Reviews by ikarugan1984

97

Time can't diminish gameplay.

ikarugan1984 | July 10, 2013 | Review of FINAL FANTASY VII

FF7 is the game that pretty much wrote Squaresofts meal ticket outside of Japan. Oh, they'd had success with other games on the SNES, and in Japan had basically used that console in the same way an Olympic Horserider uses a horse. It's is THE rpg, an alpha for pretty much every RPG that came after it, to quantify it as either bad or good is beyond me, it's too big a concept, the game simply IS.

Although, I think most of us can concede that the graphics have aged in places. And I think we all need to admit that the rest of the world didn't have a patch on the Midgar sections, but that's basically it.

Essentially I have a top 5 FF games, and objectively this is the most well rounded in terms of gameplay, graphics, innovation, storyline and music. It does everything well, if not perfectly, which means it gets the number 1 spot. Although FF9 is a strong strong contender.

I'm not sure if there's anyone here who hasn't played this, but for that one guy, you play (mostly) as Cloud, a recent member to band of militant greenpeace hippies who object to energy reactors powered by the ACTUAL lifeforce of the planet. Of course the cyberpunk styled Megacorporation that runs the world objects to your blowing of said reactors up and a good deal of the game is spent dealing with them. Then Sepiroth a corporate Captain American style supersoldier who knows magic and swings an overly large sword gate crashes the party, kills the CEO of Shinra and leaves a blood swathe through the entire building.

He then tries to summon a giant meteor to punch the planet with so he can become a deity by absorbing all of it's lifeforce. Which is standard villanous fare for JRPGs.

What's good here is that all of the cast get a decent amount of screentime, every one has an adventure detailed to them that fleshes their character out nicely. Some characters obviously get more than others, and the hidden characters have optional backstories that are in fact an arse to find. Vincents especially since it requires essentially scouring the entire worldmap for obscure waterfalls. Yuffies is also annoying in that it shuffles all of your carefully aligned materia about.

Which brings up the Materia system, which allows EXCELLENT character customisation. What a healbot Barret and a blackmage type Aerith? Doable. What a Blue Mage Cloud backed up by a summoner Tifa, sure, why not? As long as you have the Materia, you can basically optimise your party any way you want. If the game HADN'T taken the time to define the characters OUTSIDE of combat, the lack of defined role for characters in battle might have been a downside, but luckily this game addresses that point nicely.

I could go on. I could talk about the mountain of hidden mini-games, I could talk about the artwork, I could talk about the musical score. God almighty I could talk about that, the only thing Square have that comes close is Chrono Triggers score. I could go on, I really could go on for a very long time. Surely that tells you everything you need to know?

If you don't have it, or played it, there is a gap in your gaming knowledge that needs to be addressed.

80

Great game, but with some polish could have been fantastic.

ikarugan1984 | July 10, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Whilst this game does away with several gameplay related aspects, Time Units and the like, the gameplay itself, although simpler, is by no means poor or inferior. It's got a combination of the original UFO:EU feel wedded to a "just one more turn" quality not usually seen outside of Civ games . It's the sort of game you start up in the morning, and next thing you know it's dark outside.

And a tuesday.

Of course, it's definitely not without faults. An array of bugs make me wonder just how thorough the beta phase was, the repeated instances of aliens shooting through impenetratable walls is such a common appearance that I can't help but feel that a proper playtesting period SURELY would have caught it. At one point I got locked into a mission I couldn't complete due to a bug not letting me evac, I lost my entire A squad. It was an Ironman game. These are bugs that reduce enjoyment.

Then there's the overly gamist design choices in a game that was meant to have a brutal sort of realism, such as a heavily stripped down selection of vehicles, as well as giving you a single backpack item slot. Apparently the soldiers of tommorow only have enough room for 1 grenade. Although I will concede that infinite amounts of ammo probably does take up a lot of space... because that doesn't completely invalidate a much beloved staple weapon of the original game does it Mr Laser Rifle?

Theres also the easily exploitable way in that alien groups wont activate until after you've spotted them, and the fact that this is bugged so that the camera will show them before they go active. Of course sometimes the bugs work against you and a squad of Sectoids spawns right in the middle of your team.

Alien Base assaults are compressed down to a single mission that's part of the campaign storyline, and assaults on X-Com HQ are gone completely, as is setting up new bases elsewhere on the globe.

Don't get me wrong, the old magic is still most definitely here. Getting into a tense close quarters firefight with a squad of Mutons in a side-alley, only for your Heavy to get bored and fire a missile downrange irrespective of collateral damage is EXACTLY the sort of thing the original was known for and is perfectly possible here. Your first encounter with the Cryssalids is still as utterly terrifying here as it was twenty years ago, and whilst the Snakemen are gone, in there place are the nightmarish (and occaisionally hilariously buggily animated) thin men which fills in the gaps as to how the Aliens are able to infiltrate nation states.

Theres a lot to love here, and above all else it IS an great game that pays a good solid homage to it's namesake. But I can't help but feel that this was kicked out of the door before it was really ready to go. It really needed a longer playtesting period, or possible a playtesting, period. Also hiding something like the customisation options behind a DLC paywall is despicable behavious from Firaxis, the game is a chore without the ability to colour code your various classes. Or give them all the classic guile cut hair from the original, and something so basic should be in by default from the start.

I feel I've been overly negative, ultimately, this game has lots of faults, but is got bigger successes that go a long way to overlook that. Essentially, it's a great game, but it could have been fantastic.