Final Fantasy XV just couldn’t hold it together after the break up.

I was extremely excited for this game, I had followed the news for it for about 5 years and I even had a poster of Noctis holding the engine blade in my bed room for about 2 years leading up to its release. I paid around a $100 to get the day one digital premium edition which came with the season pass………..and frankly after I finished the main game, I thought that I wasted about $70.

Now let me start off by being positive. The game was pretty decent, especially the early parts were stellar, where you are being introduced to the characters and the combat system. If you saw the prequel movie King’s glaive then you even had a somewhat clearer picture of what was going on, though it is not a necessity to do so. The first half of the game has you enraptured by the massive scale of the world and the quirky semi-realistic interactions of the main cast and a somewhat mysterious story-line. Some of the most iconic monsters from past final fantasy games also returned and overall the game did a good job of sticking to its title card of ‘A Final Fantasy For Fans and First Timers‘.

While its first half is some game of the year material, sadly the second half just falls apart. Rumor has it that Tetsuya Nomura (the artist,designer and director who has worked on almost all FF games, Kingdom Hearts games and more recently Xenoblade chronicles 2) was taken off the development team of FF XV. I feel like this is what contributed mostly the the latter half of the game falling flat. By the time you get there the combat is starting to feel stale. You can press square at the right time and completely negate attacks but if timing is too big an issue for you then just holding square makes you invulnerable to most attacks too. Healing is instantaneous and you can easily disengage if you are still somehow struggling. Don’t get me wrong though, it was always a dream of mine to be able to throw an axe above an enemy’s head, teleport to it and then bring it crashing down on them but after doing that for about 5 hours it felt like I was playing whack-a-mole instead. I did feel like a badass but the combat was button mashy and not challenging, harder enemies just had more health and you only died if you forgot to heal or if the billions particles somehow fried your PS4/Xbox.

The story in the second half just becomes a convoluted mess and while it can be argued that i was just too stupid to understand it in one playthrough, it is undeniable that it suffered from pacing issues at least. The cuts in the story were abrupt and jarring as well as the fact the it felt short for a AAA, main series Final Fantasy game(Though I guess the devs wanted players to focus on the open world). I thought that it came up severely short in developing some of its characters, The main cast were brilliant(all except for Noctis, he isn’t bad but the others just had more substance), they have personality and set opinions along with believable conflicts.

I think I’ll be delving into my main gripes with the story and there are major spoilers only in the next paragraph so enter at your own risk-

While this is true some others just received the shortest end of the stick possible, For example- There is a point in the story where Noctis’ fiancee, Lady Lunafreya dies while at the same time Ignis, your friend/butler/driver/cook loses his eyes. Now in this reveal I am sure everyone was supposed to sympathize with a brooding Noctis who had just lost the love of his life but  because the game had done little or nothing to make me attached to Lunafreya but had given Ignis a lot of development, I was unconcerned about the death of one of the most important cast members but was pretty mad that the story had just made one of the characters who I love blind without telling me how or why(Hoping dlc changes this). Even some of the main casts for some cold treatment in certain segemnts, In the part where it is revealed that your friend (Prompto) is from the opposing faction ‘the Empire’, the rest of the cast simply pushes it aside in under 10 seconds and everything seems to be fine(Hoping dlc will fix this again).

Spoilers end

But speaking of DLC, you remember those cuts that I called abrupt and jarring. I have little doubt that they were done to create content for DLC, but compromising a smooth narrative for additional content isn’t worth applauding in my opinion. Although I criticize the method the execution is a different story, the dlc for Final Fantasy XV(At least Episode Gladios), has been one of its strongest points in the game. The narrative is self-contained and well explained. The battle system is revamped, there is more of a challenge in fighting enemies and of course it gives a more in dept look into the characters. So with the season pass included maybe I only wasted $45.

Let us hope that with Nomura on the job for FF VII remake, we will all get our money’s worth.Final-Fantasy-VII-Remake-on-PS4-238234.jpg

E3 2017 Page 1: Monster Hunter is making its glorious return to the home console systems but there is cause for concern….

For its past 3 iterations the Monster Hunter series has remained on the 3ds, much to the dismay of some of its original fans who enjoyed it as a AAA experience when it was first released on the PS2. Although, now the same fans have a cause to rejoice as it seems that Capcom has finally taken their head out of wherever it was lodged and have decided to print money by releasing Monster Hunter World for the home consoles and eventually the PC.

But let me take a step back and explain the appeal of MH and why its shift to the mainstream hardware is significant. MH at its core is a game that cuts to the chase and just throws massive boss fights at you one after another, the main focus isn’t on world building or level design but instead the game works towards providing the player with a variety of monsters to fight that are unique(in….ugh most cases) and interesting yet challenging to overcome. The meat of the gameplay is about learning the pattern of the monsters and how they interact with the environment. As far as the past iterations are concerned the MH series had games which had simplistic shells with layers of complexity hidden that more astute gamers would explore but were not necessary to enjoy the game.

With its gradual releases over the years the MH series has added new features including new monsters/ bosses,but most notably the addition of new weapons(Charged Blade, Insect glaive) in MH4 and then the addition of hunter styles which changed the attack patterns and added some super moves in MH Generations and MH XX. The changes kept adding to the gameplay  of the franchise keeping it fresh enough for the fans to return to the games but it was never a revolutionary step that made the franchise deviate from its comfort zone that it had already established. And by that I mean that the games always felt like monster hunter games, sometimes a little too much. It is a tough feat for a game to retain its core principles across several realizations but after a point the format seems to get repetitive and all the games have suffered from this. Therefore the introduction of the myriad of new features as seen in the trailer for Monster Hunter World might just be the breath of fresh air this series needs.

Continue reading

Underrated Spiritual Successor: The Azure Striker

maxresdefault

Back in the mid 2014 when the Mighty No.9 kickstarter was still being fed a gargantuan amount of money in the hopes that a new masterpiece will rise from the ashes of a neglected Megaman team, there was another game that surfaced on the 3Ds which in retrospect was a far more respectable successor to the legacy of the blue bomber : The Azure Striker

Much like the game it is heavily inspired by the meat of Azure Striker Gunvolt is mostly about shooting and jumping, although the game adds its own small twist to the concept. Bullets that the Azure Striker, named : Gunvolt shoots do not damage the enemy a lot but instead they tag the enemy and by holding down the designated button(R in the case of the 3Ds) Gunvolt activates an electric field that shoots out electricity which is the main source of damage you have. Its a fresh take on a rather tried and tested concept. It feels far closer to a Megaman-esque game than what Mighty No.9 turned out to be.

 

2bd.jpg

Regardless the game feels fluid, it has a certain rhythm to it and it manages to pace itself admirably well. The levels, while limited are varied and are designed in a way that complements Gunvolt’s abilities. Although IMO the best part about them is that they feel better than the some of the Sonic games when it comes to speeding through them. Unlike the level design of Mighty No.9 which felt clunky and often punished you for trying to speed through, while some may argue for a Megaman-like experience but you have to admit that when the Sonic twitter feels comfortable mocking your video-game then something has gone horribly wrong.

6ed.jpeg

Sonic the Hedgehog made fun of you….. SONIC 2006 THE HEDGEHOG made fun of you, SONIC boom the rise of lyric THE HEDGEHOG made fun of you.

But I digress, the game gives you a real sense of speed as the level design has elements that allow you to rush through them if you are somewhat familiar with the layout. It even rewards you for doing it with sideobjectives that require you to clear certain levels under a specific time. The game did end up being successful enough to gain a sequel, which is a good thing since I doubt that’s ever gonna happen to Mighty No.9 (Okay I promise, that’s the last time I’ll rag on Mighty No.9 especially since I think Inafune did talk about a sequel).

The Azure striker series does have a story too that’s pretty close to the main conflict in the X-Men series of the whole ‘Super Powered beings trying to co-exist with humans’ except its a lot more anime although unlike the story of previous Megaman games the Azure striker series is somewhat more mature and has certain adult overtones . Lets be real though who plays Megaman games for their story huh?

.

.

.

I do…….I totally do.

But regardless of its hit or miss story and its innovative yet at times gimmicky mechanics the Azure Striker: Gunvolt series is a solid successor to the (supposedly) late Megaman series and stands to be the model of innovation that should inspire other genres too.

3DS_AzureStrikerGunvolt2_KeyArt.jpg