their face. They’re also typically unvoiced, which means all you hear while these reams and reams of dialogue are scrolling through this box is a hollow clicking. Don’t let that description throw you–these games are often shockingly immersive and affecting. Done properly, the writing alone carries you. Read more…