Game Freaks


Final Fantasy XII Journal: First Impressions

Posted in Blogroll,Game News,Game Reviews by lordsaanjun on November 6, 2006

A Final Fantasy XII Moogle

OK, I’ve played about twelve and a half hours of Final Fantasy XII at this point, and I have to say, I’m impressed. There was a lot of criticism leading up to this game, as, I suppose, there always is before the newest release in a major franchise series, but Final Fantasy XII is a real tour de force of the series, and not to be missed. I’ll comment on the game in some general areas to try to give you the sense that I’ve gotten of it so far. (more…)

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I Own Final Fantasy XII

Posted in Game News,Other by lordsaanjun on November 1, 2006

Final Fantasy XII Boxart

Yeah, that’s right, as of about 1:30pm yesterday, I own Final Fantasy XII. Now I just need to have it sent to me so I can play it…

See, I put my copy of the game on preorder this summer, at the Game Crazy location in my hometown. Which is 90 miles from Eau Claire, so that tends to throw a monkey wrench in the works of me walking in and picking up the game on release day. But, never fear, Matt #1 had a cunning plan.

OK, so it wasn’t that cunning. I just called the store from here, paid off the rest of the preorder (and bought the strategy guide, woo shopping on the phone), and had my mother’s name put on it so that she could pick it up after work. A quick phone call, and voila!, the game is mine. Or… will be, when my mom ships it to me. See? It wasn’t that cunning.

Well, I’ll post more information/reviews/previews once I actually give the disc a spin. Why do I have the feeling that productivity in most other areas of my life is soon to drop to zero? Hmm… good thing the weekend’s coming.

Yours in Ivalice,

Matt #1

Jack Thompson Gets PWNT

Posted in Blogroll,Game News by lordsaanjun on October 27, 2006

Hey, if you’re reading this blog, you probably hate notorious Miami anti-game “crusader” Jack Thompson as much as we do.  I personally find the man to be abhorrent on a number of levels, not the least of which is his irritating habit of borrowing Christian doctrinal rhetoric to try to convince people that video games are against the will of God.  Did I mention that people copping my religion to advance their political career/cause really hacks me off?

So, anyway, Niero from Destructoid put up this post the other day with a video showing good ol’ JT getting his ass handed to him in a district court, where a judge recused himself from a case where Thompson was the defense attorney.  Pretty much this judge tells Jack off on his tactics, his attitude, and his threatening letters (to a judge, WTF) in front of a courtroom full of people.  What’s the funniest is that Jack pretty much acts like an angsty emo-kid through the entire hearing, leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, and crossing and uncrossing his legs the whole time.  It’s worth a peek.

Long live JT, my constant source of amusement,

Matt #1

Republicans and Democrats United Against Video Games

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on October 2, 2006

Well, it finally happened.  Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has authored a suspicious-smelling piece of legislation that would force the ESRB (the video game ratings board) to play all video games completely before issuing a review.  Brownback claims that any other method of reviewing games is not “meaningful and worthy of a parent’s trust.”  Here’s the thing, Sam: playing a video game “completely,” as you might suggest, still doesn’t catch everything.  It wouldn’t have caught Hot Coffee, the big scandal in GTA: Vice City.  It wouldn’t have prevented the nudie mod that caused the change in Oblivion’s rating… that was a fan-created mod, or modification.  That’s right, people, not everything in a video game is actually put there by the developers and programmers!  Shock and Awe!

Then there’s the whole problem with MMOs and their ilk.  How do you “completely play” World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, or Final Fantasy XI?  You don’t.  The games are huge, complex, largely defined by player interaction, and updated and patched on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis, not to mention expansion packs.  RTSes are a similar problem.  What about fan-created (or even authorized) map packs and additional content?  Is that “The Game” or is it “Something Else?”  And how does the legislation deal with this grey area? 

But what really frustrates me about this whole thing is the “threat” that accompanies it, which reveals the true motivation.  The bill, which has not yet had its final wording released to the public, threatens to form a federal agency to take over the duties of the already self-regulated ESRB.  When will this happen?  When the ESRB fails to play through every game completely before it reviews it.  Which shouldn’t take long, since you can’t physically accomplish that task.  So it won’t be long before the government itself gets to decide what is and is not acceptable in the realm of electronic entertainment, if this legislation passes.

Of course, Lieberman, Clinton, and other Democrats have tried to push for similar censorship initiatives in the past, so we can’t believe that this is a Republican-only scheme.  No, one of the few things that crosses party lines is radical, poorly-thought-out legislation to “rein in” the ESRB.  Welcome to America, where we can’t agree about anything but censorship.  Good job, kids.

None of this matters, though.  The legislation is as unconstitutional as the day is long.  Once it gets challenged and hits the Supreme Court it’s all over but the shouting.  Not that that’s going to stop Brownback and other pro-censorship legislators from passing this sucker through the Senate.

I find your lack of faith disturbing…

Matt #1

‘Scuse Me While I Drool

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on September 25, 2006

Holy.

Shit.

Those are the Windows Media and Quicktime links to a trailer for what may be the answer to the question, “Will I buy a PS3?”  5Levels’ White Knight may well settle that question once and for all.  This game appears, at first glance, to fulfill a number of long-desired personal fantasies of mine — and probably a few of yours.

Wii-velations

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on September 18, 2006

Nintendo has announced the release date of their next-gen console, and in a daring move, they’re sliding the Wii in just days after the PS3. The Wii will release in the US November 19, witha  $249.99 USD price tag and a bundled game, Wii Sports. The attempt to return bundled games to currency is not lost on me — I fondly remember the days when you could actually expect that with video game systems, when being able to open the box and pull out not only hardware, but the ever-necessary software was canonical. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which is the latest, and certainly quite intriguing, entry in the sword-and-sorcery franchise, will also see US release on the 19th, with an expected price point of $49.99, which most of us have come to expect for a new game.

Of course, more seasoned pundits than I have already sounded off on this issue repeatedly.  One particular piece of interesting journalism essentially damned Nintendo for the brazen audacity of selling the Wii console at a profit.  I fail to see how this is a bad thing, and, moreover, have to voice the obvious question: If Nintendo can sell the Wii at a profit with a price point of $249.99, what is stopping Microsoft and Sony from being able to accomplish the same feat?  The price of a fully-fitted PS3 will be more than double the Wii’s almost paltry price tag, and yet Sony’s not making a proft from its new machine? This doesn’t strike me as “having faith in your product,” as this article would espouse, but rather being incapable of making a good business decision to save your life. Why wouldn’t you be able to make a profit off a $600.00 USD price point? But no, better to make your money off software than to risk “lacking faith” and making an actual profit off the expensive and costly-to-produce hardware.

People like this are why capitalism is doomed.

So anyhow, this gives Nintendo fanbois everywhere something to hyperventilate about, and it also gives a concrete timetable to the release of, in my opinion, the strongest of the three “next-gen” platforms. Good to know.

On the subject of the blog itself, I haven’t heard much from Matt #2 as late, so until I hear otherwise I’m holdin’ out and waiting for October. I’ll try to keep you all updated with the occasional newspost when I have time.

Your safeguard against the hype,

Matt #1

Console Wars (My Thoughts)

Posted in Game News by lordsaanjun on August 28, 2006

So, clearly, there’s been a bit of humdrum in the gaming community of late regarding these three newfangled consoles that are hitting the market.  As a veteran gamer who remembers when the Sega Genesis rocked the worlds of thousands of NES fanbois, I’m kind of used to console wars by now.  I have my own thoughts on the subject, and it seemed like as good a day as any to share them.

Here’s the upshot: every new console is taking a risk.  Some of those risks are good, some of them aren’t so great.  Which of the consoles is the best is really not a question of pure hardware or software, as it has been in the past, but almost a matter of personal choice, a rarity in the gaming world.

Let’s start with the XBox 360, the first of the three to hit shelves.  That was, basically, 360’s gambit: They hit the market first, and so they’re going to be the yardstick by which all the other platforms are measured.  There’s a few unfortunate truths about the 360, though.  The first is that the hardware is, as far as anyone could tell, marginally improved.  There’s a fairly significant uptake on the graphics — more than maybe I first gave it credit for — but there’s certainly not much innovation to be had from Microsoft.  The other unfortunate truth is that the lineup so far hasn’t been thrilling.  The opening roll consisted mostly of rehashes and sequels, and it’s only recently with megahit Dead Rising that the 360 has really made waves.  The last inconvenient truth about the 360 is that it’s been out for so long already that it’s running the risk of being rendered obsolete by its two “competitors” who are being released after much more extended development cycles.  Will the 360 hold up under the pressure?  I haven’t spent my money yet, if that’s any indication.

The next batter that will stepping up to the plate in November (the 17th, to be exact) is the Playstation 3.  The risk that Sony’s taking?  The price.  PS3 is supposed to hit American store shelves retailing $600 USD.  That’s just silly. As a starving college student who is about to move to being a starving graduate student and broke newlywed, I can’t envision a day where I’m going to be willing to shell out six hundred clams for a new video game system, regardless of what it may look like.  Also, a starting lineup for the PS3 is still a closely guarded secret, with the rumor of Final Fantasy XIII showing up sometime in the first year of the system’s release.  The other big gamble?  Blu-Ray.  See, mixed in with the console wars this time around is a whole other battle: the “which new digital media format will turn into Betamax” battle.  Sony is staunchly backing its Blu-Ray DVD format, while other major media corporations are standing behind the Hi-Definition DVD that is supposed to show up fairly soon.  The trouble is that when the smoke clears, as with VHS and Betamax, there is likely to be a very real winner and loser.  Now, if Blu-Ray loses, will the PS3 have been a worthwhile investment?  That’s up to gamers with $600 USD to decide.

The last of the contenders is the Nintendo Wii.  No, the gamble being made by the Wii isn’t the new console name, which still forces its way into my head as the punchline to a dirty joke every time I think about it.  Nintendo has brought the not inconsiderable forces of its marketing group to bear on making “Wii” a household name laced with a lot of positive meaning for people, and I don’t see it as an obstacle to the system in the long run. No, Wii’s gamble is twofold: an adventuresome new controller, and an as-yet-unknown final release date, which is giving Nintendo diehards itchy palms.  The controller, which apparently has two configurations, depending on whether or not you’re using the “Nunchuk,” an analog-stick plug-and-play addition, is certainly innovative, the question that bears out in the long term is whether or not change is good. Nintendo’s certainly held up under this particular kind of fire well before — the DS, which raised similar control concerns with its touch screen, has gone on to be incredibly well received and has now garnered one of the most impressive new releases for a handheld system: the long-awaited Final Fantasy III, which was originally released for the Famicom (Japan’s NES) in the early ’90s and never found its way to America.  Its belated release (almost fifteen years later) will feature entirely updated graphics and some adjustments to the play of the game to update it for the more refined modern gamer.  Suffice it to say, FF junkies (like me) are salivating heavily (time to wash this shirt), and many of them (like me) are touting FF3 as the reason to buy a DS (as if New Super Mario Bros. wasn’t reason enough).  So the controller for the Wii could wind up being an amazing innovation, something that every other company rushes to emulate for its stellar gameplay experience.  The trouble is that there is still the significant possibility that most gamers will be unable or unwilling to make heads or tails of the thing.  So that’s hurdle one: then there’s the release date.  When is this system coming out?  With a scant $200-300 USD price, and an amazing starting lineup including new entries into the Zelda and Metroid franchises, the only big question looming on the horizon is when US audiences are going to get to take a Wii home with them.  And Nintendo’s clamming up on the subject.  The worry then becomes simple: If both the PS3 and the 360 beat the Wii to the punch, will gamers be unwilling to spend money on potentially a third system?  Time will tell.

My personal bet is on the Wii for long term stability, reasonable price, a solid starting lineup, and continuing innovation. While the other systems have their advantages, and I have been a Playstation diehard for quite a while now, it seems unlikely that I’m going to be convinced to shell out the money for the PS3, especially given the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD wars.  And the 360 just doesn’t have enough going for it to maintain my interest in the long term.  No, at least for now, it’s Wii for me.

Stay frosty, team,

Matt #1