March 10, 2008

I should probably be asleep...

I don't actually have a morning class tomorrow (due to the professor's schedule), but I do have them for the rest of the week, so I should probably start trying to get my sleep schedule back to normal. I got caught up playing Lost Odyssey which is really, really good. I can't really explain whether it's the story itself or the way it is told, but I am really enjoying it, and I would highly recommend it to any old school Final Fantasy fans. The story is interesting and the characters are remarkably likeable (for being an immortal badass, Kaim is surprisingly tender). I honestly can't understand why it didn't receive higher marks. Rick posited that JRPGs had fallen out of favor with reviewers much like adventure games and a few other standard genres in the past. He may be right, but I think there are still a number of JRPG fans here in the States and if you're one of them I urge you to at least try the game out. Buy it, borrow it from a friend, rent it or "Gamefly" it, whatever, just give it a chance and I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

I know my initial concerns that it was going to be another Blue Dragon (which started off too slowly and blandly to grab me), but it's definitely hits the ground running, and keeps things interesting. As long as I am doing some quickie reviews, I should also say I tried out Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles for the Wii today, and my advice to you is don't. It is a dull, sub-par light gun shooter that simply rehashes the storylines you've already seen if you are a fan of the series. I only played the first mission (a set of levels around the Resident Evil: Zero storyline), but unless something crazy happens, I don't imagine ever getting much out of that game. I was hoping for some more cool Resident Evil storylines or a more in-depth look at Umbrella, but it just doesn't seem to be there. But hey, that's what Gamefly's for right?

So my break is finally at an end, not as game-filled or productive as perhaps I might have hoped, but a good mix of the two. I managed to get a fair amount of personal work done (networking, cleaning up the apartment, other junk) and I played a good amount of games though I only managed to finish one this time (Assassin's Creed) as opposed to the three or four I finished in the one week break between terms 1 and 2. Still the break was incredibly refreshing which was nice and just what I need to prepare for the coming least I think so. I suppose my performance and general mental health during next term will be the judge of that.


As for my thoughts on Assassin's Creed...I thought it was a good game that did a lot of things extremely well, but made some key missteps in the gameplay department that kept it from being great. So, first the good stuff...
  1. The graphics and art design are amazing, the cities look fantastic and really feel alive, and Altair's (the main character) animations and model are top notch
  2. Altair's movement control is fantastic. It's easy to navigate complex structures and situations and you look amazingly cool doing it.
  3. The combat is fun. A bit simplistic for my taste but ultimately it's fun and you look really badass, so I can't complain.
  4. The story is actually pretty interesting. Though perhaps not executed as well as possible, the story beats are interesting and the intertwining between the future and the past is awesome. The game ends on a massive cliffhanger, which bugs me, but at the same time made me start thinking about where they're going with the series so I guess it can't be all bad.
Now, onto the bad stuff...
  1. Repetition. Basically, you do the same handful of tasks far, far too many times. I'm not talking about variations on a theme, like occur in most games, I'm talking the exact same tasks, you perform somewhere around 20 times. More variation in the missions (and the assassinations for that matter) would have gone a long way here.
  2. The future. Now, I actually appreciate the information and story that is presented in the future portions of the game, but the gameplay there is non-existent. You can walk around and if you are near something that you can do something to, you press a button (the game informs you with a big message that says press any button). The information presented is cool, and it's actually fun to figure some things out (like a coded message contained in one of the emails you read), but the gameplay is boring and Desmond just moves too damn slow.

As I said, I enjoyed the game, and I very much like where the story is going, but somewhere in the middle of the game much of what I was doing felt more like a mindless grind between story bits than legitimate gameplay. It's definitely something the team can improve upon for the next iteration, but it keeps this one from being truly great. I'd say about a 7.8, definitely good and exceptional in some areas, but it doesn't quite come together in the end.

With that, I now should go as I have allowed myself to stay up an additional 30 minutes to write this post. Goodnight all!

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