It’s 2012, and for people who have followed this blog on Giant Bomb for a while, welcome to the return of [insert title]. For people who are reading this outside of Giant Bomb, welcome! Here I primarily talk about video games and…well video games, and sometimes things other than that. For people who have already known me and followed my blog, this year I have changed things a bit. The order of things has been rearranged and modified, and I’ve also put a bit more effort into the banners. Besides that, it’s still the same deal. I talk about games that I have been playing for the past week or more, and sometimes briefly cover other games I’ve been playing.Of course, if you’re reading this on Wordpress or tumblr, none of this really matters because it’s your first time reading. Well, maybe it does, since you might not know what I’m talking about some of the time. But that’s okay, because that just means you need to go to the greatest video game website in the world, Giant Bomb, immediately. Anyway, let’s get started.GAMES!!!!Even with all the other games I ended up getting during the two week break, I figured it would be good to rent another game from Gamefly, and I decided on one that I’ve wanted to get around to for a while. For the last almost three weeks I have played over 50 hours of Persona 3 FES. And so far, just speaking about Persona and not the whole Shin Megami Tensei, it reassures in my mind that this is the only JRPG series I can actually care about. Last year I had tried my hands at a few JRPGs on PS3, such as Hyperdimension Neptunia, Final Fantasy XIII, and Star Ocean the Last Hope. The last game I managed to complete, but even then I kinda hated myself for going through that, despite whatever fun I did have with the game. I’ve spent more time on Persona 3 FES than any of those other games mentioned, and it has remained interesting and enjoyable the whole way through.Going into this game, I was already familiar with how Persona works, since I like many others watched the Persona 4 Endurance Run. The main differences being stuff like moon phases instead of weather patterns, one randomly generated main dungeon instead of several dungeons, and no control of your party members during battle. That last part is definitely a bummer, but it works well enough. So long as you assign the right tactics to your party members accordingly stuff that goes on in battle doesn’t feel too much out of your control. Based on how the story progresses, which involves preparing for an operation on each full moon, the idea of grinding in a dungeon comes to the forefront with Tartarus. There’s no saving anyone in Tartarus like there was saving someone from inside the TV in Persona 4. Oh well, listening to a podcast or two I’ve found out recently is a great way to get through grinding sessions. The more interesting parts about Persona aren’t the dungeons or battles. It’s the story and characters and social links.One term that I can best use to describe the characters in Persona 3 FES is endearing, and I don’t mean that in the bad sense. They have good qualities, and offset by one or two kinda bad qualities. Junpei is a pretty good example of an endearing character in the game. He’s generally optimistic and friendly, being very quick to be friends with you when the game starts, but he does end up being sometimes annoying as his interactions with Yukari proves true. But since the game takes place during the course of a year, kind of like actual high school, you’re going to get stuck with people that you think you may not want to see every day (very true in my case), but over time you’ll get used to them and may even come around to appreciating them.Probably the best thing I can say in this area is that I especially like the main character in this game. The protagonists in the Persona games are silent and tend to be pretty stoic and expressionless. Which is good, because I’m not that much of an expressive guy. I also don’t talk much, so like the protagonist I’m often the one listening to everyone venting their problems or things in their life. But when I get the chance, if there’s a dialog option that’s sarcastic sounding or just anything that will push someone’s buttons I’ll pick that one, because that’s how I roll. Lastly, because I already watched Persona 4 start to finish, I appreciate the protagonist in this game more because it’s my first time through the game and thus my experiences as the main character is much more personal.There’ve been some really good moments, and then there are some bad moments, and some that are embarrassing for you as the main character to endure (school trips). It’s not really about all about those moments though. The journey itself is what makes it interesting. Much like in real life I don’t know what to expect of these characters I’m going to be seeing every day for the next year so I am generally untrusting and don’t really care much for anyone around me. As the game continues on, however, I become used to seeing these same characters over and over and watch as they change throughout the year. I’m close to the end, and I just know that I’m gonna miss these characters once I finish it. Well, maybe not, if I decide to do new game plus. We’ll see.So yeah, Persona 3 FES. One of the greatest modern JRPGs. Forget everything else. Shin Megami Tensei’s all that matters.There are things about Hard Reset that I really like. I enjoy how fast everything moves, I enjoy not having to reload my weapons, and I also enjoy just having to press one button at minimum to effectively shoot an enemy, instead of bringing up iron sights to increase accuracy at the cost of movement speed. The game is extremely old school in design, and it is fun to play, too.The game was developed by a combination of former developers from People Can Fly (Painkiller) and CD Projekt (The Witcher). The Painkiller influence is pretty strong, given the style of gameplay, so that makes the influence from the ex-CD Projekt guys…I don’t know, graphics? Game looks pretty incredible. The more logical thing I suppose would be the upgrade system but that doesn’t feel like anything that would require those guys' help. You can put upgrades into your gun, energy gun, or yourself to improve performance and abilities. There may be two weapons by the looks of it, but each of them has five forms, effectively giving you access to ten different weapons. So yeah, your gun transforms. And you can blow up a lot with them.Speaking of blowing up, there’s a lot of opportunity for environmental kills with exploding barrels or electrical devices. To some that might seem like it degrades the shooting since you don’t need to shoot at the enemies in order to kill them, but I don’t care really. The stuff blows up real nice, and when you can get a chain reaction going with them, the effect looks real nice, and sounds good as well.There’s not that much in the way of story, well, at least anything really interesting. I didn’t pay attention to what anyone was saying since I just wanted to go shoot some robots. I don’t think I even remember how many levels there are; only that it took me three hours to beat the game according to Steam.So yeah, the game is a bit mindless when you boil it down, and it’s also rather short, but that’s kind of good since that kind of game doesn’t overstay its welcome. For what amount of time you’ll spend playing through the game will be satisfactory enough. However, the game does incentivize you to replay levels with Steam achievements and the game ranking your performance at the end of each level. If you want, you could try and get through a level with no deaths, fastest time possible, and all secrets found or whatever. I might just do that sometime, but not anytime soon.And the RestSo what happens if I’ve been playing more than two games and still have something to say? That’s where this part of the blog comes in.Saints Row the ThirdSaints Row the Third is pretty fun, but there’s also some fun to be had playing with another person. I was fortunate enough to find someone who was looking for a person to play co-op with, thanks to the Giant Bomb PC Gaming Hub. Thanks a bunch to infamousBIG for diving into the madness with me.MagickaOnce again, another game I played co-op thanks to the Giant Bomb PC Gaming Hub. Unlike Saints Row, it was definitely needed because from what I’ve played of the game in single player it wasn’t very fun for me. Even with a partner, it was pretty easy for magic to get out of hand and kill each other, whether it was intentional or not (I tried out a meteor shower, and it ended up killing both of us. Not what I expected). Thanks again to El Jefe, Paco for playing.UltimaI figured a great long term video game commitment I’ll most likely fall off of would be to play all the Ultima games currently available on GOG that I bough before Christmas break. Started with Ultima I, and so far it has been grinding to get my gold, health, and food supply up into the thousands. Before the week was done, I had completed what sounds like 4/5 of the game. Pretty short when you realize it.Things Other Than GamesThis segment used to be called Real Life but I decided changing it to this was better because even though some things I do are not playing video games, they still wouldn’t necessarily refer to anything in real life. Basically the Internet takes up the rest of my time during the day when I’m not playing games or other things.Anyway, what else have I been doing besides playing all these video games? Not much. I’m now caught up on Persona 4 The Animation and hopefully I won’t have to play catch up again in the future. Speaking of anime, a few weeks ago back when the break started I got the entire series of Yu Yu Hakusho on DVD from a friend. All 112 episodes. Watched a couple episodes, and it’s still a really good show. However, I plan to save that for later this year, after March 17. If you don’t know the significance of that date, well, you’ll find out soon enough (turns out it’s a Saturday, so that lines up perfectly with my blog’s schedule). Oh, and second semester of my senior year of high school started. Almost free.In ConclusionAnd that does it. First entry of 2012. Looking forward to playing more of these couple dozen games to get me through the next several dead weeks of game releases. And those games will give me plenty of stuff to worry about. Next week I’ll be writing my thoughts on Deus Ex Human Revolution and Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, as well as anything else that I think deserves a little mention.Alright, have a good rest of the year.