Title: Games I played this year
Posted: December 29, 2007 (04:56 AM)
It's the closest I'm likely to get to reviewing, and maybe it'll even fire off a spark of motivation.
List is in roughly chronological order.
I enjoyed it despite it not being as good as the first game, story-wise. But the actual grind of the game became very obvious to me when I played one level over and over (exploiting an enemy level up 10% tile) to level up my party. I spent so many hours on this and managed to breeze through the rest of the game, and it wasn't that fun. I did all that stuff too early on. I should've saved the power-levelling for all the bonus stuff.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC)
I played this through to its completion without letting other games distract me. Some of it was a bit tiring, but I did like the story. It wasn't an overly complex story, but it did have a surprising amount of depth for a Zelda game. I enjoyed many of the dungeons, especially that sky one. That really stood out in my mind as the best dungeon of the game, and it had an eerie quality to it similar to the Stone Tower in Majora's Mask (when you flipped it upside down), seeing the vast, endless sky BELOW you. Also, using two hookshots to swing around was absolutely brilliant.
The wolf bits weren't too bad, either, and I enjoyed the battles while riding the horse. Also, that mini-game ROLLGOAL, obviously designed for the Wii, was a blast with a GC controller.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
It started off okay, but the 4 buttons for the four characters really made playing for more than half an hour at a time really tiring. Plus, the boss fights were way too long and they basically became "use the same few moves over and over until it's dead". The time travel aspect was interesting to begin with, but ultimately it couldn't hold my attention, and it sits on my shelf unfinished.
Fahrenheit, or Indigo Prophecy (XBOX)
I never really got into this one. I wanted to, but the timing really annoyed me. In these games I like to explore, and experiment, and most of all, take my time, but I never felt like I could in this game. It was always a race. Plus I heard it got really silly towards the end, and I never bothered playing more than an hour or two.
Picked this one up cheap. Like I really needed more RPGs I'll never finish. The voice acting was terrible (sounded like they recorded it in a cave). Plus, the random, card-based battles were a major turn-off. I guess I was a fool for thinking the game would be good based on opinions from people who actually like card-based battle systems. I'd never played one before, so I didn't know if I would or not. Now I do. If an RPG has a card-based battle system, I'll be ignoring it. Plus, it felt like the characters were ripped right out of FFX. Tidus (the main guy) and Wakka (the tribe guy) mainly. Sometimes, a gripping story can make me tolerate an awful battle system, but the story didn't grab me at all.
Final Fantasy XII
I remember loving this game at first. It was so different, and the politically charged story was pretty awesome. The first half of the game really was good. It moved along at an excellent pace, but somewhere along the way, it got much slower, and much more tedious. The characters didn't have much of anything to say, except in their own very limited roles, and even that wasn't much. I reasoned the 6 party characters out:
Balthier = tour guide to the world
Fran = guide to all things magic
Basch = guide to the workings of the Empire (Balthier often doubled up here, too)
Ashe = the motivation for the quest
Penelo = the moral compass
Vaan = the player's window
FFXII had an awesomely constructed world, and the characters really did little but have a world tour. The most interesting characters were Larsa and Vayne. Fran did have a sexy voice, though.
Fable: The Lost Chapters (XBOX)
This one started out fun, but fizzled out quite quickly. The highlight was luring a woman back to my house, then proceeding to beat the ever-loving shit out of her. The fact that I enjoyed this disturbed me so much I haven't played the game since.
Final Fantasy IX
I started a replay. I didn't finish it. I've finished it 3 or 4 times in the past, though.
Animal Crossing: Wild World
Tried to get back into the game, but got bored after a couple of days. There's more stuff in this game compared to the GC version. More fish and bugs to catch, more items, more fossils... but it all it really did was make the game feel so much like it was less. It really emphasised how shallow the game is. I mean, there's probably a larger pool of neighbours, but rather than have 15 (or is it 16?) of them at once, you only have 8. And with the six personalities, once you've talked to one of each, they're all the same. Especially when every second conversation they're telling you to suggest a new catchphrase, so you're basically moulding them into a bunch of identical drones with different avatars. Collecting fish and bugs and paintings and bones and items and all that shit got boring so much quicker.
Final Fantasy III (DS)
Looked good, but I didn't really feel like playing it. Felt really, really dated. Plus, the class system seemed broken. My thief with a good knife could do so much more damage than my fighter. The mages were pretty useless, so I just kept one and made the other 3 thieves. Got through a chunk of the game before I couldn't be bothered anymore.
Shadow Hearts: From the New World
I loved Shadow Hearts 1 and 2. I was annoyed that 3 hadn't been released in Australia. I eventually got over it, and probably a year or so later, I just happened to see it for sale in stores. It was cheaper than most PS2 games, so I bought it. Technically, it's the same as Shadow Hearts 2, but it lacked that special charm its predecessor had. Maybe it was in the characters, since this batch seemed very forgettable. I did enjoy what I played, but I do remember why I stopped playing. I blame the game I'm about to talk about...
Fucking hell. The first Pokemon game I played was Leaf Green back in 2004 or so, and I got addicted to it, played the hell out of it, and eventually got it out of my system. I really did get obsessed with Pokemon for a couple of months there. Same thing happened again. Poured a good 60-70 hours into this game, perhaps more. Played it to death. If not for the fact that I had to recharge my DS from time to time, I might not have actually taken breaks. I went to a Pokemon Connection Tour sometime in the middle of the year, and competed in a tournament. Got to the Top 16 (out of 128), so that was a good acheivement, but not enough for a prize. I had some Internet buddies cheering me on. That was my one and only foray into the depths of super-nerddom. Shortly after, I put this game back on my shelf, where it will remain. I do not want to go back. I can't even remember why I liked the game, but I do remember enjoying it to the exclusion of everything else in my life. The online stuff made the game so much better than the GBA one, too. Being able to battle and trade online was awesome.
This one I really only bought 'cause it was cheap, and all my Internet friends were playing it. Many late night gaming sessions were had, playing cool card games like President (and others), plus others like Bowling or Darts, or anything, really. The winner picked the next game. There was also a pictochat thing which we used to draw racist pics to send to each other. We also drew a suprising amount of penises for a bunch of straight guys... I put a fair amount into the single player side of the game, though. But the AI is either stupid or brilliant. There's no middle ground. Either there's no challenge, or too much.
Final Fantasy Fables - Chocobo Tales
Won this. Played a bit. It's a kids game. >_<
Theme Park (DS)
I played this on the PC way back, and when I saw this going cheap, I picked it up. Why do I not realise that all PC ports on the DS tend to suck because of the tiny screen? I keep falling for the fact that the stylus works quite well in these games, but it's not enough to make it great.
Resident Evil 4 (GC)
Picked it up cheap, due to all the good reviews it gets here. Played for a bit. I like it enough, despite being outside of the usual genres I stick to. I haven't really felt like playing it, but one day I will sit down and give this the playthrough it deserves.
I'd owned this for a while, but never actually finished it, despite liking it. I didn't finish it this time, either. And then I remembered why... my SNES fucking erases files if I so much as look at the machine the wrong way (or breathe anywhere near it when it's switched on). I think it's time I sold my SNES.
Skies of Arcadia Legends (GC)
Played a good 7-8 hours of this one, but I got sidetracked.
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Bought this on release, but never got too far with it. I didn't like it back then. I started over, and actually stuck with it, and realised I liked it a lot. The ocean wasn't too bad, in retrospect, and the dungeons, though few they were, actually had awesome designs. I think because I liked Twilight Princess so much, and had finished it early in the year was the reason for going back to this one. I needed that same sense of adventure that for some reason only the Zelda games can provide. There was one thing that made me think, though, and it's when you find the descendants of the two sages... they sort of just give up their lives and go to guard a temple, accepting it due to fate or whatever. I think a smarter game would've had these two characters resist this a bit more, maybe even fight it, as both characters did actually seem strong-willed enough when you first met them. The implications of fate in these sorts of games aren't explored enough, I feel. Oh, I also wanted to finish this because Phantom Hourglass was on its way...
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
It grabbed me to begin with. The stylus controls took some getting used to, but they were fine. The story was weak, even for a Zelda game, but I didn't mind. It was all about the dungeons. And the dungeons were fine, except for that dungeon (anyone who's played it will know). Ugh. Oh, and there was a boss fight that was near impossible thanks to the stylus control, and having to switch to the goron character from time to time. It was just too much to manage with a control scheme like that. Never beat it. Eventually stopped trying.
But that's okay, because I bought a 360!
Even though it didn't come with my 360, it was the first game I played for it. I hadn't really known about it at first, since I didn't follow the 360 news at all, but once I found out it was a sci-fi game from Bioware, with a cast of interesting characters, awesome dialogue, and choices! I couldn't resist. I bought it and played it, and played nothing else until I finished it (and pretty much every side quest I could find). I gave it a rest upon initial completion, but I am currently nearing the end of my second playthrough in an attempt to see the other side of many choices I made (not to mention the achievements, I love the 360 for that). Damn Lasthero for writing such an awesome review for it, that me writing one would probably just be an echo.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
When this game came out, I was only just getting into Morrowind, but I decided I liked it enough to eventually buy this game when I finally got a 360. I eventually found the Collector's Edition cheap in a shop, still new, and I convinced my Mum to buy it (in April or May) for my birthday (in September). She held onto it until then. When September 06 was nearing and I wasn't likely to get a 360, I managed to get it held until Christmas. I didn't get a 360 by then, either, but Mum wasn't holding onto it any longer, and for Christmas I received a game I didn't have the system for. It wasn't until late November (a good 11 months later) that I finally got the damn 360. I was looking forward to finally playing it, and then... I got hooked on Mass Effect instead.
But once that was done, I let Oblivion take me. I was initially intimidated by the size of the game, but awed by its beauty. I remember standing at the top of a very tall mountain and looking down at the vast land below. I could see the Imperial City, its vast towers and all that. The lake around it, and all the beautiful countryside. It really felt like I was in another world. The game had such a vibrant, fantastic, yet realistic atmosphere that I lived and breathed this game for much of December. Every day I'd take on new missions, finish them, and look for more. There was a bit less to do than in Morrowind, but that was good, since I did eventually get overwhelemed by Morrowind, but it never happened to me in Oblivion. I actually completed the main quest, plus the four guides (Fighters, Mages, Thieves, Dark Brotherhood). Got my 1000 acheivements. I've yet to get ahold of the expansion pack, but I will at some point. Perhaps I'm done with the game for the time being. As good as it was, and as much as I loved it, I am glad to be free of it. I needed to get my life back.
Cyrodill is a land I'll return to someday, though. There's still a few odd quests I haven't finished off.
Forza Motorsport 2
Came with my 360. Played a couple of races. Didn't enjoy it.
Project Gotham Racing 3
Didn't come with my 360. Played a lot of races. Enjoying it.
...I really enjoyed PGR2 on the Xbox a while back. This one isn't quite as good, I feel, but it certainly is much more enjoyable than Forza.
Came with my 360. Played a bit. Didn't grab me at all. But on a system where I've been playing Mass Effect and Oblivion, how could this ever hope to compete?
Kameo: Elements of Power
Actually quite good. I just haven't devoted enough time to this one yet. Played through the very tough opening sequence. Surprised by it, actually. Tough, but not too challenging, and it was quite rewarding. Laughed wryly at the tutorials for very basic things not long after this tough sequence. What was the point in that, exactly? If you didn't pick this stuff up, there's no way you'd have gotten this far...
Also, that chick is fairly hot.
Got it for free. Played some of the first mission. Found myself confused and intimidated. And even on the easiest setting, got my ass kicked. My fault for not really playing a first person shooter since Perfect Dark. Not counting a brief play of Halo when I got my Xbox a few years back.
Zig's review makes me persevere with this one, though I'm not too impressed with the battle system so far. Grid-based battling seems a bit pointless right now, and Koudelka did it much better.
Posted: December 29, 2007 (02:31 PM)
Your experience with Shadow Hearts: From the New World matches mine, and that of just about everybody ELSE I've tracked down that has played it. All of us *feel* that all the ingredients of Covenant are in place so it should be a winner. All of us *start* having a lot of fun and quite appreciating the more colourful members of the cast like Frank and Mao. All of us lose interest and go play something that's actually fun once we're up to the fourth or fifth Incan Ruin.
It's like, they really had something going with Alcatraz and Las Vegas and Caribbean pirates, then they decide to rehash the mood of the Grand Canyon (not the best dungeon to begin with) in ruin after ruin after ruin and somehow along the way they forget we were supposed to be having fun.
Posted: December 29, 2007 (03:41 PM)
Heh heh. That's around the point where I started playing other games in my pile! Just after the pirates part! It's like there's a curse on the disc or something. I would like to go back and keep playing, though.
Posted: December 29, 2007 (09:37 PM)
I actually loved Baten Kaitos despite its generic story and sometimes-horrific voice acting. I'm not usually one for card-based RPGs, but it was actually the battle system that drew me in. I'm not too sure how far into the game you got or how much you came to understand the battle system, but as I progressed and my possibilities broadened, I found that I was able to get even more satisfaction out of the depth and, well, the randomness of each individual fight. Most fifty-hour RPGs tend to become tiring by the end of the road, but with Baten Kaitos I was actually disappointed when I came to the end, as the game got more fun the more I played. Maybe it's just not your thing, but I was surprised to hear you disliked it so much.
On the other hand, the Stone Tower Temple is my favorite Zelda dungeon ever and your comparison made me realize why I liked City in the Sky so much.
Posted: December 29, 2007 (11:14 PM)
I can't quite remember how far I got into Baten Kaitos, but I honestly can't see myself progressing with it. When I finally get a Wii, I'll sell my GameCube, and probably Baten Kaitos (and Mario Party 6) with it. I think after Tales of Symphonia, which had very fast paced battles, and great voice acting, and an incredibly interesting story (once you get past the first bit), I expected better of BK.
Posted: December 30, 2007 (01:02 PM)
Cool breakdown. I agree with you on the throws of FFXII and Oblivion... totally. I think Baten Kaitos is a solid RPG myself. And Twilight Princess indeed has some cool dungeons.
Ah, gaming bliss!
Posted: December 30, 2007 (08:03 PM)
That's interesting, because outside of the battle system I thought Tales of Symphonia was as generic as they come, whereas Baten Kaitos was a breath of fresh air, especially on the RPG-impaired GameCube. And even if the story sucked, there was one FANTASTIC twist about two-thirds of the way through that I don't think anyone saw coming. Still, I can understand if it's just not your thing.