Thursday, August 29, 2013

This Persona is Golden

 I’ve been playing Persona 4 Golden on my Vita the last few days. While I always liked its elder brother the Shin Megami Tensei series, I never really took to the Persona series. While my love of Japanese entertainment has taken me outside of the more action-y focus of my younger years, I never became enough of an otaku to enjoy the high school dating sim/dungeon crawler RPG aspects of the Persona series.

I’ve been playing Shadowrun Returns as well. The isometric tactical RPG reminds me favorably of the Baldur’s Gate’s and Neverwinter series. It’s like a time warp to the golden age of PC gaming. It has me looking to see if there are any other RPG’s I missed while playing too many bad MMO’s.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting off the Bandwagon

Bandwagon is a term from turn of the century American Jazz. A band would go around town playing music. People would follow the Bandwagon in a parade-like event to draw people to the club they were playing. The more people showed up the better the take for the band. This folks is where the term bandwagon comes from (Social History of Jazz, you were indeed not wasted). All kidding aside I say this because I am trying to make a point, I’m buying a PS4.

Okay so I phrased that last sentence as if it was a big deal, now here is why. I think a lot of hardcore gamers are buying the PS4 for all the wrong reasons, what is more I think long term, Sony’s decision to remove the Eye from the base SKU will harm it. This next generation is going to be a big deal I believe. Console gaming is at a crossroad. If we follow Sony’s path we’re likely to see incremental changes in hardware but a clear focus on games, and not likely to see any big change in how we play games. If we follow Microsoft’s path we are likely to see huge changes in how we play games, but a lesser focus on strictly gaming on our consoles.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's an Ubisoft World

It’s hard to ignore the success of Ubisoft. Eleven years ago near the launch of the Xbox, they were the house-that-Rayman built. A French company, founded in 1986 by the five Guillemot brothers, Ubisoft has risen rapidly in the last decade certainly as a publisher but especially as a developer. 

It’s clearest how far Ubisoft has risen when the last two years in particular are reflected upon. Ubisoft stole the 2012 E3 with Watch Dogs. A game that they had managed to keep under wraps until it was revealed to an awestruck crowd. The following year, this past June, Ubisoft wowed the audience with The Division, The Crew, and returning favorites Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, and Splinter Cell.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dragon’s Crown Intermediate Guide

(Tips & Tricks)

I’ve played a fair bit of Dragon’s Crown the last week, and I wanted to write down a small guide of Tips and Tricks to help newcomers to the game. I’ll skip over the basics, not the least because there are a few websites with really good guides out already, most notably Destructoid and Primagames. If you read Kanji or can suss out the Google translation of the Japanese website, that is a really good place to start out as well. So here we go:

1. First of all take that character guide you got of the internet, you know the one with all those cookie cutter builds; throw it out. This isn’t by any means a besmirching of whatever guide you got your hands on, it might even be a great guide. However, Dragon’s Crown is a dungeon crawler; you are going to spend tens of hours playing this game with or without people around the world. You don’t want to be spending time looking up a skill in a guide to see if it’s ‘any good’; that’ll suck the joy out of the game faster than you can say abracadabra.

2. Before you finish the first nine stages solo, make sure you play each character. This is sort of a part two of the above tip. After you finish your first mission make sure to go the adventure guild and scope out the skillset for each class. Maybe you know what it’s about, or at least you think you do, but you can be surprised how a class that looked promising can be totally out of your normal play style. Fighters can do good damage on land or in the air, but they can also tank; they have beastly defensive abilities that don’t even require items to use. The Amazon can be a beast on the ground, in the air, or use her health bar for skills but she can be murderous at tougher difficulties without practice. The Elf can burst some of the fastest DPS in a short amount of time or she can play tactical and conservative using her Bow to create distance and finish off enemies up close and personal with her legs or a dagger and backstab.

3. Your most important resource in Dragon’s Crown isn’t Gold, Experience, or even Gear; rather it is Skill Points. As such the most important part of leveling your character is the side quests. Not only does every side quest give at least one SP, you also get better experience gains than just going the different stages. While some side quests can be teasingly difficult to wrap up whether solo or in a party, be aware that opting out of a stage will grant you all experience, gold, and gear you’ve gained up to the point of exiting. It’s oftentimes a timesaver to simply exit the stage rather than finish through it.

Friday, August 9, 2013

It Takes Two

I’ve been playing a lot of Dragon’s Crown on my Vita the last few days. It’s one of a handful of decent games on the system. Dragon’s Crown has been marked by a storm of controversy the last few months. White hats and black hats have been demonizing and defending, respectively, the games art style. Line after line has been printed against or in favor of what is at its core a simple but excellent dungeon crawler. I’ve always tried to stay out of these types of arguments. The older I get, the less inclined I am to slam my head against brick walls. Whether this is a real issue or just more clicks on a website, the fact remains that both sides are missing the boat. No matter how evenhanded or well-written an article is, it is impossible to have a discussion with yourself. Like the old song goes, ‘it takes two’. At the end of the day any discussion without two or more people is little more than talking to a brick wall. I think I’ll leave my crazy moments for a more appropriate time. Now back to Dragon’s Crown.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Character Creator

Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn came out with its final benchmark. It also comes with a character creator that allows you to fiddle with the character controls and save them to your hard drive for launch. Quite frankly, I love making characters, its one of the best parts of playing an RPG. It's like for one grand moment a game is without flaws and utterly perfect. A good character creator is, to use a cliche, worth its weight in gold. Here it is