Danish's blog

Recent Posts

Advertisements

Gaming in 2016: Fantasies Become Reality

Similar to last year, I will start off this post with my top 10 games that I finished this year. This year, the top 10 is only games that came out this year, but I wrote things about other games I beat this year after the list. I also talk about some other games I played this year, but did not finish.

10. Dark Souls 3

Another year another souls game. Playing this with friends is still the best coop experience from this year. The rest of the praise is just typical Souls praise. Cool bosses, especially the last one, great music and atmosphere, diverse and interesting environments. The reason this game made the list over others is because of how social the game was for me. I got to spend time with a bunch of people I really like!

9. Superhot

Superhot is freaking AWESOME! The game is innovative and satisfying. Every scene makes you feel cool. The replays show how bad ass you looked. The story and setting surrounding the game play are actually interesting too. The game was tightly made and no scene felt like fluff. You get to live out action movie scenes with your own hands. I want to play Superhot VR at some point because it is easier to CHOP BULLETS IN HALF WITH A SWORD. That’s right, this game lets you chop bullets in half with sharp objects. Nuff’ said.

8. Persona 5

Everyone who played this game sings praises for it, and they are completely correct. The style is off the charts, the music is some of Meguro’s best, and the changes push the series forward. This is a brand new Persona game and it lives up to the hype. The only reason it isn’t higher on my list is because a lot of the characters and stories had unrealized potential, Mementos dungeon is boring and annoying as hell, and some of the arcs felt like filler and a waste of time. I’m also not the biggest fan of SMT combat. DESPITE that, this game captivated me for almost a hundred hours. The dungeons were visually, aurally, and mechanically engaging and well executed. Some of the social links, particularly with the adult women, had great pay offs 😉 Also the pacing was superb, probably one of the best paced games this year minus Mementos. Persona does a good job of immersing you in a city and this game continues that tradition but in Tokyo. Without saying too much, the climax and some of the twists were cool too!

7. World of Final Fantasy

I can’t believe this game is on my list. The game play is slow and simple. The world is linear and side quests are off of a menu. Why do I love this game? THE WRITING! Some of it was in the Japanese and a lot of it was in the localization, but this is the 2nd best written game of the year. While the main story isn’t written the best, EVERYTHING else is! The comedy and voice acting in this game carries it super hard. The side quests are ALL funny and interesting. The chemistry between the 3 main characters is outstanding. Even the freaking enemy and character descriptions are hilarious. This game brought a smile to my face more than anything else this year, it is pure joy. The art and voice acting is cute. Also the game is filled to the brim with nostalgia and adds personality to beloved old characters. And of course, Nano Desu~!

6. Final Fantasy XV

The combat is exhilarating and looks cool while executing, the music is some of the best in a series known for fantastic music, and the dungeons are gorgeous. The open world had a lot of convenience and freedom with fast travel, chocobos, and tons of optional content. The game has a cool innovative leveling system. However despite the things I love about the game, it can’t be denied that it is the biggest disappointment of the year. For every good thing about it, there is an equal or worse trait waiting. This game is the ultimate example of greater than the sum of its parts because of how flawed many parts were. The most egregious short coming of this game is the story is fragmented and lacking tons of scenes to make it satisfying. I hold that if this game doubled or tripled its cut scenes, it would be on of the best Final Fantasies and at the top of this list. As it is, it is still a fun and addicting RPG adventure that brought back the fun spirit of Final Fantasy that was missing in FF12 and FF13. Last but not least, that ending hits like a truck. It is a huge testament to the game that despite such deep flaws, I loved it enough to put it this high on my top 10 list!

5. Ys VIII

This is the best action RPG that came out this year, and in many years! It is the new Ys system perfected in a gorgeous, huge, and lively world. It is a little too long for my preference but it never got boring. Falcom’s god tier music and interesting NPCs return in this new adventure. The enemies were awesome and diverse. The different characters felt unique to play as and while the story doesn’t pan out the best, the characters were fun to have around. Also Ricotta is in this game so it is guaranteed a spot in my top 10 games this year. Ultimately I prefer the precision of Ys Felghana, but this game makes up for the loss of the precise game play with exploration of a world worth exploring!

4.  Furi

This game is just purely bad ass. Music and game play that make you feel like a bad ass swordsman. A simple boss rush action game made by an indie team, but was more satisfying than most games I played this year except the 3 above. The music gets your blood pumping and is diverse enough to match all of the unique bosses and areas. The parrying, dodging, and bullet hell mechanics are varied and fun throughout the entire game. Every boss is fun and while the story is whatever, this game is purely about tight controls and pulling off cool action. The fact that I got it for free with ps+ is insane because I would pay a lot of money for more of this game!

3. Trails of Cold Steel II/Sen no Kiseki II

This year I FINALLY caught up in the Kiseki series! Cold Steel and Cold Steel II are the weakest Kiseki games because their casts can’t compare to the Crossbell or the Liberl casts. Despite that, Cold Steel II has the hypest most extreme plot twists since the FC ending. The ending revelations and where it leaves the world of Kiseki is seriously mind blowing. Cold Steel III is going to be one of the most epic games of all time if they deliver on everything this game sets up. Cold Steel II was also a MASSIVE upgrade from Cold Steel in terms of game play. It is no longer repetitive and each chapter was actually interesting. This game would have been higher on my list but it has a LOT of fluff, and the last chapter was inserted for NO reason. The game should have been half the length and it would be way better. Oh and Severe Blow is the most hype track of this year. So. Freaking. Good.

2. DOOM

This is the biggest surprise of the year by far. A single player first person shooter is my second favorite game this year. I can’t believe I am typing that. This game proves game play is king. Every gun feels different yet satisfying. It innovates health regeneration by making you play aggressively to heal so you never have to take a break for boring cover or hiding. The upgrade system rewards exploring and platforming in a freaking first person shooter. Guns evolve as you upgrade them, usually from something that is satisfying to something that feels freaking amazing to pull the trigger of. This game has chainsaws to recover ammo, BFG to clear out huge crowds, and a super shot gun to do big single target damage. Enemies are diverse and fun to kill. The bosses are like Ys bosses, again, in a freaking first person shooter! I can’t remember a first person shooter campaign I had as much fun playing as this game.The coolest thing about it is how the game lets you play how you want. The diversity of play styles and optional content and upgrading to enhance what you can already do is what makes the game so engaging. I cannot recommend this game more to people.

This game has superb music and sound design that makes you feel exactly what it wants you to feel, which is usually “I AM A BAD ASS.”While the color palette isn’t too diverse, the structures and fidelity of the graphics are impressive. The game also runs buttery smooth, well optimized for PC where I played it.

There is just never a dull moment. The intro sequence is the best intro sequence of the year. The DOOM Slayer just doesn’t give a crap about anything and acts appropriately.  The feelings this game gives you from pure adrenaline and action put a smile on my face more than anything except World of Final Fantasy, which is a comedy game!

1. Uncharted 4

Of course a Naughty Dog game is my Game of the Year 2016. ND took what they learned from Last of Us and successfully put it into an Uncharted game. The presentation is impeccable, easily the best looking video game of all time at the time it was released. The animation is the best in the industry. Music is beautiful and used well. The game play is fine, there is much less gun play than the previous games but the gun play that is there is fun. Traversing is cool as usual. I’m not a big fan of the open optional stealth areas but the fact that the game lets you just shoot through them made me very happy.

The thing that sets Uncharted 4 apart from the previous games is the storytelling. Because of the lessons they learned from Last of Us the story telling in this game has more gravitas and emotional weight than ever before. The writing is perfect. Characterization, character development, pacing, rising action, climaxes, and the perfect denouement all being executed so well are why this game is the best video game this year.

Nathan Drake went from being an Indiana Jones style pulp movie star to being to being a believable and grounded man. His relationships with everyone evolve and are captivating to see develop. How he handles his marriage throughout the adventure, how he deals with his emotions because of events involving his brother, and how reacts to his long time friend Sully’s help and advice paint him as a guy we can understand and relate to. I won’t spoil anything from the game but the directing of the scenes was top tier stuff. The events themselves were really good. In a year with lots of good endings, this was without a doubt the most satisfying and complete ending that wrapped up the franchise with a perfect bow.

The Rest of the Year

This was an amazing year for games. I struggled to pick my top 10 list because of everything I wanted to fit on it. This was a year that Fantasies became Reality for me because some dream games were released, and I achieved a couple of my big goals. Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian finally came out after 10 and 7 years respectively. While I really enjoyed both games, FFXV was deeply flawed and TLG didn’t have as many awing moments as Shadow of the Colossus even though it delivered on the emotional promise of a Fumito Ueda game. These releases proved that reality isn’t as perfect as fantasy.

A goal I accomplished was I finally finished Ys games, and I beat 3 of them! Ys Oath in Felghana is my favorite Ys game because of how precise and satisfying the game play is. Being a Falcom fan, one of my goals is to finish as many of their games as I can and this year I finally beat non Kiseki games! Speaking of Kiseki, this was the year my fantasy of “catch up in Kiseki and wait for a new release with other Falcom fans” came true! I finished both Cold Steel games and am officially caught up with the franchise. While I wait for Cold Steel III I might start the Gagharv games….. We will see…

Two of my other major goals were to finish The Witcher 3 and Baldr Sky, both of which I finished this year! These are huge games that take a long time to play with great writing and story. Witcher is not fun to play but is fun to explore. The Hearts of Stone DLC was excellent even though Blood and Wine was so so. Witcher 3 is the 2nd western RPG I really liked and the other one was Mass Effect 2 from 6 years ago. Ciri, Triss, and the other cast members were actually interesting and the story kept me hooked until the credits. Baldr Sky Dive 1 and 2 were unexpectedly FUN! I didn’t think I would like the robot combat as much as I did! While I prefer the story in Muv Luv, the Baldr Sky Dive 2 ending was satisfying. I’m really happy Baldr is getting localized because it is definitely a top visual novel!

Besides Fantasies becoming Reality there were a few other notable games this year. Ratchet and Clank is my 11th game of the year, Dark Souls 3 barely edged it out but R&C is stunning and super fun! During December I started playing The Witness and fell in love. I am still in the first fifth of the game so I have barely scratched the surface, but enjoying it a lot. It is just very challenging. Forza Horizon 3 I played very little earlier in the year but played a lot more in December and it is easily the best racing game since Burnout Paradise! Because it is Forza it shows a love and appreciation for real cars unlike Burnout but has the fast arcade-y fun you want in a racing game. The world is huge with tons of diverse activities to partake in! If i played more of the Witness or Forza Horizon 3, they might have made my top 10.

The second biggest disappointment was Ikenie to Yuki no Setsuna or I am Setsuna. I was hoping it would be a Chrono styled game with the quality of a Bravely game, but it has the polish and scope of an indie game. It is good, but no where near great. The third biggest disappointment was Zero Time Dilemma. The game misses the ending to a good series so hard. 999 is amazing, VLR is great, and Zero Time Dilemma is barely good, if even that. Too many dropped story threads and nothing had as much impact as events in this series should.

2016 was a great year but I fully expect 2017 to be even better just from what is already announced. I wish I had more time for it, but I love this hobby!

TLDR:

10. Dark Souls 3

9. Superhot

8. Persona 5

7. World of Final Fantasy

6. Final Fantasy XV

5. Ys VIII

4.  Furi

3. Trails of Cold Steel II/Sen no Kiseki II

2. DOOM

1. Uncharted 4

Advertisements

E3 2016 Predictions!

E3 festivities begin later today with EA’s press conference and Bethesda’s. Similar to last year, I will post 10 random predictions and give my reasoning for each. I might reuse some predictions from last year. Because of all the leaks and rumors, this E3 feels largely predictable. I expect this E3 to be disappointing for most but still exciting for me

1. Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game is shown and it looks great

I predicted that this game would be shown last year and I was wrong. This year EA said they will even show 2018 titles and I think this game will come out in 2017 so it has to show up. Same as last year I think this game will look even better than Star Wars 1313 both graphically and game play wise. I think there will be a decent amount of game play shown alongside story/cinematic content.

2. Insomniac Spiderman game announced for 2017 release only on PS4

There were tons of rumors about a Sony Spiderman game and then on Gaf some mod approved poster said Insomniac is developing the game. This could turn out false but Gaf rumors that are verified by a mod tend to be true. No way the game comes out this year and while it might get delayed to 2018, I think the Sunset Overdrive team has been working on this game for a few years, and the team that finished Ratchet and Clank this year can help put the game over the finish line next year.

3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake game play shown at Sony’s press conference

The Kingdom Hearts 2.8 trailer pretty much assured that Kingdom Hearts III game play won’t be at this E3. However, I believe FF7r is making steady progress and will have more to show at this E3. I think the game will hit a 2017 release and be a 20-30 hour game with a limited but appropriate scope. There is no need for this game to be shown at E3 so it might skip it, but because of how many other Final Fantasy games are at E3, I think they will show more of this game off.

4. Microsoft announces 2 new triple A IPs

I don’t really have any basis for this. This is more wishful thinking than anything else, but if we get two cool things that are made by proven teams, that would be pretty exciting!

5. Shinji Mikami new IP at Bethesda’s conference

Most people are expecting Evil Within 2. The first game’s sales were not too bad so Evil Within 2 is actually more likely. However, I think Mikami will mix things up and do something new. I more hope for this than expect it. Tango Gameworks’ next game will for sure be shown though.

6. Nintendo fans love the new Zelda’s footage despite it being mediocre open world design

This year you can’t really predict anything for Nintendo because they said  they are only showing Zelda. They backtracked on that and are now showing a few other titles during Treehouse Live streams, but they are still apparently not going to have a Nintendo Direct. This means there won’t be any actual Nintendo News at E3 so the only thing you can predict for them is how will Zelda be. I think Nintendo fans eat up anything Zelda despite how often it has been rehashed or how mundane it looks thus my prediction.

7. Studio Japan JRPG announced, is NOT Bloodborne or Souls

This might or might not be a collaboration game a la Studio Japan and From Software. However, From Software has said they do not want to make any more Souls games for now and Bloodborne is a Souls game through and through. I think this could either be a new IP or a return of Wild Arms, I highly doubt it is Dark Cloud because Ni no Kuni 2 is being made. I think it is about time we hear what Studio Japan is doing next and no way it is Knack 2!

8. Xbox One slim at $299 is the only new console Microsoft announces.

Rumors are super substantiated at this point for both Xbox One slim and Xbox one Scorpio. I think Microsoft doesn’t talk about concrete Scorpio details for the same reason Sony is not going to talk about the PS4/PS4 Neo at this E3, they want more games to showcase for it when they talk about it. The Xbox One slim is very much needed and there is no reason to cut the price to $249 until the Xbox One Scorpio is releasing.

9. Ubisoft ends their press conference with a new Splinter Cell game

Lately Ubisoft has been ending their conferences with a brand new and unexpected game for release the following year or two. Last year it was Ghost Recon Wildlands. I think enough time has passed from the last Splinter Cell game that we will get current gen Splinter Cell announced, finally.

10. Uncharted 4  story DLC announced for this winter, looks amazing

I wanted to predict that the next Naughty Dog game will be shown, and it is possibly considering Last of Us was announced a month after Uncharted 3 released. However, I think the story DLC needs to be shown first. They might show both because something from Naughty Dog HAS to be at E3 but I think this is more likely than TLOU2 or whatever is next for the best game developer in the world.

TLDR:

1. Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game is shown and it looks great

2. Insomniac Spiderman game announced for 2017 release only on PS4

3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake game play shown at Sony’s press conference

4. Microsoft announces 2 new triple A IPs

5. Shinji Mikami new IP at Bethesda’s conference

6. Nintendo fans love the new Zelda’s footage despite it being mediocre open world design

7. Studio Japan JRPG announced, is NOT Bloodborne or Souls

8. Xbox One slim at $299 is the only new console Microsoft announces.

9. Ubisoft ends their press conference with a new Splinter Cell game

10. Uncharted 4 story DLC announced for this winter, looks amazing

Bonus 11. Sony wins E3. I may be a little biased but they will have the greatest number of games I want to play shown or talked about. (copy pasted this one from last year =P) 

 

 

 

Gaming in 2015: Year of Miracles

I will start off this post with my top 10 games that I finished this year. This list might be quite boring for most people because there are only five games on here that actually came out in 2015. I will then talk about some other games I played this year, but did not finish.

10. Tales of Zestiria

The main reason Zestiria made this top 10 list is because of Go Shiina! The game itself was fun, and I love the characters despite not being a fan of the story. Rose stands out as a female protagonist that is an equal to the main character and is not a love interest at all. The entire game is entertaining despite being deeply flawed. The terrible progression system and byzantine skill system really made me want to not include it in my top 10 but overall I did enjoy the game a lot. Edna alone deserves a spot on this list!

9. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

I finally finished Peace Walker in co op with my friend, Moe! We only played 2 players but it was an incredible experience. The story was really good even with the comic cut scenes. The co op was the funnest I had playing with a friend this year. The boss fights were exhilarating and working together on missions is so satisfying. I was surprised to like this game this much even though it is a PSP game from 5 years ago! Everything about the game was so well made that I had to give it recognition here.

8. Bravely Second

Thanks to Moe who let me borrow his JP 3ds with this game, I was able to play and finish it this year! As a big fan of the first game, I had high expectations for this game and it easily met them. The meta twists were surprising despite expecting some sort of meta twists. The game play was incredible, my favorite RPG game play this year for sure. The new jobs and combos you were able to make with them kept the game fresh the entire time. The new music was definitely a huge let down or else this would be much higher up on my list.

7. Zero no Kiseki

This game has one of my favorite moments, and maybe one of my favorite moments in all of Kiseki that I won’t spoil! I was in tears for a while because it hit so hard. This game is my least favorite Kiseki I finished this year but not because of any faults of this game, but because the others are just that good! This game set up the sequel Ao really well. The end left you with so many questions despite being a good ending on its own. Crossbell is a special place and this game does a great job of introducing you to the city and its residents. I hope it gets translated soon so everyone can play in Crossbell.

6. Sora no Kiseki the 3rd

This game was unlike any other Kiseki game before it. I had no idea what to expect out of it and it delivered something completely unique yet the most fun I’ve had with Kiseki game play. (I have not played Sen no Kiseki yet). I loved the structure of the game and side quests, especially because there was nothing you could miss. The game expands on the Kiseki universe and the characters of Sora no Kiseki with such careful attention to detail. There are so many teases and hints that leave you starving for answers. Kevin Graham is one of the best Kiseki characters and a game focusing on him and Ries successfully goes places. Plus the ending was perfect because of how well it set up future games but still left you emotionally satisfied.

5. Bloodborne

Bloodborne was my second favorite co op experience this year after Peace Walker, but overall as a game I liked it way more. This was my first Souls style game I finished because the increased speed of the combat and decreased emphasis on defense made the game much more engaging for me. I had a great time going through the game with my friends and the world was magnificent to explore and be a part of. It has my second favorite aesthetic and art from video games this year and the music ranks among the best. I love the weapon diversity even though it was not as diverse as other Souls games. The rest of my praise for this game is just typical Souls game praise, challenging but fun bosses, hidden items that reward exploring, and eerie and disturbing atmosphere.

4. Rise of the Tomb Raider

The best looking game of the year. Yes it wasn’t 100% even in how it looked, but the parts that looked good looked better than anything else. You combine this presentation with game play exponentially better than Uncharted game play, with addicting collectibles and upgrading and you have one of the best games of this year. I bought an XBox One just to play this game a year early and it was totally worth it. The story wasn’t the best but the character performances of everyone but Jonah were stellar. The tombs were not too complicated but were satisfying to complete while providing substantial rewards. I finished this game in a few days, which is unusual for how I play games but it was so fun and addicting I could not stop playing it. I can’t sing enough praises about it!

3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain:

The final Hideo Kojima Metal Gear Solid game. It is incredibly bittersweet. Kojima gave us the best game play of the year, period. However he did not deliver the usual complete Kojima story he normally does. As someone who values story over game play I admit I’m disappointed, however the game he delivers was so good I can’t complain for too long. The story wasn’t even bad, it just wasn’t typical Kojima and left more plot threads open than Kojima typically allows. The game play is dynamic, addicting, and looks cool. The lessons this game took from Peace Walkers’ game play were applied to open world design with finesse. This is my favorite open world game of all time. There is so much convenience in the game that make it easy to keep playing. Just one more side op, one more mission is the story of the game. The “chapter 2 preview” is one of my favorite moments in gaming this year, even if the promise of the preview isn’t delivered in full. I could write an entire post on my thoughts on this game but for now I will say I beat this game asap and had a blast the entire time through.

2. Ao no Kiseki

I finished this on the last day of 2015, 1 hour before midnight actually. The game is superb, the ending was satisfying and the last encounter was spectacular (THAT LAST BOSS MUSIC!). This game delivers the Kiseki promise where you end the game and are in love with so many characters and the world. My favorite characters were Lloyd, Kia, Shizuku, Shirley, Randy, Rixia, and Noelle. The rest of the cast are great too but these characters especially stood out for me. Ao no Kiseki has my favorite plot twist in Kiseki because I didn’t see it coming at all and it had a lot of meaning for the future.

Overall, the villains were better than the Sora no Kiseki villains however the actual plot ends in a way I wasn’t the biggest fan of. It relied a little too much on story tropes I’ve seen too often even though it executed them well. This game shed light on the overarching plot way more clearly than than Sora 3rd did. I finally understand what Kiseki is about and now want to replay the side quests in Sora 3rd and the last few encounters in Sora SC to contextualize what is going on.

This game made me feel pride for being in the SSS and a citizen of Crossbell. It is rare for a game to make me feel so immersed in its world the way Kiseki does and staying in one city for 140 hours among the two games really makes you feel like you understand Crossbell and its residents.

ALSO ANYONE WHO HAS NOT BEAT THIS GAME SHOULD AVOID THE AO NO KISEKI EVOLUTION OPENING. IT SPOILS SO MUCH OF THE GAME IT IS ACTUALLY RIDICULOUS.

1. Sora no Kiseki Second Chapter:

My favorite game that I played this year was definitely Sora no Kiseki SC. Luckily it even came out in English this year so I have lots of people to talk to about it now. I played it in Japanese and not the XSEED Trails in the Sky SC release, so technically the game I beat did not come out this year, not that it matters at all. Sora no Kiseki SC edges out Ao no Kiseki and is my 2015 Game of the Year.

My favorite character from all of video games games is now Estelle Bright. She is wonderful. She is energetic, passionate, loving, devoted, and feels like a real person. She made me laugh, cry, and every emotion in between. The biggest reason she is my favorite character is because of her relationships with everyone around her. Her relationship with Joshua is the most obvious and overtly rewarding, however her relationship with Kloe, Kevin, Cassius, Tita, Sherazard, Anelise, etc etc (the list really keeps going) are all so profound and artful. You see unique interactions that only Estelle Bright can have with these characters. The relationships are all believable, appropriate, and carry meaning.  On top of these great personality traits and intricate relationships, Estelle is also simply entertaining and cute!

One other thing I want to highlight in Sora no Kiseki SC is the moments. There are specifically 3 moments I am thinking of that are some of the best moments I have ever experienced. The audio visual spectacle that Falcom put on have left me emotionally torn apart in a way few things are able to do. I won’t spoil them, but I will say one takes place on a beach and two take place near or at the end of the game.

I finished four Kiseki games this year. Sora no Kiseki Second Chapter, Sora no Kiseki the 3rd, Zero no Kiseki, and Ao no Kiseki. All four games were fantastic and rank among the best RPGs I have ever played. With the best writing I have ever seen in RPGs, this series is easily one of my favorite RPG series if not my absolute favorite (I’m waiting to play Sen no Kiseki 1/2 before deciding for sure if I like it more than Final Fantasy). I wanted to highlight this because 2015 was all about dreams coming true and miracles occurring. This was my Year of Miracles, or Year of Kisekis.

Unfortunately there were a lot of games I did not finish this year. There are some games I did not even get to start yet but I really want to play. Until Dawn, Disgaea 5, Atelier Sophie/any atelier really, Tokyo Xanadu, Type 0 HD, Phoenix Wright 2/3, Dying Light are some of them. If I was able to play them, maybe some of them would have made my top 10 list.

One of the games I started but did not finish was the Witcher 3. I love the writing in this game and the choices you have to make. I HATE the mechanics of the game. I hate quests, I hate the mechanics of how you dialogue with NPCs, I hate the loot/armor/equipment systems, and most importantly I hate the leveling up/progression system. Despite all of my problems, I enjoyed playing it because the writing and story were that good. However, once my game clock got ruined from PS4 rest mode’s launch I dropped the game. I tried going back but the game is too dense for me to deal with all the systems I dislike to get to more story that I do like. Every quest I complete I feel like I unlock 5 more. I want to make progress, I want to feel like I am getting stronger, and I want to feel like I am getting better loot. I feel none of the progression feedback that good games give while playing the Witcher 3. I hope one day I am able to find the motivation to finish the game to see the story through but I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon.

Life is Strange has a similar problem to Witcher 3 for me. The mechanics are fine, they aren’t exciting or displeasing but the game itself is so dense with descriptions and internal dialogue about every little item in every corner of every room. When I play I feel overwhelmed and somewhat stressed and no longer feel like I want to play. The writing, like Witcher 3, is really good and I like the characters, but I keep being pushed away by the density of the game. I hope to one day finish all of the episodes but I don’t know when that will be.

I played about 5 hours of Dangan Ronpa Another Episode and despite being a big Dangan Ronpa fan, I can not find the motivation to play any more of that game. I really dislike the game play despite how easy it is. I hate aiming with Vita analog sticks. I hate running around RE4 style in that world. Again, I will probably force myself to finish this before Dangan Ronpa V3 but I won’t be happy about it.

I very much suspect if I finished Grisaia that it would be in my top 10. It is the first game I plan to finish in 2016. The game is hilarious and Michiru and her faces are the best. I can’t wait to see the emotional parts of this game!

I spent a LOT of time this year on Final Fantasy XIV and FFXIV: Heavensward. I enjoyed the story of Heavensward but not as much as the original FFXIV’s story. I made some really good friends and enjoyed spending time talking to them. However ultimately we grew apart and I stopped playing this game. I regret spending so much time on this game because I could have played more games but I had fun so I can’t complain too much.

All in all it was a fantastic year for gaming. I wish I had more time to play everything that I wanted to but what I was able to get through this year was satiating. I beat a few other games that I don’t need to mention because this post is already absurdly long. Can’t wait for 2016’s legendary game line up!

TLDR:

Top 10 games I beat in 2015

  1. Sora no Kiseki Second Chapter
  2. Ao no Kiseki
  3. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  4. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  5. Bloodborne
  6. Sora no Kiseki the 3rd
  7. Zero no Kiseki
  8. Bravely Second
  9. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
  10. Tales of Zestiria

Witcher 3, Life is Strange, and FFXIV are okay. Dangan Ronpa Another episode, not so much.

 

E3 2015 Predictions!

It is that time of the year where the E3 hype train is in full effect! One week until the event begins and I figured I’d post my own predictions for fun. I’ll do 10 predictions and give reasons for them, not going company by company because I don’t really have much to say about everyone. List is in a random order.

1. The Last Guardian is re-revealed!

I’m getting this out of the way first. This is the year the game comes back. Shadow of the Colossus is in my top 5 games of all time so I can’t wait to see this game. There were some posts on gaf that made it seem like the chances of TLG being shown at this E3 are high, but not 100%. The timing is good to show this game and I doubt it comes out this year but I hope it miraculously does!

2. Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game is shown at either EA or Sony/Microsoft

Amy Hennig joined Visceral over a year ago. The game she is working on probably was in pre production before she joined. I not only think this game will be shown, with a LITTLE game play, I think the game will look as good as, if not better than, Star Wars 1313. This is the year of Star Wars and passing on the biggest stage in gaming would be a big mistake. There is a chance the game is not far enough along but that hasn’t stopped EA before.

3. Gears of War is Rebooted

There will be a trailer for the new Gears of War game and it will be a reboot. Microsoft renamed Black Tusk to The Coalition recently and I think that is to get ready for promotion of their game. No way this Gears game comes out until late 2016 at the earliest but Microsoft said they will focus on first party and Gears has always been one of their biggest franchises. I think the reboot will be in the same universe but they will abandon the entire cast and focus on completely new characters and settings from Gears.

4. Two interesting Japanese developed games are shown at Microsoft

Scalebound will reappear and look amazing. Alongside this, a second JP developed exclusive game will be revealed and shown. It will be a new IP and not be an RPG. The aforementioned focus on first party plus Scalebound has been dead silent for a year makes me think they will show it again with a good amount of game play. The new IP is me pretty much guessing. It would be awesome to see an RPG but I don’t think Microsoft was able to get anyone to make an RPG this quickly. Maybe in the future though!

5. Gio Corsi segment involves the revival of #JRPGVita

Gio Corsi will be on stage and shut up everyone that was saying the #JRPGVita initiative is dead. He will announce at least 3 games as a part of this including Type 0 VIta. I think that because Duscae 2.0 will be out, Square no longer will care about getting console players to buy Type 0 HD. I also think that Gio will get his own segment like at PSX because the fans generally respond very positively to it. Unless they just couldn’t get anything ready, which is possible because Vita doesn’t provide the biggest ROI for Sony and isn’t high on their priority list considering its a “legacy” system.

6. The next 3d Mario game is shown

It has been 1.5 years since the release of the last 3d Mario game. While I doubt it comes out this year, Showing a little of the game, if not a teaser is very Nintendo like when it comes to its biggest games. They are passing on Zelda this E3 so they are probably saving this as their big gun. The game will look beautiful and everyone but me will be excited for it :P.

7. Resident Evil 7 shown at Microsoft’s conference, is multiplatform

It has been enough time in between Resident Evil games that it is the time to show the next main line entry in the franchise. Microsoft also has a seemingly better relationship with Capcom than Sony given their history with Dead Rising and the troubled development of Deep Down. The game will still be in the action/bombastic style that RE6 was in instead of the more dreary and contemplative that the Revelations series attempts to be.

8. Wii U Price Drop + Xenoblade Bundle/release date

This is one of my weakest predictions, and more of a hope than a prediction. The Wii U will now retail for 250$ with a game included. They will introduce the Xenoblade X bundle and give a release date for the game. Honestly I don’t think Xenoblade X can come out this year and will be delayed to early 2016. However, I don’t know the structure of Nintendo Tree House’s localization team so it might come out this year. This bundle will be what finally pushes me to get a Wii U.

9. PS4 JRPG-mania

There will be LOTS of PS4 JRPGs. Star Ocean 5, Persona 5, Tales of Zestiria, Dark Souls 3, Kingdom Hearts 3, and possibly more. Some people have been saying this E3 would have a strong Japanese presence and I believe them. I think there will be at least one surprise (Chrono!). The graphics shown won’t be as mind blowing as Witcher or anything, but it will be nice to see. Persona will blow minds as usual with its style. Cross gen is still here for now, but hopefully not for long.

10. Beyond Good and Evil 2 shown, comes out spring 2016

This is probably my second weakest guess after the Wii U price drop prediction. I think that the “one more game” of Ubisoft this year will be Beyond Good and Evil 2. It will look amazing on current gen systems and the writing will be as good as the original game’s. Unless this game is cancelled, they have to show it sooner or later. There is a chance resources have been taken from this game for other projects but this would be a good time to show this game unless they plan to release Watch Dogs 2 early next year.

TLDR:

1. The Last Guardian is re-revealed!

2. Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game is shown at either EA or Sony/Microsoft

3. Gears of War is Rebooted

4. Two interesting Japanese developed games are shown at Microsoft

5. Gio Corsi segment involves the revival of #JRPGVita

6. The next 3d Mario game is shown

7. Resident Evil 7 shown at Microsoft’s conference, is multiplatform

8. Wii U Price Drop + Xenoblade Bundle/release date

9. PS4 JRPG-mania

10. Beyond Good and Evil 2 shown, comes out spring 2016

Bonus 11. Sony wins E3. I may be a little biased but they will have the greatest number of games I want to play shown or talked about.

Why I Talk About PlayStation so Often

Broadly speaking, there are 4 main reasons why I talk about PlayStation and Sony more than I talk about Nintendo and Microsoft. I follow the entire gaming industry to the best of my ability as a hobby but I have certain biases towards Sony that I want to explain.

1. The games and diversity

The simplest reason for anyone to be biased towards a console manufacturer is that the systems they make host the games that the person likes most. This is why last generation shooter fans were biased towards the Xbox and why Pokemon fans will always prefer Nintendo handhelds. Similarly, the games that appear on PlayStation are the games I enjoy most. Regardless of if they are exclusive (and they often are) PlayStation consoles get my favorite types of games.

I like every genre of video games but narrative heavy games are my favorite. Kiseki, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy, Tales of, and Disgaea are some of my favorite franchises. Of course I enjoy games focused on game play like Tetris and Megaman as well but games with characters I enjoy going through interesting or fun stories are my favorite thing in games. The franchises I listed and many more games like them are on PlayStation consoles. Nintendo now has the Xenoblade series, but very few Nintendo games and franchises feature strong characters and narrative. The exception is Nintendo handhelds of course, which have some amazing games like The World Ends With You,  Golden Sun, 999, and Radiant Historia (which I am actually playing through now!). However, even in the handheld space games like Peace Walker, Kiseki, and Crisis Core I enjoyed significantly more. The only Microsoft game that has a narrative i truly admire is Lost Odyssey.

Besides narrative heavy games, another reason I prefer the game catalog from PlayStation is the diversity in games on the platforms. Like i said earlier, I like every genre of video games. Journey, Ico, God of War, Puppeteer, Parappa the Rapper, Tokyo Jungle, Patapon, Siren, Rogue Galaxy, Ape Escape, Loco Rocco, and Demon Souls are all incredibly different from each other. This kind of diversity that has been spanning from the original PlayStation to even the handhelds is what makes PlayStation interesting. Microsoft even bought the Gears of War franchise to continue making that, along side Halo, and Fable and many more sequels to established franchises. Nintendo is the king of regurgitating their franchises with new levels, content, and mechanics with the same base game play. I want more games like Splatoon, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M, Pushmo, and how the original Pikmin and Metroid Prime were where new game play ideas are explored. Nintendo just has way fewer new IP and opts to make sequels, even if it is “one per console”. While Sony also has a problem with too many sequels (looking at you Killzone and God of War), they have so many completely new and different games that it is always interesting to own their systems. Sony’s embracing of indies is exploding the diversity on PlayStation platforms. I will talk about third party relations later in this post but that is an even larger reason that PlayStation has such strong diversity in its games.

2. Public relations and current employees

PlayStation has embraced social networks in a strong way. They have the Playstation blog and the weekly PlayStation Blogcast, active official twitter accounts including the recently made Japanese PlayStation store account, and passionate and active employees that constantly talk about what is going on with Sony.

Microsoft has Major Nelson’s podcast, which is one of the longest running podcasts in all of gaming. I used to listen to it and thought it wasn’t bad. However, PlayStation Blogcast is just much more fun to listen to because Major Nelson just isn’t as likable as some of the PlayStation staff I will talk about briefly. Major Nelson’s podcast got boring after a while but the Blogcast is still a fun listen. Nintendo has their Nintendo Directs which are strong social networking tools. There is an event every time one happens and everyone is talking about things as they happen with minimal fluff that game event press conferences have. Nintendo Directs are one of my favorite form of PR and I wish Sony would do something similar.

Sony instead opts to spread news through the PlayStation blog. This blog is incredibly active with multiple posts every day and allow the developers to make blog posts themselves. Also the blog posters interact with the people who comment which adds to the PR in a strong way. The weekly updates on what will be on the store, the recaps of big event news, and the developers being featured make the PlayStation blog a useful tool for keeping users informed, updated, and engaged. I find myself checking it regularly instead of going to big sites like IGN that often get their information from the blog. Microsoft and Nintendo both need official news outlets that update as frequently and are as thorough on news about them as the PlayStation blog is. I am able to stay up to date with PlayStation news easier, more frequently, and more thoroughly than I am the other two companies.

Some of the people that work at PlayStation are active on social media and/or visible in the public eye. These guys are funny and interesting. They do PR speak here and there, but for the most part they are just using their personal twitter accounts as any regular person would. @Yosp on twitter, Shuhei Yoshida, is one of the most prominent figures in the gaming industry. He is the president of Sony World Wide studios. This means he is responsible for every first party game that Sony makes. Despite his position, Yoshida regularly tweets back to fans (including to me multiple times), makes jokes, has fun, listens to complaints, live streams him playing games with his daughters, and even listens to and engages with podcasts like Podcast Beyond. This humanizes Sony. Adam Boyes is the vice president of third party relations and he is exactly the same as Yoshida. In interviews and public appearances on shows and meetings, they make jokes, talk like regular people about games that they are actually playing, and you can tell that they genuinely love video games. Yoshida even owns two Wii Us and talks about all sorts of games instead of solely doing PR for PlayStation games. Phil Spencer is a good step in the right direction as far as being an accessible person of power that genuinely loves video games, however he is nowhere near as active in the public eye as Yoshida and Boyes. Nintendo actively discourages employees from talking honestly in the public as Dan Adelman’s departure showed. https://twitter.com/Dan_Adelman/status/496265936283140096

I have followed 1up and the old Gamespot, now GiantBomb, staff for a very long time. I loved the 1up staff and enjoy the casual fun that GiantBomb has. Some of the 1up staff, including Shane Bettenhausen and Nick Suttner now work at PlayStation. Ryan Clements, who used to work at IGN and was one of the Podcast Beyond hosts now works at PlayStation. John Drake, who used to work at Harmonix, and Adam Boyes are good friends with the GiantBomb crew and have personal and genuine friendships with them. All of these people, and more, now work at PlayStation. This is important to me because I know for a fact they genuinely love video games. So many passionate employees is a big deal. They makes me feel like Sony, which is in actuality just a mega corporation completely dedicated to making money, is more than that. It makes it feel like Sony wants there to be great games and for great games to succeed, just like I want.

3. History/consistency and longevity

History has proven that Sony consoles are worthwhile investments. Every single PlayStation (Besides the PSP GO which is just a digital only PSP) has been something I am glad I owned. As with every console, it is best to wait 2-3 years to get it when there is a strong catalog of games to play plus price drops and bundles. Besides the original PlayStation and the PSP, I got every PlayStation within a year of its release. I am not counting new models  like PS3 slim, or psp 2000 as separate releases. I got the original systems in every case.  I also got every Nintendo and Microsoft console within the first year of their releases (besides the Wii U). I have consistently gotten more play time and enjoyment from games on the PlayStation systems than I did from Nintendo’s or Microsoft’s. Heck, even combined I played PlayStation 2 more than i did Gamecube and Xbox combined and I played PlayStation 3 more than I played my Wii or Xbox 360 combined. The DS and PSP was a lot closer, and I do think I think i played my DS more than I played my PSP because I had a DS for longer. The DS was a more worthwhile investment despite enjoying my PSP games slightly more. Both were must owns. I am now playing PSP games I missed on my Vita, but that doesn’t add to the personal value I got from my PSP purchase.

This historical consistency is related to my first point about the games and diversity of games. I only had about 2-3 Wii games, 6-7 Xbox 360 games, 3-4 original Xbox games, and 5-6 Gamecube games I am truly grateful I experienced. Definitely over 15-20 games on both PS1 and PS2, and over 10-15 games on ps3 that are must plays for me. I honestly regret buying a Wii. The games I really had to play on the Wii I could have simply went to my friend’s house to play them. Besides Halo 2 multiplayer, the same is true for the original Xbox. Gamecube and Xbox 360 both had enough games that it would be a significant inconvenience to play them at a friend’s house. My PlayStations simply had too many games that I needed to play that I was glad to pay the money to own the console myself. Handheld wise, I regret buying a 3DS because the only appealing games for me are Bravely Default and Project Mirai and we are in year 3 of release, however every other Nintendo handheld I have loved and am grateful I bought.

History has shown that longevity is another aspect PlayStation nails when it comes to its systems. Every single PlayStation had great games coming out, even after its successor was released. Microsoft completely abandoned original Xbox support the moment Xbox 360 was released. Nintendo has a similar trend. However for Sony, 3rd parties, especially Japanese developers, release games on PlayStation late into the console cycle. Final Fantasy 9, Vagrant Story, Persona 4, Final Fantasy XII, and God of War are all examples of games that were released either close to or after the release of the succeeding console. The Vita came out many years after the PSP, but the PSP was getting great games in Japan as late as 2012 and 2013 whereas there are no significant DS games since 2012. During year 2 of release is when PlayStation consoles start getting must play games and they don’t stop coming even after the successor is out.

I can easily recommend every PlayStation system ever made to anyone because of how many games come, how often they come, and how diverse they are. I cannot say the same for other consoles.

4. Understanding the industry

This section is the most important part of this post. The post Mark Cerny era PlayStation is a great boon for the industry as a whole. Sony is mostly behaving in ways that are beneficial for both developers and players. They are not perfect and have a lot of room to improve, but the positive things they are doing for the industry vastly outweigh their shortcomings.

The single greatest thing Sony is now doing is courting developers. Sony is basically worshiping developers and the developers feel the difference. The 3rd party relations team, headed in NA by Adam Boyes, is active in a way Sony has never been before. They are at every trade show, developer conference, and many public events trying to find interesting games and bringing them to their platforms. A lot of influential employees and capable employees are part of this division. The aforementioned Shane Bettenhausen is part of this division. He has a unique taste in games that are very Japanese-centric, and now he is able to sign games for PS4 and Vita that he thinks are worth having. This division is why Transistor, Hotline Miami 2, and The Witness are all launching first on PS4.

The policies and support offered by Sony for developers are important. Sony does not pay for exclusive games from third parties anymore. They co develop games, and they do the same co marketing deals that Microsoft does, but they do not pay for third party exclusives. They do encourage timed exclusives though. Pubfund is a program in which Sony pays for part of the game development for a self published game in exchange for timed exclusivity. Sony only gets paid back if the game is profitable. Once the game reaches profitability, Sony gets its investment returned and the developer can continue making money. This kind of easing the risk from the developer’s part is great.

The PS4 and Vita themselves were designed with developers in mind. The PS4 uses an X86 architecture for its processor and the Vita uses an ARM processor. Developers are very used to these from PC and mobile development respectively. For the PS3 Sony used a proprietary CPU, the Cell, which gave many developers trouble in making games as was evidenced from how bad multi platform games were for many years. Now, PS4 even took developer feedback as is evidenced from the GDDR5 RAM that is used instead of the GDDR3 that the Xbox One uses. Sony also worked quickly to bring Unity and Unreal, widely used game engines, to their platforms. The entire purpose for these moves is to make developers comfortable with developing for their consoles. Sony wants to alleviate as many development headaches as possible so developers can focus on actually making the game.

Microsoft and Nintendo have relatively easy to develop systems also. What they are behind on is the relationships with developers. While Microsoft is quick to pay for big third party exclusives like Tomb Raider, many developers complain about arcane policies like the parity clause, which is a Microsoft policy where a self published game must launch at the same time or first on Xbox. Microsoft backed indies like Playdead seem to be happy with their deals with Microsoft. There is less of a personal relationship between developers and Microsoft than there is with Adam Boyes’ team. Almost no one complains about PlayStation now, and most of them unprompted and willingly sing praises about how great and Sony were to work with. Microsoft does have a good relationship with big third parties, getting even Kingdom Hearts for the first time ever with Kingdom Hearts 3.

Nintendo has a history of 3rd party games under performing on their systems. People seemingly buy Nintendo systems to play Nintendo games. This is definitely not always true, as evidenced by huge successes like Shovel Knight. PlayStation owners are the opposite and buy third party games and largely ignore Sony’s first party games. Many developers don’t like dealing with Nintendo if they can help it.  So many Japanese developers make games for Vita despite the 3DS being much more dominant. Even big publishers like EA and Ubisoft are abandoning Nintendo. The 3DS is the last connection Nintendo has with 3rd party developers and support for it is waning as the years go on as evidenced by the release list for the 3DS in the second half of 2014. The loss of Dan Adelman was a huge loss because he was a prolific champion of indie games and signed many unique games for Nintendo.

When you make developers happy and wanting to develop games for your systems, you get cool unexpected things. PlayStation hosted the origin of Guitar Hero (and amplitude/frequency which came before it) and “stop n pop” game play with Kill Switch. Games like these are made because developers are allowed to do whatever they want with minimal hassle. Freedom is what developers want most. Having systems that have familiar development environments, easy to contact and communicate with staff, and no parity clause does this well. Developers want as many people to play their games as possible. They don’t want to be held to anyone else’s plans, schedules, or requirements. They want to have financial stability and success so they can keep making games while paying their bills and taking care of their families. The payment for full exclusivity rarely makes up for the lost potential revenue from other consoles, PC, and maybe mobile.

Players also benefit when developers are given freedom. When a game isn’t an exclusive for Sony platforms, people can get them from Steam or Xbox or anywhere else they want. They are free to choose if playing on a handheld, or with PC mod support, or with trophies is what they want. Developers being allowed to focus on making a game and not worry about tech lead to games coming out quicker, so we get fewer FFXV situations where no game is released for many years. Price flexibility and competition are increased the more places a game is available.

Sony is embracing many things that PC players are used to. Sales are now a regular and weekly event. Even flash sales happen here and there. Steam still has better prices, but with cross buy on many titles, and some games not available on PC, PSN is being competitive. Microsoft is doing a better job with things like free weekends like it is doing for Forza 5 but does a much poorer job with sales. Nintendo has some sales but very few deals at 75%+ off. Sony has easy to stream and easy to screenshot share tools. Microsoft is also strong in this regard, arguably better, and Nintendo rejects streaming games all together. Streaming game play and virtual reality are two frontiers Sony is moving into and doing a good job in while Microsoft and Nintendo are ignoring them. Remote play is one of the coolest features yet and Morpheus seems like it will be cheaper than the first consumer Oculus Rift will be.

PlayStation Plus is a mysterious thing because we don’t yet know if it is harming or hurting the industry. Many people don’t buy games because “I’ll play it when its free on plus.” It is definitely awesome for players because we get great games like Velocity 2x, Resogun, and Dragon’s Crown for free/very cheap. However, we don’t know if the money companies are making from the deal with Sony are more beneficial than the lost sales. I want to label this as beneficial for the industry because many companies continue to put out games on plus. If it was not profitable for them, they would surely stop doing it. Microsoft also has a similar service now. Nintendo instead offers deals for buying multiple games from them, like the SMT4 + Fire Emblem Awakening 30$ eShop credit.

I will finish this section with what Sony is still doing wrong. Sony is not hiring enough or the right people to develop system software/firmware for their current consoles. Microsoft has monthly updates for Xbox One and Sony should be matching that pace. They are about half as fast as Microsoft is. They need to add in crucial features like the ability to change your PSN name and organize your friends list on PS4. Vita should allow multiple account logins. Proprietary memory cards with ridiculously high prices and putting a size limit on Vita game carts are terrible for both the consumer and developers. Allow developers to have bigger game carts so that games like FFX/FFX-2 HD can fit onto a single cartridge. The 3DS uses SD cards and still avoids piracy so Sony has no excuse for using expensive proprietary memory instead of allowing cheap SD or micro SD from other companies. Sony needs to market their games better. Too many games are made with zero marketing push and left to die in sales, like Starhawk, Twisted Metal, and Afrika (which I forgot ever came out). PS mobile was seemingly a big waste of everyone’s time. These and some other issues need to be addressed as soon as possible.

Yes a lot of what I talked about are in relation to indie games. However, that is where the industry is right now. Indie developers that grow over time, and can do things that big games cannot because they are not responsible to shareholders. The big triple A heavy hitters will always come to PS4 because it is cutting edge (alongside the Xbox One but unlike the Wii U) and most big developers’ lead development platform. They will put their games on PC, and every console that they can be profitable with.

This hands off approach is what proves Sony understands the industry. The video game industry succeeding and growing is about empowering the developers. It is about giving choice to the players. And most of all, it is about  maintaining a community that genuinely loves games, that wants to enjoy games, and is going to support it. I want this industry to flourish. I want this industry to grow. That is why I talk about PlayStation so often.

Tales of Xillia 2 Review

This review will be spoiler free.

I finished Tales of Xillia 2 this weekend. I only got the good and true ends. I did all of the character stories that I could. There are many unique side quests I haven’t done yet and I’m sure i missed a TON of bonus scenes. My final game clock was at 33:29. I will go back and get the rest of the content later. (I have a hard time 100%ing games these days when there are so many games to play)

Xillia 2 uses almost all of the assets from the original Xillia. There are about 3-4 all new areas for Xillia 2. For many, this might be a turn off. For me it was no problem at all. I welcome games lowering their production costs to bring me more story more quickly. Development is expensive and if the content is worth doing, I don’t mind exploring the exact same maps. Story above all is the most important thing for me and Xillia 2 brings an all new and engaging story to the table.

The visual production values are the weakest point of Xillia 2. Besides the excellent anime OP and cut scenes, the graphics for the game are not the best. They character models are pretty good but the cat’s model and the environment are low poly count and very simple. There is some clipping of hair or clothes that could bother some people. The costumes and accessory options to change the appearance of your characters are really diverse and fun. This has become a Tales of staple. The fact that they stay during story cut scenes is cool. Japan got code geass and madoka magica DLC outfits which I would’ve loved but what can you do.

The music was one of my unexpected highlights about the game. I enjoy Tales of music a lot but the music in this game was a step above the rest. The combat music was exciting and got me pumped. The emotional music appropriate and effective. The town music was mostly from Xillia but that is okay because Xillia had a good ost that set the tone for each town well. The sound design was excellent. Everything felt like it belonged and the right tracks queued at the right time. The last boss music is one of my favorite last boss tracks. The moment they started playing it was perfect and it alone added so much to the ending.  The main melody is sweet and while it may seem cheesy to some, I enjoy things like it being hummed throughout.

I have a huge bias for stories that are about families, especially stories that involve brothers or parent/children. This game does an excellent job with both subject matters. While not perfect and not always subtle, it was still enjoyable. Julius Kresnik could have been handled better. His role and story was effective on me but it could have been done much better. There were a lot of times where the game was not sure how to treat him. He also could have had more screen time but so much of the development and story happens in the side content I might be missing some of it. I am a big brother myself and seeing the interactions of Julius and Ludger really hit me hard.

I have to write an entire paragraph on Elle. Elle is one of the most fascinating parts about the game. She is an innocent 8 year old girl who is sent to go to a magical land by her father who is being attacked. Her development from a selfish and naive child is interesting to see unfold. This game has one of my favorite female casts ever. Even Elize who I disliked in Xillia is a fantastic character in this game. Elle’s interactions with the female cast is amazing because they are all like role models for her. Elle doesn’t necessarily like them at first, but she learns from them, changes because of them, and ultimately becomes a strong female character herself.  Elle’s relationship with the rest of the cast is good too. Seeing how she interacts with someone as shady as Alvin or as regal as Gaius is fun.

The debt system is a new system in Xillia 2. It can get annoying but I found it to be kind of fun. You have to pay a huge debt in chunks throughout the game. It is no big deal to progress the story because there are these elite monsters you can kill that give a ton of gold. Doing the character missions and some unique quests is usually enough to get enough money to progress the story. The problem is after you have paid off the amount you need to progress the story, if you get more money than a certain amount, you keep getting hassled to pay. This discourages hoarding money and doing as much side content as possible at any given time until very late in the game. It is a minor annoyance and all of the dialogue that you get with Nova completely justifies this system’s existence.

The choice in this game needs to be mentioned. It is one of the game’s greatest boons to me but might be a turn off to some. The game allows choice in many different ways. The most prominent one is the decisions on what to say during cut scenes. Many of these decisions are fairly obvious and I don’t know who would pick the negative option except to see the dialogue. However, some of these choices are incredibly difficult to make. I once sat for 10 minutes thinking about what to choose because both options had pros and cons. These decisions can lead to increased relationship with some characters which leads to bonuses like items and new skills. Besides the relationship and some of the endings, the choices don’t have too drastic of an effect on how the story plays out. This game isn’t The Witcher in that respect.

A lot of the story is told during optional content. The side quests are rewarding and completely worth it both narrative wise and for items/loot. I loved the fact that the game let me skip what I wanted and come back for it later or not at all. However this could lead to situations where you are missing information that makes a a big difference. For example, Milla’s story missions are very important  to understanding the main plot. Who you bring with you into battle is also fairly open. Usually you are required to bring 2 characters with you but the last slot can be anyone you want. All of the characters were strong and fun to bring with me. I even had a hard time picking who to bring because everyone is strong and fun in their own ways.

The localization, writing, and voice acting are above average. They are not perfect and lots of moments are flawed and some even cringe worthy. For example, I hate Yurgen’s voice acting. It feels soulless and like it doesn’t belong. However, Nova, Leia, Alvin, Julius, Gaius, Rowen, and some others have exceptional voice acting. I cannot imagine these characters in Japanese being much or any better. There are clever and effective jokes and the skits are superb as usual. Some of the emotional beats could have been handled better but for the most part things flowed well. The main story is the usual Tales of over the top save the world story with some decent twists but nothing to write home about.

Tales of Xillia 2 is character driven. They are the stars and they make the game. Every character is interesting, unique, and goes through changes as the game goes on. That is the main reason I love this game. I was a fan of Xillia but Xillia 2 takes all of the foundation and world building the first game does and lets us focus on the characters. I felt more emotion during this game than any others Tales of game, and heck, more than most video games. I related to the characters. I felt like I knew the characters. I felt like I went on many small journeys with the characters and one big journey with them all.

About me

Posting this to tell a little bit about myself and to do a first post to see how WordPress works!

I am 22 years old as of the writing of this post. I want to go into neuroscience research, preferably through medicine. I like to be optimistic and spend my free time enjoying life. However I do enjoy criticizing and trying to think of how to improve and perfect things. (Probably why I love science)

I was born in Pakistan and moved to America when I was 3. Lived in the northeast until I was around 7 and then we moved to Texas because my parents hated the snow/cold.

I have a little brother (4 years younger) than me who takes after me quite a bit. My mom is the most important person in my life. I lived with my aunt and uncle for the first year and a half of college in a small town and they are just as important to me as my parents. It is no exaggeration to say my goal in life is to make them happy and proud.

I love it when people are passionate about things. I enjoy seeing people work hard to accomplish their goals or share what they enjoy with others.

I like meeting and talking to people! My twitter is @mdanishu and my Skype is danishuddin92. Come say hi! I’m very active on twitter 🙂

I really enjoy games, particularly visual novels, and anime. That is what I spend most of my free time on but I want to try a bunch of other hobbies as well! I enjoy trying new things! If only there were more than 24 hours in a day

Update 12/24/15: Just doing a little update to keep people informed about me, I am now 23 and actually got a job in neuroscience research! I am currently at an Alzheimer’s lab at Baylor College of Medicine and love my job!