Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

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For the second year running Nintendo have shown why they are still, after all this time and after the ups and downs, they are one of the most reliable and unique companies in the business. I always approach any sort of Nintendo conference with a certain amount of trepidation. Let us not forget those torturous E3’s of a few years ago with Wii Music and that failed Zelda presentation.

However over the last year Nintendo has shown that they aren’t afraid to poke a bit of fun at themselves and they aren’t afraid to have a little bit of a laugh along the way. And that couldn’t be more evident in this year’s event. Robot Chicken kicks things off in great style. With a cartoon Regie introducing things before being waylaid by Bowser and Wario.

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Things are now picking up a gear as the scene changes and we are then taken to a black room with Reggie and Iwata duking it out in an over the top martial arts fight to the death before picking up their respective controllers to fight it out on Smash Bros. that’s rights. Mii’s are coming to Smash. However not just any old Mii’s. It’s soon explained that you will be able to choose from three different classes which in turn gives your Mii access to around thirty different moves. We also catch our first glimpse of Nintendo’s new physical toys. These are called Amiibo and we are shown how they integrate themselves with Smash Bros. Scanning your Amiibo will bring them in to the game to either fight alongside or against you. The more you use them the more their attributes will increase. They were pretty tight lipped about anything else. However we were told that there will be support coming to Mario Kart 8 soon. This of course was accompanied with a Luigi death stare.

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It was after this announcement that the games and surprises started coming thick and fast. First up was Yoshi’s Wooly World. An attractive enough proposition. Think the aesthetics of Kirby’s Epic Yarn mixed with the sensibilities of a Yoshi platformer. Like I said it’s a nice enough looking game but definitely one for the younger audience.

Next up was a surprise game that I was very excited to see. Especially as a massive Super Mario 3d World fan. Remember those awesome little Toad minigames that were scattered throughout the world map? They were great right? But if I remember correctly they were very far and few between and criminally underused. Well fear not because it looks like we are getting a bigger and better version of those games in a standalone adventure entitled Captain Toads Treasure Tracker coming to Wii U. This will be hitting the console Christmas time 2014.

Then there was another big surprise. I mean we all knew a new Zelda was on the way, but I think we were all expecting it to be Nintendo’s final mic drop moment. Well anyway, as you’ve probably guessed the new Zelda was announced. First of all we were treated to a gorgeously green, lush and vibrant vista.  Aonuma tells us that everything we can see, which is a lot given the draw distance, we can travel to. He tells us that the world will act as one big puzzle. Aonuma then fades out and the camera zooms in on a very Skyward Sword looking Link astride Epona as they are chased by a very Twilight Princess looking villain. As the chase comes to a head Link leaps from Epona and unleashes an attack from a bow which seems to change the elements it possess on the fly. The screen fades and we are told to expect it 2015.

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Then we are introduced to a few more familiar faces of games that we saw at last year’s E3. My game of the show from last year, Monolith’s X, has been renamed and is now flying under the moniker of Xenoblade Chronicles X. we are shown a very beautiful trailer that consists mainly of cut scenes rather than actual gameplay, and given a release window of 2015.

Another familiar face, and a very beautiful one at that, comes in the form of the gloriously hard-core Bayonetta. My favourite character action game of the last gheneration got announced as a Wii U exclusive last year and now has a sumptuous new gameplay trailer along with a date. Look for it in the autumn later this year. Oh I almost forgot. It also includes the original Bayonetta in its entirety! Not too bad eh? Throw in the fact that Platinum games seem to be having fun with some of Nintendo’s other characters by throwing in Peach and Samus costumes and it looks like you’ve got one incredible package.

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Another game that I did not see coming was Kirby and the Rainbow Curse which will be coming to Wii U. Now I haven’t been excited about a Kirby game in years. However the last one that did genuinely impress me was Canvas Curse on the DS released waaaay back in 2005. After watching the trailer it would be a safe bet that this is a direct sequel to that game. Fingers crossed it is as innovative and fun as the original.

A few other dates got announced during the show. Look out for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire hitting stores November 21st. these dates were also accompanied by some exciting new trailers as these classic games get new life breathed in to them.

We also had a bigger more in depth look at Hyrule Warriors. The Zelda and Dynasty Warriors mash up. And I must say seeing it again seven or so months on it is looking more and more like something I’d pick up. It was revealed that Princess Zelda and Midna (of Twilight fame) would both be playable characters. We were also told that the game could be expected in stores on September 26th.

Nintendo’s last big game that they showed was Mario Maker for the Wii U. This does look impressive. Maybe not on a graphical level, but from someone whose seen what a community can create on the likes of Little Big Planet, a platfromer series that has nowhere near the technical fidelity of a Mario game, I am very excited to see what tough mind boggling challenges people will make. This is a game strictly ties to 2D Mario however so there will be no recreating stages form 64, Sunshine or Galaxy. However it did appear that you can switch on the fly between the classic pixel art of Nes era Mario and the more contemporary hd version seen in New Super Mario Bros U.

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Last but not least was yet another character reveal for Smash Bros. Not just satisfied with giving us the Mii’s we can also expect Palutena of Kid Icarus fame to be joining the fray. Palutena marks the 32nd character to be confirmed for the ever increasing roster.

And that about raps it up. I’ve been typing fervently trying to keep up with all the announcements they were rolled out so quickly. And from a company that really did look like at one point was going to have a weak 2014, there sure seems to be a hell of a lot of games on the horizon for the end of this year and early 2015. Seems like it wasn’t such a bad idea picking up a Wii U after all. Now I just need to buy a 3ds again…..

 

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Let’s get two things out of the way straight off the bat. One; TSOT has some loading issues. I mean some serious loading issues. I don’t know why Obsidian find it so hard to ship a game before ironing all of the creases out of the finished product, but hey, that’s life. Now I don’t mean loading issues as in that the game is stuck on a loading screen for five minutes when you enter a shop. In that regard the game performs admirably. I mean that every time you move from one screen to another, or things get a bit hectic in battle, boy oh boy does this game lag and slow down to a near halt. An issue further exacerbated in a battle system that requires precise timing to pull off moves. Two; whoever was in charge of writing the magic tutorials in this game needs to be hung, drawn and quartered. Throughout your time in South Park you will be taught various magical fart techniques from different characters. Taught poorly I might add. As you mess up an instruction for the twentieth time only to have the npc chastise you and then explain to you again in a long vague manor makes for some incredibly frustrating moments.

PHEW! Glad I got that off my chest! Because here’s the thing, it might sound like I’m attacking TSOT, I’m not. I just needed to get those two niggles out of the way so we could focus on what makes The Stick Of Truth one of the funniest, well written and enjoyable licenced games of all time. Let’s begin shall we?

As I just said TSOT is one of, if not the, funniest game of all time. From the minute you start playing the game to the second you finish watching the credits scroll I guarantee you’ll be in hysterics. The game focuses around you, the new kid in town. After creating you’re character from a very generous character creation screen you are whisked away into Trey Parker and Matt Stones gloriously vulgar and satirical world. As the new kid in town it is your job to do what most new kids in town do. Go out and make friends. And it’s not too long after leaving the confines of your parents’ house you bump into Butters who in turn introduces you to everyone’s favourite fat ass Eric Cartman. It seems that all of the children of South Park are currently playing a Dungeons and Dragons style role playing game which has led to an all-out war over who controls the stick of truth and ultimately the universe.

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As expected, and in true South Park fashion, events quickly spiral out of control as the government, aliens, Nazi zombies and underpants gnomes get involved and swept away on the tide of beautiful ridiculousness. In a master stroke though, it never really leaves behind the fact that the events mostly play out in the background. Never losing sight that the children are just playing a game with each other. Having Matt and Trey write the story was perfect as you could probably easily cut all of the cinematics together and have one of the best seasons of South Park ever made.

The true star of the game is South Park itself. Apart from the occasional slowdown when transitioning from screen to screen it looks and feels exactly like an episode from the television series. From the jilted shuffling way everyone walks, right down to the camera angles and southern twangs on the guitar. Almost every building is open for exploration and literally stuffed to overflowing with references to past episodes. I’m not even kidding. I’m an avid South Park fan and have been since it started and I can’t think of a single character or item that isn’t represented or at least referenced in this game. One of the collectables in the game is the Wild Wacky Action Bike for crying out loud!

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The game doesn’t just draw on past glories to get laughs out of its audience however. It also does one of the best jobs of satirising modern videogame culture I’ve ever seen. From the constant Skyrim references that surround your characters ability to use fart magic, to a very memorable moment on a ufo collecting audio diaries that have been left by a disgruntled prisoner who just whines about the uselessness of audio diaries. It’s very fresh and very very funny. And then there’s Canada. Oh my days Canada! But I’ll let you discover that treat for yourself!

For anyone who played and loved Costume Quest then the battle system will feel like very familiar territory. Also not entirely different from the systems used in the various Mario rpg’s the fighting here is all down to your timing and reaction speed. Casting spells and attacking will require various waggles of the analogue sticks and button presses and defending yourself involves hitting the correct button when an enemy attacks you. It’s not perfect by any means as the response time can seem a bit out of sync and, as I mentioned, if the screen stutters when you’re at a key point in a qte that can sometimes mean a game over screen will shortly follow. Had it been in any other game I would probably be a bit harsher on it. However in a game where fights consist of things like Jimmy playing the ‘brown note’ causing enemies to soil themselves in diarrhoea and Kenny impaling himself by accident on his rainbow unicorn, it’s easy to forgive the game some of these things.

I feel that going into much more detail about what you do and who you meet would spoil some of the surprises that are in store for you, so I think I shall start winding my review down here. One last thing I will mention is the controversy over the censorship in certain scenes of the game. I caved in and paid the extra money to get the American version as I wanted to experience the game in its purest form. I have no personal experience over how the game is affected by taking these moments out. However after talking to a colleague of mine who is playing the UK copy, he said that the ufo scene (the first heavily censored one in the game) ended up feeling disjointed and broken. He is still enjoying the game though so I guess the only real question you need to ask yourself is how much does it mean to you to play the game without the little snippets breaking the immersion for you.

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And so we come to an end of the review. I loved this game. It is definitely not a perfect game and like I said, it has its fair share of frustrations. With that being said I have never laughed out loud so much and so often at a game, or dare I say it, an episode of South Park, as I did whilst playing TSOT. It is a game that will constantly have your jaw on the floor as you move from one outrageous task to the next. And to be honest, any game where I can go into work the next day and casually say that I fought a load of aborted, Nazi, zombie, baby foetuses last night, is a game that I’m proud to have in my collection.

10 Reasons Front Mission 3 Is The Best Game Ever And 1 Reason It’s The Worst

 

For those who don’t know, Front Mission 3 is the first Playstation incarnation of Squaresoft’s giant mecha strategy series to appear in Europe.  It’s like Final Fantasy Tactics meets Armoured Core and it might just be the best game ever.  And here’s why:

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1)       Fully customizable robots, so you can create a hovering rocket launcher.  Or a 4-legged sniper.  Or someone with two shotguns and a grenade launcher.  Literally whatever you can squeeze into the weight restraints.  No weapon restrictions on characters, either, so if you want a 4-man squad of flamethrowers, go for it!

2)      Literally the angriest protagonist in an RPG (at least until someone makes a Berserk-themed one).  Kazuki is a nutter.  Or at least, he bounces between standard stoic hero and bloodfury.  I swear he even seems to activate melee-based skills more than other characters.  Tends to go for the arms, too.

3)      A 4:1 spy to comic relief character ratio.  Everyone loves spies, no-one likes comic relief characters.  Winner!

4)      Morningstars the size of buses.  Yep.  You can even dual wield them!

5)      The Internet.  Well, a drastically reduced simulacrum that runs like it was on a DOS beta, but still.  It’s also hooked up to some kind of huge, gnarly 3D printer so you can literally send weapons and material down the phone line in seconds.

6)      Beam weapons!  Okay, lasers are nothing new in mecha games, but what do they usually accomplish?  Some pew pew noises and a few flashes like someone was shooting glow sticks at you with a crossbow?  These are like the angry glare of ZEUS; a caustic line of pure energy, along with a scream like the souls of the damned being subjected to dubstep.  And they do damage!  Do you have a shield equipped?  No?  Say goodbye to your ride!  When you finally get to use one, it’s an experience of true joy…

7)      Grand Theft Mecha.  Yep, you can punch someone out of their robot and jump in it yourself.  Nothing quite like crushing a poor pilot with his own machine.  You can even take it home later to sell or dismantle.

8)      You assault a farmstead guarded by machine-armed walking trucks that run on manure.  This is exactly as much fun as it sounds.

9)      Both scenarios have at least a handful of missions aboard a gigantic rolling fortress that can accommodate an army and bristles with weapons.  One mission even takes place on top of it!

10)   A branching story arc allows you to see two sides of a gigantic national incident  over a huge campaign, amounting to 120+ hours of gameplay, each with six or more unique characters and multiple events to each play through.  It’s pretty easy to clock up 500 or so hours on this game without even realizing it… and it’s damn well good enough to make that effort!

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So in conclusion, Front Mission 3 is well worth playing and those ten reasons should be more than enough to convince you!  However, there is one fly in the ointment…

1)      Random status effects.  That’s right, every single attack has a random chance to inflict either a stun, confuse or auto-eject on either you or an enemy.  Battle skills increase this chance or make it a certainty, but the chance is high enough to make it almost certain that at least once a battle, something bad will happen to a pilot.  And that one time your main pilot is ejected on your own turn, right in front of the enemy firing line, you will want to throw your Playstation out of the window.

Despite that, Front Mission 3 is definitely worth a play, especially now it’s available for a modest sum on the Playstation Store.  So what are you waiting for?

Hey, remember Squaresoft?  No, not Square Enix; presumably the remnants of old Square who were abducted, experimented on by evil aliens and then amalgamated into gestalt entities with the similarly abducted Enix staff into the evil clones we know today.

If you don’t, once upon a time there was a Japanese company that just churned out quality (for the most part) RPG titles, tactical sims and action titles like Final Fantasy, Vagrant Story and, most importantly for this review, Front Mission.   They made these great games with care and enthusiasm and amassed an international fanbase of millions, incidentally the only reason Squenix survives to this day.

Everyone knows what Final Fantasy is, so I’ll skip that explanation.  But what is Front Mission?  Surely another turn-based monster slayer starring blue-haired kids whose villages have been razed to the ground?  Nope.  This game is set in the not-too-distant future where the world is divided into 4 or 5 super-countries and primarily features 30-FOOT TALL WALKING DEATH MACHINES! Okay, so humongous mecha are nothing new, but they’re so rarely done this well that it’s always a joy to see.  They work especially well in this environment, as a team-based tactical RPG similar in style to Final Fantasy: Tactics.  Battles take place on an isometric-view grid with your mecha able to make use of obstructions, heights and environmental hazards to take on outnumbering enemy forces.  Each turn, you move your squad around the ‘board’ and select opponents to attack with a variety of weapons.  Every time you do so, the camera zooms in to a more detailed scene of your mech blasting away at the enemy and receiving incoming fire in turn.  Although the graphics are typically PS1-era crude, it’s still fun to see your shots exploding off the enemy, ripping arms and weapons off and your pilot celebrating when they make a kill.

 

I have a slight bias for the third installment of the Front Mission series, as I will happily rant to no end to anyone willing to listen.  In all honesty, this is probably my favourite game of all time, and certainly the one I’ve spent the most time with!  The battles are fun, but mostly act as a testing ground for the way you customize and supply your Wanzers (short for wanderung panzer or ‘walking tank’) and what skills your pilots have learned.  The customization is, for me, where Front Mission 3 really shines.  You’re given complete freedom on how to arrange the parts, weapons and accessories of your Wanzers whilst balancing the weight limits, movement speed and durability of each mech.  Past a certain point, you can select any weapon for each character, too, so if you want a squad entirely made up of missile-slinging heavies, you’re free to do so.  Experimentation and adaptability is key and the ability to swap out individual parts of each machine means you can always tinker to make them slightly better, faster or harder hitting over time.

In addition to part swapping, your pilots can learn ‘Battle Skills’ from each piece of equipment that allow them to randomly push the limits of their craft or guard against certain drawbacks.  Everything from missile salvos, to ejector seats, electronic chaff and rapid-fire weapons, giving you the chance for that extra edge against your opponents.  One of the more fun skills sees all your units within range gang up on an enemy machine for some free shots or punches!

 

So enough about the combat system, how is the story?  Front Mission 3’s is an interesting one.  Being set, rarely for Squaresoft games, in the real world, it’s much more grounded in reality than most RPGs.  You begin as Kazuki Takemura, a hot-headed Japanese test pilot working alongside his friend, Ryogo Kusama, a fellow employee in Kirishima Heavy Industries.  Kirishima is one of the major Wanzer suppliers distributing materiel for the Japanese Defence Force.  You begin the game testing out a new model combat Wanzer, which Kazuki comments on being ‘far too offensively-oriented for the defensive Japanese military’.  It’s partly this insight that ends the pair up to their necks in hot water as a global conspiracy unfolds.  I won’t spoil anything, but their journey takes them across continents, over vast battlefields and sees them join up with a plethora of unlikely allies.

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But… which side of the battlefield and alongside which allies is where the game shows off it’s more interesting feature.  A simple decision early on sees the story split entirely in two, following completely different party members on opposite perspectives for the same story.  Today’s friends could be tomorrows foes and both paths offer unique insight.  Looking back, I wish my first time playing I’d tried to juggle both branches simultaneously, trying to keep pace with both sides of the story… that would be an experience.

Whichever path you take, you’ll meet interesting characters from all walks of life, from a ditzy policewoman, to a jovial marine commander, to a federal spy (or four!), even scientists and… farming equipment salesmen?  Indeed, the game’s sense of humour is prevalent in Kazuki & Ryogo’s banter, though the game’s overall tone can be a little bleak, especially in ‘E’s’ scenario.  Still, the world of 2113 is an interesting one where you’ll get to see the results of rampant genetic experimentation, city-sized mobile fortresses, weapons of mass destruction and… a man kicking a 30-foot tall robot in two.  Seriously.

 

Each scenario easily weighs in at 60+ hours, especially if you want to grind up credits and do some experimentation.  So with both paths to explore, that’s more game time than even a Final Fantasy title and with multiple playthroughs, you’ll easily surpass your Skyrim game time!  Front Mission 3 comes with my highest recommendation for any fans of tactical warfare, giant stompy robots or a good storyline.  It’s only a shame that more Front Mission titles weren’t released in Europe ( I went to great lengths to get 4 and it looks like 5 will be out of reach for a while…  hey at least there’s… Evolveeeddd D8 ).

 

With a download available through PSN, there’s no excuse for any PS3/PS Vita owner not to experience one of Squaresoft’s great hurrahs and to own a game that certainly did its part in making the PS1 era once of gaming’s greatest moments.  You’ll not regret it!