Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Musings - 15th Aug, 2011

This week started out to only feature one game, but a steam sale purchase and a little soul searching, and we have a couple more things to talk about. Let us muse.

Persona 4 (PS2)

When i write these, i try and give as little spoilers as possible as there are probably many readers who a) haven't played the game but might, or b) are playing the game and might not be where i'm talking about. So to work around that problem, i try and make broad references to characters and plot points so that people who have played the game should know where i'm coming from without giving much away to other readers.

With that being said, i saved Rise this week, and i have played past the point of time you had to save her. Not only was the boss fight in her dungeon absolutely crazy (for reasons i will not go into), but the story progression after the foggy day just blew my mind. It centers around Teddie, and i think raises even more questions about that crazy bear.

Now that my social links are coming along pretty well (with now two links maxed out and most others at least halfway along), the benefits are really showing themselves. I have been spending probably too much time fusing personas because all the extra exp you get more often than not will max out their abilities, giving you... well i hesitate to call them perfect versions of the personas as you could probably fuse a version with some really nice abilities from other personas, but having all their abilities unlocked gives you more to work with. Also there's a social link that has opened for fusing personas with certain abilities, so this furthers the time i'm spending on this sub-section of the game.

I must say though that the dungeon crawling aspect has become my least favourite part of the game. It's really hard to get a player advantage opening on a monster, and maybe it's just me sucking, but the depth of field seems a little off, and i often miss hitting the monster with my weapon to initiate combat (which in turn allows the enemy to get an advantage over me). Don't get me wrong, i think the combat is great (well perhaps it is too easy for certain enemies to exploit weaknesses), and the persona fusing has risen to the level of enjoyment i have with improving social links and experiencing the story, but this past week especially, it seems the dungeon crawling has become a necessary evil to put up with to enjoy everything else the game has to offer.

Mega Mall Story (Iphone)

I am often reluctant to talk about the games i play for review purposes, as then this column would be a lot of moaning and groaning, plus i'd essentially be reviewing most of these titles twice. I think though that if i am playing a game past writing the review, it deserves to get a mention here.

Mega Mall Story is by Kairosoft, the guys who made the wildly popular Game Dev Story. It's a sim game where you have 15 years to create a 5 star mall. You create shops and utilities, research new ones, invest your money, and upgrade your stores. based on how good you're doing, customers will spend more cash and send you on your way to build a better mall.

If you've played any sim game like Theme Park or Simcity, it runs off a similar idea, though a little simplified for iphone. Still, this thing is mightily addictive, and funnily enough, talking about the Sim genre has gotten me itching to install and play my favourite sim game again, Simgolf. God that thing eats away the hours. Perhaps i'd best let it be.

Hmm, this kind of sounded like a review again, but quickly detoured into scary nostalgia. Some may say that's the best kind.

Fallout: New Vegas (Steam)

A couple weeks ago i went back to Fallout 3 and decided the game was no longer doing anything for me. On Monday i discovered that New Vegas (shortened to NV from now on) was on sale for $20... so i grabbed it, and installed it over a couple evenings. On Friday my resolve gave way and i booted it up. I'm now 7 hours in and have just dealt with Benny.

See part of my issue in F3 was that i think i dicked around with side quests too much, and so not only did the storyline lose steam, well i didn't feel any challenge when i entered DC. So with NV i made the decision to keep to the main questline and dick around with sidequests afterwards if i still felt like playing the game.

First off i'd like to comment that i like the feel of the wasteland a little more out in the Mojave desert. It gives the game more of a cowboy feel rather than the post-apocalyptic feel F3 had. I kind of dig that. Also the slow mo death animations even on non-VATS kills give the combat a little more punch. It makes things that much more visceral and also is a nice signal for the end of combat. The highway network is interesting too. It gives definitive routes through the wasteland, complete with groups ambushing merchants and lone wanderers. I've had to reload an ambush fight many times to come out ahead and i've quite enjoyed it.

Seeing that i've ran through the main storyline, i really haven't seen too much of the faction system except for little bits and pieces, but now that i've got a quest to rule over the area, i will definitely start exploring that system more, and making some choices about who i want to align myself with.

I'm keeping a little weary though as the first 8 - 10 hours of F3 i was having a blast too. Let's see how things run their course.

Final Thoughts

What is it about videogames that has gamers always chasing the new? I don't mean specifically the new releases, but just new experiences. I am thoroughly enjoying Persona 4, yet i jump on board a new experience (Fallout New Vegas) without a second notion. If another game were to come along that engaged me, no matter what time period the game was from, i'd probably hop onto that one too.

Perhaps it's because there's so many games out there to play. I dunno though. My movie queue is stupidly long, and the amount of books i want to read is even longer, but i let those forms of entertainment run their course. I don't start a new one till i've finished the one i'm on.

Perhaps it's the length of games then? I mean i'm 25 hours into Persona and i dunno if i'm even halfway. True most games these days are 6 - 10 hours, but not in the RPG genre, which is where i find myself mostly these days. Hell i haven't gone back to Vanquish in a few weeks, and that game is supposedly really short.

Is it cause games constantly improve upon themselves? Well possibly, but this improvement is mostly in aesthetic areas. A good story and good game mechanics were just as important back in the nes days as they are now, but what is acceptable in game design has indeed come a long way since then.

Perhaps it is the players just not satisfied in experiencing one small planet when an entire universe is out there (ok lame metaphor but i think you get the idea).

Perhaps it's just me, and this is why i hardly ever finish games.

Till next time, happy gaming all!

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