aka The Miscellaneous Computer Gaming Thread, for anyone to pop gaming-related stuff into should they (and by they, I mean on the rare occasion that it's not just me or Stuart) ever care to.
(The current thread title is an old Civilization reference, but I'll no doubt switch it repeatedly to other game quotes as ever the whim should take me...)
Sooooooo to begin, it's roughly one month until Final Fantasy XIII is released.
This is a game that retains a similar conception of the battle system that I hated so very, very much in XII (although Em would no doubt prefer it, given our numerous disagreements over Real Time v Turn Based RPG combat).
It also, from the various trailers, seems to have a plot that contains an overwhelming quantity of emotional blubbing (more so than usual for FF) - which, although not a damning quality like a Star Wars mishmash that XII was, is not necessarily a selling point either.
It is a game that I am, or should be, more "giving a chance" than really anticipating.
And yet I can feel growing excitement within me as the release date approaches.
it's not so much that I don't like real time combat, as I do like being able to pause and plan my next move.
I am LOVING tomb-raider Underworld. It is becoming the pinnacle of awesome that tomb-raider could be. Kickass moves, smart puzzles, not too much reliance on shooting stuff up. I can make lara do handstnads and chimney jumps and run up walls and all kinds of awesome stuff!
I believe your memory of our disagreement is backwards. >_> I always talked of my preference for turn-based, while you preferred real-time.
The FFXII/XIII combat is no longer turn-based, as in previous FFs, but is real-time with the necessity to pause and plan as per usual.
To be honest, so long as XIII has nothing like the 'Gambit' system (where you didn't just have to learn the spells, you also had to buy the right to use them as well), it'll be at least a partial improvement.
We rented TR:Underworld, but Yash disliked the puzzles for not being obvious enough. I always suppose that since I like Uncharted (being just Tomb Raider mixed with Joss Whedon), I would do fine with TR as well, but I've always found it difficult to get enthused...
They aren't *that* hard... it's mostly stuff like "line these three bits up" or "pull the lever then run really fast before the door closes" or "where the hell is the missing bit of this mechanism gone?" ... it's not like money island level hardness or anything.
I suppose what i like about real time combat is being able to kick someones ass before they get a chance to hit me back, the best thing about turn based would be if they're massively more powerful than you and you get the first shot then you can go for their weakness.
i think what i don't like about turn-based is games like civ where you get your people all lined up for something awesome and then the other player has his turn and moves all his pieces before you can do anything and fouls up your awesome plan.
Calling it now: It's going to be a disappointment.
Reasons include: The sheer amount of hype they're drumming up is vastly out of proportion to the content they're displaying (see the trailer that shows poorly hacked together bits from his old games, followed by 2 seconds of gameplay footage; the badnik fanart competition; the character reveal countdown; "Project Needlemouse"). This is typical Sega spin. The content they HAVE shown is not very encouraging: it's laden with poor aesthetic decisions, and even the title-screen music (which I can't find on the site right now but remember hearing somewhere earlier) sounds like dreadful flash-game fare. If it's really a return to Sonic's routes, why is the homing-attack (which is retarded to have in a 2D game) still included. Why are they still using his new design? Why a 3D model instead of 2D sprites? For an aspect they're making such a big song-and-dance about, this shows a worrying (but typical) lack of commitment. The only defining feature of this thing is that they're calling it Sonic 4. I'd say that another is that it's a "return to Sonic's roots", but haven't they said that for about half the games that have been released over the past few years?
It's not like 2D should be that much of a surprise. Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adveture were 2D and, despite some flaws, they were perfectly competent games.
Also, the simple fact of the matter is that it's a Sonic game, being made by Sega. My cynicism is well-trained at this point, and it's not going to be broken simply because of the name and more hollow promises.
I'm being successfully put off by Final Fantasy XIII, having read the first part of Dom's (from megatokyo) rant about his hatred for it. Cut and pasted below:
Late last night, I decided to take a break after a nightmarishly busy month of moving and AOD 2010 prep work by sitting down for a half hour with Final Fantasy XIII. I had saved my game just before the end, and I figured that I'd earned a nice half hour of sitting down and watching the fireworks. Eighteen minutes later, I was done with Final Fantasy XIII forever - not because I'd beaten the game, but because the game had pushed me with so many horrible design decisions and uninteresting segments that I finally washed my hands it before I broke a controller.
So, a month and some 50 hours after I first cracked the game with low expectations (seriously, have you heard any of the insanely bad buzz this game has been getting? Trust me, it's all justified), I'm ready to write out everything that Final Fantasy XIII did wrong and why it was wrong.
The short answer on what went wrong: Everything. FFXIII was designed with diametrically opposed design goals, and succeeded at none of them.
The long answer
The long answer is a bit more involved, and I'm going to sum it up by saying that Final Fantasy XIII is the result of too many cooks throwing everything in the pot, while other cooks just take things away from the pot. What's left is a watery, sour monstrosity that can barely be called soup. I'll go system by system and pick apart what went right and what went wrong.
Part 1: Level design
The first thing everyone mentions about Final Fantasy XIII is the level design, AKA One Long Tunnel. Honestly, I don't mind the tunnel thing - I'm used to visual novels these days, and those are some of the most linear experiences you'll ever see. But you have to have a damn good game to support the tunnel, and while Final Fantasy X was also one long line for the first half of the game, it had an interesting story to prop up the rather dull journey, and it rewarded you for your patience by opening itself up in the later half and making a huge number of areas more accessible than before. Final Fantasy XIII finally gives you a more open world in chapter 12 (out of 13), but even then it's just one big grassy plain with some tentacles of even more linear dungeons radiating out from the center. So you're left with some very pretty but uninteresting "hold forward" dungeons for 90% of the game.
Even worse is the fact that a lot of these dungeons extend the amount of time you spend in them with long periods of dead time and criminally underdeveloped gimmick mechanics. The biggest culprit in the wasted animation department is the "treasure chests" of the game, which are floating orbs that bob up and down to grab your attention. When you open one of these, your avatar stops, turns, pokes the orb with one hand, and after a flash of light, you get your item. It's about two seconds longer than your average "Treasure chest opens, you get your stuff" animation from other RPGs; it seems like a minor gripe at first, but after a few hundred chests you start to despise the animation as you just want to get on with the game, especially combined with all sorts of artificial dead time as you wait for bridges to extend and platforms to float lazily into place - one dungeon is just a series of buttons and extending bridges, and it's excruciating to combine that with the interminable periods of running without anything happening - and there are a lot of those segments.
A final frustration is that you see occasional hints of a more involved experience than "walk until you get to the next monster," but they take the form of half-assed gimmicks that just don't work. A prime example of this is one dungeon that tries to play around with a rainy-sunny weather pattern, with different monsters that appear depending on which switch has been pulled. But because they didn't develop the concept very well, it was just as easy to keep running forward as it was to play along and hit the switches, which wasted a good 15 seconds every time I hit them as the game needlessly cut away to the sky and showed it being overtaken by the new weather pattern.
Combine that with the "We didn't know how to do towns so we gave up" and all of the window dressing feels like curtains thrown over a strip mine to try and disguise the mess.
Part 2: Mind-Numbing Repetition and Inexcusable Dead Time
Related to the piss-poor level design is a massive, unbelievable oversight by the developers: the game they worked so hard to make so pretty is just plain boring. The combat system is mostly automated, with you only taking control of one character, and there is potential within the combat system for things to be interesting - some fights are a dance of role switches, burn phases, fortification phases, and so on. But more often than not, you just go Attacker/Blaster/Healer or Attacker/Blaster/Blaster and spam the X button for seven minutes. Yes, a good portion of the dungeon encounters are designed to last upwards of seven minutes each. They're not particularly interesting minutes, either - in many cases, the enemies will be resistant to physical attacks, so your Attacker will forgo the visually interesting and painstakingly crafted physical attack chain in favor of standing in place and waving his/her arms around like a moron. It's even worse as a Blaster, Healer, Enhancer, or Jammer, because you never actually move. The camera stays still, you stand still, and all of that talk about how every battle is like watching a pre-rendered movie from another game turns into "Every battle is like watching grass grow."
God forbid that you try and play a Defender, which, by the way, the game forces you to do a couple of times. The only commands you have as a Defender are "Taunt" and "Defend," with a "Revenge" option available that can barely break the monotony of having to watch your character make "come on" motions and then curl up into a fetal ball for minutes at a time. There's a part of the game where you only have Snow and Hope in your party, and for that segment of the game, I had to stand there and watch a ski bum get beaten like a pinata for 4 minutes before I could actually take any offensive actions, just because the plot forced me to field a terrible team that wasn't capable of generating an offense against more than one person at a time. It was soul-crushingly boring watching minutes upon minutes of "Taunt" "Taunt" "Taunt" "Taunt" and "Defend" "Defend" "Defend" "Defend" while I had to wait for the AI partner to do actual damage. I'll get into the combat system in a lot more detail in the next portion of this rant, which is already way too long and deserves to be longer.
The last part of my kvetching about how boring portions of the game is the sheer repetitiveness of the subquests. In Chapter 11 of the game, you finally are plopped into something resembling an open map (it's just a giant plain). You finally have some subquests to do here, too - but all of the subquests are exactly the same: "walk across the map and kill this guy." There is no variation, there is no break of pattern, there's just walking to a new place that looks like the last place you were in, then killing a monster that says "mission" over its head. Even the points where they tried to break up the monotony seem like colossal failures, like the abortion of a chocobo-finding mini-game that basically involves running in a circle and spamming X (this is a theme, by the way), or the mech mini-game that mostly involves holding forward and ignoring everything. Other than that, there is zero variation in the game play. Look forward to 60 hours of trying to train your pet to hit X for you, with occasional actual interaction when you have to change jobs - then it's back to hitting X a lot.
Oh boy! Next time I talk about such exciting things as boss design, menu design, narrative structure, and the most annoying sounds you'll ever hear out of your speakers.
If he can keep this up, I might just be able to save myself £35.
In the meantime, I'm going to get myself a Gamcube memory card from somewhere so that I can play Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on the Wii. Yes, I already owned MGS1 on the PS1, but it's the same awesome game with slightly better graphics (and some gameplay innovations stolen from MGS2), so I'm just making sure the experience is as superb as possible.
I am *Still* playing tomb raider, but I think I am getting near the final boss. On the awesome side Lara has collected all the pieces neccesary to wield mjolnir- thats right- FRIKKIN THOR'S HAMMER MJOLNIR... and it kicks ass! I can either wave it at people to send them flying into the air in a buzz of electricity or whack it on the ground and explode pretty much everything in a 20 foot radius. My wrath is AWESOME.
When i am done, think I might treat myself to a copy of mirror's edge. Running jumping, solving problems =my kind of game.
Yasha's opinion of Mirror's Edge is: the characters are shit, the plot is shit, it's rather short...but it's immense fun nonetheless.
I might pick up a copy of Tomb Raider: Underworld at some point (it only costs about £13 now). Since I've had fun playing the Uncharted games and I have a bit more patience than Yasha when it comes to puzzles, it could be a laugh...
In the meantime I have to replay part of a Phoenix Wright game after my save file got deleted. TEDIOUS~! :@ Although the games themselves are supremely awesome. What's better is that I can now also enjoy one of the scenes from Haruhi (when she's explaining how she worked out that the 'murder mystery' was all staged) a lot more, because it's just one massive Phoenix Wright parody.
well you can borrow my copy cause I just completed it.
So...no boss battle? The previous game had so many tediously complex bosses that it required two people to defeat them (me and lu had to team up, one person directing lara and the other person continually mashing forwards and shoot at high speed), so they must have got a lot of complaints and this time they just skipped it? the final level wasn't even a time trial... I mean there weare a lot of baddies milling around but mjolnir is so patented badass they never even got close.
Litle wee bit too easy. Massive fun nontheless- I could pop it in the post to you if you want to play the pc version.
Yes, you might therefore say "boo hexagons, 8 > 6", but it's a much better setup for military strategy (which is probably why many strategy board games use it). In the square grid, you could unrealistically slip a unit through military lines by exploiting the narrow diagonal gap between them. Also, hexagons allow for better flanking and support manoeuvres.
From a non-military perspective, it should help make the maps look a bit more organic and, well, less blocky around the coasts.