Sunday, March 20, 2011

Monday Musings - 21 March 2011

Man, it's really hot today. The coffee is certainly not helping matters, but i need it to write, so what cha gonna do? Some good gaming this week, let's get to it!

Final Fantasy XIII

I hit Chapter 10 over the weekend. I'm in the 5th ark, and i just fought the Primarch. Man was that a battle and a half. The cut-scene leading up to it was pretty epic too. That kind of was a main turning point storywise, so with 3 - 4 chapters remaining, it'll be really interesting to see how this plays out.

All my characters now have access to all jobs. I've got a main party of Lightning, Hope, and Fang, and i'm really starting to love how valuable the sentinel is, especially when you change paradigms, but keep the sentinel, so you always have a tank soaking damage, and it's just what's happening with the other party members is changing. Man that was a run on sentence.

There was a spot earlier in the week where there were some enemies that i could respawn and keep fighting for a decent amount of CP. After about 15 mins of this i gave up and continued with the story. Maybe it's the way FFXIII is designed, but man grinding is not fun at all. I mean, ok, it really never was, but it's one of those mechanics we've come to expect in JRPGs... but for a lot of other titles, the rewards seemed greater. This was just boring and it wasn't long before i told myself i wasn't doing this. Again, i think it's partly to due to that FFXIII doesn't require grinding (you go through fighting, you should have enough CP to keep you on top of things), but perhaps it's becoming an antiquated mechanic that the genre doesn't need anymore.

Fallout 3

I'm level 8 with my new character, so i'm pretty much where i was when i decided to restart. I'm a lot more powerful and having a lot more fun. I finished off that quest chain with The Family, and i just cleared out the fire ants (my god, the first time one went flamethrower on me, i about crapped myself). One thing i am really liking is how quests seem to be self contained stories. I'm not quite finished with the fire ant chain (i need to travel to Rivet City and find the kid a guardian), but finishing The Family chain was really rewarding (and i got a lot of exp too).

I keep telling myself, "One more side quest, then i'll go hunt for my dad again".

Prince of Persia

I've unlocked 3 of the seals on the temple. Everytime i did, and i got to see what the new areas i could access had in store for me, i was in awe. This game does a lot right. Sense of scale, and very entertaining flow to the platforming. Often when i had just finished a section, i thought, "Man, that just happened".

I also have defeated the Alchemist. The combat is not that entertaining, but easy enough that it's not a problem. The multi-stage boss fight was pretty cool.

The only real negative i'm having is sometimes the platforming doesn't work. It's like you're playing an old side-scroller, and your jump is off by a pixel so the game doesn't register it. A few times, i've happily taken the blame for plummeting to my death, but there have been many times where the game just decided that things weren't going to happen.

Oh and god, the dialogue in the game? Terrible! Half the time i feel like i'm playing a bad action movie. It's a really stark contrast to the environment and art style.

GTA IV - The Lost and Damned

I think the game took pity on me this week. I still haven't blown up those vans with the pipe bombs (i always seem to die just as i blow up the final van), but i got a call on my phone opening up new missions options after i failed yet again. These missions are full of murder, and escaping the police (i always seem to escape in vehicles that have their tires blown out). I must admit though, the game is wearing a bit thin now. I'd like to finish it off as i'm pretty sure there's not much more to go, but the motivation to play it is becoming less.


I bought this a while back, and had many nights of fun playing co-op while laughing over teamspeak. I thought i'd give single player a try (and soak in all the humour the game surrounds itself with). It's definitely not as fun as playing with friends (and blowing each other up), but single player has a more experimental approach to it. You move at a slower pace so have time to try out new spell combinations (and make liberal use of area effect spells. You tend not to use them in co-op as you have friends around you). For $10, this is still great value and such a fresh take on combat with oh so many variations.

Final Thoughts

I was going to put my thoughts on JRPG grinding here, but it seemed more appropriate to talk about it under the game that prompted that line of thinking. Readers of my blog, or friends will know that i make no qualms about using walkthroughs, FAQs, cheat codes, and playing games on their easist settings. Once upon a time, i might have cared about challenging myself in this medium, but these days all i'm looking for is entertaining experiences not hampered by physical or mental deficiences on my part as a player.

My decision to restart Fallout 3 without use of a walkthrough made me think a little though. I've talked before how a walkthrough can disturb immersion in a game as you're constantly breaking contact with the game world. I also am beginning to wonder if my desire to use a walkthrough in a game should be indication of when to leave that game on the sidelines. There are two different types of brick walls i hit while playing games. One has me running to a solution as i have no desire to continue on my own (and my history with JRPGs usually has me starting with a walkthrough to avoid this brick wall scenario). The other is a challenge that i keep chipping away at until i overcome it.

Now the second type is becoming more rare but it still exists. It exists in a lot of Telltale adventure games. Super Meat Boy has constantly had me striving forward. Vanquish has had me playing bosses over and over till i complete them. I might have used a walkthrough on my 2nd playthrough of Mass Effect, but the first time i did things my way (which led to me wanting to replay with a walkthrough, but that's neither here nor there).

I guess my point is, if the compulsion to chip away at a problem isn't present, on some level the game i am playing doesn't have my attention, and perhaps i should put it down and try another title. This can be problomatic if it occurs late in a game, when one is invested in the story, characters, and the time spent... but it's a thought i shall be dwelling on some more.

Till next week, happy gaming all!


  1. I know all about grind, having been playing Pokemon White this past fortnight. But, unlike other iterations of the game, I haven't found it as much of a chore as in the prior versions, and I'm just about to finish the main storyline.

  2. I was talking to Andrew today and he mentioned that they have taken a step to making grinding less necessary and labourous in the new Pokemon game. That would indeed be welcome