Nier: Automata PS4 Review

Nier: Automata PS4 Review

posted in: Reviews | 0

I like the idea behind Nier: Automata more than the actual game itself. I like feeling and vibe that Square Enix and Platinum Games were going for but I could have done without the tedium. I would rather hear someone tell tales of the ridiculous things that Yoko Taro and company went attempted in this game than actually experiencing it for myself. Because the action and moment to moment gameplay powering Nier: Automata was tedious, mindless and — if developers were being honest with themselves — not the point of Nier: Automata.

What is the meaning of life? What is the point of living? What does it mean to be human? Why were the androids in this game programmed to feel? How are they different from humans? Nier: Automata was about raising questions from the player and it does that very well. One standout question tied directly to the conceit that I had to play the game multiple times in order to unlock true endings. I had to put up with a repeated content and tedious activities in order to get to the “good” stuff. And I did. I didn’t retread with 999 nor the original Nier but I dove back into Nier: Automata to unlock the multiple endings and see if the outcome was worth the journey. 

I was underwhelmed.

Perhaps it’s because I already knew the answer but what was the point of this 43 hour journey? The combat was much improved compared to the first Nier but it pales in comparison to Platinum Games’ proper efforts like Bayonetta or Metal Gear Rising. The music was wonderful but I derived more enjoyment from listening to it on the way to work than in the game. And while there were amazing vistas and ideas drip fed to me throughout the game, the bulk of it was in the end and by the time I witnessed said ideas, I already checked out.

I wished I liked Nier: Automata more. It’s stylish, it has wonderful ideas and provokes discussion but I would have been happier without 10-15 hours less fluff. Or perhaps that fluff was essential to conveying their message. I’m not certain. Maybe or maybe not but in the end of the day, I was hoping to play a more engaging game to go along with all that wackiness.

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past Review

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past Review

posted in: Reviews | 0

I tried to play Dragon Quest VIII back in the PlayStation 2 days but the stark contrast between it and the flashier Final Fantasy titles made it tough for me to appreciate it. It wouldn’t be until Dragon Quest IX that I gave this Japanese roleplaying game juggernaut its fair shake. It turned out that I really enjoyed playing Dragon Quest on a handheld. I enjoyed the DQIX so much that I pre-ordered both Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII releases on the Nintendo 3DS. I had an inkling what I was getting myself into but I really didn’t know.

It took me just over 85 hours to finish Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past. That’s a lot of time for a single player title. The last game role playing game that I invested that much time in was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt but that was broken up into two giant stints. The DQVII cart was permanently entrenched in my Nintendo 3DS for months as I gathered fragments and witnessed some of the most depressing scenarios in a JRPG.

As conventional as the turn based combat was, the story and the long journey that accompanied it was anything but. The journey began with the son of a fisherman and a prince named Kiefer stumbling into an ancient temple that opened gateways into the past. Apparently the world was a much bigger place with islands and continents all over. The duo would eventually be joined by a local mayor’s daughter, Maribel, and together they gathered the necessary stone fragments to reassemble the lost islands. The assembled stone fragments opened portals to the past which inevitably enabled the trio to restore said islands in the present.

A  mysterious calamity in the past doomed each kingdom/island/continent and it was up to the trio to defeat the evil that was responsible make the world whole again. I found it to be a very novel and interesting means of gating access to the world without relying on traditional transportation barriers.

Each island/area was like a little vignette of woe. One island was plagued with terrible rains that turned people into stone. Another was essentially Groundhog Day. And one of the most depressing ones featured a cursed town that had newborn babes turn into demons and running away. As I solved each area’s problems, I learned more and more about the ultimate evil responsible which undoubtedly resulted in a confrontation with said baddie.

Dealing with the sad stories and disheartening circumstances in the past often produced positive results in the present but for a majority of the time they didn’t have real consequences for me or my crew. So when a party member chose to remain in the past and I lost access to him, I actually missed the brute. In fact, by the end of the game, it was possible for the protagonist to be the sole original member duking it out with the big bad Demon King. It was a very unorthodox experience because you just don’t see RPGs, let alone, JRPGs make drastic changes to its lineup part way through the journey. Maribel stepped away from the grand adventure to be with her ailing father for a while and, for the longest time, I was wondering if I would ever see the cross eyed ball buster again.

I accepted the introduction of the fourth character, Ruff, and I tolerated Mervyn’s inclusion into the lineup but the final character, Aishe, was handled poorly. I felt she was thrusted into the limelight because of her heritage and I was supposed to immediately connect with her for that reason alone.

Although I missed the original members for their personalities, I also missed them because I invested so much time developing their classes. Being forced to start a new classes with new characters whom I didn’t really connect with was a bit of a chore. It was doubly worse because I couldn’t easily change classes without warping to Alltrades Abbey and talk to this one specific NPC in the present day.

There weren’t random encounters (except for in this one specific area) but combat was primarily a breeze thanks to the inclusion of A.I behavior. It was like a Final Fantasy XII-lite where I set certain characters to focus on healing while others fought “wisely”. It made thumbing through normal battles easy as pie so I didn’t have to page through the countless abilities and spells that I’ve learned.

The victory lap after defeating the big bad Demon King captured my feelings of Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of a Forgotten Past perfectly. It was charming, filled with warm fuzzy feelings and I wanted it to pick up the pace. And yet, at the same time, I was surprised by the fact that I was an active participant in this victory lap. Dragon Quest VII was a long journey and, in the end, it’s one that I won’t soon forget.

Verdict:
I liked it

Ratings Guide

Checkpoint: British Voices Edition

Checkpoint: British Voices Edition

posted in: Editorials & Features | 0

I somehow ended up starting two games with heavy doses of British voice acting. After putting Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call on pause, I decided to use my recently acquired New Nintendo 3DS XL’s added power and start Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I didn’t realize the English localization was performed by Nintendo of Europe. I’m not sure why but It was weird at first to hear so much British-isms in a JRPG. I feel like most of my exposure to British voice acting was restricted to the Assassin’s Creed and Professor Layton titles for a long time. I didn’t think I’ll enjoy the game after the first hour but after that opening “moment”, I was invested.

After wrapping up Halo 5: Guardians, I wanted to check out Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I picked it up because it was cheap and as a fan of Dear Esther. Again, I didn’t realize it was set in a small English village with some of very talented voice work. It’s unfortunate that I enjoyed everything but the interactions with the game which is a problem for a game. Moving at a snail’s pace doesn’t help this game’s momentum at all.

I’m sure if Lara Croft Go featured voice acting, I would be hearing her English accent. It didn’t need it though. I had high expectations for this title and Square Enix Montreal exceeded them. It was a short game but it was very very sweet.

 

 

LTTP: Hitman Sniper

LTTP: Hitman Sniper

posted in: Reviews | 0

After playing Hitman: Sniper, Square Enix Montreal resides on my list of top tier development studios. I loved Hitman Go but I didn’t immediately dive into Hitman: Sniper because it looked like the lame Silent Scope knock offs that litter the Apple App Store. However, when I got the game for free (or very cheap, I don’t recall which), I was proven wrong. Hitman: Sniper was brilliant.

The game was not about sniping a target or two and then moving onto the next locale because there’s only one locale to play with. I was taken aback at first but as I was unlocking missions, weapons and abilities, I slowly realized that this was about climbing the leaderboards. The missions were there to teach me how to play the game and what was possible with just a sniper rifle.

I learned how to setup accidents and triggered explosions with well placed shots. I was trained in the importance of body disposals and luring unsuspecting guards away from the targets they were protecting.

Hitman: Sniper was a game of surprising depth and demonstrated to me that it’s possible to create a score challenge game like this on mobile. I’m not a fan of the Facebook integration but I love the idea of sharing replays. I learned from others to improve my own score without having to head over to Youtube. However, try as I might, I’m stuck in the low end of the top 100 at the time of writing. Still, they successfully infected me with the score hunting bug and that’s no easy feat.

Verdict:
I like it

Ratings Guide

1 2 3 4 11