The following is a sketch I did on FL Studio and Pro Tools of this jazzy song of the classic game, although initially planned to be used as a guide for an eventual recording of the song with real instruments, for some reason I forgot about it and so it stayed in my hard drive untouched. The notes are completely accurate, even though wind instruments are not emulated and instead kept the track with only acoustic bass and grand piano. The drums definitely do not mimic the original 8-bit tune.
I am dumping this here in the case somebody finds it interesting or something.
Final Fantasy XIII gets the fundamentals right, but fails on the execution.
Arguably, storytelling is the protagonist in each Final Fantasy iteration, where you can count on lengthy game-play to accompany it.
Unlike their predecessors and also current jRPGs, FF XIII tries to give game-play sense within the story and also by being logic instead of being a separate entity from the story.
The sense of starting at level one, while coincidentally finding only monsters of your level as the game progresses is eliminated; the excuse to enjoy the ability of using magic unlike the commoners is well founded making the protagonists genuinely special. Add to that a better, more transparent transition to battles with a genuine dynamic strategy within it; you get a consistent world that blends game-play and storytelling instead of abruptly becoming one or the other.
Narratively, improvements favoring logic are also implemented: your party doesn't stay together happily during the whole adventure as if they were part of a kids tv show. And the lore is built upon a more realistic view of society where power can dictate the truth and freedom fighters can easily be labeled as rioters and dangerous individuals.
Not to mention that graphically the game becomes even more real, plausible and palpable, with a realistic scale and proportion of scenarios, wild life, buildings and paths; while inherently shrinks the possible size of the maps, it greatly enhances the veracity of the existence of the characters.
However, the disgrace for Final Fantasy XIII comes with a series of ill-conceived design choices that, at times, completely nullify the great choices.
Linearity is essential for a cohesive plot, to purposefully cause a meaningful impact on the player. However a demonstration of a blatant lack of creativity by the level design team, makes this Final Fantasy a very, very long and dull corridor with some meaningless branches that either give you items or are just completely useless.
Battles also suffer, specially when common and irrelevant fights can last twenty minutes or more if you are not using the correct characters, therefore nullifying the special aura surrounding our characters, when you can barely damage simple guards that would crush you if they could heal themselves as often as your party. Of course, you can pause the game and use the Retry function to choose the right characters and finish the battle quicker, but there it goes the immersion. Not to mention that during 80% of the first two discs, before the first fight against the Primarch Dysley, the awful decision to leave you with only two members in your party, create a tedious and insipid pace in most fights, not to mention that you just might not want to use the character at all for being intensively annoying (Vanille.)
With all the top-notch graphic quality, carefully crafted sound effects, decent voice acting, except for the dumb redhead, and with the well-timed, if rather dull music; the story, despite its serious approach to a social and political commentary, it just can't achieve matureness with its random melodramatic outbursts of faux-dilemmas of existentialism. What's worse is that none of it makes sense: you don't really know these characters, you don't really know their world, thus we have no idea of their motivations and purposes, unless... and this is the stupidest fault of FFXIII: With all the budget, production value, development time and impressive technology that this game displays, counting the jaw-dropping pre-rendered CGI and the abundant in-game sequences, you still have to pause the game, go to the menu and read text memorandums to understand the story.
It falls on Motomu Toriyama's shoulders the lack of vision and idea, to present this game in a sensitive manner; a lack of focused direction that otherwise would have prevented boring game-play during the first half, an incoherent story that doesn't bother with structure or explanations, and a linear experience that just feels more like dry on ideas.
On MW2, IW, Activision and the precedent it sets...
We get it, you don't own a gaming PC and we know you are happy with your consoles, since a lot of us own consoles too.
Being accused of piracy and elitism when we are just demonstrating our concern for the lack of a feature that's been the center of online gaming on the PC for a long time, it's unfair and frankly, I don't know how many strangers to PC gaming seem to know, better than us, how would we enjoy better our games or what missing features shouldn't affect us.
We all are here because we love video games, and when a sector of the community is affected by any circumstance, this shouldn't be a cue to marginalize and hate it; even more so, when there is a lack of knowledge on the problem, resulting in a lot of bigotry and unnecessary fights.
We don't want you to agree with us, we are not asking for your sympathy, we know we are a minority and that consoles are the priority to developers and publishers, but it is our choice to play on the PC and we (at least I, dj anon) ask you kindly to shut the fuck up and just play console games, after all, you are not pc gamers, right?
Disclaimer: I know generalizations are always unfair, so I'm obviously not talking to the entire Dtoid community, you know where you stand, anyway.
DOAX 2 is one of the few games that actually relieves stress and is just fun.
Aside from the obvious eye candy and fan service, DOAX is a game that is true to its concept: vacationing. Whether you are a boy or a girl, you'll feel very relaxed playing volleyball, trying out new swim-suits, getting new accessories like hats, sandals, bracelets, etc.
Certainly, DOAX will not be everyone's cup of tea, not to mention that the game can become repetitive and with room for improvement. But playing it after those long days for an hour, taking cool photos or participating in some beach flag contests; Dead or Alive Extreme 2 is definitely welcome in a market full of competitive and stressful games.
Difficulty adjusts to the gamer and the controls are spot on, graphics are among the best for the current gen. This is a game with a lot of appeal to the entire family: mom and sister will love to buy outfits, try combinations with the accessories and send the right gifts to make a friend during the vacation; while son and dad will enjoy the eye candy and prove their skills on volleyball and jet skiing.
Beyond the restless war between Forza and GT, there is another one that unites them. Regardless of whether you play GT5:P, Forza 2, RacePro or the recently released Need for Speed: Shift; these are considered "consoles sims", pointing out that the real and fully-fledged experience is exclusive to the PC.
Titles like Live for Speed, GTR 2 and rFactor, have been pushing for the most realistic and accurate driving experience, and with a game like iRacing that holds official NASCAR and soon IRL tournaments, all of the sudden, console sims can look toy-like.
This October, Forza 3 will be released, and the guys at insidesimracing.tv got a review copy of the game. Their conclusion: Forza Motorsports 3 eliminates the barrier that differentiated pc and console sims, from the physics to the damage, FM3 gives the most hardcore pc games a run for their money and even setting the bar in some aspects.
Coming from these guys, that have played every racing sim since the birth of the genre, using all kinds of wheels, pedals, shifters and rigs, that must mean something, right?
With Sigma 2 approaching and Metroid: Other M announced; speculation on Team Ninja's capability have surfaced, prompted by the resignation of former leader Tomonobu Itagaki, back in June 2008.
As noted by Jim Sterling, when talking about the release of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2: "If it's a success, it will be a strong statement about former Team Ninja chief Tomonobu Itagaki and whether or not he was truly essential to the franchise's quality." This is the opportunity for Koei Tecmo and the new Team Ninja boss, Yosuke Hayashi, to demonstrate that not much has been lost and that the development studio will keep on releasing quality products (let's just not get into the infamous DOAX.)
Personally, I think Sigma 2 won't serve to benchmark against the Itagaki era, when the team is vastly familiar with the process if we remember Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden Sigma; the latter one already with no direct input by Itagaki. Not to mention that the game already has a clear concept, a vision that formed its style and established mechanics that move the gameplay. So, according to previous efforts, PS3 users will be in for a blast with this expansion, either way.
That's when Metroid: Other M comes to the picture, as the first true game by Hayashi's Team Ninja, which aside from the usual "insightful" comments such as: "it's going to suck because team ninja is involved" and "I bet samus will have big boobs"; the game is a complete question mark. And while on the headers Itagaki is always the only one mentioned, other key members left with him. Here is a little list:
Yoshifuru Okamoto - Game Producer Hiroaki Matsui - Art Director Katsunori Ehera - Game Director Yasushi Maeda and Takuro Sasaki - Lead Engineers Kazuki Motosa - Animation Lead Masato Onishi - Cinematics Lead Takafumi Inamori - Audio Lead And quoting Matsui "...the guys from the level design team."
Which leaves the current Team Ninja with brand new personnel on key positions. Then again, Metroid: Other M, is being developed in conjunction with Project M. And that could make Ninja Gaiden 3 or Dead or Alive 5 the actual first effort, on their own, by the "new" Team Ninja.
All of that, at the end, was to ask the very same question: Do you think they'll be able to stay on par?