Yeah, I probably bombed at the paper moon, but it was worth a shot (and the long walk there through the skeevy part of Baltimore. I'd prefer not to do that again without someone with me though). I'm gonna do more job hunting this weekend. Inner harbor should have ceased to be purple by then.
My angst about being socially inept aside, I got FFXII and Tales From the Abyss!
Both games are ridiculously good.
Since I've played pretty far into both, I'll through down my impressions thus far:
I approached this game on the grounds that I probably wouldn't like it much aside from the visuals and the story. I had several assumptions about the gambit system from watching my friend play. For the most part those assumptions were correct, but the initial opinion wasn't.
Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
The story centers around a 17 year old bloke named Vaan. You learn pretty early on that his older brother died two years back when the empire took over his homeland (oh those empires, always busy conquering). Well, Vaan wants to be a
The story is actually a fair bit more intricate than I make it out to be, and I'm sure with proper leveling, Panelo and Basch can become quite useful. One day. If I feel like bothering with them. Which I'll probably have to.
The graphics go without saying. They're not just good, they're excellent. But hey, this is SquareEnix we're talking about. The time I spent zooming in on Fran's beautifully rendered, thong clad toosh makes up about half my game time. And the cutscenes are to die for.
The voice acting is stupendous. Particularly Balthier and Fran. Balthier's wit and charm steal the show and I just wish Fran would never stop talking. My picture of heaven is a backside view of Miss BunBun's buns and her reading out some Shakespearian sonnets. Hot damn Square. You did not disapoint. (Seriously, if she didn't have those damn rabbit ears, she could easily qualify for hottest game female. Aside from Karin Koenig of course :3)
Now, the gameplay. I was surprised to find myself totally loving this system. First of all, when there's an enemy encounter the game screen doesn't shatter into a million and one shards and breaks your concentration with shifting your focus on fighting/running away with your tail between your legs like a little wussy girl. I'm pleased with this, because one of my complaints about turn base fighting is that I'd be ambling along on a mission from God and BAM! Random encounter and I forget where the hell I'm supposed to be going. The game flows nicely and I like real-time battles. The fighting more or less takes care of itself with the gambit shiznit on. You point and say "go!" and your character will go on his merry little way and attack the enemy/heal party/fall into the void of polygonal obscurity (LOLZ @ X-SPACE D:). Where the actual gameplay comes in is customizing your party's gambits and liscences. What liscence you choose for your character is the kind of character they become. For example; I'm leveling up Vaan to be a swordsman, Ashe to be a Paladin, Fran to be an archer/mage, Balthier to be a
Things that irk me about this game are few and far between, but my beefs are big beefs. First of all, I'd like to see the map system in FFX make a comeback. Since most RPGs are linear games in terms of plot, having the location of your next destination on your map is a particularly nice thing. It means I'm not lost five maps away from where I was supposed to go being gangraped by monsters that are three times my level. Kthx.
The other thing that bothers me is the attack gauge. I don't think it takes too long for a character to think about chopping something's limbs off with an axe. For magic? Understandable. For hitting something with a weapon? C'mon guys.
Finally, my biggest beef is not seeing the whole of what the liscence checkery things show. It would be nice to know so that I don't dick around and waste 400 liscence points on shit my Vaan is never going to use just so I can get him his liscence to hack at monsters with an axe. I don't mind the concept of only being able to use the liscences that are next to ones I've already bought. But for christ sake, I'd at least like to know what I can spend my liscence points on before I throw a few down for a useless skill/weapon to get to a useful one. [/beef]
But that bitching aside, FFXII is a solid game with a likable cast. And Fran's butt is a some 3D modeler's labor of pure, utter love.
Tales of the Abyss
Hands down I love this game. It's taking a close third next to Shadow Hearts I/II and Okami on my list of favourites and it's all down to the characters.
I have never loved so many characters in a game. Seriously, everyone and everything in this game is wonderfully quirky, and the character interraction and dialogue is well written and supported by a cast of voice actors who actually get the personalities across.
Anyway, the story goes that Luke is a spoiled brat who's never been let out of his mansion since he was kidnapped seven years ago and lost his memories. One day he's out training with his teacher Van when some broad flies out of the blue and attacks Van. Luke protects the guy and when his sword meets mysterious-broad's sword, something called a 'Hyperresonance' occurs and all of a sudden they're in the middle of bumblefuck nowhere.
Yeah, I stopped asking questions of video games after I played Mario as a kid.
The story progesses and it seems some guy is trying to start a war, while this kid Ion (and his entourage consisting of a little girl with a monster stuffed animal and an ambiguously homosexual necromancer) are trying to establish peace.
The plot takes a few predictable turns and the battle system is fun (though not really anything new for anyone who's played the 'Tales' series). But the life and soul of this game are the characters. Their dialogue is fantastic and you get the feel that they're working as a party. No character is introduced and then shoved to the side as is so often the case with RPGs. I like characters who participate consistantly and the voice acting is very, very good.
The game's feel is lighthearted. There's a few twists and turns thus far and some angst that will be dealt with later, but I don't see the overall mood changing to dark and tragic anytime soon. With a character like Mieu, I don't see it being a tale of ANGST AND WOE, despite the surprisingly emo title.
Problems with the game? Not many but once again like FFXII, I find them to be major problems.
1. The character animation. No, not the overall graphics. Truth be told, the actual modeling is very nice. It looks a lot like a pastel coloured picture book. No, I mean the movement. It's... stiff. Horribly, distractingly so. Perhaps Nautilus and Square have spoiled me rotten, but I like to see some actual movement while the characters interract. For the most part the movement is on par with that of a low budget anime (you know, the kind where they took all those shortcuts). It's not the worst thing in the world, but it takes away from the beautiful job the modlers did on the characters.
2. The 2d animated shortcuts are far too few and far between! ...Yeah okay, I'm nitpicking, but seriously, I'm 10 hours into the game and I've only gotten that pretty intro and one scene after going through the factory. I want more pretty animation consmappit! You know, where the characters are actually animated? :D
In any case, Tales of the Abyss has endeared itself to me wholly and utterly. I've been enjoying watching Luke grow into a decent human being, Jade's snarking, Tear's fangirling over cute things, Mieu's flame breath, Anise's girl crush, Natalia's bitchiness, and Guy's... gayness. It's solid in terms of gameplay and has a fun, enjoyable plot. Uber snuggles for this game ^^