The Run Returns!

Hello World

 The Title's A Trap!

Greetings all, how is everyone today? Me? I'm wonderful thank you, mostly because I've finally found myself some spare time in the week to do my favourite thing in the world, write to you guys.   
 
I'm sorry if this title has lured people in with the prospect of a certain other run popular around here and whilst I'm not going to admit using a semi-obscure title to gain views, I won't deny it either.  

For those of you that remember me, thank you, the reason you followed me in the first place is returning.  For those unaware, let me explain.
 

Enduring Run

 

The gang will be all here
When I first joined the site, I did so to blog about my all time favourite game in a way that I feel has never been done before.   I wanted to play through the game start to finish and detail my journey, like my own little endurance run.  I wanted to do so much more however.  I wanted to break the game down stylistically both as a game and as a story...I wanted for reader to be interested in my blog even if they hated the game, not because I write funny stuff about it (although that is a part of it) but because I let them see it in different ways.  I wanted them to be interested in what I said even if they didn't like the subject and I wanted them to be able to participate as much as possible.

 
Times got hectic though and with everything happening in my life the way it was, I just didn't have time to write a blog about a 12 year old game.  But now I do and it's coming back better than ever.
 

Previously On The Enduring Run

If you haven't read them before (or even if you have) check out my previous entries into the run here, here and here. As you can (hopefully) see I'm trying to set the bar high for the way blogs should be presented.
 
You see them big white boxes full of info and trivia?  I'm going to add more of them.  I'm going to add a whole wealth of features including my take on the games systems, music, art design and more.  There's going to be a bestiary feature showing off the best and worst and of the games enemies, I'm going to post hot topics about not just the game, but JRPG's in general that the readers can ponder and fight over.  
 
I'm going to record myself playing the game and explain and show things I can't properly put down on paper.  The one thing I'm not going to do is turn it into a "Let's Play Final Fantasy IX."  There's plenty of Lets Players out there already and no offense to them but I want more out of my run.  I want the videos to supplement the written aspect.  I won't repeat myself in videos and text so it may save on a lot of page space and give the viewer some time to rest his eyes from all the white text on black background. 

Put simply, I'm going to add a hell of a lot more love and polish, so the reader can get a hell of a lot more out of it.
 
Oh and I'm also changing the name.  Someone rightfully pointed out that Enduring Final Fantasy IX makes it sound like a bad thing and they were right, so I've decided to rebrand the run as:  

The Endearing Run, much nicer no?

And that's it really, I'm going to start playing the game again later this week so I can hopefully post the new episode Sunday afternoon.  From then on depending on how much time I can spare there will be a new episode every week or two.  For those of you that don't like Final Fantasy IX and don't want to read about it but still love me...Firstly; thank you. Secondly; I'm going to do a few unique blogs whether I can and I can honestly say I never go half hearted, so expect my quality writing to cover a topic you may love sometime in the near future.
 
Thank you all for reading, I hope you're looking forward to my blogging future, I know I am.

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The Old Republic: Fairest Take You Will Read Anywhere On The Net

 
 

 

Edit


EDIT 1: I've added some more stuff over on page two, so be sure to check them out.
EDIT 2:  More Added to page two.  I'm also going to pin all updates to the botton of this post as well.

Welcome!

Hello Giantbomb, it's been a very long time since I've made any meaningful post on this site which, over time, has manifested itself as a desire to write and blog again and not bail when my life becomes a bit more hectic.   For the 3 people that remember me, I can say that my obvious rip off of Dankempster's excellent Final Fantasy VII blog will return at some point, so look forward to that.


For the rest of you (those who came here based on the title) let me start off by thanking you.   There's been what feels like a ton of posts on the site at the moment regarding The Old Republic and I'm sure a lot of you are fed up of arguing over a game that isn't out yet but BEFORE you post saying you're tired of talking about this game, read this article, because I can guarantee you that it's the fairest take on the game you're going to find on Giantbomb, if not the whole internet.  

I'm going to break down a lot of the features about the game, make points to either side of the argument as to whether they suck or not and then give you my personal taste on them, including what I feel they could do to make them much better.

Just before I start I'd like to thank you in advance for reading this, it's a bit of a big read so I really appreciate it.

Personal Opinions on The Old Republic Universe/The ToR Community

Firstly, you need to know what I feel about this game,  because if I don't let you know exactly what my stance is on TOR and its universe, then you'll be questioning my motives all throughout this blog, and that's not something I want.

I played both Old Republic games when they first came out and (despite the second's best efforts to make to hate it) I loved the hell out of both of them.   For years I awaited a third game to be announced and where I thought Mass Effect filled The Old Republic shaped void in my life, it never truly could.  

The magical thing about KotoR games were how people who didn't even like Star Wars fell in love with the universe.   The quality of the characters and the worlds couldn't

 The average reaction of a ToR fan.

help but make people fall in love with them and to this day, there's still plenty of people out there who can't stand Star Wars but love the KotoR universe so much.    As someone who loves the Star Wars Universe (although my love has severely waned over the last few years) at the time, the Old Republic Universe was  an incredible addition to something I really loved.   Today, the Old Republic universe is my favourite thing about the whole of Star Wars, which is really a different story all together.

The passion that people speak with regarding ToR proves that a lot of people care about the universe Bioware created however I am really yet to see a person post anything about this game that isn't either blind fan boy love or fuming fan boy hate...and I can't fathom why this game has created more of a rift between fans than any other game I can ever remember.   There seems to be no middle ground, it's either people freaking out over how incredible the game is or attacking anyone who  point out any concerns they may have for the game. Then you have the haters, who will take every opportunity they can to attack the game whether the hate is justified or not.

As such it's hard to find a post on the internet that both sides can agree with, which is where I jump in.

tl;dr

The Old Republic Universe is probably the best thing bout Star Wars and there's a ton of people out there who are either blindly attacking or defending the game.   NOW ONWARDS!

It's A WoW Clone

Let me start by pointing out the elephant in the blog...the most dividing thing about this game.   Anyone who says this game isn't a WoW clone is wrong.   Anyone who calls this game WoW in a Star Wars skin is wrong.

 I don't care what you say, I shopped this myself and I'm pretty darn proud.

The whole video game industry is based on developers putting their own spin on other peoples games.   Modern Warfare's multiplayer has been "copied" what feels like a million times, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.   I could bust out a whole wealth of examples but to keep the blog as short as possible but between cover systems and open worlds, I think you get the idea of where I could go with this..

Bioware is taking the great features WoW has and expanding on them, like other games have, like other games will.   Until the game comes out you can never truly be sure as to whether it's added something meaningful to the genre or just a poor emulation.   Let me leave this with you though, a Bioware  RPG with WoW trappings should be amazing, and considering the pedigree of each, some people should be more excited than they are for this game.

System Specs/Art Style

Bioware are trying to keep the specs of ToR as low as possible, which in my eyes is a direct sign they're aiming for the WoW crowd.   People who can only run WoW on low specs should be able to run ToR on low specs, which obviously means the game isn't going to be a tour de-force graphically but it means even people who aren't invested in gaming PC's will be able to play the game.

To compensate for this Bioware are going really heavy fisted with a cartoony art style, in an obvious attempt to mask the somewhat low graphic fidelity.  

I really don't think it's fair to attack a game because it allows more people to play it, by all means, Bioware will need as many people as possible to play this game to recuperate development costs.   I play WoW with my GF and even though I can run it maxed out, she can only get by running it at its lowest but it's awesome that we can play it together on such different machines.

As for the art style, I hated it at first but Bioware have toned it down somewhat and even though it's still a bit cartoony for my tastes, I think it will grow on me over time.

What would be really nice is if Bioware made an add-on or mod that replaced all the textures in the game, completely optional, where people who can will see a whole wealth of crazy awesome looking stuff, but people who can't will still b able to play the game.   Doubt that will happen though to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure of the logistics of it all.

Combat

ToR also looks to take a big page out of WoW's book regarding combat.   I hate the term "Face-Roll" combat because it implies there's no thought to it.   The thing that bothers me though is when Dragon Age had WoW like combat, people praised it, when ToR has WoW like combat, it's a rip-off and crap.   I honestly believe Bioware will have to step their game up little to ensure that abilities feel powerful, cool and fun to use.  

Most importantly though, Bioware need to make sure the game is balanced to near perfection. Even with WoW, there are a ton of abilities for each class that you never use because they are just a waste of time and whilst each class can hold its own against others, there are always times when some classes just feel straight up inadequate.  

If Bioware can give classes a unique feel but have them comparable to each other, and have each classes' abilities be useful, they're onto a winner.   Obviously the nature of MMO communities means that there will obviously be one build that does the most DPS, or heals a group the best but if Bioware can make it so each class is as good as another and each as a wealth of builds that do things right, they'll be onto a winner.

Story

Bioware are attempting to tackle the one thing an MMO has never truly been able to do, tell a compelling story.   They already have an established universe that people want to know more about, so they have the same advantage WoW did going into it.   The things they are doing though are nothing short of revolutionary for the genre.   Fully Voiced?   Awesome! Moral Choices? Sweet!  You've never seen it before in an MMO and chances are you'll never see it again.
 
Some people say if you're playing an MMO for it's story then you're doing it wrong.  I loved the hell out of WoW's story, the reason I started it is because I wanted to know what

 If Revan somehow makes an appearance, are you telling me you won't get hype?

happpened after the events of Warcraft 3.  People thought I was stupid when I got excited for meeting Varian Wrynn or Jaina Proudmoore.  They said I was stupid and getting hyped up over nothing.  I put it to these people that THEY are the ones playing MMO's wrong.  WoW has a wonderful story to tell, but does a poor job of telling it.  If ToR can make the storyh as awesom, tie it to Revan and the events of Kotor2, as well as craft new situations that engross and captivate its audience then it's going to be phenominal...unless of course you really don't give a crap about story and then it will be frustrating to sit through...but you're a fool for not caring.
 
One of the things I was worried about has recently been addressed where if you're playing with a group as a good guy and the person who wins the dialogue roll (to decide who gets to speak) chooses the evil option, you will still gain light side points as it was your intention to do the good thing.

Unfortunately though it will mean there are a lot more of phased zones in the game, which personally I do not really like.   When I play an MMO I want to be able to run into a cave and find another player who's running around there, have a chat and a laugh and make a new friend.   If that cave is phased though then I can only bump into someone that has made the same choices as me, which kinda bums me out but I also feel like my idea of meeting people in the big wide MMO world, chatting and becoming friends is a romanticised ideal that doesn't actually happen in MMO's anymore.

Voice Acting

Anyone who says a fully voiced MMO is a bad thing is a moron and a troll.   it will make you care infinitely more for each quest and it takes nothing away from the game at all. Moving on...

Companions

 Just because I'm going to be a sexy female Twi'lek, doesn't mean I can't have a sexy female twi'lek compaion

When companions were first shown I hated the idea of them, to me if you want to play an MMO with a party, you go out and find another player.   However the more I've seen, the more I've fallen in love with the idea of them.   For those that don't know, you can basically amass your own crew like you can in any Bioware RPG and each member has their own take on situations.   You can become close friends or even lovers or enemies with them.   How can you not be stoked by that?   An   MMO with Bioware companionship should be awesome.

I am slightly worried however that all this will be lost if one companion becomes much more desirable than another.   The absolute worst thing that could happen to this game is the community dictating which companions should be used by who.   All the dialogue, character, love and charm goes way out the window when you have to take a specific companion because they do the best healing or the best DPS and that's what the raid requires.

If you ask me, end game content like instances and raids shouldn't allow companions to go in.   Not only would it make them more stable from a latency standpoint but it would make sure that the bond isn't lost because there's no point at all in using your favourite team member.

Player Owned Spaceships

The only real thing I have to say is like everything else in an MMO, there's no point getting a load of badass stuff if you can't show it off.   As long as you can invite other players to your spaceship and show off what's inside (it would be awesome if you could earn items for your ship from a quest, like the head of a slain boss) it will be cool.   A communal ship for a guild could also be rad.

End Game Content

I was really curious about what the end game content of ToR would be, and after watching the Eternity Vault trailer I can say I'm super pumped for it.   Looks like they're

 Huge end-game bosses are always a plus, lets hope they're not just Tank and Spanks.

going for grand over the top, huge raids (like WoW) with a nice story to each.

If they're smart they will also employ the WoW strategy of patching in later game dungeons as time goes on.

If Bioware is truly smart though, they'll make some different kind of end game other than raiding.   I really don't know what you can make for an MMO that is super compelling for late game, high level players that isn't raiding but then again I don't make MMO's.
 

Back Story

Looking at some of the timeline stuff Bioware is putting out, I must say I don't really care for any of it.  Star Wars lore can get confusing at the best of times and to Bioware's credit they are establishing a lot of lore that will filter into the game...the question is, is it necessary?  Setting the game so many years after the events of the two KotoR games seems like they're shooting itself in the foot.  Like WoW did before it, be a direct sequel to your games, don't set it hundreds of years after.  This would save Bioware having to create a load of convoluted lore that the player has to read...and thinking about it, that's kind of counterproductive to what the rest of the game is trying to do.
 
Bioware should do what they do best and that's create unique stories from the get go, rather than build upon established lore.  Then again if you're totally into looking into lore and back story like that, that's brilliant and the game will cater perfectly to you.
 

Bosses

I'm not sure what I'm going to think of the size of the game's bosses...like height wise.  I'm sure the game will be full of huge monsters, robots and aliens...hell the eternity vault trailer shows the players fighting a multi-stage massive robot  and that's cool and all but when it comes to fighting powerful Sith/Jedi then you're left with 20 people rushing a guy the same height as them, which will look pretty stupid.  WoW did a really good job of making their main characters feel big and tough but that's not something you can really get away with in the Star Wars Universe.  I'm sure battles will be structured differently where you fight more numbers against smaller people but then it makes the guys you're fighting feel weaker.  It's a really, really minor point but it does bother me so I thought I'd post it.
 

Space Combat

The space combat in the game looks fun but I doubt it's what anyone playing an MMO wants to do.  As a rails shooter it looks more than fine but do we really need it in an

It looks cool, but is it really wanted in an MMO?

MMO?  I've seen very little to be honest and I don't know whether they're mandatory or not but personally I'll want to keep my time playing in the spaceship to an absolute minimum. 

The Marketing

Bioware are doing a piss poor job of marketing the game, no one should doubt that. All the talks of when it will and won't come out is just sloppy but the real problem is Bioware don't understand who their target audience truly is.  Take these two developer commentaries for example, where the person talking the audience through the game is talking as though they've never played an MMO before.  With plenty of forced excitement and "Whoa did you see that's" it's easy to understand why the hardcore MMO crowd is a little turned off.  It's also BLATENT they've kicked the difficulty for them way, way down so that they can get through without dyeing.  Whilst this may look fine to people new to MMO's, for veterans its just out and out frustrating.  Veterans want to see difficulty,.  Check the comments out on them, people are complaining it looks way too easy but don't realise it's because they are watching people who are already highly skilled and familiar with the game playing with the difficulty tweaked to be considerably in their favour.
 
What they should show is parties barely scrapping by or maybe even wiping.  Have the developers talk like experts to the experts and let them appreciate that they know the mechanics of the game they're building.  The sad thing is in both cases you can hear the developer wanting to slip into more MMO terms like aggro and adds, but you can just tell there's a marketing person behind the camera shaking his head every time they do.  

Flashpoints & Operations

Flashpoints and Operations are ToR's names for instances and raids.  For a lot of players (myself including) this is the reason to play an MMO, so you can team up with friends and other players and take down some of the best bosses video games have to offer.  When done right they are quite simply the best thrill gaming can offer.  The rush of having 20 or so players co-ordinate to take down a boss so badass he can one shot your healers is awesome...if they're done wrong however they can destroy an MMO...what's the point in investing hundreds of hours into characters for the payoff to be a crappy, unfair boss fight that disappoints more than it does excite?
 
From the looks of everything I've seen, Bioware seems to be on the right track when it comes to their dungeons.  Flashpoints look to be limited to 4 players which can be looked at one of two ways.  Firstly, you can say that 4 players will cut down on wait times which would be nice.  Then you could ask what's the point of it being an MMO if the most characters you can have, in the dungeons you will play the most, is limited to 4?  Personally it bothers me a little bit but not by much.  Sure 4 players doesn't sound like a lot and WoW limits it to 5 so really there's very little difference there, I just like more players at a time.  
Operations look to be making up for this with the Eternity Vault trailer showing what looks to be at least 20 player characters fighting at once. 
It also seems like my earlier worry that you could take companions into Flashpoints/Operations is needless, as Bioware have stated you can't.
 
Bioware need to make sure that their boss battles stray away from the "Tank and Spank" method a lot more than WoW did. For those unaware, Tank and Spank battles revolve around the tanks gaining all the aggro (enemies attention) and hold it whilst everyone else in the raid deals damage or heals.  Tank and Spanks can be very fun...in moderation.  Sadly WoW got to the point where every other battle was a T&S which not only got boring after a while but it "dumbed" the player base down where any battles which revolve around tactics became much more harder because players just weren't used to having to think or react in a battle.  
 
Bioware should try and fill their battles with as many tactics as possible, and if they can create end game content which requires quick reactions, fast thinking and good co-ordination.  Let's just hope they leave the Random Number God out of this game as well.
 

The Trinity

Modern MMO's follow the Trinity principle that Everquest started and WoW popularised.  The Trinity system is the idea that you have Tanks for holding enemies aggro,

 I said Trinity, not Triforce...

DPS'ers to do the majority of damage and healers to keep everyone alive.  Bioware have confirmed that they are sticking to this tried and true method  but are looking to put their own stamp on it  by making classes more versatile in their roles.  It's a good idea on their behalf, downplaying the trinity will make the game feel like less of a WoW clone but for players to be truly successful, they will need to take the trinity into account...and with more players being able to fill different roles, you should never be short of a healer or a tank, it all boils down to whether you have a GOOD healer or tank at that point. 
 

Grinding

As Bioware have stated (see Rufi91's post above) they are trying to take away from the grind heavy focus of other MMO's and instead reward the player with the most XP by following the main story path.  In their own words they are doing this to "Save the player from themselves" where they have the notion that if players can find a way to gain the most XP by constantly grinding, they will do that to the point of ruining the game for themselves. How does Bioware save the players from Bioware though.  What about the people who aren't interested in stories?  What happens if you've already seen the story once because you've created a different character of the same class?  What happens if the story isn't actually any good?  Players are fucked.  
 
As much as I love playing through an entire story in an MMO and gaining a load of XP for it, there's times where I just like to kick it back (either alone or with friends) and grind out mobs for XP and money....there's something sort of mellowing about it, where I can switch my mind off and just kill mobs for a couple of hours at a time, maybe watching a video in the background or listening to the bombcast.  I'm sure there's a lot of players out there like me that could just chill and grind or fetch quest their way to the top if they really wanted to.
 
I desperately hope Bioware are exaggerating when they say it's completely inefficient to grind mobs and filler quests to level.  Just because their MMO is story focused doesn't mean the story should be forced onto players, they should make it that the story is so good that players want to experience it and for doing so they gain a load of XP but if they don't, there's plenty of other ways to hit the level cap.  I bolded that part because it's probably the most poignant thing I've written about the game so far.

The Lure Of The Darkside

 The Darkside gets this.  Does the Lightside get something this awesome?

This is in no way Bioware's fault, it's just the nature of Star Wars in general...people want to play as a dark side character.  At least that's the impression I get when I see people play Star Wars games that offer choice.  Rather than the majority of WoW's fan base gravitating towards the Alliance (at least on PvE servers) I feel that a lot more people are going to play as the more "cool" and "badass" Sith than they are the "Noble" Jedi, leading to a strong player favour towards the Empire than Republic.  Maybe I'm wrong and just as many people enjoy playing as the Republic as they do the Empire but the impression I get doesn't really fill me with confidence.
 
I just hope when I'm playing as a Republic Smuggler on a PvP server I don't get ganked by the Empire every time I try to do something...or I could just play a PvE server but screw that.
 
 

In Closing

And that's all I can really say for the game.   Reading it back, my article is definitely more positive than negative and it ultimately boils down to me telling you to wait to play the game to see what happens, which has been said a load of times before.   I've spent an hour writing this though so dammit I'm going top post it.

I really look forward to people posting comments, I reckon by the fifth post it will boil down to haters attacking lovers and vice versa.

The way I see it is a Bioware MMO could potentially be the best   MMO ever and whilst the game shows a few signs of stumbling, it shows a hell of a lot more promise.

Thank you for reading this blog, I know it was long and pointless but I had real fun writing it.

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Enduring Final Fantasy IX - Episode 2: Wood You Believe It?


 Episode 2: Wood You Believe It?
Hey guys, welcome back to my eendurance run of Final Fantasy IX.  I've had a few people asking me when the next episode's going to be up and I'm happy to say....now!  Sorry for the wait, I've had a really busy week and whilst I love writting these blogs, it can be sometimes hard to fit in the time to, especially when you have as busy a schedule as I can...
 
Also I apologise in advance, but this episode will not feature any of my "features" as I'm writting them off my girlfriend's lappy and she doesn't have the image editing software which allows me to make them...sorry again guys.  The plus is I'll fill the others with them even more.
 
Finally, as always, check out Dankempster and his sick-ass-inspirational blog about Final Fantasy VII.  He's just about to bomb through one of my least favourite scenes in the game, the train graveyard, so good luck with that.  Anyway, let's not turn the prelude into a run of its own and get on with it:

Previously On Enduring Final Fantasy IX

If you remember the last episode of the run, you'll remember that everything was going more than perfectly, until an accident with the pyrotechnics (read: Vivi) revealed that the Princess Garnet was trying to escape the castle.  Furious about this, the Queen decided the best thing to do would be to blow the ship up (with the Princess still aboard!) leaving us descending into the forest bellow.  How dangerous can some trees be?  

Castaways

Zidane wakes up on the forest floor, thankfully unharmed but it looks like all that's about to change as we learn that "No one's ever made it out of this forest alive," (gulp.)  Returning to the ship, Zidane learns that Garnet is missing and the game introduces us to one of its best mechinics, the ATE.  When I can I'll write a feature up describing
 Wait a second...This Forest is evil...nobody told me that!
ATE's, but for now let me tell you this; they're optional cutscenes that while are often indirect to the main story, add a helluva lot to the games plot and world....they're awesome, find out more on another episode ;)

Venus Man Traps

Setting off to find them, I grind a bit in the first possible area.  It's a lovely spot to get up a few levels as Zidanes the only member in the party (therefore getting the full share of exp,) he can one hit every enemy with the weapon I stole off Baku and potion drops are common, so it's hard to die and I can stockpile a few up.  After the brief session we move onto the next screen where we find Vivi and Steiner who is confronting a plant moster that's trapped garnet in its head cage!  Battling the plant, Zidane goes into the limit break like Trance mode, which makes him stronger and gives him new abilites to unleash.  With Zidances trance, the team make light work of the plant monster, but unfourtunatly it escapes with the Princess...
 
Just as Steiner is giving up hope, Zidane uses his logic to detirmine that the plant will have taken the Princess to its master, so it's a good chance she's still alive.  Just as they are about to set off to retrive her, another plant monster dives down and swallows up Vivi.  Battling the plant , with Zidane and Steiner's blades and Vivi's black magic (from within the plant) the team defeat it, but in death, the plant releases spores which knowck out both Vivi and Steiner, leaving Zidane stood alone.

Breaking Free

Vivi wakes up in the theater ship, where he learns that Zidane has brought him and Steiner back.  Blank gives him some medicne to prevent the plants spores from hatching within his body and eating him alive...nice.
 
We then see Steiner trying to get out and save the Princess, but is in no state to go do so.  After being locked in the instrument storage room, he takes his medicine and formulates a plan to break out.
 
Zidane also wants to go save Garnet, and after trying to cheer up Vivi, he goes to see his leader, Baku, to gain permission to go save her.  Baku understands Zidane's
 A stump with a Bon-Bon isn't the craziest thing you'll see in these woods.
reasoning but isn't willing to put the safety of his men at risk.  Zidane then decides to leave Tantalus, to go save her her alone, but not without Baku beating him up for breaking the rules.  After a third fight with the leader, Baku can't help but laugh at the situation.  Punching Zidane in the stomach one last time, Zidane realises Baku went lightly on him in their fight and after recruiting Zidane and Vivi to his cause, the three leave the ship in order to go find her.

Through The Forest And The Flames

Leaving the ship, Zidane bumps into Blank, who gives Zidane some medicine to help the Princess.  The two have a little chat and for the first time, it becomes clear that these two are best buds.  Considering I know what's about to happen, I'd have prefered it if it was established a little earlier on, but at least we know now.
 
We get to see an awesome little ATE leaving aswell, with a throwback to FFVII:
 
 
Fighting our way through the forest, we deliver our letter to Monty and see an ATE where Baku reveales he has a plan to escape the forest and Blank leaves to fulfil his own mission.
 
 If that's the brain, I'd hate to see its..........head.
It doesn't take long to find Garnet, but unfourtunatly she's stuck behind the first boss of the game, the Plant Brain.  The battle isn't
Better get moving then Zidane.
particuly difficult, but it doesn't look like it's going to end either.  Suddenly though, the party boosts up to 4 members as Blank also joins in on the action.  I remember being stoked for this, as I really liked Blank from the very begining, he's a cool character and would be awesome in the team.  Dispatching of the boss, Blank says he's come to give a map of the Mist Continent to Zidane, and as the Princess takes her medicine, all hell breaks loose.
 
The screen starts shaking and plants start pouring out of every whole, hellbent on killing our team.  Making a break for it, the team find themselves running for their life.  One last brief chat betweeen Zidane and Blank reveals Zidane's fear of the siutation, and after an awesome FMV, the game suffers it's first casulaty....
  
  
It's a scene that's upset me everytime I've watched it, which is weird because the game never does a great job of getting the player to empathise with Blank, but everyone seems to like him anyway.   It also shows that the quality of the FMV's aren't gona drop, and they'll remain to be action packed and beautiful all the way through the game. 

Camping Trip!!!

Camping just outside the forest, the team laments on what's just happened.  Blank's been petrified they have no idea where they are or where to go and they have no idea what's happened to Tantalus.  Steiner's still convinced he's going to take the Princess back to the castle, but after a breif argument between him and Zidane, the Princess reveals that she was running away from the castle, so Steiner swears he will protect, even if he isn't happy about it.
 
Zidane says how both North and South gates are closed, so the only real chance they have of getting out the poisonus-monster spawning mist that plauges the Mist Continent is through a cavern to the south.  
 Blank!!!! =(

 
It looks like we weren't the only to survive the forest though, as the Moogle we met earlier flys out and praises our survivability.  He gives the team a flute, which will be able to summon Moogles on the world map, who can save the game and pitch out tent for us (why the team can't pitch out tents without their help is beyond me.)
 
So with that we're onto the world map and at the end ouf our episode.  I'm really sorry if it seemed like a wall of text this time around, I promise there will be more features in future episodes, as soon as I can make them again.


 
Please please please leave me as much feedback as you can, what did you think of this section of the game, what did you think of my writting.  
 
Stay tuned over the next few days for episode 3, where we will see if there's a way to get out of this dreaded mist.
 
Until then....Peace.
11 Comments

Enduring Final Fantasy IX - Episode 1b: I Want To Be Your Canary


 Episode 1b: I Want To Be Your Canary...
 
As always, before you even start reading this blog, Check out Dankempster and his blog that inspired me to start this one.  After a silly Safari error this dude's hurting real bad right now, so show him the support he deserves.

Previously On Enduring Final Fantasy IX

We only just started and you've already forgot?  Well just to recap, we met Zidane, Tantalus and Vivi and have now just sneaked our way into the play with our new friend/master Puck.  Check it out here if you havem't read it already.  Now onto business:

I Want To Be Your Canary

By the time Vivi's got into the play, it's already begun and we get to see Tantalus preforimg Alexandria's favourite play.  I'm not going to go into too much detail about the play, it's good to watch but probably not the most riveting thing to talk about.  It is awesome that Squaresoft really went out of their way to establish this fiction for the world, between plays like this and a detailed timeline that you can explore and learn about, it really does strengthen the feel that this world is just as real as ours and that there's a thousand more stories that could be told about it (which makes me sad because there should be a thousand more stories set in this world.)
 
After watching several minutes of the play, the player finally gets to take control of Zidane as he and Blank put on a sword fight for the nobles watching.  For those who
Sword Fighting has never been so scripted.
haven't played IX you can check out the sword fight here, but basically it's just a simon says style game where Blank calls out a command and the player has to input it as fast as possible.  It's a fun minigame, although it's quite hard to work out why, as the transitions into animations are a bit stilted (the animations look awesome though) and it does just boil down to pressing a button when prompted to.
 
After the fight, Zidane and Blank rush offstage into the castle, where they rough up a couple of guards and steal their uniforms.  Planning to use the uniforms as a means to get to the princess, Zidane bumps into a girl on their way to her chambers.  Being the lady pleaser Zidane is, he flirts with the girl, but when trying to get a closer look at her face, she bolts down the stairs, knocking Blank out the way.  As Zidane runs to chase her he reveals to Blank that she was infact...The Princess!  Chase after her Zidane, and whilst you do so, I'll introduce the blog readers to her: 
 

The Knights Of Pluto

We now get to see two of the most annoying characters in Final Fantasy history, two court jesters by the name of Zorn and Thorn, who've just discovered the Princess is missing.  As they make their way to the Queen, they're constantly talking to each other, but they do so in a way that just grinds against the plauer.  They both say the same thing at the same time, but the words are arranged ever so slightly differantly.  I'll slap a picture on the blog to give you an idea but it gets annoying fast.  At the same time though, it's supposed to be annoying, and it just goes to show how amazing Squaresoft could be at character design when they wanted to be.
 
After breaking the news, the Queen orders her best to go out and find her...her best being General of the Alexandrian army, Beatrix.  She also sends our third playable character, captain of the Nights Of Pluto, Adelbert Steiner 
 

 Our very own knight in rusty armour.
It doesn't take long for the player to realise why Steiner's a bit of a joke in the castle, the Queen doesn't even remember his name for christ's sake!  In assembling the Knights Of Pluto, all he get's is the two guards Zidane and Blank jacked earlier, and they still haven't got their uniform back.  Furious, Steiner resorts to finding the Princess himself, punishing any of his Knights he finds a long the way.
 
After exploring the castle, Steiner finds himself at the top at one of it's towers.  Just as he's about to give up hope, he looks across to the tower opposite where he see's Garnet running away from Zidane.  We now get to see an awesome FMV that really cemented how awesome this game is to me.  Don't have me ruin it with words, watch it for yourself.   
 
How awesome's Garnet!?!  Maybe she isn't the little girl everyone makes her out to be.
 
Well it turns out that she landed on the theater ship (handy) and after being chased through it by Zidane, Garnet reveals that she is running away from the castle and asks Zidane to kidnap her.  It's nice when things work out like that and just when the plan looks like it's in full swing. Steiner confronts them.  After trying to escape from the Knight, Garnet, Zidane and Steiner find themselves on stage where they are forced to improvise to not blow their cover.  Stiener though is still trying to save Garnet and the whole sitaution is above him, and he takes the play ever so slightly too seriously, in a hilarious way.
 
Just as things are about to wrap up, Vivi is chased on stage by two guards who've realised he's snuck in, and whilst trying to defend himself with his black magic, he
 Honour among theives...
accidently sets fire to the princess, who is forced to throw off her cape and reveal her identity to the crowd.  Queen Brahne isn't happy about this, so whilst the theater ship is trying to is trying to make it's getaway, she fires a bomb (you know the common Final Fantasy enemy) onto the ship, which explodes, sending the ship down into a nearby forest below.  Not the best of escapes, but things are about to get a whole lot worse, this forest is more dangerous than you might expect.... 
 

Feedback and Trivia

And there wraps up episode 1b and episode 1 as a whole.  Thank you for reading, and as ever, PLEASE leave whatever feedback you can.  Thank you and stay tuned for episode 2, where we'll fight our way through this forest and maybe even tackle the magical ice cavern and it's frosty dangers.  Before it's fully over though, let me introduce you to one last feature:  

Peace Out...
20 Comments

Enduring Final Fantasy IX - Episode 1a: Once Upon a time....


 Episode 1a - Once Upon A Time....
First of all a big thank you for people reassuring me I should write this, I know it's been a while since the prelude, but I've had a few complications that are all sorted out now.  
 
Secondly, check out Dankempster's FFVII blog which inspired me to do this, and if you haven't already, check out the episode 0 of this very run for a little bit of back story. 
 
Finally, let me just explain the part 1a part.  Basically I've got a lot to write but I don't want to bog you guys down with huge walls of text, that's fun for no one.  S what I'm doing is a breaking up episodes which are story heavy into parts, so I can explain what's happening and evaluate it in more detail.  These parts will be released in a shorter space of time than main episodes, probably within 24 hours of each other, where-as differant episodes will probably come every 2 to 3 days.
 
And with that...
 

Our Fantasy Begins

 As soon as the "New Game" chime kicked, I couldn't help but smile.  The little bit of extra effort they put into it, as with any FF game, let's you know you're in for an epic adventure.
 
The game starts you off with an FMV, which when compared to the previous 2 games, isn't nearly as spectacular.  It doesn't have the epic feel that VII had, and it doesn't have the high octain action of VIII's.  What it does instead, is focus on one specific character, quickly letting the player know this is a character driven story, even more so
 Moogle's play a much bigger part than they did in other games ^_^
than the last 2.  It focuses on a girl as she rides on a raft-like-boat through a torrential storm.  A quick camera cut reveals what looks to be the same girl years later (she's actually very pretty) wearing an elaborate dress, and as she stands up and looks out of her castle window, it doesn't take much to put two and two together to work out she's the princess of this game.
 
The camera then pans to an airship, inside of which our monkey-tailed protagonist slides down a ladder and walks into a dark room.  It's here we first get to controll him, and after lighting a candle, we get to name him.  After making the mistake of renaming Cloud in VII, I've always stuck with the default, and this game will be no excpetion.  And with that, you get to read my first feature of the blog:   

A quick chat with Zidane's companions is interupted by...OH SNAP A DRAGON!  I remember when I was a kid, and first saw this scene, I couldn't but thinking, "OH SNAP A DRAGON! This game's gona be intense." 
The first fight of a game is with said dragon, where Zidane and his 3 companions rough it up.  I remember being taken back by this fight, as I'd only ever played VII and VIII before it, I wasn't used to having 4 controllable characters in a battle and I honestly didn't know how I was going to feel about it.
 With Mr. T on our team we  can't lose!

 
After fighting the fight, the dragon's head splits to reveal that he's actually the groups boss in disguise.  Not quite as epic as a dragon, but pretty darn funny.  From the outset the game starts to draw on the players emotions and there's no better one to get straight into than that of laughter.
 
A quick debreifing reveals the group to be the infamous band of theives Tantalus, who's current mission is to kidnap, "The most Babalicious beauty in all of Alexandria" Princess Garnet.  Does that mean we're the bad guys in this game? Awesome!  
To be able to get close enough to kidnap Garnet, they're under the guise of a traveling theater, who are going to preform the hit play "I Want to Be Your Canary" in the castle itself.

The Boy With No Past

Another, quick FMV shows the theater ship fly above the city and the camera pans down to the next playable character, they yet unnammed black mage boy, who's off to see the very play tantalus are putting on. Even though we don't yet know his name, I'm gona go on ahead a introduce you to him:  
 
After a short stroll through the city streets, Vivi discovers his ticket is actually a fake and is immediately distraught.  The ticket master trys to cheer him up by giving him a few cards, but it's no good and Vivi is lead to his own devices.
 
Exploring the city is an absolute charm....where every NPC feels unique and important, and are a joy to interact with.  The game is already full of a wonderful charm and atmoshpere that really helps the player feel the world as a character in itself, feeling far more magical than any FF game prior to it (or after for that matter.)
After a brief bout of skipping, Vivi turns down an alleyway where he runs into a little rat boy who goes by the name of Puck.  Puck immediatly enslaves Vivi, promising to get him into the play.
 
 Kinda cute for a war machine.
Narrowly avoiding getting mugged, Vivi meets a 4 armed chap called Alleyway Jack, though Jack himself admits it isn't his real name, and that he goes by differant names in cities all over the world.  After teaching Vivi to play cards, he teases that maybe he'll reveal his true identity if we get good enough at the game.
 
Following Puck, Vivi bumps into a pair of Moogles, Stiltzkin and Kupo.  Stiltzkin tells the pair that he's off to explore the world before leaving and Kupo teaches Vivi the use of Moogles in FFIX, where they act as the games save points (note: awesome.)  Kupo also introduces Vivi to Mognet, the mailing system between Moogles.  With the Mognet post office in a bit of trouble, Kupo entrusts Vivi to deliver a letter to Mosh.  
 
After climbing up a belltower, a quick dash across the rooftops takes Vivi and Puck over the castle walls and into the play...and with that episode 1a comes to a close.

Feedback

Here's the imporant part and it's all down to you guys....
 
PLEASE please please please let me know what you all think.  Tell me what you liked not only about this part of the game, but what you think about my blog.  Is the format good for you, is there to much writting or not enough.  What did you think about my thoughts of the game, do you agree or disagree with them and why.
 
Any and all feedback is madly apreciated.

Stay tuned, for episode 1b, sometime tomorrow, until then...peace out.
15 Comments

Enduring Final Fantasy IX - Episode 0: Preulude


February 2001, and Final Fantasy IX had just been released in the UK.  I remember as soon as I saw the advert (read. Commercial) for it, I wanted that game.  After forcing my way through VIII (man I really didn’t like that game) I felt I was due a good Final Fantasy game.  Boy was I in for a ride.

After seeing Dankempster and his awesome blog about Final Fantasy VII I knew I had to do one of these for IX.  So please, before you even start to read this, check his blog out, follow him and have a great read.

So like him, I’m gona play through the game again and blog about my adventures, detailing what happens in the game, how it holds up by today’s standards and what it made me feel at the time.  I’m going to be as objective as possible where it counts, but this game resonates with me on an emotional level to the point where not letting my emotions get to me would take away from some of my more stronger feelings towards it.  So, without further ado:

Why don’t you like Final Fantasy IX?

 

 Cheer up Zidane, no need to be a punk-ass-bitch like the last 2 guys.
To me, the biggest discussion point regarding Final Fantasy IX is whether or not you actually like it.  The general response is at that it’s the weakest in the series, but I don’t understand why...

My theory is that is you loved VIII, then you hate IX and vice versa, as this seems to be the general rule of thumb, but I’d really like to know what your opinions of the game are, good or bad, with reasons as top why.  I’m not going to argue against any points you make, I’m gona utilise them to help objectify my own views of the game.

 

What Final Fantasy IX means to me.

Final Fantasy IX changed the way I looked at games.  I was only 11 when it came out and at that age, I was finally branching out when it came to video games.   I’d played both Final Fantasy VII and VIII before but both of them left me the wrong way.  Final Fantasy VII started out SOOOOOOO strong for me that I feel in love, but as it went on the story started getting more and more crazy, which for an 8/9 year old, was pretty much incomprehensible.  As it turns out though, the story is still incomprehensible; I just didn’t know that at the time.  As for VIII, “Bleck!!!” don’t get me started.   The systems were poorly implemented and the story was weak.  The point where they said “Hey it turns out we were all orphans at this orphanage but we forgot ‘til now aint that cool?” was the point where I turned the game off and never looked back.   It was just stupid and lazy of Square to think that was a good storyline...and what frustrates me more is that people have praised that as one of the highest points in videogame story history....”Bleck!!!”    

My Vivi Figure =P 

 My Zidane Figure ^_^
Anyway, Back to IX....I got lost in its world, the characters were awesome and likeable, the plot was fairytale enough without being too obvious, the systems were great and the world itself was just awesome.   I still maintain that it’s got the best use of Moogles and Chocobos in a Final Fantasy game.

I never put the game down for an instant.  Like a good book I just wanted to know what happened next, I wanted to play more “Chocobo Hot Cold” and “Tetra Master,” I wanted to be a part of that world.   

As years went by, I replayed the game several times and, if memory serves me right, this will be play through 4.  I’ve played the first disc soooo many times I could probably write the script from memory but that doesn’t take anything away from the game, every play through I’m discovering more and I know I still haven’t seen it all.  I can’t wait to fire her up again.

  

How this is all going to go down.

It’s simple: I play the game, take notes, transfer those notes into something informative and fun to read and you then read it.  I’m going to try and make the blogs as simple

 WTF is this dudes probelm?  Stick with me and maybe we'll find out.

to read, whilst containing plenty of information, pictures, and videos...general cool things that set it apart from other blogs.  I want this blog to be as special to read for you, as the game is to play with me, and I’m hoping my passion for the game translates into this blog.  I've got some really neat ideas, and i promise I'm going to go all out.  My theory is if I can get just one dude to look at this game again (or even for the first time) then it’s worthwhile.

I’m going to start the game again tonight, so expect episode one to hit sometime in the next few days.


Until then...please please please please PLEASSSSSEEEEEE post with your thoughts on the game, how it made you feel and how this blog makes you feel.  Any response will be greatly appreciated and addressed. 
 

Thank you very much.... ^_^

 
EDIT: It would help if I could spell Prelude right -_-'''


40 Comments

Who is this punk kid?

Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who started following me last night.  The response was way more than I could ask for, you guys are the best ^_^
 
Secondly, why the hell are you all adding someone you don't know, didn't your mother teach you not to talk to strangers?!?!  Maybe you should get to know me and because I'm such a great guy, here's an easy to read blog for you :P
 

Stats 'n' Facts

  • Gender: Male
  • D.O.B: 30/10/1989 (10/30/1989 for those in the US.)  For those who can't be bothered to work that out, I'm 20 years old.
  • Location: I live in Derby, England...which is pretty much the centre of the country.
    This is Me =D
  • Hair Colour:  A natural red head, I've died it black. 
  • Favourite Pokemon: Blaziken
 
Musically, I like pretty much anything, I appreciate music too much to be confined to one genre, but when I'm listening for pure fun, then I'm listening to Dance, Trance, Hip-Hop and UK Grime. 
 
I love sports, all kinds...but I'm a mad huge NFL fan, more than anyone else I know (at least here in the UK.)
 
Most Importantly, I love Video Games.  Loooooooooove them.  Played them all my life and always will, although I do happen to be in a mood where I can't be arsed with them at the mo, but they come and go so that's nothing special. 
 

What I'm going to add to the GB Blog Scene

 A lot of people asked me yesterday, what am i gona blog about, so I'll tell you all what I told them.  I'm gona blog about all the games I grew up on and loved, but you guys may not have played or gotten into yourself.  I'll talk about how they impacted me as a person, and what made them so special in my eyes.  
 
What inspired me to do this, was this dude and an awesome blog he's started about Final Fantasy VII.  As soon as I saw that, I though "Right I'm gona do this about IX." And here I am getting ready to start it sometime soon.  Please please please show this guy some props, follow him and his blog and follow me too please :p


 
A big thank you to all who've read this, I've tried to make it as simple as possible to read, whilst still being awesome and containing plenty of info.  If you like the sounds of me, follow me, if you don't....why =(
 
Peace out.
28 Comments

Can I have some friends please?

I'm really gona dig my heels into the GB community, I've always chilled in the forums, and you guys are quite damn awesome.  I just needs some followers so I can justify spending an hour writing a blog every few days or so. 
 
Thanks a lot.... 
 
Sam. 

23 Comments

Why did I Join Giantbomb.com?

I never intended to join this site, despite visiting it often.  I'm a member of so many gaming sites it's easy to lose track of everything.  This site has one...no four things that other sites don't though, and that's Jeff Gerstmann, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker and Vinny Caravella

I don't know how gay/nerdy/sad this sounds, but these guys are pretty much my heroes.  I've been wanting to get into the gaming industry for god knows how long, and back when these dudes where at Gamespot, I loved watching their features or listening to them on the podcast.  I left Gamespot the second they did and when I learnt they had joined together to make this site, it was obvious I'd come here often. 

Then i noticed the wiki features of the site (something i'm not all that interested in if I'm honest) and most notably the network aspect of it.  It's almost a gaming Facebook, which is going to be awesome if i get a few mates and stuff.

Anyway I'm looking forward to seeing what more the site has to offer.

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