Saturday, February 25, 2012

Soul Calibur VS FF XIII Part 2

I rest my case.. here are two reviews of some diverse quality. Guess which one wins

Soul Calibur V Review
Developer – Project Soul
Release – 1302012

- For the Sword
  Soul Edge began on the Sony Playstation many years ago. It branched out what 3D games could produce even within a small format, that of an audio cd. Pushing its capabilities, Soul Edge was a game that was called the most unique fighting game released at the time. Now in its current form, IV opened another door for the series.  Bringing back character creation (from III), and adding online play. However for many fans, we lost the story mode, to a simple challenge mode instead.  V now unleashes its next move…

- Chosen Ones
  Story mode introduces the player to Patrolkos (son of Sophitia) a noble heroic knight. With a quick intro, he takes on an oncoming barrage of enemies. (random battle?!) Apparently he’s hunting down those affected by the Soul Edge’s power. (and not quite a nice guy after all). Graf Dumas is introduced to the player as a new enemy (in history he was notorious for killing many people in Europe). From episode one, the story is grafted through cutscenes, and a hand drawn storyboard with dialog. I must admit, this is a different game than I expected.

Story mode matches are unique, and play as if directions are done by your actions. Perhaps Patroklos is finding alliances in his quest?

- Sheath
Alas there are many changes to the in-game hub. It looks character creation takes up most of the disc space. Playing story mode is the crux of the only story you are actually playing through. Offline mode consists of your regular choices, offline (arcade), vs and Legendary Souls (unlocked when certain requirements are meant). I don’t know why they took out the story with characters you play in arcade. I miss seeing the overlapping storylines of the heroes and villains. Story mode although well done, does seem to be missing a few key concepts that I loved in SCII. Its no longer an open choice mission setup, you can only play what’s given to you (in chapters). The only way you unlock items is through playing various modes, but its all random and shows up like a mini-box on the bottom of the screen. (like a wall street ticker message)

Even though the game had to change, it feels a lot is missing. My gaming heart just isn’t into SC anymore. Just chopping away designs that worked, into this.. I feel disappointed. They could have done so much more with V, it’s a shame that it doesn’t feel like a solid title anymore. But I will say this, story mode does have a solid tale, voice acting, cutscenes, and keeps you engaged for a while. But after that… what’s left?

Final Fantasy XIII -2
Developer – Final Fantasy Team
Release – 2012

War of the Gems -
Its been 3 years since the cataclysmic events of Cocoon’s great war. Lightning and her allies fought to protect Valhalla against a new threat known as Calius (whom was once an ally in the previous game). With the two in battle, a meteorite out of nowhere is summoned about to take her homeworld apart. Gratefully she gives her life to defend it, until a blinding light.. Three years later, Serah (Lightning’s sister) finds herself on a lost world, filled with remnants of the old land. Upon awaking, her clothes change from the off world, knowing that something is gravely wrong, Serah begins her quest to find her sister.
Fate is on her side, with a noble fellow by the name of Noel.. (and a trusty Moogle)

Broader skies-
FFXIII part 2 takes place immediately after the first game. If you missed playing the first entry, there is a handy beginner’s primer to get caught up. From the start you are given an array of submenus at your disposal. Plus you are able to freely choose your play style, and your party’s alliances. After dispatching several bugs, you are able to explore the new open world. Active time battle is introduced, timing is key to attacking or defending the party in play. Right after, interact with others around you to find out where to go. Even though 13 is a unique system, it still plays a lot like X (I fondly remember that game, but it had some outrageous cutscene sequences). Thankfully here in 13 part 2, they are significantly shortened, and you are able to pause or skip. However as this is my first play through, I won’t skip anything. But I am quite thankful for the pause feature. (Oddly enough the director behind Chrono Trigger is also taking the helm here within XIII-2, which explains the unique storyline.)

Level me up-
Like past entries, every time you engage in battle (win items, gain EXP). And your optimizations are limitless, given you gain enough points from battles. Party paradigm (organize your party’s playing style, from defensive, to offensive styles.  Crystarium – brought back from XIII part 1, the ability to level up your characters abilities through crystogenesis. (these are found during battles or in treasure chests).
Oddly enough, I’m a veteran player of the FF series, and I still find this feature fascinating. Honestly even better than our Americanized way of developing characteristics. I really miss free flow design ideas like this, it is a piece of creativity that is missing from a lot of concepts lately.

Leveing up is not only limited to your human based team. But also the monsters you interact with. From battles, you are able to capture creatures inside of elemental crystals. These shards house their powers, giving their owner the ability to forge a team of monsters at their disposal. Every time you obtain items during battles, they can be used to evolve your monster of choice.

By my side-
Another neat feature that I found myself enjoying was the monsters you could add to your team. It felt a bit like Shin Megami Tensei (or Devil Summoner as we call it here stateside). Once you’ve fought a monster, some may give you a crystal shard that contains an elemental energy that contains creatures that can become part of the team. Plus when you’ve fought various outside forces, they are able to be leveled up. (I wonder if it has anything to do with Lightning’s power to summons a huge array of them during the opening sequence).

Offense or Defense -
Paradigm system (with guidance from Mog the Moogle)
“Hi, Kupo! Mog the moogle here! This system is all made up by you the player. You can change from attacks, to defense, or providing cure all’s against hostile ailments. Plus your team’s levels also change the functionality and chains of your attacks. So the higher you are the better chances of fighting enemies better!”

Hymns -
Another solid piece of the Final Fantasy has always been the soundtrack. What makes XIII part 2 unique is the mixture of genres adapted into this sequel. XIII part 1 I’m sure carried many themes as well. But part 2 seems to carry more melodic trance than I’ve heard in a while. Battle sequences are introduced by a “time break” theme when enemies are in the area, or charge towards you. If the in-game area bgm is playing, they sequence together (which reminds me of what Jet Set Radio was capable of). Depending on the timeline you’re visiting, the music carries either a light or dark centered theme. As your team ventures towards other areas,  the world begins to change thanks to you.

What I learned through my story so far, is that time in the XIII world has fused with another. An outside force is changing the past to make the future different. However Serah is capable of forseeing outside possibilities within the time shifts. So its highly possible that players can make their own unique timelines. Honestly I learned the hard way venturing too early into the dense forest landscape, where a giant evil tree was capable of high offense and defense. Oddly enough I wasn’t able to beat the darn thing because I made a decision too early. So I faced my consequence the best I could. But it was unique to see what I could change (but by making the game even more challenging)

Until next time-
Honestly I found myself enjoying this game so much. I feel bummed out that Redbox ™doesn’t allow extended checkout on titles. And I glanced by the clock on my playtime so far 17h’45m’20s. I wanted so bad to keep going, but had to return it (actually I checked the game out twice, because I did want to keep going). As a longtime fan, I really have to say I love it still, even though its facing some tough criticism. That aside, any FF fan has to play this chapter, and if you missed part 1 get that as well.

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