Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII( Hey, remember my last blog?) You do? Well, forget it. Just go ahead and detach your brain stem so that you know you won't remember it...assuming that you can still know things after that. I don't want to have to deal with that yet again. Unfortunately, I think I'll have to, and for one big reason: I actually kinda liked this game. What (now you see why I chose that song)? Isn't this supposed to be how Square cashed in on fandom and blah blah blah? I guess, but that doesn't mean that the game can't be OK, does it?
Of course, I can at least understand some of the criticisms people lobby against this game. First up: the story. I'm not gonna lie: it sucks. You can tell as soon as the game begins, since it takes all the mystery and unanswered questions that made the ending to Final Fantasy VII so good and guts the hell out of it by explaining what went down in Midgar when Meteor fell. First, they decided to call the event "Meteorfall." Fucking clever. Second, three years passed, and other (maybe better) games/anime/whatever were made. For reasons unexplained, on the third year mark, shit starts to happen. Specifically, a Nazi-terrorist-Shinra-funded (it's pronounced Sheen-Ra, because the voice actors aren't very good (more on that later)) group called Deepground is stirring shit up in order to awaken the evil Omega. It's up to Vincent Valentine to go it alone and stop these guys. Yes, alone. You want to see Cloud, Barrett, Tifa, (the oddly redneck) Cid and all your other buddies? Two words of advice to you: don't blink. So who stays around long enough to have some type of influence? The almost overly energetic Yuffie, and the now playable and oddly Scottish Cait Sith. Somebody needs to remind me what connection this has to Final Fantasy VII in the first place. The events of that game don't have much of an influence, and the closest it comes is in the Lucrecia flashbacks. There, Vincent's character is almost developed, but a lot of that was already done in the source material, so what are we left with?
That's right: a fairly generic action movie story. Again, evident from the beginning. The lazily reminiscent of Advent Children beginning. These cutscenes are nothing short of pure badassery. You'll see Vincent make things explode in mid-air, fly about in that lame Chaos form, and do other cool action movie stuff. But the in-game story...fuck. It's nothing but bland villains with redundant names (Rosso the Crimson, Azul the Cerulean, Color the Shade, etc.), poor writing, a billion unexplained holograms, and crap voice acting. Damn it, the voice acting. Why is there so little emotion? Did they have to ration off the emotions because of a low budget? It's especially bad with Vincent and Shelke the "Oddly Hasn't Gone Through Puberty" (I'm not trying to be a pervert with that statement, but the game says that she's 19, even though she doesn't look old enough for a training bra), both of whom emote with all the strength of Microsoft Sam. Although I must say that out of all these emotional trains-that-haven't-started-moving, I absolutely love Reeve. Despite being part robotic cat, the guy comes off as a poetic badass whenever he wants to. Hell, early in the game, he asks you if the wind sounds like a thousand wailing souls. It's like one day, he cast a fishing line into the Lifestream and just waited for Walt Whitman mako. Why can't everybody be this fucking awesome?
I feel like now would be a good time to remind myself of why I like the game: the actual game. I'm not saying that it's especially awesome; just that it's passable enough to be decent. If I have to tell you that it's a third person shooter, then let me draw you a picture of what you need to do, because words are too complicated for you. However, there is one thing that a lot of people don't know: you can play this game almost entirely in first person. What, you thought it was just for aiming? Hell no! I played the whole damn thing in first person, and it worked oddly well. In fact, the only major problem I encountered was that sniping was a pain in the ass, since you don't have analog anything. You want analog aiming or zooming? Go play something like...actually, I can't remember any FPSes that have zooming for sniper rifles, and saying "Donkey Kong 64" would be enough to get my ass kicked. You want a third person shooter, though? I'm not sure this is the place to look for that, since it's kind of all over the place with what it wants to be. I As if it wasn't enough to be an FPS, now it wants to be a PC FPS, because while I was browsing the manual and remembering a time when they didn't suck, I noticed a page about keyboard controls. Huh? Why would that be necessary in any way ever? Could anybody on the development team agree on a genre for this game? I'm guessing not, because along with watered down RPG elements, you occasionally get these weird meta mini-games to interrupt the averageness, like "figure out this cardkey puzzle" or "kill all these dudes if you want." I realize that the game already has you killing dudes, yet it somehow makes a game out of killing dudes in such a game. Have you ever seen such insanity? Speaking of, that's part of why I like this game: I like to see myself in the games I play.
I'm also an incredibly violent person (crazy and violent kind of go hand in hand, especially when those hands are beating anything nearby), so how do you think I felt when I saw that this game had melee combat? Surprisingly, disappointed, because unsurprisingly, the melee in this game sucks. However, there is one good side to it that I should list off first: you don't use it a lot. Or at all. The only possible time you need it is when enemies have magical shields which are immune to bullets but not fists. Think that's a big oversight? It is, but an even bigger one is that magic still gets through these shields that are made of magic, and trust me when I say that magic is much better than melee. Even though it doesn't ever heal (I guess part of Sephiroth's plan to wipe out the planet was to destroy all the healing materia in case there were survivors), it can kill multiple enemies from afar. Melee, however, requires that you run up to one single guy and mash the circle button for an hour and hope that it leaves a bruise. The only way to do significant damage with this is to unleash the kinda stupid looking Chaos form. Of course, that thing can also shoot, and you only use it for limited amounts of time, so I guess in trying to make the melee system useful, Square just piled on something else that was completely useless. It's kind of like they know what logic is, but don't know the direction it's supposed to go in.
Fortunately, though, you won't spend most of the game using any of the shit I listed in the last paragraph. Instead, it's all guns. You get a pistol for when the other guns don't work, a machine gun for killing everything really quickly, a rifle for sniping, a....wait, that's it. OK, so the game doesn't have a wide array of weapons, but it makes up for it by allowing you to customize the hell out of them. You get tons of barrels, accessories, other types of accessories, and tons of other crap to shove onto your gun. Of course, all of this would be for naught if the scenarios in which you use the guns were all crap. Those of you expecting me to say just that should lick a wall socket so you'll know what shock feels like, because the sequences in this game are kind of cool. True, a lot of it is just gunning dudes down, but you'll also get to see them stuffed into boxes and die in a rail shooter segment near the end of the game. The only downside seems to be the bosses. Backwards logic strikes again, since they're usually worse than what the rest of the game offers. I could usually just aim my gun at them and just hold R1 and let the increasing damage take care of the rest. Not even the final boss is immune to this; I just stood in one place the entire time and did what I said one sentence ago. That's not how you're supposed to end a game, Square (possibly) Enix. You're supposed to use it to sum up the spirit of the game. You know how you could have done that best? Bring back that beast guy (not necessarily this one, but I'd fucking buy it), make him slightly challenging, and detach the entire fight from the rest of the plot.
- Do I have to say that the story sucks?
- Yet I do have to say that the gameplay is oddly competent yet schizophrenic.
- Just use guns, and maybe magic. Nothing else is useful.
Anybody remember 2005? You know, the year when anime girls took to their Big Smokes and rebelled against their Terminator overlords?....What the fuck were we smoking six years ago?
Donkey Kong 64( Eh, fuck the idea of a special banner.) For those of you confused by that statement (IE everybody reading this), let me clarify. Whenever I do one of these revisit blogs, I feel like I should make a special banner for it to alert you guys that I'm covering games that aren't super obscure. However, after recently finishing a banner for my next blog (it'll be #200), I feel like it would be too much work. Trust me, I know what the hell hard work is. After all, I beat Donkey Kong 64. Twice.
Why is that such a big thing? Simply put: there's a lot to do in this game. There are about eight levels to explore, and each one is the size of your average Grand Theft Auto game. Yes, it's impressive that Rare was able to stuff that much (along with all the other good things I could potentially say about the graphics) into a yellow piece of plastic, but eventually, these levels become a bit confusing to navigate. Part of it seems to be the level design itself; each level is a series of sub-levels connected by extremely dark hallways, so it's hard to get a feel for where the hell everything is. The warp pads strewn about kind of help, but I feel like Rare could have done more to make the levels less of a nightmare to explore. It's a shame, too, because again, there's a lot of cool shit to do in each level. There are tons of bananas to collect, smaller bananas to collect (Donkey Kong always was a bit of a junkie), (useless) battle crowns to collect, (eventually useless) coins to collect...I guess what I'm trying to say is that this game was specifically made for kleptomaniacs. Absolutely nothing in this game lacks any form of collecting. Hell, you can't even race without having to collect 50 coins for a Chaos E-golden banana. Stop making me hoard things, Donkey Kong 64! I know for a fact that you recognize this as a problem. At some point, you exhausted your golden banana ideas and decided to fill the remainder with "just stand here and do something" bananas. If you don't know what you'd do if Animal Planet's reality show people started interviewing all your friends, look at all the times you don't collect things. Pretty cool shit is going on in that time, like rabbit races, brief amounts of control over (non-monkey) animals, mini-games apparently programmed by the local county fair. Just do more of that.
Unfortunately, Rare misinterpreted "that" by giving you five playable Kongs. Not that it's all bad or anything; each Kong comes equipped with a bunch of cool abilities (once you buy them, of course), like shooting, playing instruments (I'd make a Jackson 5 joke, but I feel like that would be racist), and even some character exclusive ones. I'd tell you all the awesome stuff that they lead to, but I feel like I spoiled it with the earlier comments on rabbit races. However, if that wasn't enough, then how about jetpacks and invisibility and other cool stuff like that? I told you that there was a lot to do on the DK Isles, and a lot of it is fairly well executed. There's just one problem with it that I feel like I've already mentioned: the collectibles. Each Kong has their own set of collectibles that only they can collect, which (predictably) will make you quite familiar with the character select barrel. It gets especially bad when you're walking down a hallway of exclusively purple bananas, but red bananas suddenly interrupt the line. Now I have to walk all the way back to the nearest barrel to switch to Diddy or risk forgetting all these juicy bananas. That may not sound like much, but you need a lot of bananas to get through the game. By the end, you'll need 400 bananas to get the same high that 150 would get you a few hours ago. This wouldn't be too much of a problem is not for the flow-interrupting banana switch I mentioned earlier. What exactly does this add to the game....besides length?
I guess the only other answer to that question would be "bosses". Remember what I said about chasing that banana dragon earlier? Turns out that you need to do it to get to any of the bosses, meaning only one thing: Donkey Kong's bananas are filled with cocaine (I'm guessing that bananas are the Nintendo equivalent of condoms) and they're the only way he can gather enough strength to beat any of the bosses. That probably explains why they tend to fall on the easy side. Hell, not even the final boss, Wrestler K. Rool (I guess the only career below scientist is pro wrestler), is immune to this. The premise is that you fight him as each of the five Kongs, but with a special twist: "fight" is meant to be "repeat this one action four times." You'll shrink down, grow big, fly, launch yourself from barrels, and some fifth thing to defeat this once mighty King. Wait, I just figured something out: all of that is pretty awesome. The same goes for the other bosses, like Donald Duck in a jack in the box, or the Jafar battle from Kingdom Hearts. I guess the only major flaw with these bosses is that they're super easy.
I just realized that this blog is breaking tradition by not starting off with the story. Trust me when I say that bad things (like this blog) happen when I don't lead with the story. I'd probably say something like "let's get to correcting this", but the damage has already been done. Anyway, King K. Rool yet again wants Donkey Kong's bananas, and yet again, he has a plan to get them: capture all the Kongs except Donkey, and then....does absolutely nothing for the entire game. Wait, what? That's a terrible strategy! His previous plans started off by capturing Donkey Kong, so what the crap? Well, speaking of previous Donkey Kong games, neither Dixie nor Kiddie Kong make an appearance in this game. I can only assume that K. Rool had them killed in their sleep, so I guess that makes up for DK's lack of imprisonment. I'd go on about the story, but the only other thing of note is that there's a lovable idiot you try to free for the entire game. The rest of the story is just Rare charm (fourth wall humor, cute animals, decent music, etc) and mediocre voice acting. Don't believe me? Go watch the opening cutscene and tell me when the voice work matches the lip animations. And that's just the cutscenes. In the actual game, Donkey Kong spends half his time makign these oddly sexual grunts, like h....let's just wrap this up. So yea, that's Donkey Kong 64: a collect-a-thon platformer that would be pretty damn awesome if not for the collect-a-thon part. Excuse me while I use time travel to get the Rare from 2001 to usurp the Rare from 1999. What could possibly go wrong?
- There's way too much crap to collect.
- But there's also a lot of cool stuff to do.
- Wow, that was a terrible blog. At least the title was accurate.