Bayonetta x Fruit Ninja: Metal Gear Rising demo impressions

So the demo of Metal Gear Rising finally hit live the other day and finally got a chance to try it out after putting the kid to sleep. I had prepared myself beforehand by replaying a couple of Bayonetta levels to get me back into the platinum games swing of things.

So first off, visually. The setting looks good but not especially great: the demo is set in your standard non-descript eastern European/Russian town, conveniently devoid of inhabitants. However one thing I notice that Platinum games does incredibly well is flourish: their calling card is the distortion effect used whenever something like sword or staff is swung very fast: They are masters of using that ripple in the visual field to actively convey quick movement (Go on and check it out in Bayonetta, Vanquish, and Anarchy Reigns). All that's missing is the light saber SWOOOOSH sound). Swords crackle and enemies satisfyingly cut into pieces with sprays of blood/cybergoo. This Raiden is a far cry from the whiny-emo protagonist of Sons of Liberty, and that creepy skeletal lower jaw of his only cements that.

Control wise, the design both familiar and new. The Blade mode sword mechanic controls similarly to dead island's melee, and is just as as satisfying. The tutorial level gives a good show of the basics of it but miss one detail that i found critical to the mechanic. When you aim which way you want to slash, you are actually only aiming the backwards wind up motion, you can just let go of the stick and Raiden will follow all the way through in a straight line. I initially thought you literally aimed the wind up motion and then threw the stick forward to follow through. This comes into play when you have to slash specific areas/angles of a target. I found it tough to aim with a manual follow through, and realizing that I didn't have to worry about it was a definite plus. It is a ton of fun though especially when you get into parries and literally slice enemies into pieces (more on that later). And while you can slice random boxes, crates, cars, lamposts etc (which is oddly cathartic), there are limits to what you can cut. I guessing for the demo there is no limit to the blade mode timer but it does feel a little overpowered at times. It does have a function outside of shits and slicing giggles: As you filet your hapless foe you will expose their nanospines which replenish raidens health completely. Again not sure if that is just for demo puposes as makes it quicte difficult to die.

You have the standard light and heavy melee attacks which create combos. Raiden moves with the signature Japanese I'm-rocking-heavy-ass-armor-but-I-move-like-a-feather fluidity. The only thing that looks and moves a little clunky is his jumping animation, but as i quickly learned 99% of the time you wont be jumping anyway. You have a dash, but thats more of a misnomer: you do move faster, but it function more akin to Assassin's Creed traversal mechanic: with it engaged you automatically climb walls and jump. Only thing I couldn't figure out is if it counted as a "sneak". You can sneak up on enemies to perform one hit kills and it boots you score and the end of each encounter (when spotted they gain exclamation points and make the iconic metal gear solid alert sound, nice), but I found it more fun to just run around slicing and dicing. What is very different is the blocking mechanic, or lack thereof. You dont hold a button to block, instead you push toward the enemy and X. This activates a block that stops everything from RPG shots to kicks from those weird ass moo-ing bipedal enemies (I understand they come from Guns of the Patriots). The rub is when you do it right before you get hit, you execute a parry that repels the attack, and leaves the enemy wide open and a QTE. Nail that, and you get a brief cinematic of Raiden going HAM on the poor sap and an extended(?) blade mode session, usually whilst in the middle of the air at a crazy angle. technically you are then supposed to surgically slice the enemy to get their spine and end the sequence, but I STRONGLY RECOMMEND (my emphasis, not Platinum's) you instead go crazy with the sword slicing. Just like in Fruit Ninja/Veggie Samurai, the ultimate satisfaction is tons of wild swipes turning your target into an exploding of blob of mist and finely diced body parts. it never gets old. However to get all that goodness you have to get used to not having a dedicated block or dodge button. I got used the the parry motion, but i wonder in the full game when you are getting attacked by ,multiple enemies how bad the lack of a dodge will be. You can lock onto a single target with RB (this is imperative against the miniboss at the end of the demo who moves very quickly) and it tends to choose the right enemy to focus on (unlke in Anarchy reigns), but I see a potentially huge window for cheap off screen shots from enemies. fortunately there is none of that in the demo.

The last thing that I really liked about the demo is that this is a Platinum game, have no doubts about it. Only this time they have the entire lore of Metal gear lore from which to draw from and create weird enemies, zany characters, and their signature oddball humor. Plus it still has the Metal gear standby of optional codec conversations, And most importantly the game is just flat out fun. I immediately pre-ordered after i played through it a bunch of times, and hope thats lots of other people do too.


Fraternal twins Far Cry 3 and Just Cause 2

I was reading a funny thread on Reddit the other day. The question was posed: Those of you in a relationship with a twin: Are you physically attracted to the other?

While the responses to the question were hilarious in their own right, it got me thinking of my relationship with Just Cause 2 and Far cry 3. I think of them as fraternal twins, very similar in style and nature (tropical islands, open world, various factions, exploration, unlockable weapons/abilities and the joy of random chaos). For me Just Cause 2 is the twin i'm in a relationship with, and Far Cry 3 her sister. Obviously there are some fundamental differences as you dig down further, but at least on the surface, you would think i you greatly enjoyed one, you would surely dig the other? (also this makes it apparent that i have never dated twins).

And that's my dilemma. i greatly enjoyed Just Cause 2. was able to get into the swing of it really quickly, it just clicked and I was attaching boats to jet planes and blowing up enemy camps in no time. I quickly saw what everyone was talking about. I am finding that i am forcing myself to keep playing Far Cry 3. Admittedly I haven't gotten very far in it, in fact i haven't even done the second story mission, but that's because i figured I should go out and hunt to craft the bigger holsters, larger ammo packs, etc to be better prepared. And that's where I am hitting the wall. The starting weapons, though looking cool with snazzy paint jobs are weak, inaccurate and loud. this makes hunting clumsy at best: for skittish animals I'm just shooting everywhere but the target despite aiming down ironsights due to my lack of steadyness and stealth; for larger animals I am furiously backpedaling and spraying and praying with peashooters. Also, in terms of humans JC2 and FC3 suffer from the same hated gaming Achilles heel: Endlessly respawning enemies. To give FC3 credit, its not as infuriating as in JC2 where they just spawn and spawn till you invariably die or flee (this tunred me off the game completely towards the end). In FC3 you can turn off alarm boxes, and more importantly you can dive into the underbrush to hide. But too often i'll run for cover into the jungle, and be quickly torn apart by a tiger, pack of wild dogs, or panther. At least those enemies are very localized and more importantly, visible. the worst are the fucking komodo dragons. They slink low to the ground so are difficult to spot, roll in packs, and only emit a low hiss (unlike dogs which bark, tigers/panthers/bears that roar to announce themselves) Also, once they bite, you continuously lose heath for a short time, but that time stacks with multiple bites. Just nasty fuckers all around. Anyway, to try and prevent this i try to plan out a stealthy plan of attack. But it can get to be very slow and meticulous, particularly since the only silent weapon i have is a regular bow, and I'm having trouble with the weird arc of the regular arrows. I do realize that I have to level up more to get silencers for the guns, and apparently down the line as you level up your abilities you become this crazy powerful death dealing jungle man. Furthermore, I still have plenty of radio towers to open up, which will give better access to goodies, and drugs to ingest. And I do see the potential of a ton of fun. i think i was just dissapointed that it didnt hit me out of the gate as fast as everyone else apparently. I plan to do a couple of story missions, hopefully then I'll be in better position to explore a bit more.


Of Orcs and Flying Humanoid Animals

So finished Max Payne 3 on PC last night. Second time through but again, much more fun with keyboard and mouse. looking forward to trying out the new york minute mode, but that will have to wait as the steam backlog is calling me.

Picked up Sine Mora for the grand total of $2(!) I mean it is an indie game and what not, but almost felt like robbery at that price. Not complaining though. I've never been one for bullet hell games, but having polished off super stardust delta I've found i rather enjoy the act of being a tiny ship shooting at bigger things, go figure. Sine Mora seemed to be a critical darling, and at 2 bucks who cares. Anyway the game has a really pretty visual style. Almost like Talespin X Starfox x Max payne Bullet time. The humannoid animal protagonists are pretty neat too, my favorite being the grizzled man Bison pilot with the eye patch Surprising mount of cursing in too, but I would expect nothing less for a game that has the grasshopper name stamped on it. Though mind you, I've also only got past the first level because the game is hard as balls. Not unfairly, but it doesn't use the standard Contra-like get-hit-once-and-die model: its all time based: You start with a set amount of time that counts down, and as you kill enemies it increases, and whenever you get it it goes down. At fist the game seems to easy because of the abundance of stuff onscreen to shoot; the abundant enemies provide tons of time that in turn gives the equivalent of a massive life bar. the catch is that after the first level you ditch the wide open skies and plentiful enemies for an underground/underwater setting where the enemies are much more sporadic and hanging rocks and walls to crash into are plentiful. Then killing enemies takes on a huge importance because if you keep bumping int stuff the time penalty is much more significant than getting shot, and you can just make it up by shooting the occasional rock worm. Its is fair though, and to help you out you can slow down time as well. Its funny to think that no game thought to use the time mechanic in such a frenetic game genre such as this, Sine Mora does it very intelligently, giving you enough power to make you feel like you have a serious upperhand when the reality is that no, you will die and you will die a lot. interestingly its also out on Vita, and I think that's a perfect fit for its bite sized gaming chunks and that pretty OLED screen. Gets me hyped for Murumasa's blade when that comes out on Vita later this year (hopefully).

But the real game that has my full attention now is Of Orcs and Men. I admit I hadnt heard of this game until Vinny did a quick look on it last year. Seemed to tick all my boxes: Gritty realistic fantasy setting like the Witcher 2, real time strategy combat a la Dragon Age origins, and a refreshing take on probably the most played out tropes in fantasy, orcs and goblins. To have them be the heroes and humans be the assholes that you fight against is great to experience the voice acting is surprisingly good: the protagonists have believable chemistry, and there a great sense of dark humor throughout (again much like the Witcher 2) These definitely aren't the Orcs of warhammer or the goblin sappers of Warcraft. the combat is worth mentioning too as its sort of a hybrid of Dragon age origins and Mass effect. Dragon age as in you have enemies of different tiers and types whom you have to prioritize and focus on or they will wipe the floor with you, but its not as intricate with programing behious types with modifiers. Like Mass effect you slow time and queue up command you want the characters to perform. Where it gets interesting is that each other two protagonists are very different, with Arkhail being the tank and Styx being the dps/ranged/(de)buffer character. You control both simultaneously in real time, and can flip back and forth at any moment, combat or not. Its a little confusing at first, but it soon becomes second nature and you start to develop plans of attack where they play off of each other. My favorite example is to have Arkail yell to attract enemies to him, then have styx stab them in the back causing bleeding and weakening their armor, have akhail hit them with a wind up punch, and have Styx pelt them with poisoned throwing knives. Something as convoluted as that is very easy to to do, and the fact that you can slow down time add or subtract to the action queue on the fly give the battles a very dynamic feel. Add that each character has 3 separate skill trees that you develop as you wish to play and it all becomes a combat micromanager's dream. Compare to say Dragon Age where i would spend literally hours tinkering with my characters action queues to have them synergize with each other, only to go into battle and have it immediately fall apart. in this game that system is very stripped down, and keeping it to a max of 4 actions keeps it fluid and not locked into a course of action that looks great on paper but is worthless in practice. Supposedly the game is difficult but checking on a few forum posts recommended focusing on health upgrades and crafting upgrades for your gear and i can see how much of a help that is. Certainly doesnt take away from the challenge of the enemies, particularly once you start fighting groups of fully armored knights. Prioritizing is everything at that point. i'm actually interested to see how long and deep the story goes. its a linear game, but there are optional sidequests with rewards to do, and actually i think its was a smart design decision to keep it that way. The pacing is good and you always know where to go next. As i get older I don't always have the time to wander until i stumble upon the answer. So far very much living up to expectations!


Learning the ways of digital PC gaming

This past year i treated myself to gaming capable PC. I'd held out for awhile because when i was the younger in th early 90s the shelf life of even a top end gaming PC was only about a year, then it would be rendered obsolete by whatever the latest release was. because of this i avoided PC gaming and focused on consoles feeling that at least then i would be on a level playing field as everyone else. Fast forward to this past year and i made a purchase that I should have made a long time ago: a video card. I realize now, that is was greatly extends the lifetime of a gaming PC. Add to this that in my absence Steam really established itself in the realm of digital game distribution, and its been a super slippery slope. Steam sales don't help much in regards to financial restraint either. Coming from consoles where when a game is $40 that's a steal, to PC gaming where you can see the same game go for $10 and lower during steam sales... you get the idea. In a nutshell, my steam library has ballooned dramatically. I still can't believe that each of those little single 8 pt line of text listings is a 20+ hour gaming experience. they just seem so unremarkable listed like that. Then I switch to the banner mode where each game has banner title pic of it and i'm disgusted at myself for having so many games and having played all the way through so few of them. its like going to a diner where they just have pages and pages of food to order: you end up overwhelmed and forget what you wanted in the fist place. this manifests itself in what I feel is the ultimate irresponsibility double dipping on the same game on both PC and consoles. Now there are exceptions: For example Dark souls PC had the DLC included as well as the updated graphics, and sometimes the PC versions are optimized from the problematic console counterparts, like with the Last Remnant, which fixed game breaking bugs and technical hiccups. Still, I now own Devil may cry 4 on both xbox (which i never got around to playing) then bought it again on a steam flash sale for PC (and ironically am enjoying it there very much). The fate of the original xbox version i purchased? who knows.

There is a drawback to this though. due to the ease of access to PC games, the average skill level of multiplayer games is astronomically high right off the bat. Take Super Street Fighter 4 for example. i played the shit out of it on xbox 360 (about 200 hours) so while not amazing, i'm pretty comfortable with it and not a noob by any means. So during this past Steam winter sale it was going for 12 bucks, so thought why not pick it up to see how the pc community is, maybe even grab some of those nifty mods i see. well I fire it up hop online and get raped, brutally and continuously I admit i was out of practice having been playing SFxT, but it was clear he people playing in the PC community had been doing so for some time, and here were no people left still finding their way. On the console there are plenty of less skilled players such as myself and so its much easier to find someone at your level. I promptly uninstalled the game and decided fighters belong on consoles, so scrubs like myself can, well, scrub together.


the allure of Street fighter

G et one of these if you can afford it

Out of my videogame social circle, I've always been the fighting game nut. Not fanatic, but I've always loved a good brawler, probably because I'm not the most physically intimidating person myself. Anyway.,  I've wondered why I'm able to still wiling to hop into Super Street fighter 4 online yet tire/get frustrated  quickly by other online modes of games..   
First, , I figured that since i enjoyed the genre and had a jobby-job which provided a disposable income, I would break fom tradition and switch from a pad to an arcade stick. mind you I had very little hands on experience playing fighteres in the arcades with sticks, so it was a big change. I figured i could use the window between Super Street fighter 4 and marvel vs Capcom 3's release to practice.  I'm certainly not an elitetist  who looks down upon anyone who still plays on a pad (i still play MvC3 with a pad). But there's no denying a sticks  two key advantages. The first is that it eliminates the 'fighting game thumb', so its more comfortable to play. But it also elimates 1P bias, meaning only being able to consistently do a dragon punch motion or other tricky motion inputs to the right. Being able to to do compliacated motions in both directions really opens up your strategy  play book and allows you to truly take advantage of your fighters  abilities.
Second, I started going to and to look at their character guides. Now they are far from the only fighting game sites with guides, but i feel their content is the most beginner friendly, without pre-requisite knowledge of fighting game jargon like frame advantage and option selects. also they do a good job of highlighting and explaining the concepts of overhead attacks and EX moves, which are necessary to get beginners to stick around longer than the first couple of inevitable defeats from veterans. Things like knowing which attacks  circumvent crouching-blocking  to overcome turtling players and also knowing the ex properties of a special move allowing you to absorb fireballs or have a high priority wake up attack is paramount. So i started going through the sites and reading what players -Not instruction manuals -  used and it  was an immeasurable help. And thats when the true depth of Street figter and hence the allure come from. Thre is no guaranteed win character (though there are defintely some  tough match ups) each character is a swiss army knife of options, and know the properties of each move lets you know what to use in whch situation. And the beauty is that there is no right answer:  Whether you're a rushdown character, or a grappler, or someone with movement mechanic like Fuerte or Guy, the possibilities are literally endless and arguably effective. 

 Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a bombshell: there were people playing online who sucked just like me! it wasn't all daigo's and other tournament finger wizards. Well they were but fortunately Capcom tweaked their matchmaking so for the most part you tended to get matched with people your own skill level. So it wasn't too long before I was winnng some fights. And so will you!

mini winter break recap

So the job gave us the week between Xmas and new years off. Just in time for snow shpvelling and lots of gaming.
First thing I did was finally finish up Enslaved:  Odyssey to the west. I had rented it excitedly based on its designation as the unofficial sleeper hit of 2010, but had had trouble getting into it. I didnt (and frankly still don't) like the character design of Monkey, specifically the jersey shore blowout hair and weird red uni-eye smeared make up, and I felt Trip was criminally underutilized, I wanted to know more about her. Also, its felt weird not having a clear cut villian that they were after/against. The experience was akin to starting a trilogy at the second entry. i kind of felt I was expected to know the characters, their motivations, and where Monkey got his motorcycle and tron-esque surfboard thingy, and I had no idea. Now having admittedly never read the Chinese fable Journey to the West that the game is based on, maybe its the game sticking to the source material. Anyway, the pacing of the story picked up from the mid point and bulit up to a very satisfying end boss battle. it was demanding in a great way and super engrossing: even my wife who usually sleeps through my gaming was helping me out and cheering me on as I methodically took the juggernaut down. The ending was definitely abrupt, and I think its pretty clear that Ninja Soft was hoping for there to be a sequel and maybe even a trilogy. Sadly it looks like it will be a case of history repeating itself as with Heavenly sword: Great game, new IP, impressive use of tech, likeable heroine, marketplace just not interested. At least they get to work with an established franchise in the new Devil May Cry, and they'll be able to put there tech knowledge and story telling to good use. Maybe Andy Serkis is the new Dante!
Next game i got back into was Fallout: New Vegas. i had atually played the game a pretty decent amount, about 12+ hours, both with a  lovable silver tongued melee-build character and with an douche-y asshole gun-focused character. And therin was where I had my first issue: basically i wanted to play each build to the NCR in one case and to Caesar's Legion (side note: love that they pronounce Caesar as 'Kai-zar', far less common and infinitely more menacing than standard See-zar fare) in the other. But due to my completionist nature in RPGs, in my 12+ hrs spent with each character I never even made it to  New Vegas because i was doing every sidequest, every fetch quest, etc. And I realize now thats actually the wrong way to play the game (at least early on). That was the right way to play Fallout 3, because it opened up much earlier when you first made it out of the vault and had the chance to establish our character, your relationship with your father, and what drives you to follow in his footsteps (or not, natch!). So as you step out in the capital wasteland for the first time you already know your purpose, and you can either dick around with some sidequests or get after daddy. Now, in New Vegas that similar sense of purpose moment doesn't really happen until you hit the Strip for the first time.Hell, you only interact with Caesar's Legion once, and then just to spread the word of their attrocities. So if you play the game the way i did and don't do the first third of the main story missions that take you into New Vegas proper, you wander aimlessly in the desert doing quests and leveling up, but since they have no context in the grander story, they lose their impact and become, well, boring. Also, the time spent in the game was pre-bugs patch so to say there were technical deifficulties were and understatement (weathered pistol with a mod glitch, I'm looking at you) Anyway, i finally made it to New Vegas and The Strip, and christ, what a shot in the arm to my enjoyment to the game it was. The a new main faction in Mr. House , Fallouts trademark "No good or evil, just shades of gray" quests, the dark houmor... NOW I get it. It also finally allows me to see the differences between Obsidian  and Bethesda's take on the Fallout universe. Bethesda did an excellent job of setting the atmosphere  and showing you how interconnected all of your actions could be, but Obsidian awesomely dive into the dark side of fallout with some seriously messed up shit, all hilarious and suitably likeable/worth hating (to be fair, i played fallut 3 only as a morally good character, so the dark stuff may have been there, I just missed it). Plus the writing and characters really start to come into their own at that point, the white glove society and the Kings gang are definitely highlights. And the best of it all is that i still got plenty of game to go. Here's to being the biggest gun-toting a-hole  one can be in the Mojave desert! 
So lastly   I'm definitely a console gamer but one PC game that has always had a place in my heart is Diablo 1 & 2. In terms of my loot whoredom across all games, the Diablo franchise was where the sperm met the egg. So i was looking alwhile back for a game to play to tide me over until Blizzard would release the Diablo 3 in 2025 or whenever they feel it's ready, and after checking around online it boiled down to either torchlight or Titans's Quest. So i picke up TQ on a steam sale some time ago, but totally forgot about it, so the during my week off i literally stumbled back across on it  and decided to give it a whirl. And just like any addict out of rehab who binges, I was hooked again. I remember when Diablo 2 came out I loved the game but hated its graphics. It was right around the time that 3d polygons were starting to become in vogue for grpahics and Diablo's sprites with their identical animations each time they got killed got old really fast. TQt is absolutely a Diablo clone, but much like Darksiders did with Zelda, it took a bunch of well established mechanics and put them toteher in a good-looking and excellently streamlined package. And hey, Ryan did the review during his gamespot days! Its bright and colorful, has great voice acting, and an ancient history buff like myself digs the familiar and unfamiliar twists on the monsters of Greek, Egyptian and Asian mythology. Disappointingly there is no blood, but there are persistant physics and ragdoll-iness so that when you strike an enemy with a particularly powerful blow, they'll go flying. its borderline comical, but does a convincing job of making you feel like you are kicking some serious ass (especially when you are surrounded and see the bodies go flying away from you like Neo fighting the hundred Agent Smiths in Matrix reloaded). Also the little things like a persistant teleport to town button, a loot filter that screens out common crap from enchanted  stuff(and hence more resale value) , the fact that you can simply and hold the mouse button to attack and enemy continuously instead of hammering the mouse,  or being able to  constantly move in the direction of the cursor... these are great things thare constantly pushing you forward and hoping for that next epic loot drop. The game is not flawless: You can only save at rebirth fountains in towns which are sometimes few and far between, and there's defintely the need to grind when the game throws some other gigantic enemy with a cheap attack that either knocks you down or stuns you while they wail on you. its also long as hell, which an be trying. But there's tons of loot, satisfying combat, and good looking game for those of us like me who don't have the lastest and greatest gaming computer. i'm Having a great time with it, and its the primary reason why i'm not on xbox live as much.
Other than that, it was the usual activity of breaking in my tournament edition arcade stick in Supper Street Fighter 4. i think i'm finally at a comfort level with the transition from gamepad to stick  (and its nice not to fear being the seond player and being unable to do the special moves facing left). However, its also probably the worst time to try and learn one of the hardest characters in the game to use, C.Viper. I managed to rank up with her to level C online , but its been a pretty frustrating and loss-heavy time of it. Still the difficult to use character is my well established masochistict trademark in fighting games (see my obsession with Gen and Rose) and the euphoria of seeing an opponent on the ropes because you use a charcter that they rarely see and hence have no idea to counter is worth the multiple losses it takes to get there. Still, fuck all the people who still stick to the cheesy and way over used Ken/Ryu/Akuma characters online. Show some vareity or eat a dick! 
And that being said, I'm out.


Much farther in

So have racked up 25+ hours in FFXIII. I'm at chapter 9. Yup still running through coridors. but fortunately so many other abiliites and nuances of the game have showed too so the corridor crawl isnt too bad. i really turned the curve once a buddy of mine (as well as a FAQ) broke down the leveling system. Now my characters actually kick ass as opposed to just surviving each battle. though i got the hang of the staggering and juggling of pradigms down pretty pat (especially since one of my favrite things to do in dragon Age and FFXII was to play around in the gambits/tactics system endlessly. Frankly, its actually the battle system that keeps me coming back. I finally think I know whats going on in the story, but am not a big fan of how the continously break up the continuity . Still, it gets you to understand each character and their reasons. Though it seems weird how some characters go from wanting  to murder another in their sleep, to being totally cool (and vice versa). 
Funnily enough Sazh, despite seeming like the expected black buffoon character "Damn! thats wack!" "i'm getting to old for this" "oh no you didnt!" etc. Actually seems to be the most human and relatable character. His motivations and reactions are actually plausible to understand (rather than the usual JRPG over emoting) dealing with son. Not quite as badass as Barrett, but he'll do fine.  Looking very forward to getting to the famous Chapter 11 when everything opens up and I can go on the various hunts to test out my suped up weapons. one interesting note that i wasnt aware of, but there is very little NPC dialogue in the game. And you know what, i actually dont mind that. i think back to lost odyssey where I was forever running around the massive world looking for a tiny no name town in which the innkeeper would have to be spoken to to initiate a fetch quest of some trinket half the world over. I dont mind the streamlining at all in FFXIII, but it its the pacing of it thats the biggest culprit. While in previous traditional JRPGs you needed to have patience to wade through all the fluff of multiple towns and NPC conversations, FFXIII gets rid of all that, but that same amount of patience is needed to make it through the story, culminating in this famous chapter 11 that i have yet to experience. think it will be worth it though.


initial FF XIII impressions

So took the opportunity to trim the fat off my game collection and traded in some games towards FFXIII. gamestop was its usual zoolike self (when will parents learns that the more family members you bring the worse it will be and the longer it will take?) Anyway, got the game and hightailed it out of there. 
First things first, the game looks great: The cutscenes in particular look amazing and the in game engine is almost right up there with it. The animations are really expressive too: Characters hunch, sway and realistically look like they're punching, slashing or casting stuff at the enemy. The much battle system is actually far simpler than made out to be, though i am only about 2 hours in so its still severly dumbed down. basically the system from FFXII  the only difference that I miss is that at least in XII when you were waiting for your queued action to perform, you could move around the targeted enemies: it didnt give you a tactical advantage, but at least it made it look better then the staredowns that tend to occur in my battles. Though again, to be fair I did turn the battle time to slow to ease myself into it. I do wish that they would take the training wheels off the battle system sooner, as all i am doing is just hitting attack-attack-attack-potion-attack, but apprently the game is designed to be streamlined. maybe when more battle functions emerge, I'll appreciate the autopilot more  
In terms of the linearity, yes, all i have been doing for my 2 hours played is running forward through corridors. But I dont think its that big a deal because it fits in with the context of the story: the first act takes place on a monorail track, the next takes place  in a base I am infiltrating, of course its going to be linear/corridors! The one change that does suck (but is undoubtedly practical) is that now all shopping is done at savepoints. Though part of the allure of any RPG is to enter a new town, head straight for the store and see what regional goodies are for sale, I'll admit that was one of the annoyances in other traditional RPGs like Lost Odyssey and Tales of Vesperia, i would need to buy a specific item (usual trying to craft something) and I'd have long forgottem what tiny dot on the map sold it. So i'm willing to work with this new system.
And only a closing note, Sazh rocks. the dude has sweet 'fro, an adorable chocobo chick lives in it . And his idle animation in battle is a lil ol' diddy bop bounce. Barrett, you have a wortyy sucessor to carry the 'token black character in a  final fantasy game' role.