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Tales Of The Abyss (3DS)
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You play as Luke Fabre, a duke to the kingdom of Kimlasca, born into nobility who has lived a sheltered life, you find out early on that he was kidnapped when he was younger, and as a result he only remembers the past 7 years of his life. While amnesia is typically used to explain gameplay features within the narrative, its effect on Luke is a driving aspect of the plot. It renders him foolish, vulnerable, and easily manipulated. Each member of ToA's cast has their own issue. No one, heroic or villainous, is what they appear to be.
Luke's growth throughout the story is interesting, and breaks a lot of common RPG cliches and tropes. He starts off arrogant and rather self-centered but you do see some interesting changes with his character throughout the story as various events unfold.
The game also centers itself around a philosophy, in which your destiny is sort of vaguely determined at birth, this is followed by the majority of the games citizens without anyone questioning its validity. It leads to some interesting plot points, especially if following it truly brings peace or not.
The basic plot is mostly stopping a war between the two major countries, however, more serious things are happening behind the scenes which threatens virtually every living thing.
Most of the game is spent traveling from town to town, killing most things along the way. Combat is one of key points to a Tales of game, they're fast paced and are very entertaining, most of the time you'll find yourself wandering towards enemies to fight. Each character is unique, and play rather differently. With the C-Cores and AD Skills, which you gain by levelling, you can change which skills you get earn during the game, leaving plenty of interesting options available.
Tales of the Abyss is an amazing RPG, a must buy for any 3DS owner. It's story is a clever deconstruction of ideas used in countless other RPGs. The combat is engaging enough without being repetitive. The side quests are a welcomed edition, none feeling out of place to pad the game, adding to an already lengthy game. This port may not take full advantage of the 3DS, many menus are not touch screen compatible and the transition to 3D can make it look a little dated at times. Despite that, this is still arguably one of the best RPGs on this handheld easily.
Kinect Including Kinect: Adventures!
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The technology behind Kinect is impressive and it has the potential to deliver entirely unique experiences that the several motion camera experiments that have already been made for video games consoles never could have come close to. The issue is that none of the games are attempting to offer a compelling experience and Microsoft is doing everything to make their core base of gamers feel excluded from the experience.
My honest suggestion for those who are still on the fence is to wait it out until next year (when the bigger releases pile on; Kinect Star Wars, etc.). Because right now there is certainly no rush to buy this (that is, if you're into motion controls in the first place). No game release as of yet is going to make you certainly rush to the shops just to buy the Kinect.
My concern is finding out how well the Kinect will do in the games department months down the line. Will it continue to give us shovelware like the Wii did? Or will it, in time, bring better and brighter experiences in the gaming world. It's hard to say.
Age Of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
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I had planned on writing up a review for this game, and I suppose this can be considered a review of some sort, but I decided I would rather just make a pros and con list. This is my opinion after playing the game for 36 hours:
Fun combat system. It's not as innovative or unique as they try to market it, but it's fun nonetheless. It mostly only applies to melee classes, magic users still have a standard MMO feel to them (from what I've heard)
- Best graphics for an MMO to date. The game looks good; characters, environments, it's all pretty. However, it takes a damn good PC to run the game at max settings with a high frame rate. Keep that in mind.
- A decent character creator. I wasn't wowed by it, but it good enough.
That's basically it for the pros. I'm having a very hard time coming up with anything else to praise besides one of the core aspects of the game, combat, was actually interesting and mildly entertaining. It was a fresh of breath air from other MMO games, but it's not something that will make you suddenly hate how any other MMO is played after playing this. At least not for me.
- Tons of bugs and glitches and game exploits. People have power leveled to 80 (max level) within a couple days because of exploits in certain classes. People have gotten stuck in places (me included). People have lost money in the game. Quests are broken. Now, I understand it's an MMO and most MMO games have rough starts, but seriously, there are a lot of bugs that could have easily been squashed during beta. How were these overlooked?
- Lame UI. No customization to it.
- Lame chat box. The chat box has already had an update from a patch to make better because of how many complaints there was for it, but it's still subpar. There needs to be more options for it. Cliche as it might be, it needs to take a lesson from WoW.
- Poor party system. If the people in your party aren't 50 feet from you, they don't show up on your radar or map. It can be a burden to find them.
- PvP is a wreck at this point. Some people disagree, they will tell you to "learn 2 play", but I can play video games just fine, and this PvP system is in dire need of a change. Besides the balance issues (which are expected for an MMO at launch) the combat system, the good part of the game, does not mesh well for PvP. If you're melee, a lot of people will escape you. Unless both people stand still and fight, it's extremely hard to pull off your special moves (called combos) on them. If you run in circles, strafe, try to dodge, like you should be doing, it's almost impossible to use combos, you just have to use basic attacks to try and win a fight, and that's boring.
- Quests are no better than any other MMO. This doesn't bother me too much, but I'm sure it's something others won't like. They are your basic fetch, kill, and messenger quests. Nothing new.
- You need somewhat of a "super computer" to play this with reasonable fps, I spent over £500 for completly new hardware, graphics card etc. -
- Bugs galore! - broken quests, pvp, craft, stats.
Overall, I felt stupid buying this game, for such a big hype, it's let me and many other gamers frustrated. I've spent possibly $545.99 altogether to play this, a failure by FunCom.
However, the game still has enjoyable points that I enjoyed while playing, a unique combat system & character creation.