Tag Archives: ps4

Why I’m Excited for Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy XII was one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation 2. Released back in 2006, it revolutionised both the Final Fantasy series and RPGs at the time. It modernised the turn-based combat system the series had been using into a more real-time hybrid, while still managing to keep the strategic gameplay and allow players the time to choose actions if they wished. It also featured stellar voice acting for it’s generation and was backed up by the wonderful world of Ivalice, which had appeared in many other Yasumi Matsuno games.

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Now Square Enix has announced a remastered version for PlayStation 4 under the title of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. So why am I really excited to revisit Princess Ashe and her crew on their quest to gain freedom for Dalmasca?

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Well the biggest new feature here for English speaking fans is this remaster is based on the updated Internal Zodiac Job System version of Final Fantasy XII that was never released outside of Japan. More than just a simple update, it made huge changes to the fundamental gameplay of the original by including specific jobs you could assign to each character to further define their personality and role in the story. There are also many tweaks made to balance the game and the combat systems. Ultimately it will play like a familiar, yet vastly different game to the original.

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Other less dramatic changes involve updated visuals and character models, the ability to speed up the gameplay, the inclusion of both the English and Japanese voice tracks and the always welcome re-orchestrated soundtrack by the legendary composer Hitoshi Sakimoto.

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So if you want to experience an RPG that’s gameplay systems were ahead of it’s time, both updated for returning fans and new players alike, then you should be excited to play Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age.

 

 

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Final Fantasy VII Remake

The reunion at hand may bring joy, it may bring fear, but let us embrace whatever it brings. For they are coming back…

Almost 20 years ago, Final Fantasy VII was unleashed on the original PlayStation and burned itself into the hearts and minds of many people. It is still a highly regarded RPG and looked back upon fondly by the millions that played it. Whether it was the 3D graphics, the impressive (at the time) FMV sequences, the sensational soundtrack, the atmospheric and intriguing world, the lovable and iconic characters, the strategic turn-based battle system, the emotional and quirky narrative or just a combination of all of those things and more, few games have the immense reputation as Final Fantasy VII. Now it is going to be remade anew!   

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Final Fantasy VII is my favourite game of all time and for years I often wondered what a remake would be like, honestly it brought equal parts excitement and fear. Final Fantasy VII is very much a product of its time, for both good and bad, but it’s what makes it what it is. By updating the game to modern standards it would no doubt look amazing… but, would voice acting destroy the beauty of the soundtrack? Would the battle gameplay be changed and the material system diluted? Would the narrative lose some of it’s more unique and bizarre moments? And would the lack of original creators like Hironobu Sakaguchi, Nobuo Uematsu and Masato Kato that no longer work at Square be sorely missed? These… these were the questions that I could never answer.

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Despite these reservations, I cannot deny my excitement for this remake. To revisit this world again and see it in a completely new light. The moody and sombre Midgar, the mysterious and eerie City of the Ancients, the wild and wacky Gold Saucer, the intimidating Junon, there are so many fantastic locations in Final Fantasy VII to explore. The details were exceptional on the pre-rendered backgrounds and they were really highlighted by the cinematic camera angles. The remake has a great opportunity to really breathe new life into this world and amaze the player with its scope and diversity.

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I also can’t wait to see how they adapt the story, both the truly emotional and heartfelt moments, but of course the funny and weird ones just as much. Final Fantasy VII deals with some harsh and realistic themes. Aeris’ death scene, Dyne’s mass murder at the Battle Square and emotional exchange with Barret before his suicide, Zacks original brutal and stoic death, Shinra dropping the Sector 7 plate and killing thousands, juxtaposed over the heroes blowing up the Mako reactors and killing innocent civilians themselves and of course Sephiroth losing his mind and setting Nibelheim ablaze and walking through the flames.

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In contrast it also has plenty of funny moments that really give it an identity all of its own. I hope we get to see scenes like Cloud dressing up as a girl to infiltrate Don Corneo’s Mansion, Tifa slapping Scarlet on top of the Junon Cannon, Red XIII disguised as a sailor walking on two legs (and Barret dressed as a marshmallow), Aeris and Cloud participating in the Play on their Gold Saucer date (or Tifa, Yuffie or… Barret), Cloud trying to get into the Shinra Parade unnoticed and especially Cid telling everyone to sit down and drink their God damn Tea!

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Sure, changes will be made. The battle system will be changed to something more modern and adopt a turn-based, real time hybrid, some story segments will be altered, voice acting will be present and some of the mini-games may be cut. But based on the latest trailer Square Enix and Tetsuya Nomura look to be staying as faithful as possible and aiming to recapture the vibe and soul of the original game. We will always still have the original Final Fantasy VII that we can go back and play anytime, but I am happy to embrace this reimagining of Cloud’s journey and be excited to discover everything all over again…
Besides, there ain’t  no getting off this train we’re on, so… Let mosey!

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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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Why I’m Excited for Kingdom Hearts 3

When the original Kingdom Hearts was released on the PlayStation 2 over 10 years ago I wasn’t playing video games much at the time. I had completed and loved Final Fantasy X but other hobbies had taken my interest. I saw an advertisement for Kingdom Hearts on TV (it was 2002 remember!) and it enchanted me straight away. It had a great atmosphere and story, a fun combat system, a nice throwback to Disney animated films and of course cameos from Final Fantasy characters from my favourite games ever!

Kingdom Hearts 3 Sora

Fast forward over the years and I played Kingdom Hearts 2 which was also great and even the PlayStation Portable entry Birth By Sleep which I also enjoyed. There were many other side stories that have been made that I just haven’t had the same interest in compared to the original and never played. There was something about the simplicity of the first game and I hadn’t felt that way about the series since then. The development team that made Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 have been working on Final Fantasy Verses XIII (newly changed to Final Fantasy XV) for at least the last five years so a new mainline entry seemed forever away. That all changed with the recent announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 in development by the studio that made Birth By Sleep overseen by original director Tetsuya Nomura.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Battle

For whatever reason, the announcement trailer has got me excited all over again about Kingdom Hearts. Whether it was the new graphics engine that looks fantastic, new worlds to explore or just the promise of the conclusion to the storyline of the mainline trilogy my imagination quickly thought of all the things I hoped Kingdom Hearts 3 could be.

Firstly, getting back to playing as Sora on the big screen with an evolution of the crazy action battle system the series is known for. I have always enjoyed turn-based RPGs more, but the Kingdom Hearts real-time battles have delivered some tense fights and I clearly remember the amount of effort and attempts it took to best Sephiroth in the original or the epic battle against the 1000 heartless with the aid of Cloud and Squall in the sequel.

Kingdom Hearts 2 1000 Heartless Battle

Then I thought about all the returning and hopefully new Final Fantasy characters they could include and to see them in the new updated, but still stylised graphics. I’m sure Cloud will return (hopefully more in line with his original appearance, with the hair flick and more cheery personality intact) and maybe the introduction of characters from other games not originally designed by Nomura such as Terra from Final Fantasy VI, Zidane from Final Fantasy IX or even Ramza and Delita from Final Fantasy Tactics.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Sora Artwork

Lastly, with the storyline focusing on searching for the “Seven Guardians of Light” I hope it can get back to a more straightforward narrative like the first game, travelling from world to world (with new appearances from Disney films) and just piece each part of the story together to end in a massive final keyblade battle between Sora and the forces of light, against series antagonist Master Xehanort and the darkness!

Anybody else excited for the possibilities?

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Is the Time Right for a Remake of The Legend of Dragoon?

I have just begun playing The Legend of Dragoon for the first time. Released on the original PlayStation in 2000, this was Sony’s attempt at developing an epic RPG to ride the wave of success started by Final Fantasy VII. While it was popular, it never garnered the critical acclaim, or the commercial success of the game it tried to emulate, but it was an outstanding RPG in its own right. While I have been having a fantastic time playing it and it definitely has that magical feel that only RPGs made in that era posses, I believe this would be a great time for Sony to remake the game for a new generation.

The Legend of Dragoon Dart Shana Rose

Firstly, The Legend of Dragoon was released towards the end of the PlayStation’s lifespan and the PlayStation 2 was beginning to take over, so many players may have missed out on the opportunity to play the game. With Sony set to announce new hardware and with a general lack of large-scale console RPGs developed by Sony anymore, now would be a great time to re-imagine the game and capture player’s interests.

The Legend of Dragoon Beautiful

While The Legend of Dragoon was created with pre-rendered backgrounds and low polygon character models, the art direction is detailed and beautiful and would translate well to the realistic graphics found in today’s games. There are a number of set pieces found in the story that would be amazing to see with updated graphics and could be a fine showcase of Sony’s new hardware.

The Legend of Dragoon Attack

The turn-based battle system also tried to do something different, by including real time button presses to execute combos and increase attack power. This made combat more engaging and would allow the designers to keep the turn-based mechanics, instead of following most modern RPGs that utilise more action orientated battle systems. The battles are very cinematic, especially with the Dragoon transformations, which would also translate well into more realistic graphics.

The Legend of Dragoon Dart

The Legend of Dragoon was made as a chance for Sony to increase the momentum of RPGs at the time, but a remake now would allow the game to stand on its own. The story is interesting, the characters are memorable and the game play has unique features that set it apart. A remake would also allow the designers to tweak some aspects of the game such as an updating the soundtrack, adding more voice acting and having a free-roaming world map. It was recently revealed that a sequel was once in production but was unfortunately cancelled and while The Legend of Dragoon was a great RPG that might not have found its full potential, the time is now right for a remake!

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