Gullwings, Move Out! A Final Fantasy X-2 Review

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Final Fantasy X has, in my humble opinion, one of the most memorable story in the entire Final Fantasy franchise.  It’s sequel, however, leave a lot to be desired.

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Final Fantasy X-2 takes place two years after the conclusion of the first game.  It centers around Yuna, now no longer a summoner but part of a sphere hunting group the Gullwings, as she searches for answers to the mystery that surrounded a curious little sphere showing a familiar face.  With her, this time around, is her Al Bhed cousin Rikku, and the mysterious Paine.  And this is about as much as I am going to say about the story of this sequel because anything more would be quite spoiler-ish.

Unlike Final Fantasy X, X-2 uses the Active Time Battle and the Dressphere system.  Dresspheres are a sort of job class system that can be changed in-battle and outside of it.  Each dressphere has a particular set of strengths (and weaknesses, with some being abysmally weak than others) and abilities.  All three of our heroines can use all the dresspheres available in the game except for each other’s special dressphere.

Another addition to this game is the Creature Creator…which is where you can go to capture monsters, train/enhance them, and battle in monster tournaments.  While useful to some, it doesn’t really provide much in way of the game story.

Included in the HD Remastered version of the game (which, essentially, is an HD take on the International version of the original PS2 game) is The Last Mission, an epilogue-ish, rogue-like add-on that takes place three months after the end of X-2 and is meant to tie up plot and storylines. The objective of this game is to climb up to the top of an 80-floor tower, beating monsters along the way with bosses ever 20 floors.

Now that you guys know the gist of the game, I can now get on with the good and the bad sides of the game.

The Good:

As it is the HD version of the game, it is, well…as you might have surmised, is in HD.  Character models are revamped and the game made to look good in the PS3 and Vita.  The same could be said with the audio.  This time around, Yuna doesn’t speak as though she has a speech impediment.  The voice acting is spot on, and depicts the characters’ personalities well.  Especially Rikku who was voiced by the incredible Tara Strong.

Since the game uses the ATB System, the battles can be a lot more fast-paced, especially during boss battles.  Sadly, that’s about all the good things I can say about this game at the top of my head.

 

The Bad:

Ah, where to start?  As I have previously written, the story is not as good as its predecessors and successors.  I honestly enjoyed the story from the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy games than I did with X-2…and that’s saying something.  The dialogues are forced at some points in the story, most of the time bordering on cliched and cheesy.

The game also requires you to get a 100% completion in order to view the prefect ending, which is what you would want to be aiming for to get the most out of the story (with the difference between a good ending and a perfect ending being only 1 after-credits scene).  The thing with this though is that this game is impossible to get 100% on without using guides and following those game guides down to the last dot.  Heck, you can’t even skip cutscenes if you want to get that 100%.  It’s tedious, and honestly sucks the fun out of the game when you have to worry and nitpick about every single thing you have to do in the said game.

This game is also filled with pointless and otherwise frustrating mini-games that you might only play once and never do so again.  Blitzball was also reduced to a coaching simulation, which is far from what we had in FFX.  Heck, there isn’t even much coaching as sometimes all you have to do is watch.  The newly-introduced Spherebreak mini-game, which involves a lot of math can also provide you with a headache.  There is also that lightning calibration mini-game which does not take into consideration gamers who might be Dyslexic or having ADD/ADHD. And hose are just some of them.

Then there is that 100-floored tower in Chapter 5 (I’m not going to say what tower that is.  And, yes.  This game is separated by chapters with 5 being the final one) that could easily massacre your team leaving you frustrated to no end.  You can’t skip that tower too, not if you want to get 100% game completion rating.

I honestly didn’t feel as invested into playing this as I am with any other game in the franchise.  Which is sad, really.  The only reason why I didn’t just give up mid-way through the game was because I simply didn’t want to put the money spent on buying this sequel to waste.  I mean, I already knew what the good ending of the game would bring.  Not just because this game has been out for ages in its PS2 incarnation, but also because the box art (especially for the Vita) kinda spoiled it.

I don’t even want to talk about Last Mission.  It’s that bad.  Not the gameplay (though it can be quite annoying as it relies heavily on luck for getting the items and dresspheres you need in order to make your life climbing the tower a little less of a living nightmare.  I’m talking about, once again, the story.   Just thinking about how bad it makes me wanna…ugh!

Overall, I was actually pretty disappointed with how this game turned out.  I tried to keep an open mind about it, even when there are many people saying this wasn’t as good as the first one.  Sadly, I have to agree with them.

So, would I recommend this game?  For rent, maybe.  Of course, everything I have written here are solely my opinion.  Whether or not you would want to play a game–whether it is this game, or some other videogame title–still depends solely on you.

 

Posted in Entertainment, Reviews, Video Games Tagged with: , , , , ,

Return to Spira: A Quick Look At FFX HD Remaster

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One-hundred-and-thirty-eight hours.  That was how much time I placed in playing–and completing every aspect of, including getting the Platinum Trophy–Final Fantasy X HD Remaster for the Vita.  Half of that time I have clocked in to this game involved farming for the spheres needed to improve the characters, capturing ten of every monster found in almost all the dungeons, obtaining the most powerful weapons and armors (the ones that also required farming for items to customize them into uber equipment), playing Blitzball, defeating Dark Aeons, defeating the most powerful boss Penance, and defeating the most powerful boss in the Monster Arena Nemesis.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Some might not know what the heck I am even talking about.  So allow me a few paragraphs to explain…and tell the story of, without spoiling anything.

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster Logo

Final Fantasy X HD Remaster is a very-much enhanced and (as its name suggests) high-definition remaster of the acclaimed international version of a game that first hit shelves some thirteen years ago. It tells of the story of Tidus, a star Blitzball (an underwater soccer-ish sport) player for the Zanarkand Abes who gets thrown into Spira–a place that is a thousand years into the future from where and when he was from.  There, Tidus meets Yuna, a summoner who is on her journey to defeat Sin–a monstrous creature who, according to the world’s mythos, was born from the sins of the past–particularly a war that occurred prior to the game’s story–because the people of Spira made use of “machinas” (I am merely glossing over things here).

Like most–if not all–RPGs/JRPGs, Tidus is drawn to Yuna and ends up being her Guardian.  Long story short, Tidus, Yuna, and the rest of their crew (which comprises of Wakka, a retired Blitzball Player, Lulu a Black Magician Guardian, Khimari a Ronzo with a broken horn who took Yuna to Besaid (the island from where the actual game starts from) and looked after her, Rikku an Al Bhed scavenger who also happens to be Yuna’s cousin, and Auron a legendary Guardian who with Tidus’ father Jecht and Yuna’s father Braska, brought forth the previous “Calm”) travel all across Spira, seeking the aid of the Fayth and Aeons (summon spirits/creatures/whatever you want to call them) to battle and defeat Sin and herald forth another Calm for Spira while searching for a way for Tidus to go back to his home, Zanarkand.

There is a lot to this game than the very quick summary I had made above.  Believe me.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have ended up with a hundred hours worth of gameplay.

So, what’s new with this so-called “HD Remaster”?

Well, apart from the HD aspect, the remodeled version of the characters (which some gamers are complaining about) and map models, and the aforementioned fact that this is the International version of the game–a version which wasn’t released in North America and PAL regions–FFX HD Remaster includes the Eternal Calm FMV and a bonus audio drama (which occurs sometime after FFX-2 (which begs the question why Square would include that in the FFX game)).  It also includes the ability to swap saves from the PS3 release of the game and the Vita release for those who enjoy having two copies of their games (one for the console and another for their handheld).

In-Game Cutscene comparison

Above image is from the original PS2 release of the game. Below is an image form the remastered version.

The International Version of the game from where this remaster was based off from gave players the ability to choose which grid system they would use: Standard or Expert.  The Grid System is this game’s version of leveling up your characters the way you see fit, using spheres and nodes (of which I am not going to delve into, but it is quite a hassle).  It also has additional bosses which are both very powerful.

It also has improved audio and 60 remastered tracks (again, some fans are not too happy about these remastered tracks), a quick recovery feature that makes use of the touch screen to quickly heal your party (never made use of this), and, of course, the trophies.

The remastered version brings about nostalgia, especially if you have played the original PS2 release before.  With the addition of the Trophies, you will also be in for a long haul if you intend to Platinum the game.  Long hours await you at grinding, trying to nab that 0-second race win aboard the Chocobo, winning a Chocobo race while trying to obtain 5 treasure chests, dodging 200 lightning strikes consecutively–without encountering monsters, beating super-powered bosses, obtaining secret Aeons and items,  playing Blitzball, and learning the Al Bhed language (just to name a few).  Though the game is fun, some aspects of it are quite annoying/irritating to the point where I almost threw my Vita at the wall.

Maybe that’s because I was aiming for a 100% completion of the game, but there are some parts of it that shouldn’t have been required for a trophy (I am talking about you damn Chocobo trophies!).  Or, since there is already a trophy for it, that the developers should have taken time to fix the clunky controls on some of the mini games (again, giving you a death glare, Chocobo trophies!)  Really, after thirteen years you would’ve think they would, at least, fixed the drunken controls of those mini-games and made it enjoyable for the gamers.  But, no.  Sadly, the poor controls were left in.

In-Game Cutscene Comparison

Another in-game comparison. The top image is from the remastered version. The bottom is from the original.

That’s really my only rant about this game.  The poor controls they have on the mini-games.  I mean, if you’re developing a mini-game for a videogame, the best thing to do is to ensure it has proper controls and that the gamers would enjoy it.  Otherwise, it would simply be a chore and the people playing the game would not bother with it…worst is if there is some “unlockable” found within the mini-game, or if the mini-game is forced, and the gamer ends up simply giving up on the game itself.

Other than the controls, I really could say nothing bad about this game.  It is quite enjoyable, and the story one of my favorites (certainly beats out the convoluted storyline of Final Fantasy 13).  Beating the game and obtaining its Platinum Trophy is even made sweeter by the fact that I wasn’t able to beat it back when I was a kid and it was first released.  The HD Remaster gave me a chance to go at it again and complete the game to the core.

As far as remakes go, is Final Fantasy X (even X-2) the Final Fantasy game that needed remaking/remastering?  I wouldn’t go so far as putting it at the top of my list.  That spot is highly reserved for Final Fantasy 7.  If or when Final Fantasy 7 will get the remaster that it deserves and Square finally listens to the pleas of the fans…perhaps we will never know.

 

Posted in Entertainment, Reviews, Video Games Tagged with: , , , , ,

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition A Quick Look

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How many times have a videogame been ported from one console to another?  I can name quite a number of those ports that provided nothing more than a gamers ability to play it on something other than the first console/handheld (or vice-versa) it was intended for.

When word came out that the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was going to be ported over to the next-gen consoles, I didn’t know what to think.  On one hand, I loved the reboot. I’ve played it on my 360 and blazed through the game while knocking down the achievements along the way.  It wasn’t just the personification—the humanization—of iconic Lara Croft that captivated me.  It was the story and the characters as well.  To be able to play the game on my new console was a good thing for me, after all, at the moment, I only have a few number of PS4 titles, and all of them I have already finished and even platinum-ed (with the exception of NBA 2k14).

On the other side of the spectrum, I was a bit skeptical.  Despite loving the reboot, I wonder if it would be a good idea to purchase a game that I’ve already 100-percent finished.  What could this game possibly offer?  Would it be worth it?  I mean, I could just play it over again on my 360.

Even though I debated with myself, I did end up purchasing and even hyping about it when I saw the comparison between the last-gen version of the game and the current-gen.

As immersive as the last-gen version was, the current-gen version was even better.  The graphics alone surpassed the earlier release of the game as Lara was given a new model, and the other characters looked as though they have been enhanced as well.  The environment of the game—the Island of Yamatai—was even more alive than it was.  The fog actually looked like a fog.  The gloss of the skin, the way the shadows and even the water touched the skin of the characters looked impressive.

Gameplay-wise, it remained the same, with some of the bugs riddling the older version eliminated, or at least put into a minimum.  The use of the PS4 touchpad was also integrated, along with the use of the controller’s speaker…which, at times, surprises me whenever I forget about it, to the point where I wondered where the sound was coming from.

Using the torch also changes the color of the controller’s light…which, at first, I didn’t realize was because of the torch, and I ended up panicking and wondering if I had just butchered the controller (whilst praying that was not the case as this newest incarnation of the Dual Shock controller costs a lot).

I really have no qualms about the game, in-general…save for two things.

First is the length.  Even at the highest of difficulties, I breezed through the game and finished it in a couple of days (shorter if I didn’t have to go to work, or do other stuff).  There’s nothing wrong with the story, I enjoyed it…a lot.  It’s just…I wished it was longer.  And I wished there were other things we can do after we finished the game, like, more tombs to raid (this is ‘Tomb Raider’…raiding tombs is supposed to be a given).

Maybe in the sequel, we’ll get that…but, really, my attention span can only last for two-to-three playthroughs of a game (which, I noted, when I worked on getting a Platinum for the Mass Effect Trilogy).

My second issue is: Multiplayer.

Now, on the PS3, I enjoyed the addition of multiplayer.  It brings about a different kind of accomplishment when the system/console notifies you that you achieved a trophy from something you did while on multiplayer.  It’s also quite amusing, even when there are players raging about.

But I only felt exasperated with this game’s multiplayer.  It’s just like ACIV: Black Flag.  You need to be a Plus member to give it a go.  Unfortunately, I am not…at least, at the moment.  Which is such a bummer.  I mean, games in and of itself already costs quite a lot, and although the Plus membership is a very good deal, to fork up more in order to have the “complete experience” is just…kind of a downer.

I mean, can they not provide non-plus members, like, a week of free Multiplayer Access?  I know, I know…this is still a business, still…

Anyways, regardless of how I am unable to Platinum this stellar title at the moment, I’m still quite happy with the purchase.  If you haven’t played the earlier version of the reboot, this is a great buy!  If you have and want to experience the beginning of Lara Croft’s adventure once more, it’s not such a bad deal.  It really does stand to its name as being the “definitive” edition.  Borrow it, purchase it digitally, or obtain a physical copy.  Do whatever—except pirate it—just make sure you don’t pass this title up.

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Little Bit of Updates

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So, I’ve been a “little” bit preoccupied and have been unable to update this blog for a very long while now.  It’s kind of sad really, as that is not something I wanted.  I may post those backlog articles sometime this month, if I could squeeze some time in for that.

Anyways, for those wondering…I am doing fine.  I feel as though I’m in the middle of something akin to “The Game of Thrones“, though (those who know me personally, will know what I am talking about)…which is not someplace I want to be.  I don’t intend to rant here in this post, though.  I don’t want to “immortalize” those concerned with my writing.

Having said that, I am working on a few stuff that might interest y’all.

First up, to my FFN readers.  Yes, I am still updating my stories…although the updates are a bit sporadic.  One of the stories that I trying to finish as soon as I can is “Rise of the Fright Knights”.  I’m past the half-way point, and the story is going in the direction I wanted it to.  The other stories are on hiatus until then, though.  I didn’t want to put them on hold, but with the number of things I am currently working on and dealing with…well, I chose to pick my battles.

With regards to the Winged Saga–my beloved book series–I’ve finished writing the first part for the interim novel–which is a very short novel that bridges the gap between the second and third book.  I already have the title for the novela, but I’m going to wait until I’m almost done with the entire draft before I reveal it (and the cover) since there is a slight chance that I might end up changing it.

RPG-making-wise, I am still on hiatus as well…I’m well-beyond the point of being frustrated with that…especially since Chronicles of Endlessia is almost playable…But “almost” is still not good enough, and I would want to be able to deliver as great a game as I can develop.  I owe that to myself, as much as those who were going to be trying/playing my game out.

I’ve also taken to creating worlds for Disney Infinity…which is totally awesome and helps me relax.  I’ve been working on a “Castle Adventure” themed world, though I sort of took a break from it since I am missing a couple of blocks/items to complete it–which, I intend to obtain as soon as I get my hands on a new Disney Infinity figure (Sorcerer Mickey, Violet, Venellope, Ralph, or Rapunzel… :D).

Hmmm…what else have I been busy with?  There’s work, of course, but I’d rather not talk about that. I’m enjoying designing T-Shirt when I am unable to do anything else, so…there’s that.  I’m going to post some of them soon, and if you guys would like, you can order them as well.  I’m also back to going crazy over Doctor Who, what with having to watch the entire 2005 series from the Ninth to the Eleventh Doctor every day for the past couple of days.  Seriously, it feels like forever before the new episodes/season comes!

I’ve started to draw again, by the way.  They’re just doodles compared to what I have been doing before I lost a bit of inspiration for that sort of thing.  I’m not sure if I would end up using my DA account again, though.  I mean, as much as I enjoy drawing/painting and generally creating doodles, I much prefer writing.  I’m happiest when I am writing…especially when I am not being forced to do it.

That’s all I can share at the moment…all the interesting stuff, anyway.  Hopefully, this post will kick up my blog updates again.

Until next post!  Dream on; Fly on!

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Disney Infinity: First Impressions

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I blame Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, and the movie Frozen, for ending up with a Disney Infinity Starter Pack purchase.

Well…that is not entirely true.  I had, actually, been contemplating about getting the game for the Sony PlayStation 3 system ever since I watched the game trailers.  After all, I have always been a sucker when it comes to games that requires one to use her/his imagination. Having said that, however, I had a brief foray with Minecraft, and a little bit of LittleBigPlanet streak a few years back.  I’ve stopped playing those two games now, though since I grew bored with them.  So, you can see why I was going back-and-forth on whether I should get a copy of this game or not.

In the end, however, after watching “Frozen” for a couple of times and liking–no, loving–everything about that animated movie, I decided that I wanted the Elsa and Anna figures that Disney Infinity was offering.  Of course, I felt stupid at buying just that so I thought, ‘What the heck.  I’ll buy a Disney Infinity Starter Pack, too.’.  And I did.  I have yet to regret the purchase since then.

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First off, Disney Infinity isn’t just your average sandbox building game.  It’s more fun than that…and that’s coming from someone who is in her mid-twenties.

Developed by Avalanche Software and published by Disney Interactive Studios with a whopping $100 million funded into development, the game utilizes collectible figures in the form of select Disney characters to bring these characters–and their world–to life.  This figures synchronizes with the games and allow Disney and Pixar characters to go on pre-designed adventures, or adventures that you create for yourself.

disney-infinity-35It has physical toys (in the form of the figures), open-world sandbox action-adventure, and story-driven gameplay.  The pre-designed adventures, however, are from the PlaySets you can buy (one is part of the Starter Package featuring The Incredibles, Monsters University, and Pirates of the Caribbean).  Add that to the multitude of character figures currently out, and the powerdiscs that you can also buy, and this game is…perhaps…a parent’s nightmare.

Having said that, however, the good thing about this game is that the figures, playsets, and powerdiscs can be used on different systems where the game is available.  Not only that, it is backwards and forwards compatible as well.  Meaning, they can be used for the upcoming sequel and the sequels after that.  It is genius on the developer’s part, and something the Skylanders series failed to address.

Disney-Infinity-new-112313-1The gameplay itself isn’t just geared for children.  It’s made for everyone.  Although some in-game missions tend to be repetitive, it still manages to provide entertainment.  The sound can use a bit of work, too.  Sadly, I noticed that some of the original voice actors didn’t provide the voice overs for this game.  Although some of them do sound like the original, some are noticeably different which can irk you a bit…depending on how much of a fanatic you are.  (EDIT: I’ve been told by Mr. Thomas Estrada on the comments section below, that Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel DO reprise their role as Princess Anna and Queen Elsa for the game.  That.  Is.  Just.  Awesome!)  As for the graphics, well, it’s sort of right there in the middle.  Not too shabby, but not the best either.  The characters, the world, and everything in-between DO look straight from the movies they are from, though.  I’m merely stating this from the next-gen’s (which is now current-gen (PS4 and XBOne) perspective.

The game also provides online/multiplayer modes where you can visit a friend’s toybox.  The toybox is the place where you can build your own “world”, your own adventure, and where the figures who do not have playsets of their own can be used.

DisneyInfinityE3screen4Although there are still some quirks Disney Infinity could fix, the game itself is a fun addition to any videogame library, especially if you have children or young cousins who come over to your house from time to time to play.  I’d recommend this game for anyone who wants to build their own Disney “World”, play with their favorite Disney and Pixar characters, and those who simply enjoy videogames that strengthens ones imagination.

It’s impossible NOT to have fun with this game.  I never got bored with it during the times I can play it (which is right after I have done my quota of chapters to write for my novel).  Lots of things to do.  And with the figures, the powerdiscs, and the playsets that are available, it really does provide an infinite amount of possibilities.  Add the multiplayer functionality and, well…Infinity sounds just about right.

Disney Infinity is available for the PC, XBOX 360, Wii, 3DS, and the PS3.

 

Posted in Video Games Tagged with: , , , ,

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