Tag Archives: Square Enix

2016 Game Review Haiku, #51 – Final Fantasy IX

2016 gd games completed final fantasy IX

Princess kidnapping
Turns to saving source of life
First two discs better

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #44 – Hitman: Absolution

2016 gd games completed Hitman Absolution

Hide Victoria
Hide Agent 47
Until plans go wrong

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Trying to thieve as a master thief in Thief

gd early impressions Thief xbox 360

The Xbox One recently rolled out its list of backwards-compatible games, and, no, Thief is not one of them. Not yet, at least. I’ll get to the connection shortly, I promise. I’m a big fan of this function, and it honestly was one of the attributes that resulted in me picking up this current-gen console over the other, despite all the hubbub around the possibility of PlayStation 2 emulation on the PlayStation 4. Anyways, with the fact that some of my Xbox 360 games are ready to be played on the newest console, this meant deletion and freeing up hard-drive space was imminent.

Once I deleted Just Cause 2 and moved my save game profile to the cloud–which is a technology that I’m still scared to trust–my Xbox 360 began downloading the next game in my queue, which turned out to be Square Enix’s Thief, released back in February 2014. It’s a stealthy game I’ve been eyeing for some time, though it was immediately strange and revealing going from sneaking around the Commonwealth in Fallout 4 to sneaking around the less-imaginative, ultra dark, Victorian-themed, plague-riddled City.

Here’s the story: master thief Garrett teams up with his former apprentice, Erin, on the same job from their contact Basso. It’s clear that Garrett and Erin differ on what it means to be a thief, with Erin happily murdering guards to ensure no one follows after them while Garrett would prefer to be less violent. Along the way, he steals her claw weapon. As they arrive at the Baron Northcrest’s manor, they discover some ritual taking place. Garrett calls off the job, but Erin refuses to listen, falling into the center of the ritual, which was nearing its completion, becoming engulfed by some mystical energy. Garrett is knocked out trying to save her, and only awakens from unconsciousness a year later.

It’s not a great story so far–I’m past the prologue and somewhere into the second chapter, after visiting a church–and a lot of that falls on Garrett’s cloak-covered shoulders. He comes across as a self-righteous do-gooder, stealing from the rich and keeping it for himself, but also always has a snarky one-liner to say for every situation, often to the point of mockery. I get the sense that he lacks empathy and could care less about what happened to his friend Erin, but we’ll see where things go. It’s hard to get a lot of story when your main character spends the majority of his time slinking around houses in the dark, half-listening to conversations through keyholes, not letting a single footstep be heard.

The focus of Thief is to use stealth in order to overcome a number of challenges, with violence often left as a last resort. I’m all about that. “The stealthier, the better” would make an excellent bumper sticker. Early on, I ran into the same problem that turned me off of Dishonored, in that once you are spotted, there is little chance of survival, which only makes me want to do perfect stealth runs, with no room for error. That said, I don’t think Thief plays or looks all that great; it’s sluggish and murky, with nothing distinctive-looking about it. So far, the coolest move, in my mind, Garrett can do is distinguish candles to darken a room, and I’m eagerly awaiting popping an Achievement somehow related to doing this.

Heads up: there’s also a lot of pressing X. You hit this button to pick up loot, of which there’s a ton. I think there was over 70 pieces to grab in the first chapter alone, and this loot translate into money, which you can later then spend on skill tree upgrades, weapons, and miscellaneous items. however, when it comes to desks and drawers, plan to press X a bunch and be disappointed when you find nothing. Also, I think I had a similar gripe with Batman: Arkham Asylum, but mashing a button to open a window or grate is beyond tedious, there only to pad out what little gameplay already exists.

I’d really like to see Thief become backwards-compatible on the Xbox One, but not because it is some much treasured entry in the series and fans are eagerly looking to play it right now. It’s more out of laziness. The further forward I go with my new current console, the less interested I am in switching on the 360, changing inputs on my TV, and plugging a controller into the system. Yes, I’m the same dude who is still working away at Final Fantasy IX, a PlayStation 1 RPG of old on my still-kicking PlayStation 2, but that’s on a different television in my bedroom. Okay, I have to get back now to looting dead bodies and hanging cat portraits on my settlement’s structures…oh wait, wrong game.

Exploration is the name of The Legend of Legacy’s game

gd impressions legend-of-legacy-3

Yesterday, during my lunch break, I did two things: one, I picked up a copy of The Legend of Legacy, which is a new JRPG from Atlus, and two, I put down some cash money on a pre-order of the forthcoming Xbox One bundle for Fallout 4. Now, of those two, one is certainly more exciting than the other, but I’ll talk about my decision to go with an Xbox One as my entryway into the current generation of videogaming at a later date. For now, it’s all about mapping and grinding, sometimes simultaneously.

Some of you might remember a wee unassuming game back on the PlayStation 1 called SaGa Frontier. In fact, I used to own a copy. Anyways, despite not sharing the franchise name or even having a unique, catchy title of its own, The Legend of Legacy is a spiritual successor from Furyu, in conjunction with former staff members for Square Enix and Level-5. Namely illustrator Tomomi Kobayashi and designer Kyoji Koizumi of the SaGa series, Masato Kato, writer of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, Masashi Hamauzu, Final Fantasy XIII‘s composer, as well as ex-Level-5 staffer Masataka Matsuura as its director. Yup, it’s got quite a pedigree of creatives behind the wheel.

I’m going to hit you with a truth bomb right from the start: I don’t know the plot. I might not ever know the plot. It’s seemingly going to be told through poetry and over-dramatic descriptions of things done in the ancient past. At the start of The Legend of Legacy, you get to pick one of seven characters to play as, and I went with the default swordsman Meurs, though there are a bunch of other traditional tropes like the girl with amnesia or the ambitious, smarmy treasure hunter. After that, stuff happens, and the fellow who first discovered the island of Avalon and now goes by the uninteresting title of King of Adventurers has sent you and two others off to discover…um, I have no idea. There’s a rock that sang to my party of heroes, and then I filled in a map of a forest. Yeah.

The Legend of Legacy‘s combat is turn-based, which means it has to have more to it than just that to stand out in the crowd. Bravely Default allowed you to either burn later turns or store them up for extra actions at the risk of not being able to do anything later on if you didn’t kill the monsters right away. Paper Mario: Sticker Star requires precise button presses to deal extra damage or survive a bit longer. Some games can get by on simple turn-based combat, but not all. Anyways, The Legend of Legacy takes its leveling system from the classic SaGa games of old, which means characters don’t gain levels per se, but rather parameters and abilities based on how they acted in a fight. Ideally, this means that your sword skill levels up the more you attack with it, you gain more HP by taking damage more often, and so on, though it can feel random as it dishes out these upgrades. One nice touch is that your party is automatically fully healed after each fight.

I will say, while I abhorred filling in maps for the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV, it seems kind of fun here. Heck, I suspect that if one is fast enough they could fill in the maps quickly while still avoiding on-screen enemies in pursuit. I’ve not done this yet, but once you complete a map and all its sub-areas, you can return to town and sell it for big money, which is st in The Legend of Legacy. I know not what st stands for–stitches, perhaps–but it is an acceptable currency, and that’s enough for me.

Visually, The Legend of Legacy is pretty. It has a pop-up storybook element to its dungeons, with trees and rocks and strange, singing structures lifting up from the ground as you get closer, filling in the world around you. Not quite to the snuff of Bastion, but the idea is the same. Back in town, the game uses that zoomed out trick from Bravely Default, pulling the camera in closer as you move around and explore the inn, shops, and local inhabitants. The character designs are neat, and I almost selected the strange frog warrior because, c’mon, it’s a frog warrior, but decided to go with Meurs, which the game defaults to. Either way, I managed to recruit the frog warrior to my team in town later on, so I guess it doesn’t ultimately matter who you start with if they all team up in the end.

I’ve only put an hour and a half into The Legend of Legacy, and I’m seeing a lot of reviews call it a slow grindfest with no incentives, which is worrying, but we’ll see how things progress from here. As one knows, I’m okay with a game heavy on grinding, though I do like to be constantly working towards something in the end. If it’s just more singing rocks, then this legacy might not last very long.

One can’t stop moving in Lara Croft: Relic Run

1440953266_lara-croft-relic-run_5

First, once more, it’s hard to find good screenshots for Lara Croft: Relic Run that adhere to my blog’s specifics, which is why the above image looks all stretched and odd. It’s better than no image, I guess. I already used my one allotted Angelina Jolie shot for the game completed haiku. Or maybe I should’ve just used the game’s title image screen, which is easily found as a desktop wallpaper in all types of dimensions, but I’d rather you at least see what this adventure into the dinosaur- and lizard monster-laden jungle looks like. It looks like the above, just not all stretched and odd. In fact, the visuals in this mobile game are top-notch, though it moves a little too fast to really notice.

It can be hard to determine when one is done with an endless runner, as the genre name itself implies a certain indefiniteness. That said, I think I’m done with Lara Croft: Relic Run, having played for many hours and gotten most of the Achievements and seen nearly everything I want to see as Lara herself zips forward, slides to not lose her head on a low ceiling or fallen branch, shoots a red barrel to explode and kill two monsters, and tumble to her grisly death as she misses a jump, but snags a shiny map icon along the way down. Whew. Long sentence.

Hey, remember Temple Run 2? Yeah, me too. Well, Lara Croft: Relic Run is mostly Temple Run 2, but with its own branding and a few slight differences, though I guess all endless runners are simply about moving forward, collecting stuff, and not running into walls. In this one, you control Lara herself, except no scary monster beast is chasing behind you; instead, you are running forward, in search of relics, which will hopefully provide clues to a missing friend. Or unlock the mystery behind a shadowy conspiracy. Honestly, the smidgen of story text you get from each collected clue barely gives you any idea of what is going on, but that’s okay–story takes a backseat in this, especially when you start hopping off a T-Rex’s back through fallen rubble like some kind of cool action hero.

You jog forward into the jungle, swiping left and right to change lanes, up to jump, down to slide. As you hustle, Lara will collect coins, occasionally shoot things, like lizard-monsters tossing spears at her face, fight a T-Rex in various ways, gather glowing clues to unlock relics, and rinse and repeat until she stumbles and tumbles to her death. Which definitely will happen eventually as the obstacles ramp up the farther in you get. Then, before your next run, you can use those gold coins (or harder-to-get diamonds) to purchase power-ups or upgrade your outfit/weaponry, as well as buy curses to send to other players on your friends list, which affect how the game looks and plays for a limited period of time.

One element I’m really not fond of in Lara Croft: Relic Run, which I also wasn’t fond of in that Tomb Raider reboot, is that when Lara Croft dies, she dies in the most outrageous manner possible. Her bones seemingly separate beneath her skin, and arms and legs flip and flop like fish out of water. The camera occasionally lingers on a shot of her crumpled form for a few seconds too long. It’s a little too much for a cartoony game about running and jumping.

I’m walking away from Lara Croft: Relic Run with three Achievements still locked. One requires Lara to run a certain distance without every sliding, which I swear I’ve done before, but it might be glitched. The other asks you to send six curses to friends, but only provides five to purchase; good job, Square Enix. The last one requires Lara to collect a total of 1,000,000 coins; seeing as I’ve only garnered 79,461 after all my play-time, this is too much of a grind for even l’il ol’ grindy me. Yup, the dude that got co-op Achievements by himself in Lara Croft: Guardian of Light doesn’t want to make the effort here, which probably says enough.

I wonder what the next free-to-play endless runner I’ll try will be. A sick part of my brain worries that it’ll be Despicable Me: Minion Rush.

There’s chaos to create in Just Cause 2

gd early impressions just cause 2 xbox-360

When I first got my Xbox 360, some many years back, I maintained a small collection of games, doing what I don’t do now, which is finishing one before getting another. That all said, I did delight in some extra dessert now and then by downloading free demos of upcoming games, such as the ones for Crackdown 2 and Dragon Age II. I think you can still download free demos to this day, but at this point I have little time for teasers and would rather just wait for the full thing to either come out or be dropped into my library as a monthly freebie. The times, they are a-changing.

Well, way back in 2010, I sampled a bit of Just Cause 2, as this demo did not hold your hand, but rather set you free. There was a short cutscene to explain why Rico Rodriguez, the man with the grapple hook and hunger for explosions, was on this tropical island, and then you have thirty minutes to do whatever you want. I remember restarting it multiple times, trying something new with each go and really enjoying any and all chaos I could create. Strangely, this never did result me in purchasing a full copy of Just Cause 2; thankfully, all I needed to do was wait five years and then I’d get a free copy from Microsoft.

In Just Cause 2, you take control of Rico Rodriguez, an undercover U.S. operative on the Southeast Asian island of Panau–which is not real, people–to track down a former friend, who has disappeared with top-secret intel and a lot of money. There’s also an oppressive dictator to deal with, as well as three rival gangs who are waging war on the island. I’ve only done the first two or three story missions, so not much has unfolded yet, but I’m sure I’ll get to all these plotlines soon enough. Y’know, once I get my fill of running amok and blowing up enemy territory.

Let’s get this out of the way: the story is not written well, made only more ridiculous by the wooden voice acting. Rico’s actor sounds like he is reading the script for the very first time and they only have the ability to do one take. Good thing I’m not here for the story, as playing and making things explode feels really good, especially when you can use Rico’s magical zip-line thingy to zoom away from all the destruction. Like a true cool action hero. I’m not stellar yet at performing stunts while riding on top of vehicles and aiming the grappling hook is occasionally a nightmare. Still, if you can hit an enemy on a rooftop with it and pull them off to their tumbling doom, I highly recommend it. The gunwork doesn’t feel amazing, but I am more of a grenade-tossing maniac from on high sort of chaos creator.

Truthfully, I didn’t mean to dive right into Just Cause 2 after finishing Lara Croft: Guardian of Light and deleting it from my Xbox 360’s hard-drive, but the game was in my download queue already and automatically started once it saw there was enough space opened up. I’m still working on Final Fantasy IX‘s third disc, LEGO Jurassic World on the Nintendo 3DS, and need to get back to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, especially with V only days away from release, though I won’t be getting to it until I finish Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes. Oi. Talk about chaos, right?