April 4, 2010
I can say, with absolute conviction, that Final Fantasy XIII has the finest-looking CG hairstyles of any videogame, ever. Any, more useful, assertions of the merits of Square Enix’s latest instalment in a long, long series may have to wait for the review, which in itself may be a long time coming. I’m over five hours in and after each one of those hours, enquiries as to how I’m enjoying Final Fantasy XIII have been met with answers along the lines of ‘I don’t know, it hasn’t really started yet’ or ‘I haven’t really done anything so far’. I’ve merely been pressing forward down what is essentially a linear, elaborately-dressed corridor, dispatching waves and waves of identical enemies by repeatedly stabbing the ‘X’ button, watching at least an hour’s worth of cutscenes and repeating ad infinitum. I’m tempted to say that, so far at least, Final Fantasy XIII has bored me silly, but at the same time, I still keep coming back to plug just another half hour into it with each play session.
March 23, 2010
It would be lazy to describe Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story as the third instalment in a trilogy of Mario games that you’ve never played, but it wouldn’t be far from the truth. Developed by Alpha Dream and not the big N (with the reduced marketing budget that that entails) and featuring the plumber and his friends in an RPG-like mechanic, virtually guarantees that this series will never get the audience it deserves. Which is a shame, as it’s a beautifully polished gem that should be in every DS collection.
October 25, 2009
Warcraft with guns. The laziest summary for Borderlands, perhaps, but also the most accurate. Essentially a first person shooter, combined with an RPG, Gearbox has dubbed it’s creation an RPS – a role-playing shooter. Much like an MMO, you choose one of four classes, each with different abilities and level your character up by killing monsters and by completing quests. Each time you level up, you gain a talent point, enabling you to customise your character in different ways – perhaps you want to cause more damage, or regenerate some health. The level of gameplay customisation is surprisingly deep for a console game, but having only reached level 11 (out of 50) I can’t go into detail over just how much of a difference each specialisation makes.
The main draw of the game is the procedural generation of it’s guns (and, to a lesser extent, it’s shields and grenade mods). Each time you open a weapon crate, new guns are randomly generated, and colour-coded by their rarity. A white gun is common, whereas a purple is rare, and yellowish red guns are very very rare. World Of Warcraft players will recognise this colour-coding instantly – it’s been lifted wholesale from Blizzard’s insanely successful MMO.
Mechanics aside, Borderlands is a beautiful game. Rather than risking comparisons to other RPG shooters, such as Fallout 3, Borderlands has a almost cel-shaded aesthetic, favouring bright colours and bold outlines as opposed to hyper-realistic textures. It’s a refreshing change, and certainly sets Borderlands apart if it transpires after further play that it’s gameplay doesn’t.
So far, the quests have been pretty samey, revolving largely around the death of small rat-like creatures and screaming midgets. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game, however, and I’m hoping later levels provide greater variety and better setpieces. Initial signs are good however, and hopefully Borderlands can find the sweet spot between twitch-gaming shooters and the obsessive-compulsive nature of RPGs.
The box art is cool too…