If you had told me ten years ago that one of my most anticipated games of the year would be a Kingdom Hearts game, I’d say you were crazy. This world is full of many ridiculous things, but a collaboration between Squaresoft and Disney?! That was possibly the silliest thing I’d ever heard of. And my wife wanted it. After watching her play for a bit, I saw that the game had an intriguing story, and I quickly became immersed in the world of keyblades and Heartless. Like so many other people, I was amazed at the complexity of the story, and I have eagerly waited for each subsequent game to mete out a little bit more of the lore that gets expanded upon with each new game. Birth by Sleep takes us ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts, and it might just be the best game in the series yet. Continue reading ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – Staff Review’ »
Posts Tagged ‘Feature’
I sat down with Jason Fader, technical producer for Fallout New Vegas to ask him some questions about the upcoming game. Continue reading ‘Fallout New Vegas – Developer Interview’ »
John Boske and I had the pleasure of being invited to a round table interview with Tetsuya Nomura about the upcoming Kingdom Hearts games. Continue reading ‘Kingdom Hearts Interview with Nomura’ »
Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love exists in a strange realm of intersections. It lies between dating sim and tactical mecha combat sim, between long-established Japanese tradition and familiar New York iconography, between the storytelling constructs we know as “video games” and “anime.” Like the Zen master, or the pathetic fanboy trying to get the “harem” ending, it strives to achieve balance in all things.
No discipline is flawless. At one level or another, we are all human, defective, stained with the deepest seeds of doubt and regret, shame and anger. But we can try, dammit. We can try. And this game, despite some technical flaws, tries. Dammit.
Since its announcement in 2006, fans of the series have eagerly anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. It was arguably one of the biggest stories to come out of E3 that year, and considering all of the announcements that year, that’s saying something. And then in 2008, Microsoft finally dropped the bombshell that people had been expecting for years; Final Fantasy XIII was coming to PS3 and 360. The net result has been four years of almost nonstop hype, which made the wait for the game all the longer. So now, the question remains; was it worth the wait? I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that it was. Continue reading ‘Final Fantasy XIII – Staff Review’ »
Half Baldur’s Gate, half Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins hits too many of the right notes for fans of either to ignore. It’s big, it’s epic, it has tight production values, and it does a superb job of creating a unique set of mythos for its world, staple fantasy elements notwithstanding. Unfortunately, a score of small issues drag down much of the game’s interaction and controls, and some aspects of the story aren’t as clever as they think they are. Still, if you can get into the complex, well-written story, Dragon Age will grab you and not let go. Continue reading ‘Dragon Age: Origins – Staff Review’ »
The early PSOne game Revelations: Persona is widely considered to be the victim of one of the biggest localization hack jobs of all time. Besides a lackluster translation filled with poorly conceived attempts at mythological nomenclature, the localization team saw fit to fiddle with the game’s balance, alter character art in order to make the cast appear more western, and even remove whole sections of the game for no readily apparent reason. And so when a PSP port-slash-remake was announced, there was a great sigh of relief in the Western Hemisphere. And, thankfully, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona does indeed improve vastly on the localization of the original game. Unfortunately, with a poorly executed plot, badly balanced combat system, and a mishmash of aesthetic elements, the game lying hidden underneath the piles of meddling heaped on Revelations: Persona isn’t exactly a diamond in the rough. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Persona – Staff Review’ »
Dragonica Online is a very solidly designed game which is unfortunately marred by some of the same issues that have plagued other free to play MMOs for years now. It offers arcade-style beat-’em-up combat that makes the game genuinely entertaining to play, and provides a wealth of activities for players who are interested in more than mindless grinding, but it also has some significant issues with its level curve, as well as some unpleasant balance issues. On the whole, Dragonica Online is a good choice for those looking for an unusual and active online game, but it doesn’t deal with the pacing issues unique to online gaming any better than most free to play MMOs. Continue reading ‘Dragonica Online – Staff Review’ »
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is a game whose ambitious concept tends to be dragged down by a bit of leaden reality. The game presents a highly unique storytelling method, full of branching sub-plots highly responsive to the choices players make, but it can become rather fractured by the time limit imposed on players. The combat system provides a wealth of options, letting players tweak each member’s moveset with a surprising level of control, but the focus on raw levels and the speed by which new demons become old makes it exceptionally difficult to have a consistent strategy. Overall, Devil Survivor is a solid game and a very engaging story, and although it has more than its share of issues, the sense of pressure and the degree to which a player can manipulate the story make Devil Survivor a surprisingly satisfying experience. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – Staff Review’ »
When Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army was released in the winter of 2006, it seemed to be a bit of a black sheep for the Shin Megami Tensei series. The game was much more about the alternate history detective story at the core of its plot than it was about the more traditional mythological influences of the series, and although the combat system still focused rather strongly on exploiting elemental weaknesses, the fact that it was action-based rather than turn-based made the game feel quite different from the normal SMT title. Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abbadon brings the Devil Summoner sub-series a bit more into line with the overarching feel of the SMT series, but still retains most of what made the first game interesting. In short, Devil Summoner 2 is a solid improvement on the series. Continue reading ‘Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abbadon – Staff Review’ »
The Red Menace might have had enough nukes to saturate every square inch of the United States, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they did. The Pitt, a downloadable questline courtesy of Bethesda, suggests just that; the Capitol made such a meaty target that the Soviets didn’t spare a direct strike for a nearby industrial center. As it turns out, they didn’t really need to: what once was Pittsburgh now crawls with gangs, disease, feral mutants, and oppressed workers living at the mercy of a cruel despot and his army of hired thugs. A hijacked radio beacon calls the player’s attention to the plight of an escapee from what is now known as The Pitt, and the adventure begins. Continue reading ‘Fallout 3: The Pitt – Staff Review’ »
Sometimes you have to take a step back to keep going forward, or so Tri-Ace would have players believe with Star Ocean: The Last Hope. The latest entry in one of their signature series, Last Hope is a precursor to the first Star Ocean and deals with mankind’s first forays into uncharted space in search of a world capable of sustaining human life. While the overall gameplay has taken clear strides for the better, the package is underscored by a series of minor to major nuisances — not the least of which being a story prone to ridiculous plot twists — leaving it less a series reboot and more one missed opportunity after another. Continue reading ‘Star Ocean: The Last Hope – Staff Review’ »
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume represents a bit of a step back in time for the series. Where Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria led the series in a more optimistic direction, Covenant of the Plume returns to the tragedy and gloom of the first game in the series, choosing the theme of sacrifice in contrast to Silmeria‘s hope. The game is designed rather well, and the plot is extremely well written, but an overall lack of consistency and an unfortunate rehashing of artistic elements from earlier in the series drags the whole thing down rather badly. Continue reading ‘Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume – Staff Review’ »