Monday, November 26, 2012

Spec Ops: The Line for the PS3 and 360 review

As I have mentioned before in my Inversion review, shooters over the past few years have been either hit-or-miss. It was definitely more miss than hit this year, with the only ones I liked being Darkness 2, Binary Domain, and of course, Mass Effect 3. I have played Max Payne 3, but I plan on reviewing it in the future so keep on eye for that review. It just seems like developers can’t fully comprehend that there is more to a shooter than guns blazing through modern warfare with 3-hour campaigns and everything put into the multiplayer. We want a story with substance, memorable characters, and of course, memorable experiences. One of the games that do this sort of thing best is the Uncharted series. Sure, it might take place in modern times, but it is set up like an enjoyable action adventure film with well developed characters, amazing set pieces, and time put into both single player and multiplayer. Hopefully, today’s review can take that next step of evolving the shooter more than what it is, Spec Ops: The Line. At first glance, it does look rather generic, but there is more to it than meets the eye.  An interesting setting in current time albeit after a catastrophic event has taken place, and an emphasis on dealing with the mind of what a soldier goes through while going through the front lines is put to the test here. Does it succeed? Or does it just get buried under the desert sand? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Inversion for the PS3 and 360 review

What has happened with shooters in 2012? I mean, there are so many and yet, a lot of them are BAD. Let’s start with Syndicate, a few cool ideas, but overall a bland, typical futuristic-looking shooter. Then we have Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City, a rather clunky, glitchy, and unenjoyable third person shooter that was possibly even more forgettable than Syndicate. Granted, games like Binary Domain and Mass Effect 3 picked up the slack and are the best shooters that I have played this year, with Mass Effect 3 being one of the top 5 best games this year so far. Even Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, while suffering from a lot of shooter issues like a forgettable single player mode that’s short, has an incredible customization mode and multiplayer mode. I guess you can say shooters this year have been a bit of a mixed bag. So then, what chance does Namco’s Inversion have? I remember seeing an article about this game back in 2009 and was interested, since the main advertisement for this game was that you could control gravity and fight on ceilings and on walls. I then didn’t hear anything about it until two years later in 2011 when they finally showed their first trailer and it looked promising.  Inversion was developed by Saber Interactive, whose claims to fame were Time Shift, the downloadable Battle: Los Angeles, and their game engine being used in the Halo Anniversary game. What could possibly go wrong? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

4 Year RPG Special Part 7: The Last Story for the Wii review

For a while, people have talked about the future of Japanese style RPG’s and well, RPG’s in general. The genre itself is getting less and less about the RPG aspects from games like Ultimata and Wizardry and has leaned into genre mixing. We have seen the Bioware franchises like Dragon Age and Mass Effect pull out the third person action-and-shooter RPG. Bethesda is also pushing its RPG franchises like Fallout and Elder Scrolls into the same genre mixing, but has added the flare of the first person perspective that never truly works for Elder Scroll’s melee combat. Now, more criticism of where the RPG is going and if it’s going to die soon is aimed more at Japan’s line of RPG’s. Admittingly, at some points in history, the JRPG might have needed to need a good kick in the rear of innovation, like in 2001, 4 million copies of Dragon Quest 7 were sold in Japan, but flopped over here in the U.S.A. Maybe this also came up when Final Fantasy 10 came out and was, more or less, the same stuff Square Enix was doing. Then, they decided to mix things up with Final Fantasy 11 being an MMO and Final Fantasy 12 being designed like an MMO. While I am currently playing through FF12, and while it reminds me of Xenoblade Chronicles, one of my new all-time favorite games, I am currently wondering what side to be on. Do I want to side with the fan base that likes RPG’s like Dragon Quest 8 like they are and not want to change them. OR, do I want to side with the fan base that wants to see more genre mixing with the RPG. I like both, and can enjoy either in any situation, and I think there is room for both kinds since ambition of mixing other genres with the RPG can run into the syndrome of being a bit too ambitious. Today’s review slightly falls into that situation. It is an RPG, mixed with action, storytelling, stealth, third person shooting, and actual passion and determination of changing what the RPG can be and not be stuck in the past. It is very successful at what it does, and even though I say it falls into the “too much ambition” category, I love this game. It is one of the best games of 2012. Does it beat out Xenoblade as one of the best RPG’s of this year? Which RPG beats the other in being the RPG refresher? Let us take a look at The Last Story. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

4 Year RPG Special Part 6: Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii review

Here we are at the end of this massive RPG special. I saved these two RPG’s for the last part of this special because of what they have done recently with the RPG. I will talk more about this in the next game, but I will say that it is pretty surreal still that we got these two games in the first place. The Wii is a great console and it does have a pretty impressive line of games that are amazing, but it suffers the same issue that the Nintendo 64 suffered, a lack of a good RPG library. This gen’s systems had some very good RPG’s, depending on who you ask. The PS3 and 360 are sadly, the ones who have gotten all of the amazing RPG’s. The Wii, on the other hand, has suffered from shovelware party games and huge amounts of terrible motion control games. There are RPG’s on it if you don’t count the SNES virtual console ports. However, those RPG’s are rather lackluster.  PS3 and 360 had games like Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Tales of Graces F, Valkyria Chronicles, Ni No Kuni, The Last Remnant, Eternal Sonata, and you get the idea. The Wii has um…it has uh….that Tales of Symphonia sequel? Um, Super Paper Mario is an action RPG I guess. You see my point? That was our situation over here in the states, while in Japan, they had a multitude of RPG’s that were well received over there. Then, around mid-2011, I found out about an online community called Operation Rainfall who wanted to bring over 3 RPG’s. These were Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower. Now, if anyone followed the news, both Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story made it over here while Pandora’s Tower was, I think for the best, left in Europe and Japan. I am not saying Pandora’s Tower is a bad game per say, but out of the three games Rainfall wanted to bring over, it was definitely the weakest and would have been the hardest to convince Nintendo of America to bring over. I have not played Pandora’s Tower, but from what I can tell it’s an interesting game story and character design-wise, but it is also super clunky-looking in gameplay and execution. Why not focus on the first two RPG’s since they came over here? Let us start with what is considered the best RPG on the Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

4 Year RPG Special Part 5: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the GC review

Last Year when I did a 6-part RPG special, one of the reviews that I did was Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64. It is probably the best and only worthwhile RPG the Nintendo 64, a console that was bone dry when it came to having an RPG library, had to offer. It had fun turn-based combat, a fun and silly story, and a unique and creative presentation. It is a shame some people look down on the game because it could be too wordy, or prefer Mario in his RPG adventure on the SNES. While I also love that game, I never got to experience it until years after it was released. My first RPG adventure with Mario was Paper Mario. That is why I hold it in high regard and somewhat look down on people who badmouth this game. I am also very VERY excited to review and play Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS. I know there is a Paper Mario game for the Wii called Super Paper Mario and I do like that game also, but it was more of an action platformer with RPG elements instead of being a turn-based RPG. It was a cool diversion and the story was more adult, but it’s my least favorite out of the franchise. For a while, I wanted to review the Gamecube classic, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, but it is very pricey online, for what reason I will never know. For the next part of this RPG special, let us take a look at the very game this review is titled. I mean, you should have known I was going to talk about this game from the title, right?