Archive for the ‘SCEA’ Category

Backlog Barrage! Lets Do A Little Role Playing

March 18, 2011

White Knight Chronicles Publisher: SonyDeveloper: Level-5
Platform: PS3  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: February 2, 2010

White Knight Chronicles (WKC) wasn’t what most expected, or maybe even wanted from Level-5’s first PS3 JRPG. However, I think it was overly criticized and was overall a good title.

Sure the story didn’t pick up till the end, but seeing as the game is just the first in a planned trilogy I can be a little forgiving of that. I think most of the characters weren’t deep enough, and they didn’t grow with the story. This is probably why most people decided to harp on the standard save the princess story. Even if similar tropes are the basis of many other games, which are generally given a pass.

As for the actual gameplay, it plays much like a simplified MMO. You key up actions (spells, attacks, items, etc) and use them when your gauge fills. You are able to stack abilities and actions to create your own combos. During these you will have to complete timed button presses to keep the combo going. It might not be my favorite combat system, but it worked rather well for what they wanted to do.

Besides creating your own combos there is also a very exhaustive crafting system in WKC. You can create a plethora of gear and items. You can also upgrade these. But more unique to WKC is the Georama system, where each player gets to create their own home space. These spaces can be filled with buildings, crops, mineral deposits, shops, filled with workers, and so on. It is a huge addition to the game, and can be fairly addictive. My main complaint would be the amount of time required to grind your way through most of the crafting and Georama systems. I think it would’ve been much better if it were easier to obtain weapons, armor, or new furnishings for your Georama. Instead I eventually succumbed to the realization that the game demanded way too much of my time to really progress. Instead of pushing forward, it made me want to take WKC out of my PS3 and move on to another game.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I really enjoyed WKC. There is a fun and uniquely deep base here that I hope Level-5 can build on for the sequel. The Georama and online aspects added a lot to the game. In fact, if WKC lacked these components I would have scored it lower. Hopefully we will see some needed tweaks in the upcoming sequel.

SCORE: 7/10

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Final Fantasy XIII Publisher: Square EnixDeveloper: Square Enix
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360  /  Genre: JRPG  /  Release Date: March 9, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII) is yet another game that I struggled with assigning a score to. If I look at piecemeal it seems like a great game, but when it is all put together I feel like it falls short.

Overall the graphics are very good. During battles the spell and combat effects look really good. For the most part, the character models looks really good. However, whenever there is a close up you can see where they cut some corners. I count myself among the crowd that thinks the game suffered from becoming multiplatform. There are a lot of low resolution textures, and even the way the game is designed feels like it was compromised to work with the 360’s DVD limitations.

Which brings me to the worse part of this game. It is incredibly linear. You are forced to run down one long corridor after another. It is designed like a shooter. However that style of game design only works for fast paced action games or shooters. Where you are constantly fighting enemies in real time and are usually met with dramatic set-pieces. In FFXIII you run down mostly empty  and confined pathways. You engage enemies, and are then warped into a battle mode. After defeating the enemies you are warped back to the map. This is standard for a lot of RPGs, but the fact that there are no side-quests until much later in the game (waits until the second disc for the 360… convenient?) makes most of the game feel like one long corridor. If this was more of an action-RPG, this may have worked better. Or maybe even if it was a shorter game, as it really drags at times.

The battle system is more about managing your roles (think job classes) than actually controlling any one character. It is fast paced and flashy, but most of the time ends up feeling like I was just pressing “x” to win. You do need to juggle your roles a lot more later on in the game, but I still think it was lacking.

The characters are decent, and the story is good. Both of which are very important when it comes to RPG’s, especially when they are fairly long. They both had me interested enough to make me want to complete the game. Even after I became bored of the combat or fatigued by the seemingly endless amount of linear maps.

There were times when I completely loved FFXIII, but they a minute later I would be met by something that made me loathe it. It feels like the game could have been something much better and has left me wanting. If it hadn’t been so linear and felt like it was artificially extended just to make it seem like a longer game (which fans of the serious usually expect), I think it would have been a better game. Maybe we will see some serious revisions in the sequel, FFXIII-2.

SCORE: 8/10

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Fallout: New Vegas Publisher: BethesdaDeveloper: Obsidian
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC  /  Genre: WRPG  /  Release Date: October 21, 2010

Where do I begin… Fallout: New Vegas had a lot to prove to me after playing Fallout 3. I could tell there was an idea of a good game in both of these games, but I was also horribly burned by maybe the worst high-profile game engine in the industry. The bug ridden, low performance, and flat out broken Gamebryo engine. It was completely frustrating in Fallout 3 and when I heard they were still using that engine for New Vegas my heart sunk. I was really hoping they’d do the right thing and release an actually functional game. Turns out, they may have released an even more broken game than Fallout 3.

I know, why am I focusing on the engine and not the game so far in this review? Well, that’s because you have to be able to totally look past the massive amount of problems the engine contributes to the game in-order to find anything redeeming about New Vegas. There are the small issues, like poor lip-synching, late loading textures, and clipping. These are generally forgivable in an open world game if they aren’t too frequent. That is not the case with New Vegas. I would enter buildings or areas to be met with large portions (sometimes whole buildings, the ground, etc) of the world not being textured. It abruptly reminds you that you’re playing a game, and a poorly made on at that.

Then there are the larger problems. Hell, you can’t even run in the game without dropping frames like a tree drops leaves in the fall. I would have to stop moving so the game wouldn’t freeze on me. Even trying to move around the world cautiously to avoid these problems it would still regularly freeze on me (even after the patches that supposedly fixed that problem). Then you have broken missions, characters getting stuck inside each other, or maybe even you getting stuck in the worlds geometry. It’s like the real enemy of the game is the Gamebryo engine… and it usually wins.

As for the actual game, it’s ok. I enjoyed the setting and story more than I did in Fallout 3. Roaming the wastelands going where you please is still immensely gratifying. This is why you play these games. FInding new areas, new enemies, and new stories hidden away in documents, new NPC’s, or computers you get to hack. All of this is satisfying, and what I want out of a new Fallout game.

It is such a shame that a good game was ruined for me due to all the technical problems.  I really wanted to be able to look past this, but since the game wants to constantly remind that it can’t run properly I can’t. Maybe the game just wants you to take a break, for your health, so it freezes which then requires you to get up and shut down your PS3. Or maybe it is time to kill off the Gamebryo engine and move on to a new one (which I believe they are with their next game). If you are able to stomach all the technical problems (a.k.a. a broken game) there is a fun game to be found in there.

SCORE: 4/10


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Backlog Barrage! Review Edition: 1

November 17, 2010

Well, due to a multitude of reasons I have fallen severely behind in both keeping up with all the games I have and my reviews. So in order to remedy this I’ve decided to go ahead and make some quick and dirty versions of reviews I haven’t finished and are now sorely overdue. This way, if you’re interested, you can still see what I thought about the games I’ve been playing.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Naughty Dog
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: TPS, Action Adventure  /  Release Date: October 13, 2009

Ok, I don’t think you really need to a review of this game. By now you should have bought this game, beat it, and come to realize how great it is. Unlike some games, Uncharted 2 lives up to all these accolades and all the praise it got. Once again Naughty Dog has crafted a great character driven story that really pulls you into its world. You will visit some truly stunning environments and engage in incredible action sequences. It is impressive just how good this game looks. I think it is the best looking console game to date. Thankfully it isn’t just good looking, but has the gameplay to back it up. The refinements in shooting, traversal, stealth attacks, and melee add up to what is my favorite controlling TPS.  All of the single-player is enough for this game to be one of the best games on the PS3, but then add a really fun and uniquely vertical competitive multiplayer as well as co-op and it takes it to another level. Go out and get this game now if you haven’t played it yet.

SCORE: 10/10

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Lost Planet 2 Publisher: Capcom  /  Developer: Capcom
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: TPS  /  Release Date: May 11, 2010

Lost Planet 2 (LP2) may have underwhelmed many a reviewer or gamer, but if you knew what to expect from it I think it turned out pretty darn good. After spending a large amount of time with both the campaign and multiplayer I have to admit I really enjoy what LP2 has to offer. If you are looking for a Gears of War style game, or a cover based third-person shooter you will be very disappointed. However, if you come to LP2 expecting an experience similar to the original, just with more of an emphasis on online co-op and competitive multiplayer then you will be rather happy.

The game looks  a lot better than the first game, with nice and varied environments and great creature designs. You will get to play as several different factions that inhabit the once frozen world of E.D.N. III. Eventually these opposing come together to work towards one goal. The story is ok, but the ending is kind of just crazy and to be honest I lost track of what it was trying to tell me. But that doesn’t really detract from the fun I had killing large monsters (even more fun with friends in co-op) and unlocking new gear and weapons. Hopefully there will be a Lost Planet 3, and they will refine the systems present in the sequel as well as add a better single player campaign.

SCORE: 8/10

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Assassin’s Creed 2 Publisher: Ubisoft  /  Developer: Ubisoft
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC /  Genre: Action  /  Release Date: November 17, 2009

Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoyed the first Assassin’s Creed. I understood peoples’ complaints, but I thought it was just such a different type of game that took place in a very interesting setting that I could get over some of its short comings. So when they announced a sequel with a lot of fixes, another great location, and set in an interesting time I was really excited about it. Thankfully Assassin’s Creed 2 (AC2) mostly lived up to my initial excitement.

It plays very similar to the first game, but with several needed changes. There is more variety in this game, especially in the weapons and how they are used in combat. In AC2 you can use your trusty throwing knives, different swords and daggers, a simple gun, and even disarm enemies and then use their weapons against them. The simple timing based combat is still present, and rewards you for being observant of your enemies. BEing able to parry, disarm, and attack when there is an opening will make you feel like a real assassin and get you out of sticky situations much faster.

In AC2 you continue the story of Desmond Miles as you access memories through an animus (!!!!). You will spend most of your timing climbing and killing your way around renaissance italy. It is splendid location that is beautifully realized in the game. You will learn more about the truth about the Templars, Assassins, and more. It sets up for an interesting next installment in the series. I do however, have some small gripes with the AC2. First of all, the graphics. Don’t get me wrong it is a good looking game when you are running around and in combat, but any time you are in cut scenes and close ups you can see some of the blocky geometry and lower res textures. It is disappointing to say the least. For the most part, the controls for climbing feel great. However, sometimes they are too automated or it can’t figure out what you are trying to do. This can lead to accidents of either jumping the wrong direction, jumping off of something you didn’t meant to, or not being able to navigate up something that you should be able to. It would have also been nice if your upgradable vila would have been deeper or had more importance. These small problems aren’t enough to bring the game down and was easily one of my favorite games of 2009.

SCORE: 9/10

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Heavy Rain Publisher: Sony  /  Developer: Quantic Dream
Platform: PS3 /  Genre: Adventure /  Release Date: February 23, 2010

I wasn’t really sure if I was ever going to review this game but I figured with this new format I could at least give it a try. The main reason I wasn’t sure if I was going to review Heavy Rain was pretty simple, I don’t really know how to or what I want to say about it. THis may come down to the simple fact that I can’t find an adequate way to explain how it plays, without it sounding like one large quick-time event or point and click adventure type of game. It isn’t either of these things, but it does have things in common with these types of gameplay. You do directly control the four main characters of the game, as you work your way through a mystery about a serial killer. You will get to play as a distraught father, private detective, FBI agent, and a reporter. The stories of each individual bleed into one main story line, and no matter how you play through the game you will get an ending that should wrap things up. Which is very important, as there are many different endings available for the story of Heavy Rain, and that is because there is a lot of choice, different outcomes of events, and even character death. That’s right, you are able to kill of the main characters and the story will adapt and form an ending around how you experience the game. Speaking of which, I think this game is an interactive drama that is best experienced by playing it and not just watching it. You will connect with the characters and if you are like me, try your hardest to get through the game with all four characters alive. If you are somewhat skeptical of this game, due to the unique gameplay style I would say try to get past that and give it a shot. You will be treated to an  engaging drama, great graphics, and unique gaming experience.

SCORE: 9/10


The Top 10 PS3 and PSP Games I’m Looking Forward To In 2010

February 2, 2010

3D Dot Heroes Games

I have always been a sucker for great art direction and charm, both of which this game seems to have. Simply put, this homage to Zelda just looks like a lot of fun to play. I love the whole idea of taking an 8 or 16 bit game and making it 3D. Hell, that is at the heart of the story of this game so you know it is going to be quirky and  humorous.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

I don’t know too much about this game, but it has gotten my attention. First off, it looks really good graphically and from an art direction standpoint. It also seems to have well done voice work, a dark and interesting atmosphere/setting, and solid sound design. Gameplay wise it similar to a lot of other third-person action games, which might be a bad thing since there are already a bunch of those games coming out this year. However, there is enough here to get me interested (especially since Kojima is associated with the game) and set it apart just enough to make me really want to know more about the game.

Final Fantasy XIII

The Final Fantasy series has always been one of my favorite gaming franchises. So it is no surprised that the latest installment would make my most anticipated list of 2010. However, unlike almost all the other FF games FFXIII isn’t my most anticipated game this year. I still have my concerns that the game won’t live up to my expectations, but I do think it will be a quality game that I will end up really enjoying.

God of War 3

For the most part the first two games are considered to be at the top of the third-person action genre. So why would the third and final installment of this epic series be any different? From the trailers, new screenshots, and the demo one can easily tell this is going to a very slick game. It will not only look incredible, but play just as good. I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends.

Heavy Rain

It is kind of hard to explain this game, or even why I’m so interested in it. I guess the main draw is that it is something very different than most of the games available now. It is going to be a game focused on story, which really appeals to me. On top of that it is going to be a more mature game. Heavy Rain is being described as a physiological thriller, and I really hope it lives up to this description.

The Last Guardian

Here is another game that I have trouble explaining the appeal of to other people. If you have seen the trailer then you should know why I am really looking forward to this game. It looks absolutely gorgeous, and I’m not just talking about the graphics or art direction (although, both of those are top notch as well). Once again it seems Team Ico have crafted a unique, inspiring, and emotional world. You can’t help but get drawn into the world presented in the trailer. I can’t wait to experience this game, but I sure hope neither the creature or the boy end up dying in the end.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Do I really need to say anything more than it is a MGS game that Kojima is directly, and heavily, involved in. Hell, just recently he said that Peace Walker would have been MGS5 if it was on a console and not the PSP. It looks great for a PSP game, and seems to have updated the controls from the previous PSP game MGS: Portable Ops.

Read Dead Redemption

If you’ve been reading my other posts you knew this game was going to be on the list. Even with all the JRPG’s, my favorite genre, coming out in 2010 Red Dead Redemption has a firm grasp on my gaming interests. It is one of those games that I wasn’t sure about, but as more info and video has been released I find my self being incredibly psyched about this game.

Valkyria Chronicles 2

The original Valkyria Chronicles is not only one of my favorite PS3 games, but it is one of my favorite games of all time. I loved everything about it. One of those games that I will always want to go back and play again once every once and awhile. So when they announced Valkyria Chronicles 2 I was super excited. However, like most of the fans of the first game I was very disappointed to see that it was for the PSP instead of the PS3. It will always feel like it could have been better, but from what I’ve seen so far the sequel looks like it is shaping up to be a great game. It has the potential to be one of the few PSP games that will keep me off of my PS3 for a good amount of time.

White Knight Chronicles

Finally! I’ve been waiting for this game for so freaking long. I love most of Level-5’s games, so when they announced a new JRPG for the PS3 I was immediately on board. Besides having a deep single player campaign, WKC also has a MMO-like online multiplayer. Thankfully this game will be coming out this week so I won’t have to wait much longer.

Honorable Mention

Dead Space 2 – Not sure if this is even coming out in 2010, which is why it is not in the top 10. If it turns out to be coming out this year then I’ll have to adjust my list. I loved Dead Space so I can’t wait to get back to killing necromorphs.

Final Fantasy XIV – I’ve never played any MMO’s, mainly because I don’t game on a gaming PC and I also don’t like the idea of monthly fees. I almost took the plunge with FFXI, but didn’t feel like dealing with all the extra crap you had to do to get it up and running on the PS2. Now that the PS3 has a harddrive and wifi, all I have to come to terms with is paying to play. If enough of my friends get into this game then  I am sure I’ll end up getting into it.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII – To be honest, I am much more excited about this game than FFXIII. However, since we don’t know when this will come out I am dropping it out of my list. Hopefully this game will end up as good as the trailers look. The characters and setting is just more appealing than FFXIII.

Metal Gear Solid Rising – Another game with no real release date, but I am interested in seeing what they do with this game. Raiden in MGS4 was pretty freaking awesome, so basing a whole game around him sounds like a great idea. However, since it won’t be using the same engine as MGS4, will be multi-platform, and Kojima isn’t heavily involved I have my doubts that it will live up to my high expectations.

Classic Dungeon: Magic Team Assistance – Not sure when we will see this in North America, but as soon as NISA makes it available for pre-order I will be putting out the cash for it. There isn’t a ton known about the game, but what I do know is that I’m interested in everything I do know about the game. Plus, the game gives me the same vibe that other NIS titles and Half-Minute Hero did.

Could 2010 Be The Year Of The JRPG For The PS3?

January 18, 2010

I’m a very big fan of JRPG’s, so when the PS3 launched I didn’t run out and get it since there really were not any JRPGs on the immediate horizon. Since then there have been a few JRPG’s available on the PS3, and the exclusive ones have been extremely good games. Both Demon’s Souls and Valkyria Chronicles are fine examples of spectacular PS3 RPG’s that any PS3 gamer should already own, and are worth buying a PS3 for. So although we’ve suffered from a lack of quantity of RPG’s, especially JRPG’s, it has been more than made up for with the quality of the titles that are available on the PS3. However, it seems we are about to see a flood of JRPG’s hit the PS3 starting in 2010.

Here is a list of all the possible JRPG’s I could think of coming out on the PS3 in 2010.

White Knight Chronicles ~ February 2, 2010

This game seems way overdue for a US release. In Japan they are already re-releasing it with all the add-ons and they announced a sequel at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show. It just kept getting pushed back in the US, much to my dismay. They are adding a ton to the US edition, but if you ask me it should have come out this past summer during the typical low time in gaming so it had room to breathe. Now it will be jammed into what is a busy RPG gaming year, and also a front heavy Q1 with other potential blockbusters like Bioshock 2, God of War 3, and Final Fantasy XIII releasing around the same time. Despite my complaints of delays and a poor release window I am really looking forward to this game. It looks like Level-5 have crafted another fun and enjoyable JRPG.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope, International ~ February 9, 2010.

Finally the Star Ocean series comes back home on the newest PlayStation platform, the PS3. Sadly, this game looks almost too much like the series’ most recent console edition (Star Ocean 3). This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you feel about the last game. To me, it is too much like the last game for me to get too excited about it. It looks like a more shiny and polished Star Ocean 3… and not much more. However, I will end up playing it as I’m a JRPG whore.

Last Rebellion ~ February 23, 2010

Last Rebellion will feature two different main characters, a more artistic art direction, and tactical turn-based combat. You will be able to switch between the two characters during combat, each with their own abilities. The combat will be turn-based, but you can strategically target different parts of enemies to disable them. This way you can reduce the enemies ability to fight back and make it easier to take them down. Being a NIS game, having strategic combat, and a budget price tag all adds up to me being very interested and pretty much sold on the game.

Final Fantasy XIII ~ March 9, 2010

Here is another game that seems way overdue. It feels like we’ve heard about this game since before FFXII was released in the US. Like a lot of people, I’m more interested in FF Versus XIII than FFXIII due to its darker mood. However, FFXIII seems to be shaping up nicely. Most people that played the demo, which came with the Japanese release of Advent Children or at various game shows, have come away being impressed. I personally don’t like most of the character designs, besides Lightning, which is a big disappointment since FF games are very character and story driven. I’m expecting FFXIII to be a very good game, just not sure it will live up to my expectations for a main entry in the FF series.

3D Dot Games Heroes ~ May 11, 2010

Once again, Atlus has come to the rescue of fans of JRPG’s and unique or quirky games. 3D Dot will be a sleeper hit in 2010. It will be another niche game that endears itself to those that actually play the game. Featuring beautiful art direction, customization, and a great sound track it will surely be a very unique and exciting gaming experience. I personally can’t wait for this game, and it is one of my most anticipated games in 2010.

Resonance of Fate ~ May 31, 2010

Resonance of Fate is another new JRPG IP from Sega (who brought us the fabulous Valkyria Chronicles), although it is being made by tri-Ace. Originally I wasn’t too excited about this game, as it was another RPG with guns but after seeing some of the combat my interest as been peaked. It appears to be a mix of real time and tactical turn-based gun combat with a lot of flair to it. You will also be able to customize your characters clothing, hair, and most importantly their guns. All this customization means you’ll be able to tailor the characters’ looks and how they play to suit your style better, which is always a welcome thing in my opinion.

Final Fantasy XIV ~ TBA

FFXIV was one of the major surprises revealed during Sony’s 2009 E3 keynote. It took the audience by surprise. How could they be announcing FFXIV when FFXIII isn’t even out yet? Well, simple. It is a totally different team and style of game. FFXIV will be the next FF MMO. I have my doubts that we will see this in the US in 2010, but you never know. Square Enix could surprise us since the game is supposedly very far along in its development and they’ve had to remain quiet about it due to FFXIII’s development.

Atelier Rorona ~ TBA

Not too long ago NIS America finally came out and confirmed that they are indeed bringing Atelier Rorona to North America. I’m was happy to hear this, as the game might not be the best looking game out there but it does have a certain charm to it. It will focus heavily on alchemy. Which means a lot of item collection, management, and crafting. If you aren’t into those sorts of things you might feel over burdened by the game, but I think it should add a little bit of variation when compared to the other JRPG’s in 2010.

Record of Agarest War ~ TBA

Well, this game was suppose to be available in 2009 but since they decided to bring it to the Xbox 360 as well it has been delayed until spring 2010. Record of Agarest War is a niche game within in an already small niche. It plays like a SRPG with some dating-sim elements as you can breed new warriors by seducing some of the ladies in the game. This should be an interesting PSN title to say the least, but I doubt it will do too well now that it will be pushed up against the more notable JRPG’s in 2010.

Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment ~  TBA

I’m not too sure how excited I am about this game. Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment is a prequel to the original to the original Vandal Hearts game way back on the PS one. It is a SRPG that will place you in the center of a grid-based board, where you have to defeat the surrounding enemies to clear the board. Instead of having to decide where you want to spend experience points they will be distributed for you depending on how you use your characters. So if you use a lot of fire magic for one character, they will naturally continue to get better at using it. This should be true for combat skills and weapons as well. I’m not really into the art direction, but if it comes out at a good price I’ll probably end up getting it.

Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll ~ TBA

For the first time ever KOEI will be bringing the Zill O’ll series outside of Japan with Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll. This entry into the action RPG series is suppose to  have a darker tone than the previous games and will feature a non-linear story. You will control three adventurers that have been brought together for some unknown reason. You can switch between these three party members during combat creating combos with them. Another interesting aspect of combat and exploration is that the environments are suppose to fully interactive. This means you can change the environment to access new areas and use the environment to your advantage in combat. Although this game seems interesting, it is being made by the same team that makes the Dynasty Warriors games. Hopefully the combat won’t become as button-mashy as those games.

And here are a few other JRPG’s that only have a Japanese release or aren’t officially announced yet for the US.

Trinity Universe ~ TBA

Trinity Universe is cross-over game between NIS, Idea Factory, and Gust. It will feature characters from titles made by these companies, such as Prinny and Etna from the Disgaea series. There will be two sides to the story of Trinity Universe. You can play as either Kanata or Rizerial, which will align with either demons or goddesses respectively. So it looks like you’ll see the story from two different view points. As you move through the story you will engage in 3D battle, which will be a first for a lot of the characters in the game. The game’s story will play out in slightly animated conversation scenes, which are 2D. It seems like this game will be another unique mash up of JRPG franchises, like Cross Edge, to create a fun new game. Plus we’ll finally see Prinny and Etna in 3D, which is probably a big thing for fans of those characters.

Tales of Vesperia ~ TBA

Tales of Vesperia is probably the game I am most jealous of that has come out on the Xbox 360. I’ve never really followed the Tales series, but I absolutely love the art direction in Vesperia. The character design is really nice, and whatever engine Namco Bandai is using in this game looks gorgeous. Featuring a ton of added content, the Japanese PS3 version easily outsold the lifetime sales of the former Xbox exclusive version in its opening day. This should make it an obvious decision to bring it outside of Japan as well, but there is still no word of that. However, there are some hints that is is being worked on. Hopefully it does become available outside of Japan as it looks like a great JRPG.

The Last Remnant ~ TBA

Maybe, just maybe this game still exists for the PS3. However, I highly doubt it. But for now, since I haven’t heard that Square Enix has officially announced that is has been canceled, I’ll go along and say that it will emerge from the lost land of vaporware to become a real game sometime in 2010. If this does happen, it better run smooth with none of the problems that severely hampered the Xbox 360 version. Also, SE should consider releasing it for a discounted price just to make it a more attractive purchase to busy JRPG gamers.

Ar Tonelico III ~ TBA

Ar Tonelico III will be the first Ar Tonelico game to feature 3D character models for combat, but it will still have 2D character portraits. Very little is known about Ar Tonelico III right now, but I expect it will follow a similar story to the ones featured in the previous game.  Most likely it will center around the relationships between Humans and Reyvateils, and the towers they live in. Even though it hasn’t been announced for NA yet the other games in the series were brought over by NISA so I’m pretty sure they will bring this one over as well.

With all of these JRPG’s coming in 2010, or rumored to be coming out around then, I almost feel like it is too much. I really wish a few of them had come out earlier or hope that they are at least spread out through the year. Otherwise people will be skipping games due to a sheer lack of time to complete all of them, especially if they are going after the trophies for all these games. I guess I shouldn’t complain, at least there will be options for PS3 JRPG fans in 2010.

New White Knight Chronicles Video Details Online Aspects

January 16, 2010

Sony released a new video for White Knight Chronicles today. You can check it out on the PS Blog and get some more info over at IGN. The video details the many online aspects of WKC’s. It teaches you about GeoNet, Georama, and online quests.

GeoNet is basically an in-game social site. You can post pics from the game, blog, have friends list, and check out other people’s  GeoNet as well. It is interesting, but not sure how much I’ll use it. I can see how it could be useful since there is such an online aspect to WKC. So creating a way for people to easily communicate in-game is a very smart idea.

Georama is a customizable space that each player gets. You can create your own town here. During your adventures through out the game you will come across different things that you can include in your town (houses, trees, farm fields, and so on). You’ll also be able to use in-game currency to purchase more items. This isn’t just a fun little addition, as it actually affects your game. You can create commerce for your town by collecting NPC’s which have specialties. They could be a merchant, a farmer, and so on.  Other players will then be able to visit your town and purchase items. Or you can use items your town produces for crafting, which is something you should be familiar with if you are a fan of Level-5 RPG’s. I’m really impressed with this addition to the game. I figured it would be an inactive element to the game, but since it isn’t I can see some people really getting into this aspect of the game.

On top of all these other online aspects, WKC has four player co-op quests. These open up shortly after the start of the game and add a ton of extra gameplay to WKC. The game will ship with 50 quests or so on disc and we will receive more than 50 more via DLC. This should really extend the re-playability of this game. The quests grant you access to new items that you can only obtain in this mode. You can take these back to single player, so once again Level-5 have created another aspect of the game that feeds back into the single player.

The fact that all these online modes support your offline single player adventure is a brilliant idea. It makes it all feel like part of the same game, and not just some tacked on online aspects. I was already really looking forward to this game, but all the videos and information Sony has been releasing is making that wait feel even longer.

My Favorite PSP Games of 2009

January 9, 2010

To be honest, I haven’t played or finished enough PSP games in 2009 to make a true top 10 list for the year. Because of this, I figured I’d just list some of my favorite PSP games I played during the year instead of making a top 10 list. Like I said, I haven’t finished all these games but I’ve played enough of them to have a fair opinion on them. So here are some of my favorite PSP games, listed alphabetically, of 2009.

Half-Minute Hero
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Not only is this my favorite PSP game of 2009, it is also one of my overall favorite games of 2009. Simply put, I fell deeply in love with this game. It is over flowing with charm, humor, and character. It is a blast to play, with several different modes, and both the art direction and music really cement the game as must buy. It is one of the many unique games available on the PSP that really define the system in my mind. Basically if you have a PSP you need to get this game, especially if you love JRPG’s.
Review coming soon.

Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! What Did I Do to Deserve This?
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Here is another quirky PSP game that I really enjoyed last year. It plays sort of like a tower defense game, but has more than enough tweaks to the gameplay that make it feel unique. Add to that some rather funny moments and retro pixel art direction and it easily won me over.

LocoRoco 2
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Many people might find LocoRoco 2 too cute, too “kiddy”, and too easy but I just found a great and fun game. I love the simple art direction, fun gameplay, and excellent music. LocoRoco 2 is one of those games I found myself playing much longer then I would intend to. Only realizing how much time had passed when I finally looked at a clock or got distracted by something else. Do yourself a favor and pick this whimsical game up.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis
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I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about this game, but I ended up sinking a lot of time into it. It has just enough of that classic JRPG feel to it that I really got hooked on it. If you are looking for a more full fledged JRPG for your PSP I’d pick this one up.

Patapon 2
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Once again, I find myself being drawn to unique and charming PSP games. Patapon 2 builds off of the excellent original game. Fixing and enhancing it in all the right ways. I love the superb art direction and music of this rhythm-action game. If you are looking for something different, fun, and challenging you can’t go wrong with Patapon 2.

Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?
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Another NIS game full of humor and charm. I will admit that this game can get pretty tough, but that is kind of the point of it. You play as one of my favorite supporting characters from video games, Prinny. That automatically makes it a good game, but build a solid side-scrolling action game around Prinny and you get a great PSP game.

Resistance Retribution
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I love the Resistance series, so being able to get back into that fiction was an easy sell. It takes place between the two console games and features a new protagonist. Even with the lack of a second analog stick, Resistance Retribution manages to play very well for a third-person shooter. Also of note, is that it is the only non-Japanese game on my list. So even without the charm of those other games, Retribution still manages to provide a great action packed game. If you are a fan of the Resistance series you really should play this game.

Heavy Rain Gets A Pre-order Bonus

December 18, 2009

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Today Sony announced a very interesting pre-order bonus for their upcoming adventure/thriller game, Heavy Rain. If you pre-order from Amazon, GameStop, or GameCrazy you will get one free episode of the Heavy Rain Chronicles. What are the Heavy Rain Chronicles? They are DLC episodes that take place outside of the story featured in Heavy Rain, but are in the same world as the main story. If you pre-order you will receive the first episode, Heavy Rain: Chronicle One – The Taxidermist, for free. Future DLC episodes will cost $4.99 each so it isn’t a bad pre-order bonus, especially during the overly crowded Q1 in 2010.

You may recognize Heavy Rain: Chronicle One – The Taxidermist, as it was used to demonstrate the game last year. Back then we were told that the scene wouldn’t be in the game, and it wasn’t part of the story of Heavy Rain. It was suppose to be a way to show how the games looks, feels, and works. I guess they got enough of a positive reaction to keep it and make some DLC out of it. Or they had this in mind the whole time but were just keeping quiet about it. I’m thinking it was the later of the two options, but that doesn’t really matter. Anyway here is a little info about The Taxidermist straight from Sony.

Heavy Rain: Chronicle One – The Taxidermist will feature investigative journalist Madison Paige in one of her first cases tracking down a serial killer. Most of you are familiar with this episode as it is an expansion and update to the original “Taxidermist” demo that received such positive response when shown last year.

I haven’t posted about Heavy Rain yet, but it is a game I am very interested in. I’m looking forward to what seems like a very unique and hopefully mature gaming experience. I’ll probably pre-order the game, as I know I’ll be picking it up day one anyway so I might as well. Check out the old Taxidermist footage from the demo below, and hopefully you’ll see why I am interested in this game and this episode.

White Knight Chronicles International Gets A Release Date

December 4, 2009

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After what feels like forever, Level-5‘s latest PS3 JRPG White Knight Chronicles has finally been given a solid release date for North America. You will be able to get your copy of this promising JRPG on February 2, 2010. In my opinion this is a good move by Sony, as White Knight Chronicles will be released about a month before Final Fantasy XIII which would overshadow it if they released any closer. I’ll be picking up both, and am actually more excited about White Knight Chronicles as it stands now.

Here is some info about the version of White Knight Chronicles we will be getting (courtesy of the US PlayStation Blog):

– Over 50 disc-based online quests. You can complete these quests solo, or cooperatively with up to three other players to gain extra gear and experience. (That’s just on the disc. Wait until you hear what else we’ll have at launch!)

– Voice Chat. Need we say more? =)

– The Georama. Build an online village for your character where you can invite friends to complete quests online and purchase unique items and gear.

– Live Talk. Leonard and his companions will have side conversations during gameplay, adding a little more character to your travels through the world of White Knight Chronicles.

I love Level-5’s games, so I’m really looking forward to this one. It features a very customizable combat system, co-op, a character creation system, item creation, and much more. It should tide you over till Final Fantasy XIII and have you looking forward to the sequel which has already been announced. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this game and I’m sure that interest will continue to grow as Sony has promised even more info in the time leading up to the release.