Thursday, September 25, 2008

Infinite Undiscovery.

Infinite Undiscovery is a odd one. This is a game said to contain 10 years worth of RPG concepts that could only be realized with the power of the Xbox 360. It's from Tri Ace a dev known for great games in the past however it just fell so so short of what it should have been and the reasons for this are many. 

We will start this review a bit different. Normally I would tell you about the good a game has to offer and then save the negatives for last however we are gonna reverse that this time around as there is a bit more to talk about on the negative side. Now don't get me wrong this doesn't mean that Infinite Undiscovery is a bad game and if you don't believe me please read to the end of this review.

Infinite Undiscovery is a game that needed alot more polish then it ended up getting in the end. That could really be the main problem with the game. The graphics show moments of being great particularly at the end of the game in the final area. However the vast majority of the time they are simply serviceable. Also the character models are hit and miss. Capell the lead of the game looks great as does Aya the Female lead. The rest are a bit hit and miss. Rico and Rucha look great however Eugene and Michelle look odd for some reason. Speaking of odd Infinite Undiscovery has some of the worst Lip syncing ever this generation. Now some of you out there will say that's because the game was originally Japanese and the mouths match that language. Not so. The Lip sync is so bad there is no way it was better even with the Japanese. In fact the movement of the mouths in general looks a bit like that of a dummy at certain points. This may have been less noticeable if you could play the game in Japanese but it would still be a problem. Oh and yes you read that correctly, you can not switch to the original Japanese voice track. Normally that wouldn't be that bad however the Voice acting in Infinite Undiscovery is horrible. There are some characters that sound OK but the vast majority are horrid. The cast does get better as the game goes on but it still isn't all that great. It's a good thing that the main 2 characters Capell and Aya have decent voice actors because they have alot of the better moments in the game.

One of the other sticking points for me was that the areas in the game were sometimes far to big. Now generally I would not complain about something like this however Infinite Undiscovery has one of the worst mapping systems ever. The maps only show exactly where you have been which is very annoying when the areas are so big and expansive. The game really needed prefilled maps. Some of the areas are so large that you can get lost for almost a hour without knowing where you are going. 

Whew that was a mouth full. Now with that out of the way we can get on to the good stuff. Infinite Undiscovery has a great combat system. It's somewhat like a MMO however it's all real time. You have a weak attack(A) and a strong attack(B) you can also hold down these buttons to use special moves as well.The game does a great job of giving you plenty of members to experiment with and gives inactive members experience as well so you are really encouraged to mess with your setup. There are also a great number of moves and spells to learn so combat never really feels all that boring. Leveling also comes fast so you will not spend much time grinding. You can generally get by just fighting what you come across and not have a problem with the game.

Now in my last review I mentioned that Motoi Sakuraba's Tales of Vesperia failed to deliver a soundtrack that could live up to his previous track record with games like Trusty Bell and Valkyrie Profile 2 however I am glad to report that his work in Infinite Undiscovery is a very good return to form. There are plenty of top notch songs worth listening to over and over and they relay what is happening on screen very well.

There is also a fairly deep creation system in the game in which you can make food, Armor,Weapons as well as enchanting Armor and Weapons in a similar fashion. There are plenty of items to make and the system is very simple and works very well. I found it very fun to mess around and make things as the game went on.

Infinite Undiscovery also has a great story line. Which I believe is worth experiencing despite all the problems I mentioned. The moon has been chained to the earth to allow people to gain it's power via what is known as Lunaglyphs however the chains are also causing horrible disasters all over the world. However there is one man who is fighting to free the moon from it's chains. This man named Sigmund is known world wide as The Liberator. However you do not take on the role of Sigmund. You play as a young man by the name of Capell who at the start of the game has been thrown in jail because he looks exactly like Sigmund. As the game begins the young woman known as Aya frees Capell under the assumption that he is indeed Sigmund. One thing leads to another and Capell is thrust into something he neither wanted nor asked for. The story is very well done and does not rely on cliches all that much. In fact during the last 5 or so hours of the game I had forgotten all the issues I have mentioned thus far. I was completely Engrossed by what was happening and could not put the game down until I saw the credits role. 

All in all Infinite Undiscovery is a game certainly worth giving a shot. You will find out pretty quickly if you will want to stick with the game to the end. Some will stay simply for the combat and some like me will be able to look past all the issues to see that great story that lies within. There is no denying that the game has issues and needed to remain in development for a while longer however most of those issues are superficial and do not prevent the game from being played. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Tales Of Brave Vesperia.

Tales of Vesperia is the latest in the long running Tales series and it had alot to live up to being the first next-gen entry in the series and boy did it live up to it all. It's great to see a classic style J-RPG come around as we don't get many of them very often anymore. 

First off lets talk about the graphics in Vesperia. Vesperia uses a Cel Shaded style popular among anime themed games and for good reason as it's the closet thing to anime you can get without using full blown anime cut scenes 24/7. However don't expect to be blown away by Tales look. The game looks great but isn't even comparable to something like Trusty Bell (Eternal Sonata for those in the US). On the other hand the anime cut scenes will blow you away. The character design and anime cut scenes were handled by Production I.G. and any anime fan worth their merit will know that Production I.G. does incredible stuff. Many of these cut scenes are down right stunning in their beauty, It's a shame there aren't more of them here.

The combat is extremely fun. Think the Devil May Cry of RPG's only slower in pace. Everything is in real time and you will form combo's guard and use special moves and Magic to survive encounters. The great thing about the combat is that it is constantly evolving over the course of the game. Be it from new mechanics being added or the hundreds upon hundreds of moves you can learn the combat always feels fresh and fun to play.

The story is a bit off putting in that at first glace it seems to be nothing special. It simply starts with the main character Yuri Lowell investigating the theft of a Aqua blastia core from the Lower Quarter of Zapias. He soon gets arrested and breaks out of the Dungeon where he meets up with a young lady who joins him on his journey to find the stolen blastia. Now the story takes the first 6-7 hrs of game play to get you introduced to the various characters from the game but the story quickly becomes far more mature and deep then it first lets on. There are plenty of plot twists some of which come out of no where and you will never seen coming. It is certainly a story worth experiencing granted it takes a little to really take off. 

Now as for sound the game has a decent soundtrack by Motoi Sakuraba but it's not close to the level of his other work in games like Trusty Bell and Valkryie Profile 2 Silmeria. The voice acting on the other hand is a grand slam. We are talking about a All star anime voice cast here with the likes of Liam O Brian, Sam Regal, Michelle Ruff and Wendee Lee just to name a few. There are no bad voice with the exception of one and that's done of purpose as he is a annoying character so they helped get that across  via his voice. Combat is constantly full of chatter be it story related chatter or simply spells being chanted and moves being called out. One of the great things I noticed from the game was the amount of victory dialog there was. There is at least 50 different things that the characters will say after a battle depending on who is in the party who killed the last monster who performed the best and so on and they are all very funny. The game also has this innovative feature they call Skits. Skits are little dialog sequences that can be activated when the game tells you to press the Back Button. These Skits are basically the characters talking to each other about various things and it really helps you learn about them and also gives a deeper understanding of whats going on in the storyline. A simple but very effective method of getting to know the characters. There are 100's of these skits and I don't even think I was able to see them all.

So as you can see the game really is a great entry in the series. There is little to bog down the experience. You vary rarely need to grind because of the nature of the combat system you can win battles even if you are very under leveled in fact one of the games achievements is about that fact. If you are a J-RPG fan or ever just a causal RPG fan there is no reason for Tales of Vesperia not to be in your collection. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Will Xbox 360 Final Fantasy XIII outsell PS3?

So recently I have been seeing alot of debates and alot of articles talking about how it's a very real possibility that the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIII will outsell the PS3 version. Now I am not here today to have yet another discussion about why it will outsell the PS3 but I am here to tell you why it wont.

Personally I think it's gonna sell better on PS3 because First and foremost PS3 is the only place to get the full Final Fantasy XIII experience by which I mean VS XIII is still exclusive and Nomura-san said it would stay so. You may not consider that a very valid reason but trust me for Final Fantasy and RPG fans in general it is a very big deal. Second is the PS3 version is going to be better quality.Be it better graphics, faster load times, better sound or simply the fact that it will be on a single Blu-ray disc the PS3 version is going to have something on the xbox version. Personally I think the Xbox version may suffer from slowdown. Any of those who have played Ninja Gaiden II know that there are many points in the game in which the game has a bit a slow down and one point in the game with MASSIVE slowdown. Lets be honest with ourselves Ninja Gaiden isn't even close to being in the same ball park graphically as FFXIII is. With that being the case it is reasonable to assume that the Xbox 360 version of the game is going to have some sort of technical flaw.

The way SE has been talking about the 360 version it seems as if they haven't even tested it yet. Meaning they don't know how well it will work. We have heard them many times say that the 360 port is not underway and it will not begin until after the PS3 version is complete. That being the case I wouldn't be shocked if they bit off more then they can chew and just aren't aware of it yet. Although this is SE we are talking about so they must have thought it through to some degree.

Also you must consider that alot of the Final Fantasy diehards like myself bought a PS3 long before they announced the Xbox version and they are not going to sell off their PS3's or anything. At least the majority won't as I have heard of people that say they will be boycotting the game because they feel betrayed by Square. Let me say this now Square did not betray anyone. They have always done what is best for the company. Back in the days of the PS1 and N64 they knew that the N64 would not be able to deliver on their vision for FFVII and because of this they changed over from Nintendo to Sony. Just think Final Fantasy simply would not be what it is today had it stayed on the Nintendo consoles. This generation is notorious for insanely high production costs in some cases exceeding those in Hollywood. Developers need to find ways to help recoup these losses and that is exactly what Square did. Sony was not betrayed in fact I would say they have it pretty good as far as Square goes. Square recently announced PSP versions of both Parasite Eve The 3rd Birthday and Final Fantasy Agito XIII not to mention the already in development Dissidia and Kingdom Heats Birth By Sleep as well as Final Fantasy VS XIII. Sony has plenty of Square exclusives so it is clear the relationship between the two companies is well and good.

So fear not it is a strong possibility that Final Fantasy XIII will sell better on PS3 and not only that but it just may be a better game on PS3.