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August 13 2009


IPVG moving to wordpress

I'll be continuing to write at wordpress.com now.  I've migrated my posts and will not be posting anything new here.  Sorry, but Soup's interface is almost too web 2.0 and eats up too much of my computer's meager resources.  Too many youtube videos load up all at once, and I'm not willing to give up youtube embedding for endless page scrolling.

August 08 2009

Vagrant Story: Second Play Through

After playing War of the Lions I thought it would be a good idea to play through Vagrant Story which takes place in the same universe.  Vagrant Story, like FFT, has a complex gameplay system.  Learning how to play VS is certainly more difficult though.  There are a few hidden tutorials, battles require constant adjustments in strategy, but there is always a way to win.  It does what only games from several generations past did which is both a key strength and weakness.

It is a game that lends itself to multiple play throughs.  It has interesting but cryptic characters, the history and atmosphere of the world of Ivalice, gameplay that is rewarding to master, and a strong soundtrack (an aspect of games that has become more and more important to me.)  I would have loved to have given VS a five out of five.  I believe it captures many important ideas that other games consistently fail to include.  That is taken to the extreme though, making it more difficult than it should be to immerse yourself in it.

See also: Introduction, Another introduction

Devil May Cry 4: First Play Through

I've been a fan of the Devil May Cry Series since the first game back in 2001 (I even, regrettably, purchased DMC2.)  The fourth entry feels like a mixed bag to me.  The game play is still solid and fun but it strikes me as "DMC2 plus" in that the level design and plot are pretty poor.  The game is artificially extended by having you replay levels with different characters and fighting the same set of bosses two (even three) times before the game ends.

The plot left much to be desired but the series protagonist, Dante, at least did not revert to his DMC2 version.  The over-the-top campiness and humor of the DMC series is well preserved.  Dante's interactions with the boss characters are the only saving grace to having to fight them so many times.  The game was fun to play in spite of its flaws but it could have been much better.  Fortunately, I only rented this but I'd consider picking it up when the price goes down.

See also: Trailer, Wat?

July 08 2009

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions: First Play Through

Like with Final Fantasy VI, I had waited a long time before playing this game in its entirety.  I'm glad that I did wait since the PSP edition of the game received a new English translation.  The game is text heavy, but the story is strong.  War of the Lions is much more interesting than other entries in the Final Fantasy series that I've played.  The improved translation is very helpful.

Even with a good story, I wouldn't be able to play it for 50+ hours if it weren't a solid game too.  You must build a group of soldiers from the ground up and assign them to jobs.  This allows you to play the game any number of ways and provides a great deal of replay value.  Even after finishing the game I'm still playing it and building characters.  It definitely requires a investment to complete but the rewards were well worth it in my mind.

See also: Game intro and first battle
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Shadow of the Colossus, Time Attack: First Play Through

See my previous entry for my thoughts on the game's story mode.  This entry concerns time attack mode.  I'm not sure why I'm still trying to play it, because it is a very punishing experience.  You fight the game's colossi with time limits to earn special items which can be used in story mode.  However, you cannot unlock the time attack mode until you have already beaten story mode.

While fighting the colossi in story mode is fun and exciting, time attack manages to made it tedious and frustrating.  It wouldn't bother me this much if 1) The camera and controls were better.  2) The colossi behavior was more consistent.  Success largely relies on chance, and isn't possible if you have not mastered each specific battle.

This mode and its rewards aren't worth it.

See also: The final reward for beating hard time attack mode

June 29 2009


Shadow of the Colossus: First Playthrough

I feel very conflicted concerning this game.  The attention given to visuals, music, and plot are so strong but the controls and camera drive me crazy.  Battles with the colossi feel sweeping, epic, and satisfying when you eventually defeat them.  Time attack, however, feels entirely unforgiving and demands perfection of you, making its flaws really stand out.

The quality of the stronger points (music, graphics, story) outweigh the bad though, and I am willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt (which is why this game gets a 4/5 versus a 3/5.)  The scale of the battles is incredible and in combination with the aesthetic beauty and cohesion it creates a distinctively memorable experience.  Even with the flaws, if you ever have the opportunity play this game do it.

See also: Trailer, Dramatic re-enactment

May 28 2009


Bionic Commando: First Play Through

BC:Rearmed won me over last summer and since then I've been interested in the full three-dimensional entry in the series.  Since the demo was released I've been really excited for it and after playing the game itself I wasn't disappointed.
Intact are the general over-the-top nature and campiness of Bionic Commando and a well tuned bionic arm mechanic which I wrote about in my post about the demo.  I enjoyed the levels and bosses which were well paced and designed.  Each level was challenging, but not frustrating.
The game is short though and even felt small in scale (even if the levels were huge) but I'm excited at the prospect of another sequel.  Maybe next time we'll get challenge rooms as well.

See also: Trailer, Bionic Commando - Easter Egg?

May 15 2009


Bionic Commando: Demo Impressions

I've heard that the Bionic Commando multiplayer demo has gotten a lot of crap so I wanted to make sure that I at least said that I love it.  I didn't go into it with any expectations, or experience with a lot of 360 games yet, and I really enjoyed the dynamics that the bionic arm adds to a third person shooter.  It has sold me on the full game.
What I think it excels at is capturing the original 2D swing mechanic and translating it to 3D.  Everything felt pretty natural after recently playing a lot of BC:Rearmed.
You ought to at least try the demo if you're remotely curious.

See also: Trailer, Bionic Commando Meets the Office

March 02 2009


Orphen: Scion of Scorcery: In Retrospect

Just to prove that I've played terrible games as well, here's Orphen.  I sat in line for 9 hours when the PS2 was released but neglected to think about which game I wanted.  I picked this crap.  It's not fun, it's not compelling, and when I beat it the game said I didn't really beat it and I had to start over.  I stopped at that point.  This is the bottom of the barrel for me.  I hate it.

See also: Trailer

Final Fantasy VI: First Play Through

Well, third attempted play through.  I've tried twice and gave up by the lull towards the end.  No more though, I finally finished this one off.
If you have any inclination towards the RPG genre of video games, you won't go wrong with VI.  It's a model for other games with it's plot, characters, and music.  It's a truly great game that has stood the test of time well and does a lot of things that even games today don't do as well.  I would really hope that Square-Enix takes some time to reflect on what went right with VI before moving on to new entries in the Final Fantasy series.  My only complaint right now is trivial.  I just wish the pacing by the end of the game was more consistent, that's what's held me back from beating it until now.  It's not enough for me to knock a star off though.

See also: Gameplay

February 28 2009


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 Arcade): In Retrospect

I spent a lot of money playing this game when I was younger.  I loved going to the arcade, it was one of my favorite things to do, and still remains fun today but this is the game I would play.  I picked it up on xbox live arcade the other day and have been playing it online with friends.  I love this game, but I have to be honest, it's part of the reason why there aren't arcades today.  The game is cheap as hell and would cost a fortune to beat in an arcade, but for $5 I couldn't go wrong downloading this.  It's a goofy time passer that's fun to play with other people.

See also: Gameplay

Braid: Second Play Through

If I had written a review for my first playthrough of Braid I would have given it a 5/5.  The puzzles are meticulously crafted and a lot of fun to solve.  The game mechanics worked into them brilliantly.  There's good art style and music, and an interesting plot which is hard to make sense out of.  The second time through though the puzzles were fun, but I mowed through them at a much faster pace.  The story might have made a little more sense, but I've run out of patience with it.  It's too obscure for it's own good and is a major sore point for me.  If you haven't played it though, definitely try it out, but I don't know if it's the gift to gaming that so many have claimed it to be.

See also: Trailer

February 21 2009


3 on 3 NHL Arcade: First Play Through

It has two of my favorite things: metal, and hockey.  It's easy to pick up and play with a friend (online or otherwise).  It simplifies how hockey works but substitutes rules with various power-ups for your players.  A simple example is that you can freeze one of the other team's players and it acts essentially like a penalty.  There's still more advanced controls as well so there's plenty of room to become more skilled.  It's a pretty addicting game that packs a lot of punch for $10.

See also: Trailer

January 25 2009


Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: In Retrospect

I played Crisis Core earlier last year.  I was afraid it would about as good as the other entries of the compilation of FFVII, but I was fairly surprised by it.  If you enjoyed FFVII this will bookend it nicely, giving more insight into the characters and their motivations.  They managed to take a story that the game's audience would already be familiar with and expanded on it very well.  There are a few cringe-worthy characters and scenes, but all in all is fun to play and watch.  It's mentioned in most other reviews that the game's finale is a high point.  They are absolutely right.

See also: Trailer, Crisis Core's Quiet Redefining Of The Gameplay Narrative Divide

December 03 2008


Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: First Play Through

Ecclesia has to be my favorite of the castlevnias post-symphony-of-the-night.  It was challenging, but not frustrating, had good music, a small but well designed group of characters, a fun take on the weapons system, and a great sub plot in the castlevania universe.  It was a memorable and satisfying experience for me.

See also: Trailer

Silent Hill Homecoming: First Play Through

A thoroughly unnerving experience as I marathoned it over the weekend.  There were lots of great/intense moments and I feel that it really took Silent Hill to the next level with this generation of games.  I did get pretty frustrated with the combat at times.  Music, environments, monsters and characters were all well done and scary.  There's a lot of gore, violence, and disturbing situations, but I feel like it had a place and reason for being in the game.

See also: Trailer, Sexy Videogameland: Coming Home
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