Tag Archives: ps3

Why I’m Excited for Star Ocean 5 and the Series’ Evolution

Square Enix and tri-Ace have just announced that a new Star Ocean game is in development. It was thought “The Last Hope” was going to be the final instalment in the series, but now we are set to head out into the great star ocean once more… But first let’s look back how the series has evolved.

Star Ocean 5 Background

The Star Ocean series began on the Super Nintendo and featured real-time battles with an interesting space travelling story. It allowed different characters to be recruited on different play-throughs and debuted the “private actions” system which revealed additional backstory for characters the player chose to engage with. The first game wasn’t released outside of Japan until it’s remake on the PlayStation Portable some 10 years later.

Star Ocean SNES

Next came “The Second Story” released on the original PlayStation, again using the action-based battle system the series is known for allowing full control over the playable characters in combat. Taking place 20 years after the first Star Ocean, this game allowed the player to choose between two different main characters that affected the way the story played out. The series was making a name for itself moving into the PlayStation 2 era.

Star Ocean 2 Battle

Set hundreds of years after the second game, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time moved the series into 3D and also featured fully voiced dialogue. The use of 3D graphics elevated the battle system to new heights and is seen now as the main drawcard of the series. Like the other titles it also has a vast item creation system and a compelling soundtrack.

Star Ocean 3 Characters

Most recently the fourth Star Ocean game was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and was actually a prequel to the entire series as humanity faced the aftermath of World War III. It added new facets to the battle system, like Blindside attacks and a four-character party and allowed the player control over their own spaceship.

Star Ocean 4 Edge

So why am I excited for a revival of Star Ocean? Well the developers have stated that they are trying to capture the spirit of Star Ocean 3, from the logo design, to the art style. Hopefully this means more that just superficially and actually means they aim to harken back to the PlayStation 2 era of design for RPGs. More than a few RPG series fell in quality during the last generation and some have been completely missing in action. So if Star Ocean 5 can come back strong it might lead the way for other games to do the same.

Star Ocean 5 Logo

Either way, I’m excited to take another Sci-Fi quest, travelling to unexplored planets and battling enemies in a fantastic new Action-RPG adventure!

 

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Review: Why You Should Play Child of Light

Child of Light is a downloadable turn-based RPG released across various PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox consoles that features a beautifully unique art design and an engaging combat system wrapped up in a fairy tale narrative.

Child of Light Aurora

The first thing that will strike you about Child of Light is the magnificent art direction and animation. It really looks like a watercolour painting come to life. If you ever dreamed of a fairy tale adventure as a kid, it would probably look a lot like this. The dialogue is also unique as it is delivered in poetic verse, keeping the conversations between the characters interesting and fun.

Child of Light Backgroud

The story follows Aurora, a young girl on a journey through the magical land of Lemuria to defeat the Dark Queen Umbra and return light to the world. The narrative seems ripped straight out of a fairy tale book, but there are a few twists and turns along the way. Aurora is a strong willed protagonist and she is joined by a colourful cast of characters along her quest.
Child of Light Thorns
The gameplay of Child of Light consists of some light side-scrolling platforming reminiscent of Valkyrie Profile and a battle system with ideas taken from Grandia. The turn-based battle system shows you a timeline of when actions with be performed, allowing you to time your attacks to interrupt the enemies onslaught. Each character has a skill tree that lets them learn new skills and abilities as they level up and you can also equip them with various element gemstones to add further bonuses to their stats.
Child of Light Combat
The music is equally effective as the visuals in taking you away to the fantasy land of Lemuria, from dark caverns to deserted villages. Most of the tunes are gentle and melancholy, but gain intensity when required in big battles. The beautiful piano driven “Pilgrims on a Long Journey” is a highlight that echoes the themes of Aurora’s adventure.
Child of Light Gate
Child of Light is a work of art, both in design and presentation. If you wish to play an artistic and whimsical RPG then you should play Child of Light.

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Blind Nostalgia or Just a Superior Game?

I first played Final Fantasy X over a decade ago. It was the reason I got a PlayStation 2 and it was the only game I owned until I completed everything there was to do (yeah even dodging 200 lightning bolts!) It was recently re-released as Final Fantasy X HD along with its intriguing sequel, updated graphics, beautifully remastered soundtrack and extra content from the Japanese versions. It is a bittersweet moment for me though as I keep asking myself why is this 10 year old ago game so much better than any other RPG I have played on my PlayStation 3 this generation?

Final Fantasy X HD Luca

Final Fantasy X is not my favourite RPG, or even my favourite Final Fantasy, but it is a fantastic game and transitioned the soul of the series wonderfully well from the PlayStation era to more powerful PlayStation 2 hardware. When people talk about modern RPGs, I have seen the argument that the often criticised Final Fantasy XIII is the exact same linear design first featured in Final Fantasy X. Initially I got the same impression, but the deeper you delve into each game, it becomes more and more apparent of how much superior FFX is and it really highlights the flaws in FFXIII and other modern RPGs in general.

Final Fantasy X HD Tidus

RPGs that tell engaging stories always have to have a component of linearity, but the ones that are elevated above the normal are the ones that still provide the illusion of freedom. The older Final Fantasy titles did this amazingly well that we didn’t even notice it was a feature until it was gone. Sure, you had to go from one place to the other as the story dictated, but the choice was always yours. You could explore other areas off the beaten track to find secret items, you could backtrack to previously visited areas to see how things had progressed, you could partake in mini-games at your leisure, you could fight endless battles to build your characters up to insanely powerful levels or when you were ready you could just get on with the story. The illusion of freedom was always there, Final Fantasy X had that… Final Fantasy XIII did not.

Final Fantasy X HD Group

Final Fantasy X HD has had a facelift and I really appreciate the effort that has gone into the visuals. The backgrounds are magnificent, sharp and intricately detailed and the main character models have also been noticeably upgraded. There are plenty of elements left over from a game originally released in 2001, but for me this world is beautiful and endlessly enticing. FFX’s Spira is one of the most living and breathing worlds in any RPG and I found myself talking to all the NPCs around and often stopping to take in the extraordinary scenery. Again I have found it hard to be absorbed in the worlds of modern RPGs, but Final Fantasy X does it effortlessly. This is a fantasy I was more than happy to return to.

Final Fantasy X HD Besaid

I hadn’t played FFX for over 10 years so I couldn’t remember every single detail of the story, but I was surprised how quickly I was drawn into the story. Having visited Japan recently, the themes and locations really hit me as having a more Asian feel than most games in the Final Fantasy series, such as the island-like setting, the temples and architecture, Yuna’s kimono and respectful/ reserved personality, Auron’s design etc. While lots of modern Japanese companies are striving to “Westernise” their games to better appeal to English speaking cultures, it is ironic to see how Japanese FFX feels and then how popular it is with said fans. The story is a big feature of Final Fantasy X and it is fantastically realised and implemented. Again to compare it to FFXIII, the backstory of Spira and its fate is easily and logically explained through gameplay itself, instead of having to read through a datalog to try and follow what is going on.

Final Fantasy X HD Yuna and Tidus

Just like the world, the characters are also full of life and depth. During its original development Squaresoft put a big emphasis on character emotion and this groundwork still shines through today. The interactions between the main characters are thoughtful and touching and I really enjoy the honest moments between Tidus and Yuna. Some of their conversations have an air of innocence and childlike perception and I can’t help but think this was the influence of Hironobu Sakaguchi as many of his games share this trait. Modern Square Enix RPGs including FFXIII definitely don’t have these moments and a lot of the staff are the same between these two games except Sakaguchi, it couldn’t just be a coincidence could it? FFX was also one of the first RPGs to feature extensive voice acting and while it is not perfect there are some truly memorable performances that helped elevate the experience. Viewing Auron’s emotional and thrilling speech before the battle with Yunalesca still sent shivers down my spine even today and the noticeable difference between Tidus’s whining voice during the first half of the story, compared to his deeper more mature voice during his narration is a great example of subtle character development that is not just thrown in your face.

Final Fantasy X HD Auron

The last thing I want to touch on is the battle system. I still think this is one of the best battle system in any RPG. The ability to switch out party members so that everyone can participate is genius and adds a lot to battle strategy as different characters are needed to deal with different enemies and it helps build attachment to whole party. Being able to control everyone in battle is a big feature for me and games like FFXIII that limit you to one only is a big disappointment. Seeing as you spend so much time in RPGs during combat, having a flexible, strategic battle system is a must. Square Enix tried to speed up the battle system in FFXIII but lost a lot of the strategy as I did find myself just hitting auto battle repeatedly, just waiting until I staggered the foe, switched combat roles and repeat. If they wanted to speed up the battles they only need to look at Final Fantasy X’s sequel that hit a great balance between speed and strategy/ control.

Final Fantasy X HD Battle

I am fully immersed and loving every minute of Final Fantasy X HD. I just wish they would still make these kind of RPGs with big budgets on home consoles today. It is just not nostalgia for me, they are just simply better designed games…

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Preview: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Level-5 made their name known to RPG fans with great games such as Dragon Quest VIII, Rogue Galaxy and the Dark Cloud series. Their new RPG for the PlayStation 3 is looking to recapture the magic and whimsical atmosphere of those classic games by combining beautiful visuals with traditional elements of the genre.

The first thing you will notice about Ni No Kuni is the art style, which is created from a collaboration with famed anime company Studio Ghibli. The world is inviting, colourful and seems to be full of imagination. The player will travel from large cities to lush jungles and the game will include a large scale world map that you can freely explore, just like all RPGs used to.

The story will follow Olivier, as he enters the alternative reality world of Ni No Kuni in search for his dead mother. With his new ability to use magic, Olivier will meet many strange and wonderful characters along the way as he must also help the citizens of the parallel world in their own plight. The battle system uses a mixture of real-time and turn-based combat. Characters can attack using magic spells, but can also recruit enemies to fight for you. Battles seem to be a mix up of ideas from many different games and it will be interesting to see how they all come together.

If you love the charm and feel of RPGs from the Super Nintendo era and wish to explore a creative and imaginative world, then you should be interested in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.

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