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mookysam

Some thoughts on the Final Fantasy games I played.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster - VERY IMPORTANT

The PS2 original of Final Fantasy X is my all-time favourite game. This remaster is lovingly made, with redrawn textures across the board to make the graphics sparkle on modern displays. One element that doesn't fare quite as well is the music, which was almost completely redone. Some pieces are better than the original compositions, whilst others are not. On the PS4 version you can change between the original and remastered music, but not so here.

As for the game itself, it holds up brilliantly. This is the first Final Fantasy game to take on overtly Japanese themes in its setting. The southern, tropical portion of Spira is based on Okinawa, and as such instantly feels different to the medieval or futuristic settings of previous games in the series. Spira is a beautiful and diverse land with many interesting places to visit.

The story is one of the strongest elements of the game. Primarily a commentary on how religion has been used as a means of societal control, FFX sees summoner Yuna and her guardians engage on a pilgrimage to stop the menace known as Sin and bring temporary peace to Spira. The story has a lot of forward momentum - you're always moving forward and something is always happening. It's also tinged with sadness; Spira is a land trapped in a never-ending cycle of death. The story unfolds at a nice pace, and as Tidus, like the player, is new to the world, things are slowly explained so that terms and lore never become confusing or overwhelming. The cast is one of my favourites in an RPG. It's rare that I'll love every party character in an RPG, but here they are all likeable and strong in their own way.

The battle system is another highlight of the game. Abandoning the ATB system used from FFIV - IX, in X it is purely turn-based. However, you can switch characters in and out of battle on the fly (it's amazing, seriously) bringing a new tactical element to the game, and can also see the turn-order, which helps to plan which strategy to use. Another new element is that summons - known here as Aeons - are fully player-controlled. Once summoned by Yuna, they replace the regular characters in battle. They can take a lot of damage and also use some rather nifty attacks, helping out in tougher boss battles.

In X, characters do not level up, instead gaining points in battle that can then be used to purchase skills and attributes on a massive grid. This "Sphere Grid" is extremely addictive to use and gives the player considerably more flexibility in shaping the characters.

This was the first Final Fantasy game to have voice acting. Unfortunately, to match the American vocal track with the mouth movements of the in-game characters - which were timed with the original Japanese and were not redone for the Western localisation - voices had to frequently be either sped up or slowed down. This leads to many lines sounding a little unnatural.

Anyway, to summarize, the game is incredible, is still brilliant to play, and has a great story, wonderful characters and a fun battle system.

Final Fantasy XIII - IMPORTANT

I won't deny that this is a divisive game, however, here's my pitch for why I think it is important.

First off, it's incredibly beautiful - truly stunning on the PS3 in fact - and the score is absolutely sublime. Like other Final Fantasy games, it absolutely nails it in the presentation department.

Lightning is my favourite Final Fantasy protagonist. Many have complained that she's "cold", but she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders, her parents are dead and she's supporting her younger sister Serah, who by the way turns to a block of crystal at the beginning of the game. Is she supposed to be jolly? She's incredibly strong and naturally used to working alone, so struggles being part of a team.
Other characters vary; I love Fang and Sash; found Vanille highly annoying until a story revelation later on; and thought that Snow was a jerk. Hope is often singled out for criticism, but he's a teenage boy who watched his mother die in front of him. He's not going to be Mr. Jolly, is he?

As with any RPG, the battle system can make or break the game. Thankfully here tbe battle system is a real highlight. It's a very fast-paced take on the ATB system of earlier Final Fantasy titles. So fast, in fact, that you can choose to have commands automatically selected by the AI. This lead to complaints that the game played itself (despite the fact that the auto attacks can be turned off), which belies the strategy at the heart of the system. Characters have a number of "battle roles", including Commando (basically a fighter who specialises in physical attack), Ravager (a black mage) and Saboteur (they cast debuffs and status ailments), among others. The player can choose to fix these roles on decks and then switch between decks in battle. This makes battles very strategic - particularly the extremely tough hunts that feature later in the game. It works brilliantly in game and is a wonderfully fresh take on the ATB system.

The game had a notoriously difficult development cycle, as it was made alongside the Crystal Tools engine. Benchmarks and requirements kept changing as it was also being used for Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XIV. Not to mention the PS3 itself was incredibly difficult to work with.
The difficulties the designers of XIII faced led to several compromises being made. Much of the game completely eschews exploration to the extent that early portions see you move along essentially straight corridors. Although the freedom of earlier games was largely an illusion - as there was always a fixed player trajectory - in XIII it is very rigid. However, in turn, the story is laser focused and sees the party continuously moving forward - they're fugitives, and on the run for their lives. Everything feeds into the story, which on the whole is enjoyable and thoughtful, although the villain is a little weak.
Whilst Final Fantasy X also saw the player move on a literally fixed path, each area had different routes to explore and you could also visit previous areas.
I wasn't personally bothered by XIII's design decision, but it did irritate many.
The game does open up much later, once you get to an area known as Gran Pulse. This features a wide open expanse that you can explore and complete optional hunts, as well as visit other areas off of it. It terms of the story and XIII's mythology, Pulse represents freedom compared to the rigidity of Cocoon police-state.

On the whole, yes it's divisive, but I feel that it's aesthetic beauty, the strength of the battle system, and a strong protagonist make this an important game that is rewarding experience if given the chance.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 - IMPORTANT

The reception for this was more negative than XIII, perhaps in response to backlash over XIII, which is a shame because in many ways XIII-2 was an improvement on its predecessor. For instance, areas are larger and far more open, with different routes and paths to explore. In general everything feels more dynamic. You can also revisit areas, and even choose which order to do things (to a degree). The game uses many of the unused assets and areas from XIII, so this sped up the development. Like XIII it's beautiful to look at, and the score is incredible.

The battle system, whilst largely the same as XIII, sees some tweaks, notably with the addition of monster companions. You can capture monsters and use them as party members, which is rather fun. My personal favourite was my behemoth.

This time round the party is small - only comprising Lightning's sister Serah and newcomer Noel, a time-traveller from the bleak, apocalyptic future. Both are likeable and a strong bond grows between them. The smaller party makes the game feel more intimate. With a time-travelling storyline things can get a touch confusing by the end, but it largely works.

Genji: Days of the Blade Giant enemy crab! Surely this has some importance for that alone? 😂 I've not played it, but the critical reception seemed mixed.

mookysam

PSN: mookysam

AdamNovice

@Kidfried @Gremio108 @Fight_Sora_Fight @Octane @mookysam @KALofKRYPTON
The up to date summary
VERY IMPORTANT
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn

IMPORTANT
Fight Night Round 4
Final Fantasy XIII

EXISTING
Farming Simulator 2013
FIFA Street
Fight Night Champion
Fight Night Round 3
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage
Folklore
Formula One Championship Edition

UNIMPORTANT
Farming Simulator 2015
Ferrari Challenge
FIFA Street 3
The Fight: Lights Out
Fit in Six
Fracture
Fritz Chess
Front Mission Evolved
Fuel
Full Auto 2: Battlelines
Fuse
Genji: Day of the Blade
Get Up and Dance

POINTLESS
Fast and Furious Showdown
Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2
G1 Jockey
Game of Thrones
Generator Rex: Agent of Providence

I considered moving Final Fantasy XIII down to EXISTING but @mookysam made a very good argument for keeping it in IMPORTANT.
If there's any you want to debate on moving then let us all know, if not then say LOCK.

AdamNovice

Twitter:

Fight_Sora_Fight

LOCK!

Thanks @mookysam for making the case for FFXIII so I don’t have to use one of my vetos .

Sorry for the lack of input team. I’ve got some things going on right now. I’ll be less active on the site for a couple more weeks, but I’ll be back soon.
I’ll chime in when I can.

Edited on by Fight_Sora_Fight

Lives, Lived, Will Live.
Dies, Died, Will Die.
If we could perceive time for what it really was,
What reason would Grammar Professors have to get out of bed?- Robert & Rosalind Lutece

mookysam

@AdamNovice @KALofKRYPTON @Kidfried @Gremio108 @Fight_Sora_Fight @Octane @mookysam

Week 6 Games

Janline R Recom
Jeopardy! Sony Online Entertainment
Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an Engine Isopod Labs
John Daly's Prostroke Golf Gusto Games
John Woo Presents: Stranglehold Midway Chicago
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle CyberConnect2
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights Juice Games / Paradigm Entertainment
Jurassic Park: The Game Telltale Games
Jurassic: The Hunted Cauldron HQ
Just Cause 2 Avalanche Studios
Just Dance 3 Ubisoft Paris
Just Dance 4 Ubisoft Paris
Just Dance 2014 Ubisoft Paris
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men IO Interactive
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days IO Interactive
Karaoke Revolution Blitz Games
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore Blitz Games
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2 Blitz Games
Katamari Forever Namco Bandai
Kick-Ass 2: The Game Grasshopper Manufacture
Killzone 2 Guerrilla Games
Killzone 3 Guerrilla Games
Killer is Dead Grasshopper Manufacture
The King of Fighters XII SNK Playmore
The King of Fighters XIII SNK Playmore
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Square Enix
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Square Enix
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
Knights Contract Namco Bandai
Kung Fu Panda Luxoflux
Kung Fu Panda 2 THQ
Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends Vicious Cycle Software

Edited on by mookysam

mookysam

PSN: mookysam

AdamNovice

The only games I can rank are Killzone 2 for Very Important and Killzone 3 in Important

AdamNovice

Twitter:

mookysam

I'll start with what I've played, which is basically Kingdom Hearts.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5

It is difficult to argue against the value of this collection, which includes two full games (KH1 and Re:Chain of Memories) and a movie based on the cutscenes from the DS exclusives 358/2 Days. Square-Enix went the extra mile with this remaster. In KH1 textures are redrawn across the board, character models replaced with newer versions (from Dream Drop Distance) and music reochestrated. It looks lovely and sharp and sounds absolutely beautiful, too. In addition to looking great, it also runs incredibly smoothly. As with many HD collections, this is also the first time many younger gamers will have played the games, so originally being PS2 titles shouldn't count against it.

The gameplay in 1 is dated in many ways - platforming is particularly wonky - but the game has such charm to it that it remains utterly delightful to play through. The massive cast of Disney characters, many of which are voiced by the original actors, really enhance the game from a presentational standpoint. The story is simple by Kingdom Hearts standards and works very nicely. The blend of Disney and Final Fantasy is masterfully done.

For European gamers this was the first time we got the PS2 remake of Chain of Memories, which was originally a Game Boy Advance title. It's a wonderful and underrated gem with a brilliant, fast-paced and fun card-based battle system. Many people have problems with it because they don't use combos. Seriously, use combos. Most locations are from the first game, but between the story and excellent battle system, this manages to feel a fresh and important entry in the series.

After Sora's campaign, there's a second, shorter one where you play as Riku. It's completely different to Sora's in terms of story, and Riku's battle style and moves are different too. Its story is quite essential to the wider Kingdom Hearts plot.

In all, 1.5 is nothing less than VERY IMPORTANT.

Kingdom Hearts 2.5 had less work done on it than 1.5. Kingdom Hearts 2 was already a great looking game (one of its generation's finest), and so outside of the upscale, the visuals remain the same as the original. The music in 2 has been completely reorchestrated and like 1.5 before it, sounds beautiful. The game runs smoothly, though there are some loading issues when changing Sora's form - it takes several seconds to load in, which is rather annoying. It's by no means a game-breaker, but it does make this less polished than 1.5's remasters.

For many gamers Kingdom Hearts 2 was already the best game in the series. Everything ups the ante from 1 - the worlds are bigger and better designed, there are more of them and combat is deeper and more fluid. The story is also more intricate; I enjoyed the nuance and (at that stage) moral ambiguity of the villains.

This is the first time Western gamers got the "Final Mix" versions of 2 and Birth by Sleep. In 2, the little story additions and new cutscenes improve the flow of the story and also gives more context to certain plot elements, particularly the motives of the villain. Between this and the gameplay tweaks and new bosses, 2 Final Mix is a better game than the original PS2 version.

Birth by Sleep was originally released late in the PSP's lifespan and so many gamers missed it. This version holds up nicely, although its PSP origins are evident - locations are smaller, and the visuals, while remaining colourful and attractive, are simpler than in the other games. There are three inter-connected campaigns, each enjoyable to play through. The Final Mix version also has new bosses and story links to 2, as well as an entirely new gameplay episode at the end that leads directly into the strangely named 0.2 episode in the PS4's 2.8 collection.

Birth by Sleep has one of the best combat systems in the series and was a huge influence on 3. It's fast and extremely fluid, and has the added benefit of being able to dodge and block from the outset. The real meat is in the "combat styles", where using certain moves, be they spells or physical attacks, will trigger a form change whereby your character temporarily has a new attack style and combo finisher. You can also "link" with other characters in lieu of having actual party companions, which gives you temporary access to other abilities and finishers.
The final piece of the puzzle is the system used to gain abilities. Abilities are linked to battles moves (spells/attacks), which are unlocked as those moves are used. In turn you can fuse moves to gain new spells, attacks and even more abilities.

Birth by Sleep has a nice selection of Disney world's, chosen so that the game very much feels like "the beginning" of the saga. As with other titles, original actors are used where possible.

As with 1.5 before it, 2.5 is VERY IMPORTANT.

Edited on by mookysam

mookysam

PSN: mookysam

Gremio108

Sorry, I've been a bit AWOL over the last few days. And I don't think I'm going to add much here either, because I haven't played a single game from this list.

Here's what I know though:

Jurassic Park is considered one of the weaker Telltale offerings, in fact I'd forgotten it existed until now. However, I've heard good-ish things about the story, which runs parallel to the events of the first film and concerns the contacts who Denis Nedry was supposed to meet at the docks on Isla Nublar, before he got waylaid by a spitty dilophosaurus. The puzzles and the general gameplay let it down, I think. The brainteasers apparently were nothing of the sort, while the moment-to-moment gameplay consisted of the worst of Telltale, and was unexciting.

Despite being a huge Katamari fan, I never got around to Katamari Forever, partly because it consists of rehashed stages from earlier games (only three new levels out of the 34 featured, cheers Wikipedia). The idea is that The King of All Cosmos has amnesia, so you have to remind him of these stages by playing them again, or something. The other half of the game is then set in the present. I'm going to quote directly from Wiki here, because I can't think of a way to re-word what follows:

"RoboKing, a robotic version of the King of All Cosmos created by the Prince and his cousins, goes on a rampage and destroys all the stars in the sky, which, unlike the King, he feels extremely remorseful for"

This will have series veterans sagely nodding their heads, while everyone else has already left the room. So basically it's Katamari - it's glorious, but at the end of the day it's more of the same.

Existing for both games, I reckon, with Katamari being higher in the category.

Good job, Parappa. You can go on to the next stage now.

PSN: Hallodandy

KALofKRYPTON

Very little input from me for this week's games other than the obvious.

Killzone 2, Very Important.
Killzone 3, Important.

Edited on by KALofKRYPTON

PSN: KALofKRYPTON (so you can see how often I don't play anything!)

Twitter: @KALofKRYPTON (at your own risk, I don't care if you're offended)

"Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise." - Cmdr William T. Riker

AdamNovice

@Kidfried @Gremio108 @Fight_Sora_Fight @Octane @mookysam @KALofKRYPTON
Alright gang, here's the current summary. Let us know what you think.

VERY IMPORTANT
Just Cause 2
Killzone 2
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5

IMPORTANT
Killzone 3
Kingdoms of Amaulr: Reckoning

EXISTING
John Woo Presents Stranglehold
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
Just Dance 2
Just Dance 3
Just Dance 2014
Katamari Forever
Killer is Dead
King of Fighters XIII
Kung Fu Panda

UNIMPORTANT
Janline R
Jeopardy
Jimmie Johnson's Anything with an engine
John Daly's ProStroke Golf
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Kane & Lynch: Dog Days
Karaoke Revolution Blitz Games
King of Fighters XII
Knights Contract
Kung Fu Panda 2
Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends

POINTLESS
Jurassic Park: The Game
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2
Kick-Ass 2: The Game

Edited on by AdamNovice

AdamNovice

Twitter:

KALofKRYPTON

@AdamNovice Looks pretty good to me.

PSN: KALofKRYPTON (so you can see how often I don't play anything!)

Twitter: @KALofKRYPTON (at your own risk, I don't care if you're offended)

"Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise." - Cmdr William T. Riker

ZeD

@Gremio108 also I do believe Jurassic Park the Game has been delisted!

Staff Writer @ www.otakugamers.uk
PSN: zedmayer
115 Platinums
Latest Platinum : Slayaway Camp (PS4)
Working On: Patapon/Game of Thrones/Grim Fandango

PSN: zedmayer | Twitter:

Gremio108

@ZeD Ah well, probably for the best...

Good job, Parappa. You can go on to the next stage now.

PSN: Hallodandy

KALofKRYPTON

@AdamNovice@Kidfried @Gremio108 @Fight_Sora_Fight @Octane @mookysam

In the parlance of the good Captain Slow - 'Cocking Nora'!

I've so limited an experience with this week's games that I'm really hoping most of you guys have some!

Played LPB 1/2 and a couple of the LOTR ones very briefly I think...

LEGO The Hobbit Traveller's Tales
Le Tour de France Cyanide Studio
Le Tour de France 2012 Cyanide Studio
Le Tour de France 2013 Cyanide Studio
Le Tour de France 2014 Cyanide Studio
Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust Team17
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Square Enix
Little League Baseball World Series 2010 Now Production
LittleBigPlanet Media Molecule
LittleBigPlanet 2 Media Molecule
LittleBigPlanet 3 Sumo Digital
LittleBigPlanet Karting United Front Games
Lollipop Chainsaw Grasshopper Manufacture
London 2012 Sega
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest TT Fusion / Headstrong Games
The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Pandemic Studios
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Snowblind Studios
Lost Demension Lancarse
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Capcom / K2 LLC
Lost Planet 2 Capcom
Lost Planet 3 Spark Unlimited
Lost: Via Domus Ubisoft Montreal
Lucha Libre AAA 2010: Héroes del Ring Immersion Software & Graphics
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Toys For Bob
Madagascar 3: The Video Game Toys For Bob
Madagascar Kartz Sidhe
Madden NFL 07 EA Tiburon
Madden NFL 08 EA Tiburon
Madden NFL 09 EA Tiburon

PSN: KALofKRYPTON (so you can see how often I don't play anything!)

Twitter: @KALofKRYPTON (at your own risk, I don't care if you're offended)

"Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise." - Cmdr William T. Riker

Octane

I've only played LBP, and I'd say the first one is VERY IMPORTANT. No idea if the second one improved on it a lot, but I've heard quite often that the third game wasn't that good; so I'd say LBP 3 is just IMPORTANT or maybe EXISTING.

Octane

KALofKRYPTON

@Octane I think the Vita version sort of overshadowed LBP3, that and it wasn't done by Media Molecule (I think).

EDIT - ha! It's right there in the list... duh.

Edited on by KALofKRYPTON

PSN: KALofKRYPTON (so you can see how often I don't play anything!)

Twitter: @KALofKRYPTON (at your own risk, I don't care if you're offended)

"Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise." - Cmdr William T. Riker

Gremio108

@KALofKRYPTON I've played all four LBP games and The Lego Hobbit. Thoughts coming later!

Good job, Parappa. You can go on to the next stage now.

PSN: Hallodandy

KALofKRYPTON

@Gremio108 cool.

I think this one is going to take some research! 😜

PSN: KALofKRYPTON (so you can see how often I don't play anything!)

Twitter: @KALofKRYPTON (at your own risk, I don't care if you're offended)

"Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise." - Cmdr William T. Riker

AdamNovice

@kalofkrypton Not many that I've played either, though thumbs up for the Top Gear/Grand Tour reference.

My rankings:
LittleBigPlanet VERY IMPORTANT
LittleBigPlanet 2 IMPORTANT
LittleBigPlanet 3 EXISTING

AdamNovice

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