Invalid characterset or character set not supported The latest in my really infrequent blogs

The latest in my really infrequent blogs
February 09, 2023

Things I'm playing at the moment. In alphabetical order.

Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection: So, when PlayStation Now and Plus merged, one of Sony's selling points was that Ubisoft was moving a huge portion of their library over to it. Included in this eventually was virtually the entire AC series. The first game never came over and Valhalla was there initially, but got removed. Hopefully, the rest of its 3950720394 games that all have come out in roughly a decade remain there for the foreseeable future because I'm really digging the experience.

Mainly just due to the vibe, as I could be really critical if I was inclined. Controls can be awkward with how Ezio's parkour running can easily lead to me getting hung up on a building while I'm trying to move quickly...or make a slightly-off jump that leads to him plummeting 60 feet to his death. But I do love a fun sandbox and this series does provide that. I've beaten AC 2 and am nearly done with Brotherhood (beat the main story and still have DeVinci Disappearance and a few left-over side quests). Of those two, I liked AC 2 more as far as dealing with adversaries, as every single villain had his own quest or chain of quests revolving around bringing him down; while in Brotherhood, most of them were treated more like these little often-optional speed bumps that weren't even worthy of some sort of death speech. But Brotherhood had far more fun optional stuff to do, a better city-rebuilding system and did a better job of integrating all the optional sandbox stuff into the game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: This was on my to-buy list until it got added to Plus. And I'm glad I'm playing it that way, as I'm in the ninth chapter and, to me, the vast majority of its hook is simple nostalgia. The combat is mostly fun and all, but the game just feels painfully linear with you doing the FFXIII "walk along straight corridors and fight stuff along the way" thing virtually constantly. With the main relief from that being when you get to a town area where you can do a small handful of side quests.

And it's just sort of hilarious that Square-Enix decided to make a full game based on the first few hours of an older game complete with things like expanding one Mako reactor dungeon into three back-to-back-to-back dungeons, adding new one-note characters like Roche the really enthusiastic biker dude and other forms of padding. It's a solid game, but its existence does make me ask "Why?". And then I remember that S-E has made a LOT of money pimping out every marketable old game they've released and this multi-installment remake is just them taking that to a whole new level.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: You know, games like this (as well as the SNES' Super Mario RPG) go a long way towards me wishing way more classic action titles got re-imagined as RPGs. I know Mega Man has a lot of RPGs (mainly on the GBA, like this game, with X: Command Mission on the PS2), but not many other series do. It's just a fun combination of action and RPG-ing with how you can input button presses for both improving your attacks and dodging/countering enemy attacks. Depending on how good you are at that, this game is either really easy or pretty tough. If I'm fighting stuff I'm good at handing its attacks, it's zero effort; but if I can't get the hang of their moves, all those healing items I've stocked up on are gonna get munched.

Phantasy Star IV: I'd put this one on hold for a while due to trying to rush through a lot of Dynasty Warriors 8 -- a game that takes the concept of doing repetitive actions nonstop forever to a new level -- but now am back into it and making good progress. I've beaten the first Dark Force and then done the next real dungeon where you fight some dude with a weird-ass name like De-Elm-Lews or some random combination of word salad. This is one of the better retro RPGs that I've played. Kinda makes me wish I'd put more time into it earlier, as it was something I'd played for a bit, but never really got that far into it for reasons I can't even remember.

Get this done and I'll have played through all the old PS games except for 2. Which I might never get around to because that game is snake-bit for me. Tried going after it twice, with me being up to the dungeon you fight Nei the second which point my computer at the time died, and with it, my file for this game. And as excruciating as the grind can be here, it's questionable if I'll ever feel the desire to painstakingly get back to that point again.

Yakuza 0: After really digging Judgment, I wanted to get into this series as a whole. And decided to do it in chronological order of the timeline, as opposed to the order of release dates. I bought this one and, as long as they remain up on the service, will be able to play all the rest via Plus. Up to Chapter 11 and reached the point where I realized that I'll probably have to devote more time to Kiryu's and Majima's big mini-game if I want to get through it. Kiryu's real estate game is kind of dull, but it's a great money-maker and since money is used to buy character upgrades, that's sort of important. Majima's cabaret club game is a lot of fun, although I'm not making nearly the same cash right now. But I like the real-time strategy RPG aspects of it where your hostesses level up and you have to pick the best one available for all the dudes who come into the club and do what it takes to keep them from getting tired while also keeping the customer happy.

The game itself is also a lot of fun, even if it does occasionally go into "who wants to play a game when you can WATCH A MOVIE???" mode with cutscenes that last for eternities. Has an intricate plot that makes all those long cutscenes interesting to sit through and respectable beat-em-up action where both protagonists have multiple styles that range from slow-n-powerful to weak-n-quick. And as all this series' games have, there are tons of little games to play and quirky side-quest characters to interact with. In short: Another really fun sandbox-style game.

Most recent blog posts from Rob Hamilton...

honestgamer honestgamer - February 09, 2023 (01:14 PM)
With Assassin's Creed, my enduring impression is that Brotherhood felt more like an expansion pack than a proper sequel. I think that was always the intent. II remains the best of the Ezio games, as far as I'm concerned, though I'm not sad Ubisoft chose to spend more time with him. Final Fantasy VII Remake is one I do plan to buy (because I don't rent; I buy), but I haven't had the excess funds yet or the inclination to do so right away. The first part of Final Fantasy VII is easily the least interesting part to me, and I share your lack of enthusiasm for a game that basically just pads that out into a fuller release. But, of course, I'll need to play through it to feel good about starting with volumes 2 and 3 and maybe 4, when they eventually happen. Square Enix has actually been on a bit of a roll lately, as far as I'm concerned, with various ports and remasters of their games I most care about. So I'm happy to see this stage in the company's long history, which follows a lengthy period I didn't much care about.
overdrive overdrive - February 10, 2023 (11:19 AM)
I'd agree with that about Brotherhood. With how I now just have most of the DaVinci Disappearance to do, I'm really starting to wonder just how Revelations will go. I mean, I'm sure it'll be fun to play and all, but the whole concept just seems like padding. Ezio's entire story arc really seems to take place in 2 and Brotherhood with 2 being him avenging his family and becoming a legit assassin and Brotherhood having him finish off the Borgia and reform the assassin's club. And so, uh, he moves to a new city and starts assassin-ing again? While being, I think, a bit older than me and still moving like he did as a youngster, while I'm grimacing a bit from pain/exertion when simply standing up to walk to the kitchen or bathroom.

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