Monday, September 8, 2008


For the uninformed, the genius minds behind greats such as The Sims, SimCity, SimAnt, etc. have been working on an entirely new game. Spore. In Spore you begin as a single celled organism and over the course of your play time, your creature evolves to the point where it comes out of the water onto the land. Eventually your creature even begins socializing with other creatures forming alliances, or if it's more your style you can just kill the other packs/herds of creatures.

You'll go from controlling a single creature to a whole society of your creatures, all 100% customized by you along the way at each various stage of evolution. Where is this intriguing game you ask? It's not out yet. But! That doesn't mean you can't have a little fun in the mean time. I got my hands on the Spore Creature Creator a few days early, a little demo that takes you through the basics of creating a creature and lets you give it a test run and see all the little animations your new life form can do. All totally unique to however you design your beast.

I downloaded this at... 2:00am and here it is going on 4:30am and I'm still playing with it. You can't even do much else besides be creative and play around, but it doesn't even matter. It's still fun. I can only imagine how entertaining the complete game will be. So what did I do with my time? I created just a couple creatures to test out. Most notably: Mintoad. As if watching Mintoad hop around and dance wasn't cute enough I discovered a magical button that spawns baby versions of your creature... and they imitate anything they see mommy (or daddy) do.

If you're interested in Spore at all, you should definitely go snag the Creature Creator when it becomes available for public download.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Age of Conan

AoC is an exciting game to play and is the cause of my absence lately.

Smoothest game (MMORPG) launch I have ever been apart of, despite a couple of issues, and I have been there at just about every launch in the last decade. No crashes, no lag, no roll backs. So now the pros and cons!

The game has lovely graphics.
The sound is remarkable. Music, ambiance, voice acting, all of it.
The game mechanics are innovative and intuitive.
Combat isn't a complete snore fest.
There is no auto attack.
Instancing alleviates zone lag and crashing.
Quests are group-friendly.
The lore is superb based on the works of Howard.
The game's plot is grade A.
The emotes are amusing and smooth.
Crafting is complex and the rewards are great.
The economy seems heavily player based.
Mounted combat.
The dance system is very unique and fun.

Despite the game's lovely graphics, customization is lacking.
The game mechanics make combos slow and occasionally useless in PVP.
Due to no auto attack I actually have to pay attention all of the time.
Instancing can cause some initial confusion amongst groupmates and guildies.
Also instancing means less people to talk to/kill per area.
There are no custom emotes (currently).
You cannot craft until level 40.
Money is very hard to come by.
There are some glaring class imbalances that have yet to be worked on (most bug-induced).
Dancing isn't friendly to all races/genders. Some people look downright ridiculous.

All in all it's a great game that could use some polish. Even with the current state of the game I'd recommend it, it's fun.

Edit: The game has gotten progressively worse in the months following launch. So much so that the game now has a free-to-play option (with limited classes and races available unless you pay-to-play, even if you had them maximum level previously).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Final Fantasy: Crisis Core

I got my hands on a copy of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core a few days early and haven’t put it down except to sleep and bathe.

I know many people had reservations about a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, but I have to say not only was this game done remarkably well, but I think it really does enhance the story and characters in Final Fantasy VII. In other words, it’s not just a money cow for Square-enix to suckle dry. They actually put effort and time into the game, and it’s good.

How good? Really good.

First of all you play as the obscure Zack, Cloud’s mysterious friend from the Shinra Mansion in Final Fantasy VII.

The story is engaging right from the get go. I know some Final Fantasy games can have pretty slow "tutorial-feeling" starts, but this really isn’t the case in Crisis Core. From the moment I hit New Game I felt compelled to continue playing.

The story is not only engaging, but it’s also deep, intricate, complex... all the reasons people loved the plot in Final Fantasy VII. Character’s have pasts, involving pasts. You may mistake them for real people if it weren’t for magic, summons, and the fact that they’re living in a world controlled by a power mongering electric company.

When you run into well known main characters from Final Fantasy VII, it doesn’t feel like a cheap thrill. You actually interact with them and with their help parts of Final Fantasy VII which left you wondering "wtf?" become clear. I for one thought figure heads like Sephiroth for example would just be quick glimpses to keep you playing, but that really isn’t the case at all.

The voice acting is actually top notch. On par with Heavenly Sword, dare I say it. Also the musical score introduces not only many new immersing pieces but also higher quality remakes of some Final Fantasy VII favorites -- but I won’t spoil them for you. You’ll hear them.

Combat isn’t traditional RPG, which I thought was going to bother me. It’s something like Final Fantasy XII but better. Like they finally worked out all th kinks that made you not want to deal with a new battle system. It’s also real time, which makes fights pretty exciting.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my professional unbiased demeanor! The game has it’s flaws, there just aren’t many.

The combat system, while fun can be a little tiring at times. I play on a fat PSP with my girly woman-hands so sometimes the fast paced battles can leave my hands sore. This would probably be less of an issue if I played on a PSP Slim, so take that how you will.

The combat involves a neat slots type system which randomly grants you bonuses and benefits during a fight, such as no MP cost (all spells are free to cast), or invincibility (immune to damage, obviously). Problem is, as I mentioned it’s random. So you may continuously wind up with useless bonuses, or totally over powered ones depending on the type of things you’re fighting against.

Also there seems to be little rhyme or reason to leveling up. If you get a 777 in the slots, you level up. If you don’t get a 777 in the slots, you don’t. This means sometimes I might level twice or more in a fight then go an hour or more at the same level despite fighting nonstop. Which can be a little annoying if you’d like to level up and breeze through a mission or something.

On the same note, I guess it prevents power levels such as myself from exploiting the system and leveling to 99 before getting to the second boss.

There’s supposedly over 100 hours worth of game play and I’m only 10 hours in.