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Metal Gear Solid 4 Complete!! June 27, 2008

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“Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots”. The title that was heralded as the system seller for Sony’s Playstation 3. And for all intents and purposes, it did just that. MGS4’s release day saw 1.3 million copies sold, and the week of the game’s release saw PS3 system sales jumping up 180%. As I wrote before, I jumped on the bandwagon as well, and this morning I finished the game. So, without further adieu, I give you Ender’s MGS4 Mini-Review. (Spoilers Ahead!)



Metal Gear Solid 4 is called a “stealth-action game”, and for the most part, that’s pretty accurate. Thankfully, the game skews more towards the action than the stealth, probably with the intention of widening the game’s appeal. Us Americans, we likes us some violence! You’re really given a great deal of freedom as to how you might want to approach any given encounter, so if you want to sneak around and not kill anyone, that is a viable option. However, you can also go in guns-blazin’ if you so choose, and the game will work just as well. The game offers a large assortment of guns and items, more than you’ll really use or need, and in my mind, this lends itself to more of an action-based approach.

The action is well-executed for the most part. I will say, though, that MGS4 has one of the most convoluted and unnecessarily-difficult control schemes known to man. To fire a gun, you first must ready the weapon by pressing and holding L1, then you can look down the sights with the Triangle button, and finally you fire with R1. When you’re sneaking and sniping, this is not so much of an issue. However, in the heat of battle, specifically close quarters situations, your first instinct is to fire away with R1 without hitting the setup buttons first. This got me knocked on my arse more than once, and was pretty frustrating.




So, what about the story? After all, the Metal Gear series is known for it’s epic (some call it ridiculous) story; depending on your stance, MGS4 will either delight you, or piss you off to the extreme. Once again, the story is very complex and hard-to-follow, so much so that Konami released a freely-downloadable database on the PSN to help fans understand the finer points of the story. While something free is always nice, I think the fact that there is a need for such a database indicates that this story is probably a bit much.

For me, the story is a bit of a problem. Now, first off, I understand the story. I’m not confused by it, I get all of it, and so I can speak without ignorance on the topic. It just seems that Kojima (the producer/director of the MG series) takes his own game series a bit too seriously. The scope of the story is so epic and huge, it almost swallows the actual game alive, and holds it hostage. To call the themes “heady fare” is a complete understatement, and I don’t blame anyone that skips the cutscenes to keep the action going. And that brings me to my next point……

If you’ve been following this game pre- and post-release, you’ve likely heard a great deal of talk about the length of the cutscenes, especially in proportion to the actual gameplay. Having just finished the game, I can give you the truth here: there is an absolute crapload of cutscenes. I mean it: hours and hours worth. In fact, out of my total playtime of 22 hours and 33 minutes, I’d say that at least 15 hours of it was all cutscene. Oh, and the much-discussed long ending cutscenes? 56 minutes long, I counted it. From the beginning of the Epilogue to the final credits, it was 56 minutes of cutscenes. It was brutal, believe me.




When I was actually playing the game, it was totally awesome. Honestly, the combat and gameplay is a blast! But that made it all the more difficult to watch all those hours of cutscenes, begging for some action or interactivity of some kind. Each of the 5 acts is preceded by a very lengthy “Mission Briefing”, and the end of each act is packed with more cutscenes. There are also cutscenes in the middle of each act, and pretty much anywhere else Kojima could fit them in.

Let’s move on. The graphical quality of the game is almost unparalleled on the PS3. The game looks great all the time, and the frame rate is rock solid. You also get some nice variety on gameplay with on-rails shooting missions, as well as a mech portion. There’s also a well-implemented gun shop system. which lets you purchase new weapons and ammo anytime you want to. I really liked that feature, and I hope more game devs take note of it.

How about characters? MGS4 has a slew, and all of them possess well-developed storylines and personas, complete with background, motivation, and believable voice acting. From Vamp to Naomi, Raiden to Otacon, Meryl to Akiba, and Liquid Ocelot to the “BBs”, this game is packed with memorable heroes and villains. I was not disappointed with the cast; on the contrary, I loved learning more about each person and what their deal was. I especially liked hearing the heart-wrenching backstories of the 4 female villains: Laughing Octopus, Raging Raven, Crying Wolf, and Screaming Mantis.

(Spoilers Below)



Now for some small spoilers:

  • Vamp is back alive in the game, but is finally killed for good later on.
  • Naomi dies of cancer.
  • You finally kill Liquid Ocelot.
  • Big Boss is not dead, but he dies at the end of the game.
  • Eva, Big Boss’ spurned lover, turns out to be your mother, and dies in the game.
  • Raiden is not dead, almost dies like 3 times during the game, and ends up living in the end.
  • Otacon nails (yep, that kind of nail) Naomi before she dies.
  • Meryl gets married to a nerd named Johnny.
  • Yes, Snake dies, but you don’t actually see it. It is, however, understood that he dies shortly after the game ends.

MGS4 also comes packaged with an online component called Metal Gear Online. I played a few rounds, and it’s actually pretty fun. The gameplay and setup is identical to the action of the single-player game, so it would probably behoove you to play through the storyline first, and then try going online. Not much else to report there; it’s Metal Gear Solid 4 with other live opponents.

Even with the frustratingly long cutscenes, poor control scheme, and confusing storyline, I can still fully recommend MGS4 to any PS3 owner. The game is so good, so polished, so well done, it must be played. I paid full price for it, and would again. It was awesome!! Worth it, worth it, worth it.


Out with the new, in with the still-kinda-new! June 22, 2008

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As I wrote a few days ago, I recently traded in some games to Gamestop in exchange for some new games, one of which was Ninja Gaiden II. I also wrote that the previous NG games were a little too difficult than I prefer, and as a result, I didn’t finish them. Ninja Gaiden II differs from the prior installments in that it is designed to be easier and more accessible than those games. In that aspect, it completely succeeds; NG2’s health system and plentiful supply of health-restoration items makes the game a breeze. And I like that about this game.

However, the game failed to capture me in a way that makes me want to continue playing it. The combat is fun, the gore is gratuitous (I like that), and the weapons are completely and brutally awesome. Still, it gets stale fast, and the story could not be more crappy. So, I decided I wanted to trade it for something else.



Ever since it’s release, I’ve wanted to give Lost Odyssey a try. It’s a traditional JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game), but the story is supposed to be exceptional. Many gamers admit to having cried at some point in the game. I’m not much of a crier, but I guess we’ll see. Anyway, I found a CAG who was willing to do a 1-for-1 trade, so I should have my hands on this title soon. I’ll let you know what I think!


My XBLA Collection June 19, 2008

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The Xbox Live Arcade offers a huge and diverse assortment of arcade games that you can download to your Xbox 360. These games are purchased with Microsoft Points, which is the currency of the Xbox Live Marketplace, and 1600 points will run you $20. Most of the XBLA games will cost $5-$10, with one in particular costing the full $20.


I’ve purchased and downloaded a fair amount of these games myself, and I thought someone might be interested in knowing what my XBLA collection consists of. So, here we go….

  • Aegis Wing – This game is actually free, and so of course I downloaded it. It is a side-scrolling shmup (shoot ’em up), and it’s decent for a free game. I’ve played it twice, I think.
  • Carcassone – My current favorite. This is like a board game, where you place pieces to form roads and cities, and then after all the tiles are placed, the score for each player is tallied. It’s far more fun than my description makes it sound. This is easily the best 800 MS Points I ever spent.


Carcassone –

  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – This is a re-release of the classic Playstation game. It’s fun, and being a big fan of the original, I felt obligated to download this. Oddly enough, I’ve only spent 10 minutes or so with the game, and I don’t see myself playing it anymore. Weird how my tastes can change. It’s worth the MS points, however.
  • Contra – This was my favorite game on the NES as a kid, so I was disappointed to find that the translation from NES to XBLA did not go well. The graphical update ruins the game for me, and don’t even think of trying the XBL multiplayer option. Lag abounds, and it just isn’t fun anymore. Not recommended.
  • Gauntlet – Another game I loved on NES as a kid. This game just sucks now. Seriously, don’t download it. It isn’t fun.
  • Geometry Wars – This is one of the best-selling games on XBLA (maybe the best-selling?), and so of course, I had to give it a try. This was actually my first download from XBLA. The picture below shows you how chaotic this game can be, and personally, I can’t keep up. I can appreciate why the game is popular, but I don’t enjoy it.


Geometry Wars

  • Hexic HD – I’m not sure, but I want to say that this was a free download to get started with XBL. It’s the same Hexic you’ve played online before, so nothing special here.
  • Ikaruga – This is a port of the excellent Gamecube title of the same name. This is a vertically-scrolling shmup, with a twist: your ship has a light and a dark side, and you flip between the two sides to absorb enemy projectiles of the same color. Dark enemies coming? Flip to dark, and their shots won’t hurt you. You get the point. The only problem with this title is the difficulty. Geez, I can’t beat the second stage. It’s a mutha.
  • JetPac Refuelled – This is fun little game. You play an astronaut who needs to pick up parts of his ship and reassemble it, while killing/dodging enemies. It’s good for a quick 10-minute game; I recommend it.
  • N+ – N+ is one of my favorites. You play a small ninja who has to navigate small levels to find the exit. It sounds simple, but with so many levels and so many obstacles, this game is anything but simple. The real star of the show here is not the ninja, but the game physics. I totally recommend this download.



  • Pacman C.E. – This is not your average Pac-Man, my friends. Viewed by most as the best Pac-man title available (is that really saying much?), this is a well-justified purchase. I really liked this game, although Pac-Man is only fun for so long. Still, worth the MS Points.
  • Paperboy – You played it on NES, now you can play it on your 360. It’s nothing special.
  • Puzzle Fighter HD – Am I retarded, or is this game freakin’ impossible to beat? God. I don’t know why this game is so popular. I hate it. Don’t buy it.
  • Rez HD – Rez is one interesting and hard-to-describe game. Essentially, it is an on-rails shooting title that utilizes rhythm in it’s gameplay to……man, I’m not sure how to word it. Well, it’s a fun game and worth the money, so give it a try yourself. It’s certainly cheaper than paying for the quasi-rare PS2 version.
  • Root Beer Tapper – Another dumb download. It’s fun and all that, but only for a small while, and then you feel like “Man I want those MS points back”. Ah well.
  • Street Fighter II HF – I downloaded this mistakenly thinking it was the upcoming Street Fighter II HD title. This one sucks, don’t buy it.
  • Streets of Rage 2 – I loved this game on the Genesis, and I actually still like it on XBLA. Definitely worth the cost. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up, and it’s just good bloody fun.


Streets of Rage 2

  • Super Contra – I adore the original Contra on NES, but this sequel sucked. Hard. I don’t know I even downloaded this; I think I had some extra points one day and just got bored. Stupid choice. Don’t buy this.
  • Undertow – This title was a free download as a gift from Microsoft to make up for XBL outages over the 2007 Christmas holidays. XBL was screwed up for everyone, and gamers were up in arms over it, so MS tossed us this crap title as a peace offering. I don’t even like it as a free game, so I certainly can’t recommend paying for it.
  • Uno – Now this might actually be the most downloaded game on XBLA. And rightly so; it is a blast! You wouldn’t think that Uno would be fun, especially on a console, but it really is and I completely recommend this game to any and everyone.
  • Worms – This game was very hyped when it was released on XBLA, mostly due to previous versions on various platforms that were well-received. I was never a fan of those versions, but I decided to give it a try anyway. I was disappointed. The gameplay seems boring and uneventful to me; I don’t recommend it.
  • Yaris – Another free download, and it is still free today. In fact, it always will be, because it is just a marketing tool for Toyota’s low-fuel-consumption vehicles. This game really sucks, but since it’s free, you might as well try it out.

There you have it, my Xbox Live Arcade collection. Just a note to everyone: all XBLA games offer a free demo that you can try before purchasing, so please make use of that option before buying bunch of crap games like I did. You’ll thank me!

The Beauty of the Final Fantasy Logos – Part 1 June 16, 2008

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I am a big RPG fan, and as you probably already know, my favorite series of all time is the Final Fantasy series. The combat systems, magic and skill systems, the art direction, and the stories are almost always riveting and amazing. For the uninitiated, each FF game is completely unrelated to the others, with the exception of FFX and FFX-2. Of the 20 or so titles in the series, I’d say 15 or 16 were really great.

Every FF game always comes with a beautiful logo, specific to that game’s characters or theme. Mr. Yoshitaka Amano is responsible for the majority of the logos, as well as all the FF art. There are so many to show, I am going to break them down into 3 seperate posts so as not to bog down the main page. And so, without further adieu, I give you the logos and a brief history of Final Fantasy 1-7……



– Final Fantasy –

Final Fantasy debuted in the U.S. in 1990 on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It possessed a very basic art style and combat system, but the story was pretty decent and the game was incredibly popular. Most important of all, it spawned one of the best gaming series ever made.



– Final Fantasy II –

Final Fantasy II was not originally released in the United States, but has since been included in bundles with Final Fantasy I. It’s really one of my least favorites, but it did introduce chocobos and FF recurring character Cid. You can check more FF 1 & 2 artwork here.



– Final Fantasy III –

Final Fantasy III was also only released in Japan; that is, until the Nintendo DS remake that was released in 2006. I didn’t care too much for this entry either. However, it was responsible for the introduction of Moogles, the “Steal” and “Jump” skills, Job systems, and best of all, summons. Check out this great FF3 art.




– Final Fantasy IV –

Final Fantasy IV was originally released in Japan as FF4, and in the United States on the SNES as Final Fantasy II. This was due to the fact that the previous two installments (FF2 and FF3) did not see a U.S. release; FF4 was numbered as 2 for the sake of continuity. This release introduced the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which was used in the next 6 FF games. This game is known as one of the most difficult in the series, so I am looking forward to giving it a try when it re-released on the Nintendo DS next month (July 22nd). If you want to give it a try now, you can find it in the Playstation Final Fantasy Chronicles compilation or the Game Boy Advance release. FFIV art collection here.



– Final Fantasy V –

This entry, unfortunately, did not see an original North American release either. If you haven’t yet noticed, these games are Japanese-made, and so Japan gets first crack at all of them. FFV did see U.S. releases in the Playstation’s Final Fantasy Anthology and the GBA’s Final Fantasy V. It expanded on the Job System used in earlier games. While not my favorite, this was a pretty solid game. FFV art here.



– Final Fantasy VI –

Final Fantasy VI was released in the United States as Final Fantasy III (SNES), and is my absolute favorite of the pre-FFVII Final Fantasies. I loved the experience system in this game, as well as the Espers and Mechs. This game was also re-released on the Playstation in the Final Fantasy Anthology and as Final Fantasy VI Advance on the GBA. Excellent game, and I really need to pick it up on the GBA. It would make my life if they would give this title the DS-treatment. Check this FFVI art.



– Final Fantasy VII –

Ah, Final Fantasy VII. I’ve already made it clear that I am a huge fan of this title; in fact, it is tied for my favorite in the whole series (the other is FFX). There’s simply not enough room or time for me to list here everything I love about this game, but to name a few: the characters, the settings, the story, the materia system, the summons, the secrets, the chocobos, and the atmosphere. Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Sephiroth are household names (to gamers), and some of my most-loved game characters of all time. FFVII was originally released on the Playstation, and the PC also got a release. Since the original Playstation edition, gamers have begged for a next-gen remake. Square Enix has not consented, instead focusing on mostly crappy sequels and prequels, with the exception being FFVII: Crisis Core, which I mini-reviewed a few days ago. If you are a gamer, you need to play Final Fantasy VII. Good luck finding a copy on Playstation, though; eBay is just about the only way to get one, and you’re gonna pay through the nose for it. The PC version is much cheaper and easier to find, so try that. Don’t forget to check the FFVII art here, here, and here.


So that covers Final Fantasy 1-7, and concludes Part 1 of The Beauty of the Final Fantasy Logos. Part 2 will cover Final Fantasy 8-12 (including X-2), and Part 3 will cover various off-shoots and sequels/prequels. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little education about the beginnings of the Final Fantasy series.


FF logos credit goes to http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sean.d.fowler/ffl/.

FF artwork compilation credit goes to http://www.finalfantasytr.com/artwork.htm.

What I’m Playing Right Now June 13, 2008

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I gave up on GTAIV. I tried pushing through, thinking that maybe there is some sort of cheese block at the end that will make all my sacrifice worth it……but no. I finished the 1st island, and I am sick of this game. All the swearing, all the monotony and tedium….I just don’t care anymore. So, I sold it.

I headed up to my local Gamestop, and I traded it in, along with 9-10 other games. This netted me $195 in store credit, which I used to renew my Edge subscription and buy Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3), Ninja Gaiden II (360), and God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP).


Now, I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with the Metal Gear series, so I’m not quite sure why I bought MGS4. I guess, in the end, it’s the newest and hottest thing, and I want to try it out. Also, I am trying to run a gaming blog here, so I feel like I should have something to say about the MGS4 phenomenon.

Ninja Gaiden II was also a rather curious purchase. I liked the Xbox original, but found it too hard, and I didn’t finish it. This sequel is supposed to be a bit easier, and I enjoyed the demo I played on XBLM, so I have high hopes for the game.

God of War: Chains of Olympus was a no-brainer. I love the series, and the opportunity to play it portably on the PSP sounds awesome. I am stoked for that one.

As far as what I have been playing, mostly I’ve been wasting my time getting slaughtered at Carcassone. I love that game, but man, I suck at it. 2-15 is my online record. Geez.

I’ll post some impressions once I get my feet wet with my new games!

My Favorite Podcasts June 13, 2008

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A few months ago, I decided to invest in my first iPod. I went with the 16GB iPod Touch (I would’ve gotten the 32GB version, had it been out when I made my purchase), and now I just can’t leave the house without the thing. From music to videos, pictures to email, maps to stocks, and weather to youtube vids, I just love the functionality and implementation of the device. The little device is actually the sole reason I reopened my Netflix subscription, because I can now watch movies on the go (see: on the toilet), and I don’t feel like I am wasting my monthly dollars. I love it so much, I am actually considering building my own Mac.

One of my absolute favorite things about my iPod (and, consequently, iTunes) is the ability to automatically download podcasts and listen to them on-the-go. Here are some of my favorites:




The CAGcast is my favorite of all. The hosts are CheapyD and Wombat, from Cheapassgamer.com. These two have a really interesting and enjoyable chemistry, and as their main topic is gaming, it makes for a really great podcast. At 10,000 or so listeners a week, I am not the only one that feels this way. So yourself a favor and subscribe to this one ASAP. If you do, and you enjoy it, then do them a favor and rate them on iTunes.


CAG Foreplay


This is another great podcast coming from CAG, but this time it is hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Shipwreck. Now, I will admit, the initial impression I had of this podcast was that a husband and wife duo would just come off as wonky and annoying. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is really a top-notch podcast with clear direction and a focus on the topic at hand: gaming’s new releases for the upcoming week. From the big name titles to every possible iteration of Dogz, Catz, and Platypusz that seem to come out every other week, the Shipwrecks will have it covered for you. They will even throw in a tidbit about where you can find the best deal for each game. Great stuff.


The SarcasticGamer.com Podcast

This is my 2nd favorite podcast after the CAGcast. Hosts Doc, Dave, and Lono are hilarious and interesting, they have good conversation on gaming and sometimes non-gaming related topics, and the show just flows so well. My only complaint is that it is too short. SG’s podcasts usually clock in at around 45 minutes or so; I much prefer the 90-120 minute length of the CAGcast. Still, it’s an awesome podcast with an international fanbase. Lono’s laugh is one of those great laughs that just makes me laugh even if I don’t get the joke. This podcast is a must-have for gamers.


The SarcasticGamer.com Humpday Update Podcast

The guys over at SG also make a Humpday Update, which is basically a 15-minute version of the original podcast that they put out on Wednesday. It helps us podcast junkies make it through the week, and it’s every bit as enjoyable as the full-length podcast. Well, maybe 1/3 as enjoyable. Maybe 3/8. I’m not sure, I don’t count well.


The SarcasticGamer.com Playstation Podcast (The Blue Show)

Finally, SG offers a podcast devoted completely to Playstation products and news. It’s not as fanboyistic as you might think, and it’s a nice diversion from the typical SG stuff, as the “Blue Show” is hosted by Rothbart, Frawlz, and PacManPolarBear (whoever the crap they are). Not quite as nice as the original SG material, but still a good podcast. I like it, anyway.


The Giant Bombcast

The Giant Bombcast is the last on my list, and that was indeed on purpose. It’s a good podcast, great for passing the time, and better than nothing, but it doesn’t match up to my other favorites. Starring “Internet Celebrities” Jeff Gerstmann, Alex Navarro, and Ryan Davis (video game nerds that people have heard of apparently pass for internet celebrities; who knew?), the Giant Bombcast is game-centric and a pretty good listen. My only problem is that the guys have yet to nail down their timing, so you get a lot of several people talking over each other, which can get distracting and annoying. Overall, however, it definitely is worth your time to check it out.


Well, there you have it. I hope you give them a try, and please be courteous enough to rate them on iTunes if you enjoy the shows!

Celebrity Spotting: Ace Young June 11, 2008

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Man, I really wasn’t expecting to have to write another Celebrity Spotting so soon, but hey, when the famous people wanna fly, they just fly. Who am I to question their tightly-packed schedules?

Yesterday I am at work when I notice a tall fellow that looks familiar to me. Being a huge American Idol fan (shut up), I immediately realize that this is none other than Ace Young, of American Idol fame.



Ace was a Final 12 contestant on the 5th season of American Idol, and was eliminated 6th of the 12. His big draw was good looks and sex appeal, as the women went nuts for some Ace. Yesterday at the airport was no different, as the ladies were swooning at the sight of him (embarassingly so, I might add). No one spoke to him, as I think we all assume that celebrities would like to be able to get on their planes without being bothered or even recognized. I didn’t find out why Ace was down in this part of the country (possible for a performance; he does have a new album coming out soon).

For the most part, he seemed like a cool guy. I wasn’t a big fan of Ace on AI, because I thought he was merely an average singer who rode the coattails of his own good looks. I do remember being particularly annoyed with him on one episode of American Idol that season. Apparently Ace received a scar on his chest during childhood, and during a live performance, he pulled his shirt aside to expose the scar. Of course, he claims it was a symbolic gesture for himself, but anyone with a brain knows it was an attempt to sway more votes by flashing some skin. It was lame and came off as gimmicky and awkward.


Fly safe, Ace Young.

FFVII: Crisis Core Complete! June 10, 2008

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For starters, I don’t finish many games. I’ll readily admit that, when it comes to games, I have a short attention span. If a game gets a little boring or too difficult for my taste, I’ll drop it in a heartbeat. So when I actually do complete a game, I get a huge sense of accomplishment out of it. That being said, I recently beat Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core for the PSP, and it felt great. All told, I sank 40 or so hours into it, and I loved almost every minute of it.




FF7:CC is a prequel to the immensely popular Final Fantasy 7, which was released for the original Playstation in 1997. FF7 was huge for a number of reasons, most notably of which is the fact that this was the first game in the series to be realized in fully-3D polygonal glory. It also featured an (arguably) amazing story and characters, and is responsible for many gamers’ introduction to role-playing games. It was my first RPG, and I was hooked from the beginning. I actually rented it from Blockbuster because I thought the cover looked cool. Being new to RPGs, I was confused initially as to how the game actually operated. After a few screw-ups, I got the hang of it, and I re-rented it 4-5 times so I could finish it. Awesome game.

The story of the FF7 universe is a convoluted one, and even after playing the prequel, I am still a little thrown-off by it. Nonetheless, FF7:CC does answer a number of questions most gamers had about FF7, and in that respect, it accomplishes what it set out to do. It’s also cool to see characters from the original FF7 in Crisis Core, such as Sephiroth, Aerith, Tifa, the Turks, and Cait Sith. There’s even an ode to Vincent Valentine, star of the abysmal Dirge of Cerberus. Traveling around Midgar, Nibelheim, Gongaga, and the Slums is great fun, and it will evoke sweet nostalgic memories from the original game in many gamers’ minds.

The game itself is not a straight-up RPG; it blends action-based combat with RPG elements to make an interesting formula, which provides complexity if you desire it, but can be simple if you want that instead. True Final Fantasy fans will probably spend some time with the Materia Fusion system, blending materia until they get some of the bigger and better spells available in the game. (I know I did; I wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t get Ultima in a FF game!) Less experienced, or perhaps more apathetic, players will do just fine without delving into the Materia Fusion system, as weaker materia is readily available througout the main storyline. The really good stuff though, the stuff that us true Final Fantasy fans will want to see, is only found in the Missions section.



Crisis Core offers a total of 300 side missions, accessible through the menu whenever you are on a save point. Most last anywhere from 1-5 minutes long, and consist of simple dungeon crawls. This may sound a little boring, but it really is fun, not to mention the fact that these missions are perfect for a portable game! They kept me company on many a dump. In these missions, you can acquire all the summons and high-level materia that aren’t available during the course of the regular game. Of the 300 missions, I believe I completed around 180 or so. At some point, you just start wanting to progress the storyline, you know? (Completing all those missions did make me incredibly powerful though, so the main story ended up being a complete breeze for me. The final boss fight lasted about 40 seconds. Boo. ) 

As for the story, it’s pretty good, I guess. Non-FF7 fans certaonly won’t appreciate it like fanboys will, but it’s still a decent premise. The big downside: LOVELESS. I won’t bore you with details, but if you decide to play this game (you should), bring some patience for poorly written poetry.

The action is a great deal of fun, probably the best part of the game. The sword hits feel like hits, magic is powerful but not overly so, and when you do finally get the DMW to land on the summons you want, you want to pump your fist in the air. Menus are somewhat cumbersome, but not prohibitively so. All in all, Crisis Core is one rock-solid addition to the PSP library.

Now I just have to find someone who will trade God of War: Chains of Olympus to me for Crisis Core. (I don’t keep games after I beat them!)

So, I tried Echochrome. June 8, 2008

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I’m sure most gamers have heard about this game already. It was highly anticipated prior to it’s launch, and it’s been available for download from the Playstation Store since May 1st of this year. It was released for both PS3 and PSP, with the PSP version still being downloaded onto the PS3, and then transferred to the PSP.

There is no story in Echochrome; it is purely a puzzle title. Clinging for dear life to the maxim that “less is more”, the game consists of a marionette-esqe figure walking along levels that are comprised of beams, stairways, holes, and jump pads. Based off the work of M. C. Escher, the game mechanic is built solely around the manipulation of the level itself, and not of the character. You can twist and turn the levels, and doing so alters the perspective of the level, making progression through the maze possible. It uses 5 “laws” to govern the manipulation of the level and how the character can interact with it:

  1. Perspective traveling – When two separate pathways appear to be touching, they are touching.
  2. Perspective landing – If one pathway appears to be above another, it is above another.
  3. Perspective existence – When the gap between two pathways is blocked from view and the pathways appear to be connected, they are connected.
  4. Perspective absence – When a hole is blocked from view, it does not exist.
  5. Perspective jump – When the mannequin jumps, it will land on what ever appears beneath it.


Demos of both the PS3 and PSP versions are available for download from the PS Store, so I checked out the PS3 version. I played through the tutorial and 5 or so levels. While I can appreciate the originality of the title, I find that the end result is just not very entertaining. Maybe in short spurts it could be bearable, but I found myself getting sleepy and bored. I also take issue with the mechanic and it’s executability. Take Law 2, for example. If you maneuver one walkway above another, and then the character walks off the “top” one (or through a hole that is in the “top” one), then the character is supposed to land on the “bottom” walkway. In practice, though, this isn’t quite as simple as it seems. The game often requires you to have the beams positioned in a very specific spot, instead of just simply one over the other. And the game doesn’t spell out for you what you are missing. Maybe it speaks to my lack of intelligence, but it just seemed a little abstract and odd for me. Not up my alley. I can’t recommend it.

Luckily, the demo is free and available for download right now, so try it yourself and let me know what you think!

Fallout 3 goes overboard! June 6, 2008

Posted by endersgames in Uncategorized.
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The Fallout series is probably best described as a cult classic; the first and second entries in the series were on PC, and were critically acclaimed, but not amazing sellers. A couple crappy sequels came later on various systems, and due to a high suck factor, they bombed immensely. Bethesda, the creators of the excellent Oblivion, are taking another swing with Fallout 3, due out in October of this year.




It’s become common of late for high-profile games to be released in a more expensive, goody-packed Collector’s Edition in addition to the standard edition. Typically, these CE versions include an artbook, soundtrack, or often-useless in-game item, together with pretty packaging for $10 more than the regular version. Bethesda, of course, wants in on the gravy train, and in the process has gone a tad overboard in their plans for extra versions of Fallout 3. In addition to the standard edition, there is also a Collector’s Edition, as well as a Survival Edition. All 3 are listed below for all available platforms, complete with Amazon links, for your preordering pleasure.


The standard edition is just what you’d expect: the game, the case, and the manual. It retails for $59.99 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $49.99 on PC.

Fallout 3 Standard Edition


The Collector’s Edition throws in some interesting extras, to include a Vault Boy Bobblehead, a Making-Of DVD, a Fallout 3 Artbook, and my personal favorite, a Vault-Tec Lunchbox. The CE version retails for $79.99 on Xbox 360 & PS3, $69.99 on PC.



Finally, we have the Survival Edition. This version is the same as the Collector’s Edition, but it throws in one more goody: a Pipboy Digital Clock. This version is only available at Amazon, and it is going for an absurd $129.99 ($119.99 on PC). With the clock being the only difference between the SE and the CE, I can’t see paying $50 more dollars for it. But if you just gotta have it……


Personally, I am going with the Collector’s Edition for PS3. Why PS3? I need more games to play on my PS3, that’s why. Everything I buy is for the X360, and I need something to play on that $600 monster I call my Playstation 3. I just hope the PS3 version isn’t inferior to the 360 version, as the trend has been in the past.

I am really looking forward to this title! It’s being pitched as a sort of post-apocalyptic Oblivion, which sounds just awesome to me. Anyone else got their ear to the ground on Fallout 3?