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jerec Jerec84

Title: Dedication, brought to you by the letter J
Posted: December 01, 2009 (06:19 PM)
Picked up Jade Empire (limited edition!) from EB Games. I think I got a pretty good deal. The usual price is $14.87, but it's reduced to $13 for the pre-owned sale, and with my Edge card, I got a 10% discount bringing the price down to $11.60.

And I got a bonus disc with demos of the original Forza, Conker Reloaded and something else. I'll be posting my thoughts on this game as I play it to assist with the review writing.
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Title: Dragon Age: Origins...
Posted: November 13, 2009 (04:34 AM)
...is addictive.

Also, some of the choices the game has presented me with have actually made me stop and think which is the best way to go. Very clever game.

Morrigan is hot... but Leliana is just adorable.
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Title: Crisis Core.
Posted: November 01, 2009 (03:37 AM)
Finished it tonight. My thoughts.

- it's a very shallow game. It's like there's very little under the surface. You move along with the story, and you rarely get a chance to deviate, look around, explore or any of that.

- the missions are also very shallow. There's 300 of them, but they're pretty much all the same, cycling through the same half dozen environments, giving you different enemies to find. It seems like there could have been some variety to these missions, but they're all combat based, and even treasure hunts revolve around killing monsters until you kill the last one that ends the quest (opening up treasure chests on the way). It does reinforce the SOLDIER being good for fighting only, and leaving the thinking to others, a point that is touched on in the story.

- Very interesting story. It fleshes out the character of Zack, who becomes very likable, and that only makes it all the more sad, because anyone who's played FF7 knows what happens to him. The ending is incredibly well done.

- I got chills playing the Nibelheim sequence. It was the payoff for all the build up earlier in the story.

- The game tries to be very cinematic, and it achieves it most of the time with beautiful cinematics, quality voice acting, and an excellent soundtrack. However, the scenes that are not voiced seem fairly arbitrary. One moment you're watching a beautiful cutscene, then you're pressing X through text boxes. This would have been better if the whole story had been voiced, because these moments really took me out of the story, killing the cinematic quality.

- The battle system works fairly well for a one-man party. A few changes are made to make it work better (such as using a phoenix down before you die to auto-raise).

- Not so keen on the slots. This is so random. You could be fighting a boss and struggling because it gives you nothing. Then you might play it again and it'll keep giving you limit breaks and leveling up Zack and his materia. Leveling up being so random is something I did not like. Sometimes I wouldn't level up in ages, then I'd go up 2 levels in a single battle.

- Battles aren't random. They happen every few seconds - as long as you aren't hugging the walls (and even then!). Sometimes an enemy would spin me around and I'd end up going the wrong direction after the battle. Other times the enemies would draw me back the way I'd come, so I'd need to cross the same area again to continue on after the fight (and risk another encounter on the same spot).

- Despite being a fairly shallow game, and with flaws that are quite noticeable, Crisis Core was a very compelling game to play (and for me, finishing a game means something). However, I did stall for about a week on the final dungeon. That was needlessly confusing.

Crisis Core is an 8/10 7/10. It makes me want to go and replay FF7 again, and also makes me want to watch Advent Children... which is quite a feat since Advent Children doesn't make me want to watch it.
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Title: Got me a PSP today
Posted: October 19, 2009 (03:40 AM)
An original PSP, seems to be in excellent condition and no dead pixels or anything.

Picked up Crisis Core (been wanting to play that for ages), and Star Ocean: Second Evolution which was selling for half price. I took it home and then realised I needed a memory stick for it... for some reason I didn't think about that at all.

So I looked around online and a store nearby had a 2GB stick at $5 off, which works for me at the moment.
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Title: Metal Slug 3 (XBLA)
Posted: October 17, 2009 (08:15 PM)
Because EmP and Boo hate me, they assigned me to play Metal Slug 3, due mostly to my extreme dislike of reading Metal Slug reviews. It was done to death one tournament a few years back, and then in the most recent Team Tournament, Boo and EmP both used horrible Metal Slug reviews against each other. This is the outcome of their revenge. I also received props for actually writing the review, but low marks for the review itself, understandably. It is a bad review. And now after being on the site for a little over a week, earning 58 hits, it will now sit on my Blog to soon become lost amongst the archives.

-------------

Choices

Life is all about choice. We are each in control of our own destinies. We choose our own careers; we choose to continue in this career, or we choose to quit and find something different. We choose which paths we want to take in life. We can choose not to take any path at all, and end it all by throwing ourselves off a building, or into the path of an oncoming train. On a lighter note, we can choose what video games we play. Unless of course we forfeit that choice to play something someone else wants to play. I did not choose to play Metal Slug 3. This particular choice was made for me.

Thatís the thing about choices - sometimes thereís no choice at all. Video games often deny us these basic rights to choose, forcing us down a set path from start to finish. Metal Slug 3, however, is not like that. It gives us a choice.

From the moment we land on the beach, armed with a gun and faced with hordes of enemy mutant crabs, we can choose to fight or die (or quit). We can free the hostages, castaways with long beards and no pants, to be rewarded with power-ups. If we choose not to free them, then we must continue onwards with the same basic weapon we started with.

After fighting mutant crustaceans for a short time, we are faced with our first real choice. Do we continue to take the fight over land, fighting more mutant crabs aided by their Nazi accomplices, or do we instead go underwater, blasting underwater mutant sea creatures from the relative safety of a submarine?*

* Until you choose to take too much damage and lose the sub.

Either path is much the same. You continue shooting enemies, rescuing castaways, and collecting power-ups only to lose them. There is so much incoming fire from enemies that you have to choose which attacks you want to avoid, as the rest will find a way to hit you. Unless you choose to have freakishly good reflexes, you will likely die a few times. If you choose to have only a few lives, which is the default setting, then the game will be over. But you can choose to have unlimited continues, so death means only a few seconds delay and a return to basic equipment.

The more observant among you may choose to notice that this game is very repetitive. Run, shoot, die, repeat. Over and over and over. But then again, you might be someone who instead chooses wilful denial, convincing yourself that you find this fun. In between all the carnage, you might choose to notice the colourful backgrounds and cartoon-style visuals. More than likely, youíll be too busy trying to stay alive to pay them much attention.

Whichever path you choose to take will lead you to the same outcome - a boss that destroys your path from under you, while shooting numerous missiles at you. You have to run, while firing off the odd shot. Linger too long on shooting, and the rickety wooden jetty below you will splinter and collapse, taking from you one of your precious (or not so precious) lives.

If you choose to defeat this boss (alternatively, you can give up) then you will reach the end of the level, and the end of the trial run. Microsoft also values the right to choose. You can download the trial of Metal Slug 3 (and any other XBLA game) for free, and play through the first level as many times as you like. It will cost 800 points to unlock the rest of the game, and the right to earn achievements. Whether or not you do decide to continue on is entirely up to you. This game might be your thing. Itís not mine. But thatís the beauty of choice - we can choose what video games we like. I chose to end my experience with this game at this point. I know that the rest of the game is quite short, and more of the same. Even enthusiasts of the Metal Slug series find the 800 point price a little steep.

There was one choice that was denied to me, however, and it is one that may enrich the gameplay experience somewhat - a friend to play co-op with. Then both of you can run, shoot and die to your hearts content.

Rating: 5/10
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Title: Finally went back and finished Braid.
Posted: October 10, 2009 (11:05 PM)
I decided to go back and plough through this game today, after stopping for some reason not long after it first released. Yeah, the story isn't much, but it is an absolutely beautiful game to play, and the puzzles are very clever.

I got all the achievements for it except the speed run. I can't see myself doing the whole game in 45 minutes.
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Title: For a limited time only:
Posted: October 09, 2009 (05:55 PM)
Metal Slug 3 review. Submitted just now.

After the contest I may remove the review from the site and post it up on my blog instead, unless it turns out to be a good review.
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Title: Lucidity
Posted: October 08, 2009 (04:09 AM)
Interesting idea, but I think Lucasarts were a little too fond of the idea to revise it when it wasn't fun to play. Look past the surreal dreamy imagery and you've got a tedious little game on your hands that is not very fun at all.

I love how XBLA lets you download a free trial. Saves me from buying stuff like this and instantly regretting it.

Seems I'm not alone, either. I've seen mostly negative comments on the game so far.
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Title: Playing that Sega Collection on the 360.
Posted: October 02, 2009 (04:40 PM)
I cheated at columns! Just pause the game, you can still see what piece comes next, giving you more time to plan where it goes. Got my 20,000 points and the achievement.

I doubt the rest of this game is that easy.
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Title: Fallout
Posted: September 26, 2009 (07:17 AM)
I found the Fallout collection - Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics on one DVD ROM, for a mere $9 AUD. At $3 per game, I'm sure to get some good playtime out of this. Started on Fallout. Haven't done much yet. Fought some cave rats, found my way out of said cave. Character creation is quite detailed.
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Title: My review hits, here and at GameFAQs.
Posted: September 13, 2009 (12:30 AM)
Game - HG - GF

Star Ocean 3 - 1399 - N/A
Shadow Hearts - 1001 - 250
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - 561 - 293
Final Fantasy VIII - 380 - N/A
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest - 363 - 679
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - 360 - N/A
Final Fantasy X - 355 - N/A
Donkey Kong 64 - 354 - N/A
Grand Theft Auto III - 322 - 777
Golden Sun - 312 - N/A
SimEarth - 303 - 2007
Animal Crossing: City Folk - 287 - 842
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga - 245 - 195
Animal Crossing - 190 - 2618
Wii Fit - 177 - 377
Tales of Vesperia - 58 - 112

I took down some at GameFAQs, but left them up on HG. Though my SO3 review was rejected over at GameFAQs, yet is my only review on HG to win RotW. Go figure.

The differences are interesting. Some of my reviews did a lot better here, while some did a lot better over there. Seems my Nintendo reviews get more hits at GameFAQs, while other console reviews did better at HG, on average. And perhaps it's competition, too. There's very few SimEarth reviews at GameFAQs, so I got heaps of hits for it, while Lego Star Wars, Shadow Hearts etc already had lots of reviews by the time I posted mine.

The Animal Crossing review is a bit unfair. That actually got heaps of hits at HG when it was posted as fiction, but those hits are gone. Sigh. It also has a star over at GameFAQs, which helps.

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Title: I was really enjoying Batman Arkham Asylum until...
Posted: September 12, 2009 (09:02 PM)
...the final boss. Bleh. It's just so frustrating. I'm so close to finishing the game, but I just can't bring myself to try to fight it again, because I know it'll leave me in a bad mood.

The rest of the game was so amazingly brilliant, too. What a pity. I should give those challenges a go in the meantime.
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Title:
Posted: September 06, 2009 (03:12 AM)
Freaking submitted a review. I rock!

Though it's probably not so surprising given I wrote a huge wall of text about Tales of Vesperia on my previous blog post. Seems I missed the cut off for this RotW, but that means I've got a week to make any corrections before it's judged.
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Title: Tales of Vesperia
Posted: September 02, 2009 (06:19 AM)
Tales of Vesperia

Clocked about 40+ hours on this one, finished the game, but there's still plenty of side quests to do, and a fair few achievements. I'm gonna take a break and come back to this later, probably play an EX New Game with some of the Grade bonuses.

The story is a bit all over the place, but still incredibly compelling to play through. I loved at how simple the complication was at the start, and then things just kept snowballing and becoming bigger... and a quest to recover a stolen item ends up being a mission to save the world. Some of the names of stuff seemed really over the top, like Apatheia, Entelexia (or however you spell it)... but it's no worse than Symphonia's "Desians" and the strange words from that game. Must be a Tales thing.

What really made the game for me was the characters. At first I was skeptical about a character named Yuri who dressed all in black and is a lot less squeaky clean than your typical RPG hero... seeing as Shadow Hearts already did that. But both characters seemed different enough in my mind. Yuri managed to break away from Shadow Hearts Yuri, and kind of own the name. It was refreshing to see this character do things that few other good guys would do, but I'm not going to spoil it here. This is a character that defines the Chaotic Good to the exteme, which makes for a really cool contrast and conflict with his best friend Flynn, who is Lawful Good to the extreme. The way these two characters interact whenever they cross paths is great. I also kept expecting Flynn to join the party, but he never quite gets there. He's the usual sort of hero you expect in an RPG, and he's always an outsider here.

Estelle, she's a likable princess type character, but she's very like Colette. I don't have a real lot to say about her.

And you know, I almost groaned when the 12 year old Karol joined the party. Not a child character! But throughout the story, he actually became one of my favourite characters in the game, and definitely above most other child party members I can think of. He has his issues, but he's always incredibly likable and you do kinda feel sorry for him. And then he turns around and says or does something completely awesome.

Rita is a character I didn't like much at first, but I don't think I was supposed to. She's a cold, genius mage who cares little for anything except her own research, and it takes her a long time to warm to the rest of the party, but when she does - and then tries to hide the fact that she cares, well I always enjoyed that. Her technobabble was always quite amusing, though I wish she'd stop punching Karol.

Repede is a dog who has a pipe sticking out of his mouth. He's a pretty cool attack dog, and only contributes to conversations with occasional woofs...

Raven is a fun character, as is Judith, but that's getting into deep spoiler territory. I really liked this cast of characters. Which is awesome because they TALK with each other so much. There's like 500 skits where the characters talk about anything that's on their minds, and while they are optional, I always made sure to watch them. The actual story is pretty dialogue heavy, too. This can really make some games drag, like Golden Sun, but here it worked quite well.

Also loved the battle victory bits, where a character or characters would say something. Estelle started off the "sign of victory!" thing with the other characters, a high five, and it was cool to watch her high five other characters, and it took off.

The battle system is much like Symphonia's, but it felt a little different. I didn't like it as much at first - Yuri felt really slow compared to Lloyd, but eventually I got used to it, or Yuri got faster and more powerful. I liked how the other characters were able to take care of themselves. When they got poisoned, they'd just use the antidote themselves. All I had to do was just keep an eye on things generally while focusing on what my character was doing. Very rarely did I have to step in and tell another character what to do. Star Ocean could learn a thing or two from this game.

The soundtrack was absolutely brilliant. Not a single track sounds out of place, and there's a few that will stay in my mind forever, such as the emotionally powered confrontation music (usually plays when Yuri and Flynn are on screen together). The music in the guild city of Dahngrest is so uplifting and catchy - I've been humming it for days. The battle themes all match that fast-paced button mashing experience, and it changes across the three chapters of the game - the regular battle theme in the third part really got my blood pounding for every single minor battle. It was just so epic and imperative. I loved it.

I also loved the cartoon style visuals. It looks similar to Tales of Symphonia, that same sort of visual style, but everything is so much sharper and crisper on the 360. Yeah, it's not graphically intensive like Lost Odyssey or Star Ocean 4, but it's still excellent in its style and presentation.

This is one of those games which is just so well done that I can't think of any complaints to level against it. I felt it was too difficult at first (some of the early bosses surprised me), and perhaps some of it is, but once I got better at the game, I still found it challenging, but never frustrating.

I suppose there is one thing - there's very little in the way of backstory for these characters, which struck me as odd. The characters all have a history, but it's never dwelt on, except in one case. But that makes sense. Part of the world's history is a great war ten years ago, which would explain why the characters don't seem to have any families. All the characters are very much for the here and now.

...

I originally titled this blog post "Games I've been playing" and intended to talk about some other games. Guess I went on a bit long here. Holy crap I wrote a fair bit. Did I actually manage to trick myself into writing a review? I should tidy up what I wrote, and perhaps reorganise it a bit and turn it into a review.

But I'll post this first. Might get comments, which might lead to more discussion of the game and give me more things to talk about in a review.
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Title: I know something you don't know!
Posted: August 30, 2009 (05:54 AM)
Yet. ;-)
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