Tuesday, April 08, 2014

2014 Play Log - April 5 to April 11

4/5 & 4/6 - Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Image Since Square-Enix was running a beta test weekend for Final Fantasy XIV on the PS4, I decided to give it a try for my weekend gaming. Many, many moons ago, I played FFXI with my wife and brother for nearly two years, so there's a lot of history there (that I will cover in a separate blog in the future). I've heard some pretty good things about this newly  engineered version of XIV and wanted to see how it differed from XI. Also, would it be worth $15 a month? (I remember when I first saw a trailer for FFXIV, I didn't know that it was an MMO. When I saw on the closing screen that it was "online", I had tears of joy in my eyes. They had taken a game that had become almost a second home to me for 2 years and made it shine like never before!) Now, I'll admit I only had a chance to play 3 or 4 hours worth and that included the necessary time to load the game and get back into my old Square-Enix account. My goal was to get through the opening tutorials and have at least one or two fights against low level creatures outside the starting town. And I was able to do just that, but a lot has changed from 11 to 14! The graphics for the port town I started in looked like something out of a 3DMark benchmark video test - they just sparkled! The character creation took me nearly 1/2 hour alone and had enough customizing options to make the ones in Skyrim look like you were building a Lego figure. So far, great! When I actually started playing the game, that's when I began to have mixed feelings. Firstly, I had two instances where the writing just seemed anticlimactic - a pirate attack was brushed off and what could have been a visually impressive transition (a lift ride to another level) was just a fade-out/fade-in affair. Ok, not big deals, but still not impressive either. Second, one of the major changes from XI is that quests are handled in XIV much like they are in WoW (ie, marks over NPC's heads, goals on maps, etc.) While it was sometimes incredibly frustrating how XI made you search out quests, it gave the game it's own unique (and hardcore) flavor. Now, it's no different than any other RPG or MMO. Missions will be very quick to get through, I suspect, and there will be little need for consulting website forums or fellow adventurers. And thirdly, when I did finally get outside to kill some "Lost Lambs" (so a restaurant would be able to serve the meat), all the creatures had their level numbers next to their names above their heads - I guess so you know what things to attack and what not too. Also, combat is automated to a degree. You pick a target, engage and then your character will auto-attack while you add in special attacks during the fight. (Honestly, I'm trying to remember exactly how combat worked in FFXI, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't auto-combat.) Add to this that all NPC conversations are non-voiced and, at least on the server I was running on, nobody was talking in chat (but that could have been because no one had a keyboard on their PS4). It's also a little annoying that they basically used the same races, but gave them different names (you still have, more or less, Galka's, Mithra's, Humes, Elvaans, and the Tarutaru). Why not just call them the same thing and have some consistency with FFXI? They still have other races like Moogles and Goblins that look the same. Anyway, is it worth $15 a month? In today's gaming landscape, I'm going to say no. If it were $5 a month or F2P with micro-transactions, yeah, I'd play it, but with the time I have to put into games (which isn't much), it's just not worth it.

4/7 - More of a movie night than a game night, so nothing to report. At least I got some extra sleep.

4/8 -  I'm going to make this a quick one because I didn't play any games. Instead, I got something I really needed, cat therapy. Olivia (that's her name) knew I was out of sorts and did her best to make me feel better. And it worked. One of my favorite TheOatmeal comics (HERE) teaches us not to ignore the real world for the cyber one.

4/9 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Image In the interests of brevity, content, and because nothing particularly exciting happened, I'm leaving Raven out of the notes today. I ventured into a new area that looks like New Mexico (or what pictures of New Mexico look like) and...did more quests, killed more creatures, got more stuff. But that's what this game is for, so I'm not complaining. It was a little disappointing that some of the same creatures I had been fighting in the wooded areas were now in the desert sections too, but there were a few new additions - including some zombie-like sword swingers who must just come up out of the ground. Whenever you start a new area, there's always this fear that some new thing you run up against is going to be way more powerful than you can handle. Makes it harder to relax and enjoy the game. Having just played FFXIV, I was able to compare the two games. Mission-wise there wasn't much difference except in KoA the quest givers talk to you which I like. Combat is also better in Amalur - it can be very satisfying to fight several enemies at once and come out unscathed by blocking, directing attacks, and casting spells. It doesn't always go that way, but damage is easy enough to handle with health potions. I do wish that I gained experience a little faster - I started and finished the night at 16th level.

4/10 - Final Fantasy VII Image Playing FFXIV the other day got me very nostalgic for other FF games and I decided to go VERY retro tonight - as in my original Playstation Greatest Hits copy of Final Fantasy VII. (OK, I did at least play it on the PS3 with upscaling and smoothing.) This game is so old, it uses the Japanese designations for the O and X buttons ("Ok" or "Yes", and "No" or "Cancel" respectively). It also doesn't use the thumbsticks because the original Playstation controller didn't have them. I had played a little of it many years ago, but remembered nothing about it. I had completely forgotten that you start the game as a terrorist! (I'm guessing you are the good kind of terrorist. Just haven't gotten to that part yet.) Even though the game is incredibly dated (the 3-dimensional figures didn't even have mouths), I was instantly caught up in the story and the action. I'm looking forward to playing more...but I think I'm going to switch to the updated version I downloaded off of Steam.

4/11 - Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition Image My wrist was acting up a little tonight, so I figured that whatever I played it would have to be controller based. I chose Dead Nation AE on the PS4 since it's some nice, light arcade action. I played it a little when it was released, but not seriously. In some ways it reminds me of the old Robotron game (ie, twin-stick shooter) even if you do need to press a button to fire. Definitely an enjoyable game, and one of the PS+'s better freebies.

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