well it's been a while since my last post...mostly because I've been working on my most recent, and highest budgeted, short film. leaving for the shoot killed the groove I had going in bioshock, and as such, I haven't played it since. but I did pick up marvel vs. capcom 2 and, most recently, blazblue. I've only owned two other fighting games in my life: ehrgeiz and street fighter alpha 3, both on the psone. and I sold a3 because it was simply too difficult...a decision I regret looking back on it all.
anyway, blazblue has really blown me away...probably the first time a fighter has really done that. fantastic animation, vastly different characters and system that's easy to get into but insanely difficult to master. I just played my first online match and while my opponent could combo like no other, I was somehow able to out maneuver him (or her) in close-quarters despite ragna's ridiculously slow sword moves. I didn't win the match, but it went three rounds and came down to the wire...I'll get back into it as soon as my thumbs recover.
on the other hand, I've found mvc2 to be a lot more frustrating than I remember it. I used to be able to make it to the last boss on a quarter, now I struggle through the first several rounds of arcade mode before simply being worn down. maybe my hands just aren't as nimble as they were in high school.
also, and here's where the meat of this post will occur, I've been playing xenogears. or should I say re-playing xenogears? or re-re-re-re-playing xenogears? I've beaten this game at least three or four times now, and I still get such a kick out of it. it won RPG of the year in OPM back in '98 (or was it '99?) and that made me pick it up...having only bought a psone a couple months earlier. it has one of the most intriguing stories in any medium, let along games, a battle system that actually manages to keep the playing entertained and active through each and every (of many) random battles and bosses and some of the best game music ever.
part of me feels I only love it so deeply because I happened to play it at a very formative time in my youth, and I could certainly say that's the case with die-hard chrono trigger fans...but xenogears' sense of weight and gravitas is unrivaled. the story is so epic and yet filled with extremely personal emotions that it always hits me at a primal level, appealing to my senses of self, love, obligation, belief and destiny. it's not a perfect game by any means...the translation is certainly very rough, some themes get redundant and the lip-syncing is a little off.
now, here's where I'll get a little controversial: disc 2 is brilliant. every review I've ever read has maligned the second disc as lazy, disruptive and boring. in truth, disc 2 is the way it is out of necessity. the game's designers had big plans for the last third of the game...jesse, billy's father was to become playable and all of the dungeons we read about were supposed to be playable as well...but due to time constraints, this was not possible. instead, the designers had to take another route, as we see by the up-front storytelling of disc 2. and what this format does is it allows the characters' emotions and perspectives to come to the forefront. instead of worrying about dungeons, bosses and leveling up, we are forced to get inside each of the main characters as see the events through each perspective. and with a story this grandiose and yet personal, it succeeds admirably.
would I have liked to play through some of those dungeons? yes. would I have liked to play as jesse? yes. but rarely do we get to see a game, let alone an RPG, take such evocative chances with the way in which it tells a story...and as such, I couldn't imagine it any other way. the perspectives add so much weight to the plot that I don't think the story would be as highly regarded today had it not taken that new direction. I can certainly appreciate the fact that other people may not look at it in quite the same way, but everyone should at least try to see how it helps as opposed to how it hinders.
so, there you have it. my xenogears rant. wow, that really made me want to play it, listen to the soundtrack and flip through my copy of the prefect works book, all at the same time...hmmm, sounds like a good idea.... read