By: jalexbrown Sep 27, 2009 | 2 Comments
I started Star Ocean: First Departure for the PSP. Read my initial impressions.
I've got to admit...as much of an RPG afficiando as I think of myself as, I've never dived very deep into the Star Ocean series. I've purchased The Second Story, A Time to Remember, and The Last Hope along with First Departure, but I've never played any of them before. Given that I was sitting around bored at 1:00 in the morning, and I'd just pulled my PSP out of the tote bag it's been in for the last four months, I decided it would be a good time to give First Departure a try.
The first thing I noticed were the anime scenes. These scenes are gorgeous! The colors are vibrant and crisp on the PSP's screen, and it really has a high-quality feel all around. These anime sequences feature great voice acting, which is something that's always hit-or-miss as far as anime is concerned. Furthermore, it would have been easy for the developers to take every opportunity to throw in these anime sequences, but instead the developers use them sparingly and only at key points throughout. This makes these scenes all the more rewarding when you get to one of them.
The story, from the hour and a half that I've been playing the game, is a compelling one. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I've basically spent the first hour and a half getting familiar with the characters and starting on a journey which I sure is going to be an epic one. RPG fans will understand the importance of a great, gripping story, and so far as I can tell, First Departure doesn't disappoint.
The combat system will be a bit awkward at first to players - such as myself - who are accustomed to Final Fantasy style combat. This time around it occurs in real-time, giving the player control of one character at a time, moving around and attacking with magic and weapons in a system similar to the Tales games. You are given free reign to switch between the characters at your whim, and while you're controlling one character, the other two act based on preset tactics that you can assign and change any time you're out of combat. This combat system is much more involved than a Final Fantasy, turn-based system, which can be a thrill or a burden. This type of combat doesn't allow the player time to set down the PSP for even a moment; you've got to be constantly in control, because otherwise enemies will just attack you while you're standing still.
The presentation in First Departure is phenominal. The visuals are a nice nod to the old-school origins of the game; this isn't fancy, fully 3D like Crisis Core. This is a crisp, nicely rendered 2D with an isometic camera. The audio is equally impressive, really capturing the mood of what's going on at any given time. The only problem I had with the game is that a few of the cut-scenes ran on a little longer than I'd like them to given that the game is for a portable system, but it's a minor setback.
First Departure so far seems to be a great PSP game, one that is inviting and friendly, cutesy and yet serious. The emotional undertones contained in just the first hour and a half are a testiment to how well crafted the story is. Overall, if you're a fan of RPGs, you could do a whole lot worse than to give Star Ocean: First Departure a try.
Jimmy! This one is for you. A online Dragon Ball world.
The real Jimmy, FnJimmy called me a few weeks and told me about an online Dragon Ball game. I searched the internet real quick and couldn't find anything. He said he saw a game play trailer. I didn't believe him. He hallucinates.
Then today it happens. CoryO sends me a link to this ...
You can read more at this site http://www.dbmmo.com/
Looks like the first beta has ended already and that the game is in Japanese. Come on now! Dragon Ball is worldwide Jimmy!
After some hands-on with Brutal Legend, what's the verdict?
Brutal Legend is a good looking game with some serious production values. It's basically a hack-and-slash 3-d platformer mashup. The animation is great and the dialogue and voice acting (featuring Jack Black) are top-notch. You can certainly expect some laughs while playing through this game. It feels like you're controlling a Jack Black animated feature.
You have two basic weapons, your axe and your guitar. Your axe functions much like you'd expect it to, with decapitated and bisected enemies strewn about in its wake. Your guitar allows you to shoot either some sort of lightning, or pyro effects. The pyro allows you to knock enemies up in the air, where you can knock them out baseball style with your axe.
The controls are tight while on foot, but tend to get a little loose when you're in your vehicle. Like most third person 3-d games, this one too suffers from some camera issues. There are options to set the camera speed, and those help, but a re-center type button would've been nice. One of the boss battles has you driving your car, but the camera is panned out and not behind you which creates a bit of steering trouble (for me anyway).
The finished game also includes a muliplayer mode, which should add some replayability to this title.
If you like the hack-and-slash or 3-d platformer genre, I'm sure you won't be dissapointed with this game. Me, I love everthing about this game, except playing it. It's really not my style, game-play wise. I'd love to watch someone else play through it. I would definitely try before you buy, especially if you have an XBox live gold account, as you can download the demo right now, for free. If you're one of those people who loved Psychonauts so much that you still talk about, well, WTF are you doing reading this, don't you have a pre-order to pick up?
Brutal Legend releases October 13, 2009. Pre-order now.
We got on a trip back through time while I review this PS1 classic...
Back when the Playstation was big, Capcom came out with a game called Resident Evil. It was one of the first games dubbed "survival horror", and scary it was. With the success of the first Resident Evil, it was inevitable that Capcom would release Resident Evil 2. Resident Evil 2 was better than the game from which it got its name - not only did it do that, but its also superior to all of them that came after it.
Resident Evil 2 comes on two discs, and each disc contains the story for one of two different characters - either Claire or Leon. There is a feature where if you beat the game with one character and then start with the other, you'll play through that character's "B scenario". In other words, the game will be affected by certain things you did the first time through. As cool as this feature sounds, it's hardly implemented, which is a shame considering how cool it could have been if done to the fullest. The stories are pretty much identical anyways, so there isn't a whole lot of reason to play through it again unless you just liked it enough to do it.
You can play the game in original or arrange mode. In arrange mode, you start off with a Gatling gun and rocket launcher, both with unlimited ammo. This, needless to say, makes the game too easy, but it is nice if you just want to breeze through the game to kill a day or so.
The visuals are decent in Resident Evil 2. The backgrounds are pre-rendered, so they look nice, but that also means their static and void of any sort of life. The characters are okay to look at - not by any means hard on the eyes, but definitely not eye candy, either. Enemy design is well done. Zombies wear different clothes, and the other enemies look creepy as well. The biggest short-coming visually is the static camera (due to the pre-rendered backgrounds), which is faulty at best. The camera definitely isn't your friend in this game, although there are times when it is in a good location and doesn't obstruct any important points or, more importantly, enemies trying desperately to kill you.
Sound is excellent. Even today I think the music is eerie. It's subtle, but even at that, it's spooky. The moans and grunts of zombies are sometimes annoying, but definitely come in handy, because it can sometimes be the only means you have of even knowing there's a zombie around (see aforementioned gripe about camera angles). Voice-overs during cut scenes are well done, too. I'm not saying the audio isn't showing its age, but it's definitely some of the better music of the Playstation era.
Controls are the tank controls that Resident Evil abandoned with Resident Evil 4. Even though the controls are stiff (and that may be a compliment), I never find them particularly hindering. Despite gripes to the contrary, I never have any problems controlling the characters. The rest of the controls are simple and easy to work, so most people won't have any problems picking up this game and playing it.
Overall, Resident Evil 2 is definitely the best in the series. People who praise Resident Evil 4 as holding that title will argue until they turn blue in the face, but I think Resident Evil 2 was just a better game. With a story that is good but not intrusive, visuals that are quite strong for any Playstation-era game, and audio that is nostalgic but well-done, Resident Evil 2 may very well be the highlight of any Playstation game collection.
Review of the new trailer for the Wii version of Tatsunoku vs Capcom
So a new trailer just dropped for the Wii version of Tatsunoku vs Capcom. Excitement abound.
First off let me comment on all the "awards" they show it won. OMG IT WON BEST FIGHTING GAME AT E3????? What exactly was it's competition? No one makes fighting games anymore. Did it beat some new Tekken or some shit?
I still have no idea what Tatsunoku is. I'm gonna guess it's some animation company because I see some Battle of the Planets fuckers, giant robots, people with swords, and lots of characters with those creepy big eyes that dont resemble any actual race that Japanese animators love. Oh and there's a guy who throws a shopping cart and I could see there being an anime series just about shopping carts because anime is stupid and they make series about stupid shit like that. Or is that the guy from Dead Rising. I wouldnt know because I hate video games.Read full story...
With apologies to Richard Llewellyn... How dark was my television that day, too, black in the bright sun.
Jimmy, WTF is with all these dark games lately? I don't mean dark as in gritty storyline, but literaly, as in "I can't see shit", dark.
I first encoutered this development this year while playing through Mass Effect. Now, Mass Effect is not truly a dark game, but there are some very low contrast parts. Specifically I'm refereing to the surface maps when landing on a planet. The map screen consists of a dark blue field with some slightly lighter (but by no means light) blue segments to indicate elevation. I couldn't see the map at all unless I closed all the blinds and even then it was a bit of a struggle.
More recently, Batman Arkham Asylum was released for the PS3 and 360. I loved this game, but you really had to play more than half of it with the "detective mode" on which turned the screen bluish and highlighted the bad guys skeletons in red. There were many parts of this game that were hard to see without it.
Just this week, Halo 3: ODST came out for the XBox 360. This game too has a mode (they call it VISR) that allows enhanced vision. Half the game, again, requires it because it's night and I guess there's no lights on in the city or something. VISR mode highlights all the edges of objects in red (for enemies), green (for allies), or yellow (for objects like building walls). There was a part early on where you have to search through a dark building for a clue, and I swear I was just walking into wall for 5 minutes because I couldn't see shit.
Do the developers of these games play them in the dark exclusively? Can we get them some sunshine? Serioulsy, bump the contrast a little... or throw in a flashlight for my character. Do something so I can see. Wandering around in the dark is not fun for me. Some of us like to play during the day or with a light on so other people in the room can see what they're doing.
End of rant.
Madden's back. Is it just more of the same or did the big boys come out to play this year?
Football season has officially begun! So that only means Cheerleaders, booze, bbqs, tailgates, and of course the next installment in the latest Madden 10 by EA Sports.
I know a lot of people say the same thing every year about EA and the Madden franchise, that its the same game with a new coat of paint or roster shuffles or what ever the case. I'm here to tell you why Madden 10 is the best EA has offered in years and possibly the best football sim ever (yes NFL 2k5 included).
The theme for this year is fight for every yard and rightfully so as all die hard fans know its a game of inches just ask the 1999 Titans loosing by just a yard. Of course a lot of the new additions are the usual new roster better graphics and animations as they should be every year. Its always great to play a match and see a new tackle or new catch animation that you've never seen. But back to the theme, with this theme they introduced the new Pro-Tak feature which simply is a "gang tackle" that up to 9 other AI offensive or defensive can join in on and either push the pile forward or back. But this new feature is great when going up against those tough to tackle Power-backs such as Brandon Jacobs and of course Adrian Peterson just to name a couple. This can be can extremely crucial if used right which can either stop the ball carrier in their tracks instead of letting them scamper for a TD. Don't think that this will make the "D" over powerd against the "O" some backs like the two mentioned previously or elite players can every once in a while break free of a two or maybe even 3 player gang-tackle and can lead to Huge plays!
Now to the gameplay where I think Madden has done a great job in making it feel more true to life than previous years is the gamespeed and feel of how players run and break in and out of their cuts. The game has been slowed down from previous versions and I think its one of the best things they could've done. The game now feels as if you were actually watching a game on a Sunday afternoon. I think the best thing that can be said is it play's more like a sim and less like a "arcadey" football game.
Now to the online portion of Madden. This year they've finally decided to go all out with the online franchise with up to 32 teams playing a season head to head for a chance to get to the Super Bowl. The differnce from this years and last years Madden online franchise is you know have a more robust options menu its as if you were playing a single player franchise will all the options trades, free agents, highlights, full stats you name it its there its the complete online franchise.
With that said I think this is the best Madden ever and the best Football sim ever as well. The game has been out for almost 2 months, if you love football and don't have this go get it it's awesome!
I'm going to do a new editorial segment called Worst Games, which is me ranting about some of the worst games I've ever played. Each article will cover a game and tell why I hated it so much.
So when I decided that I wanted to do this Worst Games series of articles, I had to rummage through all the games I've played and decide which games I think were the absolute worst ones. Now, for the first segment, I thought I'd start with a game that I really have a hard time saying I can't stand, because it comes from one of my all-time favorite franchises.
I'm a Final Fantasy nerd; I own almost every Final Fantasy game made to date, and if there's a black sheep in the franchise, it's Final Fantasy X-2. The casual fans may not know what I'm talking about, but I think the more dedicated Final Fantasy fans already know why I hate this game so much.
It starts with Final Fantasy X. I enjoyed Final Fantasy X; it wasn't one of the best in the series, but it was a respectable title nonetheless. The story dragged on in places, but the overall experience wasn't bad at all. In other words, it didn't need a direct sequel. Square-Enix, however, decided that it did need a sequel, so we got Final Fantasy X-2. When you pop this game in the first time, you're greeted with what could perhaps be the most cheesy, most annoying opening sequence Square has ever delivered. Picture Yuna, Rikku, and a new girl named Payne as three wanna-be Britney Spears singers, and you've got the opening sequence. I'm not making that up; I really, really wish I was, though.
I've got to be honest; the concept alone made me not play too much of this game. Maybe the gameplay is great, but the concept is too damn stupid for me to feel compelled to play it. I do know the game is more open-ended and non-linear. What stupid designer thought Final Fantasy needed to be open-ended? C'mon...when I'm playing Final Fantasy, I want to be compelled by the story to the point that I don't mind it being linear. If the story is so terrible that they had to open up the gameplay to make it compelling...well, that says something bad about it.
Oh yeah...and did I mention that Yuna has guns now? How did it happen that the most powerful summoner in Final Fantasy X end up needed freaking guns in X-2? She's a summoner for pete's sake; she doesn't need guns!
Anyways, my animosity towards this game is starting to show, so I guess I'll wrap it up. The concept sucks, Square decided to jack the great Final Fantasy gameplay all around to make the game open ended, and...well...the game stars not one, not two, but three chicks. Not trying to be sexist, but there doesn't seem to be a decision in this game that was good.
It's only September, but I'm ready to call it...
Is September too early to give out the best and worst value awards for the XBox 360?
Usually yes, but this year is special.
[Ed - note this list is limited to games only, no DLC, costome packs, or avatar clothing]
Best Value Award - The best value of this year is undoubtedly the Shadow Complex. For only 1200 MS points ($15 USD) you get a great looking, Metroid-style adventure-shooter game that will take you about 6-8 hours to finish the first time (if you're big on finding all the items, 4-6 if not). You will play it again too, either to get 100%, or to finish with under 13% (for an achievement), or to finish in the fastest time (ranked online), or to play the challenge maps (again, ranked online). It's an amazing amount of fun to watch your character build up his arsenal, and use that to destroy enemies that used to be hard in one hit, or be invincible... Seriously, it's 15 bucks, just play it, you won't be dissapointed.
Worst Value Award - Sorry to Microsoft and all the fanboys I'm about to piss off, but Halo 3: ODST is a terrible value for the money. (Goukijones' amazing deal at Toys R Us notwithstanding.) There's the Halo 3 multiplayer experience included, but few people who would buy ODST are without the original Halo 3 and probably some of the expansion maps already and the three maps exclusive to this version include a remake of Midship from Halo 2. I'd value that part at around 5 bucks. ODST itself consists of a campaign (either solo or co-op) and a firefight (aka horde, aka survival) mode. Goukijones, GorrilaWarBear, and I raped the co-op campaign on legendary in about 4.5 hours. There is a scoring mini-game in the co-op, but with no achievments or leaderboards tied to it, who gives a fuck to play it again? Also, the co-op mode makes no sense with the story as all the cut scenes show you are by yourself. The campaign should be about 15 bucks, especially in light of great games like Shadow Complex. The firefight mode could be fun, and there are several achievments tied into that, so you will come back and play that, but it kind of feels tacked on, but given Halo fans clammoring for something similar to Gears of War's horde mode, this does have some value. 10 bucks, maybe 15 for some people. Total value 30-35 bucks. Asking price $60.
Before you flame me, let me clarify that I'm not saying ODST is not fun (it is), just that it in no way justified it's $60 price tag (to me anyway).
This is it Jimmy! Vlog #9. Drunk with a fancy micro phone ...
Don't play MUA2 when you can play ODST Jimmy!
I just might do that. After I pwn some ODST again for a little while. I want to play the Batman still I love the fighting in that game. Halo 3 will happen today as well, I have not played the new maps as of now! I also picked up Dragon Quest VIII yesterday for $10 and I kinda wanna try that out.
Playing today ...
Halo 3 ODST
Halo 3 Multiplayer
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Batman Arkham Asylum
Dragon Quest VIII
Street Fighter IV 10PM Fight Night
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