Monday, March 31, 2008

It Continues Where it Began.

The long wait is finally over and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is here. Was the wait worth it? Yes, yes it was. Crisis Core is easily the best game in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII there are many reasons why this is, so lets get to it.

For those that don't know(and if you don't how dare you) Crisis Core follows Zack Fair during the events that lead up to Final Fantasy VII. Some will remember Zack Fair from Clouds flashbacks during Final Fantasy VII. What Crisis Core does so well is show you why Zack is so important in the FFVII universe. There are so many big and small things that are direct results of the actions Zack takes throughout the game. For example Cloud would most likely be dead had it not been for Zack rescuing him from Hojo's experiments at Nibelhiem. Little things like the Pink ribbon Aerith always wore was givin to her by Zack and Zack very well may have been the one who gave the Seventh Heaven Bar its name. But don't think that everything is about Zack cause while the game does heavily focus on him there are also a few other stars. Namely Angeal and Genesis, sharp fans will know that Genesis was inspired by and played by Gackt in the Japanese version. Over the course of the game you will slowly start to see Zack mature and take on traits of mentor Angeal which in turn Zack passes on to Cloud. By the end of the game Zack refers to Cloud as his legacy. It's also very refreshing to see Sephiroth pre insanity and you also get to see first hand what sends him over the edge. We also get to learn alot more about the Turks as well. Seeing characters from FFVII when they are younger is also refreshing, we get to see child Yuffie(who is easily the cutest character ever) Tifa, Cloud and of course Aerith among others. To put things shortly without spoiling to much Crisis Core is the beginning to one of the most epic RPG's of all time and is chalk full of fan service.

The game play is fitting for PSP its very simple and is easy to pick up and play and the game is never to too hard but is never to easy either. Materia return but the system that accompanies them is not nearly as deep and complex as FFVII. The game has a system called the DMW which is more or less a slot machine with various characters on it that will every now and then make a combo that will unleash a summon or limit break. It's also the system that governs your leveling up but fear not when it comes to leveling up it is not random. Encounters are split between being random and not, from time to time you will be able to see your enemy before engaging other times it will be random. In combat you will attack and use materia as well as items. You can also dodge and guard but these actions use AP so you will need to be careful. The combat at times can feel somewhat repetitive but if you mess around with the materia more you won't notice it as much.

Crisis Core also has hundreds of missions that can be done in addition to the main story. While some are just challenges others often have funny story line connections. Such as a series of missions in which Yuffie uses you to collect treasure that ends up being useless. The game itself is about 20-25 hrs long and adding the missions could easily double that.

All in all Crisis Core is the best game in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and should not be missed by anyone. The ending alone is worth working your way through the game as it is one of the saddest and most iconic endings in all of gaming history. RPG fans who own a PSP should own Crisis Core and others should give it a try. Crisis Core along with Final Fantasy Tactics War Of The Lions are the reasons to own a PSP in my eyes. So go out and pick it up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What happens in Vegas really should stay there.

Rainbow Six fans have been awaiting Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for awhile now and it's finally hit store shelves should you rush out and get it? Well no sadly. I will say this, if you are a fan of Rainbow Six you will love Vegas 2 despite what I'm about to say.

I remember playing Vegas when it 1st came out on 360 and thought wow this looks great and its amazing how new the game play is from past Rainbow Six games. That was then and this is now and Vegas 2 looks and plays almost exactly like Vegas 1 and after seeing and playing things like Gears of War and Uncharted it just isn't acceptable.

Vegas has nothing fatally wrong with it. It's a bunch of little things combined that will bug you more and more over the course of the game. First off the graphics they just don't hold up against most of the games coming out now. It looks like Ubisoft just rehashed the old Vegas engine and didn't tweak it at all. There are portions of the game that are down right ugly but for the most part the graphics are simply serviceable. Another annoyance is that the lip syncing is horrid almost nothing any of the characters say match with the way their mouths are moving and its really bad here. Other bugs involve your squad often getting lost and left behind in a level. On one of the levels my mission was to get to a train and disarm a bomb. Upon reaching the train I ordered my squad to disarm it. However nothing happened because the "bomb disarming guy" had gotten lost over the course of the mission. I then had to restart and baby sit the bomb guy to make sure I didn't have to repeat the process again. That's not all either, countless times when I ordered my team to Open a door and clear the room they wouldn't. Upon further investigation I found one or sometime both of my squad members staring at a wall as if it was the love of their lives. The fact that these bugs appeared as often as they did is a bit disturbing. Also taking a que from Call of Duty 4, Vegas 2 now has a penetration system. However unlike COD4 it doesn't work to well. Here is a prime example. There is a system in the game that allows you to see your enemies locations with a satellite. In a certain area in a convention center I used said satellite to discover that one of my enemies was standing on the other side of a cloth wall. I then proceeded to unload an entire clip into said wall. Now logic would dictate that his choice of cover should have proven fatal. NOT SO. He somehow was unharmed and proceeded to come around the corner and kill my squad mate. Again this happens far to often to be considered a glitch.

On the bright side the game play is very tight. It's not much different then Vegas 1 but the game play from Vegas was pretty tight to begin with. There is a new A.C.E.S system which is just a fancy way of saying you can make a character. However the options are very limited and not very fun to mess with. There are quite abit of things to do online but then again this is a Rainbow Six game so you know what you are expecting. The game uses a system similar to COD4's unlocking system in which you gain experience and unlock stuff the higher you get and when I say similar I mean total ripoff.

It's odd Call of Duty 4 and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 are very different styles of game. However they both have a similar theme in that they take place in modern times. It's hard not to be comparing the 2 even if they are in the end very different. With how great Call of Duty 4 is when you compare Vegas is just gonna lose. However like I said the games are very different in game play. Call of Duty 4 is far more action like and Rainbow Six is very much the thinking mans FPS. If you loved past Rainbow Six games you are gonna love Vegas. It's just sad that they didn't polish the game a bit more before release.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Brawl Has Begun!!!

Lets get this out of the way. If you own a Wii and don't own Super Smash Bros Brawl there is something wrong with you. Brawl IS the best game Wii has to offer period.

Now with that out of the way lets get on with the review. Smash Brothers is total fan service and this is coming from a Sega fan. I'll admit I played the other Smash Bros games and never really got the bug. However there is simply so much stuff in Brawl that you will find something to like.

First off I'm not gonna talk about the games graphics simply because it's on the Wii and that's not exactly the Wii's strong point. They look a bit better then Melee that's all I'll say. The soundtrack is all over the place. There are great new songs and awesome older songs for example the green hill zone music from Sonic The Hedgehog. That being said there are some songs that seem out of place particularly in the Story mode where most of the music is epic but there are a few little midi pieces that just seem wrong.

Speaking of the story mode its far more in depth then any of its predecessors. But It's more or less a total Kingdom Hearts rip off right down to the enemies almost being exactly like Heartless. But thats not a bad thing as Kingdom Hearts is great so it would make sense that taking ideas from greatness would produce more greatness. Playing through the story mode will unlock almost all of the characters and there are a TON of characters. The story mode entitled Subspace Emissonary plays out like a side scrolling brawler, you will fight enemies as you advance and there will be a bit of platforming here and there as well. You will also fight some bosses some old and some new. The story is quite long considering how much other stuff is on the disc clocking in at about 7-10+ hrs depending on your skill and which difficultly level you choose to play at.

Other then the story mode you have the Basic Brawl which you can edit some options to make Brawls more fun or hectic, Event Mode in which you will compete in a ton of different events, Boss Battle mode, Online Brawl, Level editor and more. Honestly it would take me awhile to list all the stuff Brawl has to offer. I said it before the sheer amount of stuff they managed to stuff into Brawl is mind boggling. Snake alone has 30+ different secret taunts that have full conversations with other MGS characters through the use of Codec screens. Like I said Brawl is a game full of Fan service.

Brawl allows you to play many different ways. You can use the Wii mote alone or with nunchuk, Classic controller, or if you still have a Gamecube controller you can use that as well. No matter which way you play the controls work great. In the case of the Wii mote and nunchuk combo the game works surprisingly well. But like I said all the methods work great.

Online play is great and for the most part lag free although there will be a few matches with lots of lag. The only down point is not being able to invite friends but Nintendo could fix this with a patch in the future and with how fun the game is who cares anyway.

So there you have it Brawl IS the best game the Wii has to offer if you own a Wii you should own this game. It's that simple. There is simply so much to do and unlock in Brawl that you could be playing for more then a year without even adding the online play into the mix. With the online it's endless. Brawl is also the perfect party game. So go out pick it up invite a few friends over and have a blast. You will have a hard time finding a funner game anywhere else for quite a while.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Do reviews matter?

So recently I have been seeing a lot of articles here and there asking if reviews matter anymore. Well I guess the answer would ultimately depend on who you ask but it can go both ways. What you need to keep in mind is that a review is nothing more then a opinion. As such it may differ from your view on a particular game as the thoughts of the reviewer may not necessarily match the thoughts you would have on a particular aspect of a game.

Now all that said reviews can certainly be helpful. For instance should you find a reviewer that you know shares your likes and dislikes about gaming you could easily depend on said reviewers opinion. However even though reviews can in some cases be helpful I also think its important not to rely on them to much either. I can't tell you the amount of games on my favorites list I would have never played if I had relied solely on reviews. The Xenosaga games are a good example. Major complaints even by those who gave the games a good score were that there were far to many cut scenes however I found them quite enjoyable. It's examples such as this that I feel prevent reviews from being the end all be all.

One thing I think reviews could do without is the numbers. I fail to understand them. Often I have found myself reading what seems to be a glowing review only to get to the end see the score of 7.5 and find myself wondering if I had missed something. I think its unnecessary to have a number at the end of a review. There is just to much room for error with numbers being added to reviews. In my opinion(yes a opinion in a article about reviews which are nothing more then glorified opinions ironic no?) the words presented by the reviewer should be enough to either convince or prevent a reader from purchasing a game.

All in all if you take anything away with you after reading this be it that reviews are a double edged sword. While they may be able to help you they are not the holy grail and remember if you are in doubt you can always rent a game and you never know you may come away with an all new favorite.