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  #21 (permalink)   [ ]
Old 12-25-2011, 04:30 PM
Coconut Water United States Coconut Water is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

The bad: No Wii version!
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Old 12-27-2011, 04:22 PM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Blast from the past - Playstation 2:





Radiata Stories





Release Dates: NA September 6, 2005
Rating: ESRB: T | CERO: All Ages


Another Japanese-RPG developed by tri-Ace (Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile) and published by Square Enix. The player takes on the role of the easily excited, happy-go-lucky Jack Russel, an up-and-coming knight whose quest is to become as great as, or greater than his legendary dragonslaying father.

The gameplay is almost everything in this game. It places great focus on the world and the NPCs; 175 of which are recruitable (gotta catch 'em all!). At first, you're confined to the Radiata Castle, but once the game really starts, you get the freedom to run all over the city and most of the world (there's a day/night cycle) doing whatever your heart desires: exploring, talking to people, trying to gain the favour of NPCs, making friends, kicking everything... Every NPC has a schedule that they repeat every day: stalking has never been so much fun! Not to mention kicking them and everything else. Jack doesn't "check" items and objects, he kicks them. It's the best way to gain items! However, kicking NPCs may turn out badly for you--don't try kicking that level 40 witch character while you're level 15. There are lots of charming (and annoying) NPCs, sidequests, places to explore and secrets to discover.

The real-time battle system is simple and easy to get a hold of. You can choose any weapon: swords, axes, lances and learn different attacks, then set a string of them together to do a combo. Each weapon has different types of attacks, range, speed and special moves, so you can choose whichever your heart desires.

Also, your armor changes how Jack looks. It's a pretty neat touch, considering the different armors in the stores and scattered in ruins for you to find.

The story is nothing amazing, but doesn't fall short at being interesting, especially later when a split decides which side you choose (and which ending you get). Choosing sides also determine who you can recruit as well. At first, it's all about becoming a knight and then later on, it's more about choosing sides in the impending war. Which side you choose will make or break the world. No pressure, hm?

The characters themselves are colourful, each one is incredibly unique in both looks, background, personality and skills. Most of them hold secrets and it's impossible to recruit them all in one playthrough!


The Good:
- Large overworld and city for you to explore
- Lots of NPCs, each having different schedules and personalities
- Lots of recruitable NPCs to help you in your quest
- New Game Plus is encouraged; for recruiting NPCs and seeing the other side of the story. NG+ also retains all your weapon techniques and unlocks a bonus dungeon.

The Bad:
- There is no proper 'time management' system (like a calender) to tell you how much days have passed and when the next story event will hit you.
- The freedom of the game is lost once you make the choice of sides
- Temporary savepoints disappear with no warning as the story progresses, with the only static savepoint being Jack's room. There are no checkpoints: if you die, you have to reload your saved game. Because of the huge world and time consuming exploration, this is definitely a flaw.

The Sad:
- The game ends in an odd way in the "true ending" scenario; definitely paving the way for a sequel. However, it's unknown whether one will be made or even if tri-Ace and Square Enix remember this game at all.
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  #23 (permalink)   [ ]
Old 12-29-2011, 11:10 PM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Double posting like a boss.

In defense of the Wii | It's not as bad as you think it is:





Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers





Release Dates: NA December 26, 2009 | PAL February 5, 2010
Rating: ESRB: T | CERO: B


A game that received generally average-to-bad reviews and scores; Crystal Bearers was severely overlooked and undeservedly trodden upon. While the game does have its flaws, it does have some pretty good merits that makes it worth playing (if you can overlook the flaws). Part of the Crystal Chronicles series (which are mainly on Nintendo consoles and handhelds), but set incredibly far into the future of the franchise (about 1000 years ahead of the first Crystal Chronicles for Gamecube), in a time when "swords have been put away for guns" and magic and arcane arts are outlawed. You play as Layle; a powerful "Crystal Bearer" who can manipulate the gravity of himself and others.

The gameplay is incredibly different; instead of an action/rpg like previous titles in the series, you get a pure action/adventure, in which you only control Layle in an open world. The gameplay, however, shines and fails in different areas.

It fails in the fact that the combat gets incredibly repetitive; it's mostly picking up with your powers and throwing with the Wiimote, using the dodge technique when you have to. Layle does not receive any new techniques or attacks, he can only increase his power and the distance he's able to throw things through the use of enchanted accessories, which you have to craft with certain materials dropped my monsters. It's a little frustrating when you see Layle use his powers in cutscenes that you aren't able to do ingame. Sometimes the battles can be amusing (using an enemy's weapon against itself, or taking the skull off a skeleton enemy and then beating him with it) but gets sorely repetitive over time; even though most battles are light or comedic in tone.

It shines in that it's a very open world. You can basically take Layle wherever you want to go and bash things in whenever and wherever you see fit. You can grab NPCs with your powers and literally shake money out of them; or when using the machinations, you can speed them up and slow them down to force reactions out of the onlookers. Or shake more money out of them (like when using the train system)! The game focuses a LOT on exploration and minigames; and it should be noted that only 4 of the 15 bosses in the game are required to progress the story. The rest are sidebosses from exploration and sidequests.

Since it's an action adventure and not an RPG, you don't level up. Layle gains more life by clearing an area of monsters within a set amount of time. This can be somewhat frustrating with the mechanics, combined with wide open areas that have monsters all over. Most times it's best to wait until you've become more powerful.

The game itself has a colourful and comical tone; especially considering the enemies and what you could do to them.

The story shouldn't be overlooked, either. Layle gets wrapped up in a conspiracy over the "Crystal Principle", as well as with remnants of a race that had been thought to be wiped out and defeated in a war that took place sometime before the game. It's up to Layle to find out more about this mysterious "Goldenrod", a member of the extinct race who shows up as a villain, and can rival Layle in power. Layle and Goldenrod are both "Crystal Bearers", a rare breed of powerful beings whose magical abilities have led them to be scorned and feared by the populace.

The characters themselves are colourful. Layle is wild, fun-loving, bold and brave and still manages to be smart. The characters he encounters frequently are Belle; an energetic and peppery Selkie girl, Keiss; a Selkie male who's working in the military. There's also Cid, who's an engineer and Althea, a charming young lady who appears to be royalty.

The Bad
- Battles are incredibly repetitive and can be frustrating when trying to obtain more health
- Layle does not gain any new techniques or powers
- Making him stronger requires crafting items from items dropped randomly by enemies (thus making you go through fighting them)

The Good
- The focus on exploration is heavy, and rewards you greatly
- Lots of things to do and take part in (like a Chocobo race!)
- The story is pretty good as well and shouldn't be ignored
- The characters Layle interacts with frequently are interesting and add flavour to the events
- Layle can use his powers to interact with the surrounding objects, as well as NPCs. You can shake people down and watch the money fall out of their pockets. You can also steal (regularly updated) newspapers out of peoples hands, or other items.
Last Edited by insaney; 12-29-2011 at 11:15 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:44 PM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Triple posting like a boss.

In defense of the Wii:





Red Steel 2





Release Dates: NA March 23, 2010 | AUS March 25, 2010 | EU March 26, 2010 | JP May 27, 2010 | KO June 3, 2010

Rating: ESRB: T | CERO: C | PEGI: 16

Remember that Wii launch title Red Steel? Remember how awful it was? Whether you remember it or not, Red Steel 2 is a sequel in name only. Different graphical style and gameplay, different setting, different characters, different plot.

Developed by Ubisoft (or more specifically, Ubisoft Paris), Red Steel 2 is an FPS/Beat-em up, and places you in a setting that's a mix of western and samurai genres, and into the shoes of a "Kusagari" or "Protector" of the town of Caldera. The developers themselves put a lot of effort into the controls, and it shows: if definitely demonstrates just a snippet what could be done with the potential of Wiimotion Plus.

The gameplay is purely the focus of this title. While it's simple in the first-person shooter department (just aim with the Wiimote and shoot), the swordplay is where it really shines. The controls for the sword follow the Wiimote 1:1, and you can slash in any direction at different speeds and force: it depends entirely on how the Wiimote is held and how fast or hard it is swung. It is incredibly simple to learn, however, once you begin learning newer moves and techniques, the overall system becomes challenging and rewarding to master. Not to mention you get different weapons throughout the story, as well as the ability to purchase techniques and upgrades. It becomes satisfying once you're accustomed to the flow and you'll be able to pull off some amazing moves and combos.

Overall, it becomes an incredibly satisfying experience.

The story is almost non-existant. It's your usual "good guy vs bad guy" tale, and just there to string the events together. It's not deep or complex, nor does it have any surprising twists. The setting is pretty much a mixture of samurai and western (so it's a samurai-western?). It takes place in the fictional town of Caldera, which is under the protection of the "Kusagari". The Jackal gang moves in, in an attempt to unearth the ancient secrets of the town.

The characters are also non-interesting and just there to help you along. The main character (called "Kusagari" or just "The Hero") is already hated by the bad guys from the beginning: it's made known from the very start. It's also made known that the main character is a badass who is both feared and respected; wielding both a sword and pistol with incredible skill.

Play the game, and make it so.

The Bad:
- Lack of story: not meant for gamers who want deep or complex stories with emotions, twists or deep characters

The Good:
- Fluid, well implemented motion controls that utilize Wiimotion Plus very well
- Simple controls, easy to learn
- Combat system that's easy to learn but hard to master; you'll be practicing a lot just to see what you are capable of doing
Last Edited by insaney; 01-14-2012 at 09:10 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:23 PM
Antilles Antilles is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

In my opinion, the following game is very overlooked. Opinions may vary, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't hear much talk about it at all.

X360/PS3


Eternal Sonata


Released (Xbox 360):[/B] NA: Sep 17, 2007 - EU: Oct 19th, 2007 - AUS: Nov 15, 2007

Released (Playstation 3) NA: Oct 21, 2008 - EU: February 13, 2009 - AUS: February 19, 2009

Rated: ESRB: T, PEGI: 12+, OFLC: M

I really enjoyed this game. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for games to rent out for my Xbox on Gamefly. I read nothing about it, I just thought the cover of it looked neat so I decided to give it a swing. When I finally got it I realized it revolved around Chopin, the legendary real life Polish Pianist. That instantly intrigued me as I happened to already be familiar with his work.

Quote:
The game is centered on the Polish romantic pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 39. The story envisions a fictional world dreamed by Chopin during his last hours that is influenced by Chopin's life and music, and in which he himself is a playable character, among others. The game features a selection of Chopin's compositions played by pianist Stanislav Bunin, though most of the original compositions were written by Motoi Sakuraba. The game's battle system centers on musical elements and character-unique special attacks. Light and darkness plays a part in the appearance and abilities of enemies on the battlefield, as well as the types of magic that can be cast.
The visuals of the game are cel shaded and quite nice looking. It may not look like it's using all of the Xbox 360's (or PS3's) power to flesh itself out, but what it's presents is a crisp nicely done very colorful, cel shaded design.

The gameplay plays out mostly as your standard RPG. It uses a combined effort of turn-base and action. While you utilize standard turn-base functions, it also allows you a few seconds of freedom after you've selected what you want, to move positions and heal yourself, or others.

The usage of Chopin, again I must commend the developers. It uses educational cut scenes about Chopin and introducing his character throughout the game, and also plays his compositions in the background. It's a very emotional game, and it does a good job at fleshing out each character, especially Chopin. It gives him a hint of mystery, that you otherwise would have never thought of the real guy.

-

The story is set inside Chopin's dream world. It's divided into 8 chapters, each is "being represented by one of Chopin's compositions, and being related to events within his historical life. ". The characters you play as can seem a bit dull at times, but for the most part they get the job done, and each one has a defined personality.

I can't get into the story in much depth without spoiling it, in case anyone does want to play it. So I'll leave it at that. Also, it's been a few years since I played it and my memory isn't 100% fresh.


The Bad:
The controls at times can frequently feel clunky.
The navigation can be really bad, and you will find yourself running around not knowing where to go without looking up a guide.
Voice acting for minor characters is pretty weak in some areas.

The Good:
A very unique story that involves a lot of emotion.
Fairly accurate education of Chopin.
Musical composition, outside of Chopin's work, is very nice.
When it comes to combat the controls are refined.
The visuals are super fun to look at. It's a very colorful game with all sorts of innovative enemies, and the music based combat is a gem in it's own right.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:48 PM
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Eternal Sonata is a nice one. I haven't gotten my hands on it because It's not sold ANYWHERE in my country. Tough.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:02 PM
John John is a male Canada John is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Eternal Sonata is fun, but also cliche beyond belief. If you're not a fan of JRPGs then you'll not be a fan of it.

I love its art direction and battle system (it's got some flaws, but it's also unique) and think the story idea is interesting, but poorly executed.
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:04 AM
Double A Double A is a male New Zealand Double A is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

I suck at describing things and persuading other people to do things based on these crappy description, but I feel like I really need to try this cuz I really like the game and nobody knows about it.

The PSP is not a totally useless system:



Ys Seven
(pronounced "ease")



Release Dates:
JP September 16, 2009
NA August 17, 2010
EU PSN December 29, 2010

Ratings:
CERO: C
ESRB: T

So here we have Ys Seven. An Action/RPG game with heavy Hack-n-Slash influences developed by Nihom Falcom and published by XSEED.

Gameplay:
There isn't a lot to say, really. You travel, you buy stuff, you talk, you fight (though often not in that order). Truth be told though, its simplicity is one of the things that I love about the game (even if it CAN get a little repetitive). It ensures that tactics and skills that you used against monsters earlier in the game can be adapted, improved and used against monsters later in the game.

Truth be told, the combat is the star of the game. The movement controls and the combat itself is incredibly fluid (and yes, they are fluid as ♥♥♥♥ - the dash button is like Link's roll attack except 100x as spammable) and easy to get into. As with many a RPG, you have your basic EXP/levelling system. Beat a monster, get some EXP. Gain enough EXP, increase a level. Furthermore, each weapon has a unique "skill" (basically, a "special attack") that gains its own EXP every time you use it and can eventually be "learned" if you use it enough. All of the controllable characters (there are seven of them in number) each have a unique set of about 12 unique "skills" that must each be learnt. Each character can have four skills, one weapon, two pieces of armour and an accessory equipped at any one time, making combat simple yet still contain a lot of freedom in how you fight.

Besides the aforementioned degrees of freedom, you may also pick two out of the up to six accompanying characters to join you in combat as AI-controlled fighters, equipping each of them with the aforementioned four skills, one weapon, two pieces of armour and accesory. That doesn't sound very impressive by itself until you realize that you can hit a button (I had it set to "square", but I think the default is "circle" - yes, the controls are customizable) to immediately switch control to one of the accompanying characters, each of whom have unique fighting styles and skills (certain enemies may even recieve more/less damage from certain characters' weapons too). Perhaps you just want to use a different fighting style. Perhaps you want to switch characters to divert an enemy's attention away from another of your characters that has lost a lot of HP (enemies primarily attack the character you're currently controlling). Or maybe you just want to avoid a boss' attacks by switching to a character with long-range attacks. Speaking of bosses...

OH GOD THE BOSSES

If you're not playing on "easy" (or even on "normal" if you're particularly skilled), then the many bosses in the game will each get your heart pumping to absurd levels. I'm not even kidding. The ungodly fluidity of the controls allows for extremely fast-paced boss battles. You'll be dodging attacks that cover large portions of the battlefield and hitting back with your own attacks that appear to barely scratch the boss. You'll be scrambling to drink that recovery potion (the large number of potions you can carry is far from a guarantee of security - if you're not perfectly careful you'll be consuming them en masse). Landing a final hit on a boss will cause you to strike a victory pose in real life - the boss battles are just that satisfying because it depends entirely on your own skill (very rarely will you be blaming the controls or the movement for your own failures). After a point in the game, boss-like enemies will appear alongside normal enemies, keeping the combat nice and fast-paced for longer.

And yes, there are fetch-quests... which happen to be completely optional.

Story:
I'll be the first to say that the story isn't anything special (at least to people who are more fussy about story than Double A). It is very "macguffin-based" (though Falcom were fair in that almost all of the macguffins are useful gameplay-wise). It follows the adventurer Adol "The Red" Christin (the dude in my avatar) and his companion Dogi through the land of Altago. Apparently there's a bunch of unexplained "anomalies" (monsters, natural disasters, incurable diseases) rife throughout the land and it's up to Adol to seek the counsel of the Five Dragons in order to put an end to it.

Along the way you meet various characters who each have their own story. On top of that, merely talking with the people of Altago will grant you a generous glimpse into the lore and problems of the land.

Though the story is relatively simple (a trait which I particularly like, though others may not), it feels, as a review put it, "sincere". Take that as you will.

------------------------------

SO, IN SUMMARY:

The Good:
-Fluid and fast-paced travel and combat
-Epic bosses
-Large amounts of freedom in terms of fighting style
-Relatively easy to learn yet difficult to master
-Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the soundtrack is simply awesome
-Somewhat interesting mythology (IMO, anyway)
-While the game is pretty linear, exploration isn't badly rewarded
-None of that SS-style gameplay gimmickry, just good ol' ALttP-style combat
-Not a lot of grinding involved
-Apparently, it doesn't take that long before you can start adventuring (I say "apparently" since I'm more fussy about intro sequence length than many of you people).
-I'll think of more when my memory stops sucking

The Bad:
-Combat against non-bosses can get a leetle repetitive at times
-The game is really linear for the most part
-"Meh" story
-At times, the combat and customization might feel like there's a little too much freedom
-There's a lot of dialogue in cutscenes that you can't skip (though you can fast-forward cutscenes by holding Circle)
-No VA. Not a negative for me personally, but I know how much VA means to people who would rather not read everything.

The Ugly:
-Apart from a game coming out on Vita sometime in -TBA-, this is the only game in this particular style in the series. If you like the other Ys games, then that might not necessarily be a bad thing though.
-The other two Ys games on the PSP are different (one of them should be avoided due to being a laggy port) in that there is more platforming involved - jumping instead of dashing. I tried Ys: Oath in Felghana and while it wasn't horrible, there was something repelling me away from it (I don't know exactly what). Though I heard others liked it and some of you guys might too.


tl;dr:
-a more linear ALttP with almost no puzzles but with far superior combat
-♥♥♥♥ you for not reading



A note for those who decide to get the game without the manual for whatever reason COUGHPIRACYCOUGH:
Hitting L while holding R causes the character you're controlling to block (become invincible for a short time - they call it "flash guard"), and any damage inflicted immediately after BY or ON your character is doubled. The ingame tutorial doesn't touch on this, and it is apparently vital for playing on the Hard and Nightmare difficulties.
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Last Edited by Double A; 01-15-2012 at 07:25 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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  #29 (permalink)   [ ]
Old 01-15-2012, 06:26 AM
IGNIS IGNIS is a male United States IGNIS is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

^Bought the game online because local shop didn't have it. Can't wait to start playing that as well as some of the games I'm seeing here. I especially want to think about getting Red Steel 2 and see how it plays compared to SS whose swordplay sort of disappointed me in the end. I'm JRPG starved at the moment, so I think Ys Seven and then Resonance of Fate will really come in handy. Definitely want to try Eternal Sonata but not before Vesperia now that I have a 360. Christ, I want my JRPGs.
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Old 01-22-2012, 02:05 PM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

In defense of the DS:





Avalon Code





Release Dates: NA March 10, 2009 | EU March 12, 2010
Rating: CERO: A | ESRB: E10+ | PEGI: 12



Developed by Matrix Software (Co-developers of Tales of VS, and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light), Avalon Code follows the story of the Chosen One, Yumil (boy) or Tia (girl), but in a nice twist on things: they're not meant to save the world.

The story puts a new twist on an overused tale; told that they are chosen by the powers-that-be, young Yumil or Tia set out not to save the world, but to use a magical book called The Book of Prophecy to record what's worth saving, so that information can be used to create what's in the next world. Throughout the journey, they befriend the spirits that inhabit the book, while learning of the plots to hasten the destruction of the world.

The gameplay revolves around The Book of Prophecy and scanning and manipulating the "code" of objects and enemies. Scanning the code of something is done by literally whacking it with the book.

You can alter, remove and create different combinations of codes. By doing so, you can alter an item's or enemy's stats or status. For example: at one point in the adventure the player encounters a writer who has an illness, rendering him very weak. Once he is Code Scanned, the part of his code causing his ill health can be seen and removed, causing the writer's 'miraculous' recovery. The player can then attach the illness to an enemy's code to make every enemy of that particular species, everywhere in the world, weaker by a certain amount. It would also work with a weapon, such as a sword that, when used, poisons any enemy it touches.

Experimentation with codes is therefore greatly encouraged, and can sometimes yield useful, hilarious or possibly threatening and dangerous results.

Other than the code manipulation, there are different types of weapon schools to choose from. Though the sword is supposedly the most powerful.

There is also an 'affection system' similar to the Harvest Moon series; most NPCs can be given gifts and have different tastes and goals. The game features fourteen "eligible" NPCs, and each character has one or more sidequests that may range from simple fetch-quests or lengthy, story-driven quests to learn about the characters' pasts. These quests are accessed by raising the NPCs' affection levels to certain amounts.

Dungeons are fairly linear and feature mostly puzzles that reward you, depending on how well you do. There are several types of goals for each puzzle room, ranging from lighting torches to defeating all enemies. Although there is an onscreen timer for each room, running out of time only nets you a low score, rather than anything more serious. Bosses, however, are an entirely different matter. Prepare for some tough fights and a bit of frustration. However, puzzle rooms and bosses can be replayed as much as the player desires, to achieve better scores and/or hidden bonuses.

Overall, it provides a fresh and somewhat exciting experience, especially when manipulating codes.


The Bad:
-The game is pretty short by JRPG standards.
-Early bosses can be frustrating until later on when the player's weapon level allows them to use better techniques.


The Good:
-Fresh and unique gameplay when it comes to the code manipulation
-Very interesting take on an old and overused story (instead of venturing out to save the world, you're recording what should carried over to the next one)
-Boasts some pretty nice graphics (for the DS)
Last Edited by insaney; 01-23-2012 at 08:45 AM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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Old 01-29-2012, 02:37 PM
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

In defense of the DS:





Infinite Space





Release Dates: NA March 16, 2010 | EU March 26, 2010
Rating: ESRB: T | PEGI: 12



While this gem earned some high praise in Japan, it was trodden upon and overlooked in the US. Infinite Space is an SRPG developed by Platinum Games (yes, the same Platinum Games known for it's high-octane, out-of-this-world games, such as Vanquish, MadWorld and Bayonetta). This game's storyline takes place in two stages. The first deals with the young protagonist Yuri escaping the iron-fisted rule of his home planet with the help of a woman named Nia, in order to find out about a strange artifact, the Epitaph, that his father left him. The second stage takes place 10 years later, with a fully grown Yuri.

The gameplay however, has slight flaws that lie mostly with the battle system. The game is entirely touchscreen-based and random battles happen (rarely) when you travel the Starlanes from one planet to another.

The battles are mainly done in ships, though the battle system itself feels somewhat simplistic and slow and leaves a lot to be desired. On the battlefield, you can move your fleet forward or backward; the enemy can do the same. Moving backward can pull you out of the enemy's range, and moving forward can put them in your range. The closer you are, the more chance you have of hitting them, but it's also the same for them. The battles utilize a command gauge, which fills up over time. Using commands such as attacking or dodging depletes the command gauge. However, the "dodge" command only works against Barrage attacks, and makes you more susceptible to Normal attacks. It's hard to tell when the enemy will do either, so most of the battle system seems to be based on luck. The speed at which your ships move depend on the types of ships you have, the parts you have installed in each, the amount of crew members and which positions they are in.

This brings the true crux of the gameplay. You can acquire blueprints of different ships and build them, then customize them with different rooms and parts (each serving a purpose and raising different stats/granting special abilities) if you've got the money for it. You can also hire crew members (of which there are well over 150), but most are gained through talking with people and helping them in some way or the other. Each person that joins your crew is skilled in certain areas, putting them in different positions affect your fleet's performance greatly. For example, early on a crew member you can gain has high stats in both the Medicine and Chef categories; putting her in charge of artillery will makes your accuracy and damage go down.

Over the course of the game, you gain the ability to use more ships in your fleet, increasing the damage you can deal; however, the flagship is the one Yuri is on, and if that goes down, it's game over. Eventually, you will have an entire fleet of powerful ships at your disposal.

You can visit different planets and their taverns and shops, asking for information, jobs and gaining sidequests (and possibly new crew members! Always an exciting thing). The interface is just selecting different options with using the touchscreen. Character portraits are in 2D, however, in contrast to the 3D of space travel and battles. Another minor aspect of the game is the little dungeon crawling. It's in first person view, and the character moves for himself up until a junction, intersection or other place where a choice must be picked.

Overall the game is well fleshed out and the battles are tough, especially with what feels like luck-based battles (though this can be turned around depending on the ships you have and how you customize and set up your crew).

The story shines beautifully in this game, despite starting off somewhat cliche and slow. Young Yuri starts off as an orphan living on the planet Ropesk, working away on machinery to be able to afford someone called a "Launcher" (Nia Lochlain), a person hired to help escape from planets and carry them to other planets. The second he leaves, Yuri's sister (Kira) is kidnapped by the ruler of the planet Ropesk, who has enforced a rule that no one from the planet should be allowed to leave. With the help of Nia, young Yuri gains his own ship and the firepower required to take on the ruler of Ropesk and rescue his sister.

And this is all within the first hour.

The true reason behind his leaving is to discover the truth behind, and the purpose of his father leaving behind an artifact called an Epitaph. During the course of their adventures, they get mixed up in military plots and pirates. They get embroiled in different mysteries and quests, while gaining friends and enemies along the way. With the different military organizations and pirates at odds with one another, the unfolding mystery behind the Epitaph, the state of the vast and infinite universe may well be in your hands.


The Bad:
-When starting the game, it just gives you the basics and lets you learn everything else yourself. This can be somewhat off-putting when starting a new game.
-The battle system seems very slow and luck-based, especially at first, because of this, the game can be crushingly difficult at times, especially when entering a new sector of planets.
-"dungeon crawling" is very simplistic and shallow, requiring you to just select choices instead of manually moving the character.


The Good:
-Very long game, with an amazing, interesting story that takes place in two parts. The latter half of the game takes place after a 10-year timeskip.
-Assigning crew members and building/customization of ships is a very nice system, and doesn't get old over the course of the game
-The main characters are well fleshed out, and actually grow and develop as you go on.
-TONS of sidequests and things that can be missed. Things that you do and decisions you make in the first half of the game can also affect the latter half.
Last Edited by insaney; 01-29-2012 at 02:38 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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Old 02-21-2012, 11:24 AM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

In defense of the DS:





Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island





Release Dates: NA October 27th 2009
Rating: ESRB: E10+ | PEGI 12+


Once upon a time, there was a lazy girl. She hated work and usually just sat around the house all day. All she ever wanted to do was "Marry up!" and nothing else. Her parents finally got tired of her behaviour, so they went to her grandfather for help. While she was still asleep, her grandfather, being a famous alchemist, sent her over the mountains, down the river and across the ocean, until finally... she arrived at a workshop on Sera Island where a development project was beginning.

This is how Annie's new life on the island began.


Developed by Gust (Ar Tonelico and Atelier series) and published in the US by NIS America (and in the EU by Koei), this is the only one (out of three) Nintendo DS Atelier games to be released outside of Japan.

The story is delightfully silly and light hearted. It follows the lazy girl Annie as she attempts to is forced to train for three years on Sera Island to become an alchemist (and better person). While training, Annie is supposed to use her gained knowledge of alchemy to assist in the development of Sera Island, turning it into an island resort. However, this is all a giant contest for alchemists and whoever wins will marry the Prince or Princess of Orde. Spurred on by her dream of marrying up, Annie vows to become the best alchemist and earn the title of Meister.

The gameplay is a working mashup of simulation and JRPG genres. However, the game focuses much, much more on character interaction and quests, so the battle system is a very simplistic turn-based system with a few twists. It features front and back positions that not only affect offense and defense, but also changes a character's special ability, usually from offensive (front position) to supportive (back position). Each enemy has an elemental weakness assigned to them that can be exploited, but it is not necessary. Enemies appear randomly when Annie is outside gathering materials needed for her alchemy.

This is the true meat of the gameplay, performing alchemy and synthesizing materials to create new items. At first the materials are straightforward, but later on, Annie might find variations of the same material, with different 'traits', such as a 'big' trait or 'blue' trait, among many others. These traits greatly affect the outcome of synthesis, they may either be helpful or a hindrance to the quality of the end product. And yes, the quality does matter. As the game goes on, Annie will learn how to dye items to give them traits, such as dying an item red to give it a fire affinity/trait. There is also a calender system, and sometimes when official assignments are received, there is a set amount of days to complete it.

Another aspect of the game is the ability to build and manage different facilities. You start off the game with a shop (the titular Atelier Annie) and, depending on the facilities' performance, you can erect new facilities (such as a museum) or expand a previous one (though it needs to be popular enough to warrant it). At the end of each ingame month, an evaluation is done on each of Annie's facilities. The game doesn't focus on micromanaging these facilities, however. Instead, you can assign party members to manage each. Each party member are more suited to manage one facility than another; for example, Hans is more capable of managing a museum rather than an amusement park.

Despite all this, it's a very light-hearted, simplistic and easy going game that rewards you for hard work and proper time management.

The Bad:
- Very simplistic game, focusing more on characters and interactions ("Cute girls doing cute things"). As a result, those looking for a complex/strategic experience will find this game lacking

The Good:
- Though the battle system is simplistic, the alchemy and synthesizing system go deep and get more complex later on. Despite this, the overall game is easy to get into than most other JRPGs.
-Quirky, light hearted and straightforward plot that steers away from the usual JRPG cliche (no teens saving the world here)
-Seven different endings depending on your accomplishments (or lack thereof). Tutorials and text can be skipped; handy for subsequent playthroughs
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:46 PM
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

For the Wii



Lost in Shadow



Release dates:

Japan July 22 2010
Aussie land October 8 2010
Europe October 15 2010
America January 4 2011


Rating: E10+

Story

You're a "living shadow" - a shadow cut from a living boy - who is thrown from the top of a gigantic tower by the towers guard. You are found by Spangle at the base of the tower, and it is up to you to climb the tower and get back your body. Along the way, you encounter many obstacles and enemies, have to get by the towers defense just to reach the top, and have to collect your "memories".

Gameplay

The gameplay is definitely...interesting. It's like a mash up of 2d and 3d. The majority of the time you play in 2d, but after a certain point in the game you acquire a sword that allows you to go through these "gates" to the real world, where you then play in 3d. In certain areas you're given control over the light source, altering the layout of the shadows. You're also given a fairy like companion called "Spangle" who can alter certain objects so their shadows will change, helping you get past obstacles.

The game itself is beautiful, so much so that there are certain parts where you can get so distracted by your non-shadow surroundings that you could walk right over a cliff and go "that was a beautiful cliff". Despite having such beautiful graphics, I feel the developers really over did it with the fog inside the tower. There were certain spots where I couldn't even see what was in front of me due to the heavy fog. And that fog is literally on every single floor of the tower. All 55 floors.

The good
- It's one of the most unique games out there
- The graphics are gorgeous
- The story does get more interesting as you go along

The in between
- Shadow corridors. While they can heal your health all the way and give you tips and tricks, they can also take forever to get through and once you're in one, you can't leave until you find the exit. So if you die in one, you'll start right back at the beginning of that corridor.
- Spangle. While you do have control over her, if your wiimote is pointed at the censor bar and you try and take a sword slash, she will appear as well (because her and the sword are activated by the B button) and will do whatever is nearby - adjusting the light or moving certain items around. I cannot tell you how many times I did a sword swing only to activate Spangle and have her move the platform I was on, and then die because of it.

The bad
- Fog in every level is insanely annoying
- It's insanely linear. There's maybe only one side quest, but I wouldn't really count it as a side quest since the items acquire from it are necessary to be the boss
- It's long. And i mean I could have beaten two fire emblem games by now long. Just when you've reached the top of the tower the game decides to ❤❤❤❤ you over and tell you you're only half way done.
- It's insanely repetitive. It's the exact same thing over and over and over and over and over and over. Aside from floors 19 and 39, the game was stretched to its limits and then some.
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:14 PM
Hoopy Frood Hoopy Frood is a male United States Hoopy Frood is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

insaney, where do you find the time to play all of these extremely long JRPGs?

I've wanted to try the majority of these but just don't have the time. /grumble
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Old 03-09-2012, 10:23 PM
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Berry Punch View Post
insaney, where do you find the time to play all of these extremely long JRPGs?
I've played most of the games (not just the JRPGs) long before making the thread, which is why the thread hasn't been updated as quickly.
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Old 03-18-2012, 07:48 PM
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Look out! It's on the PS3/360!:





Vanquish





Release Dates: NA October 19th 2010 | EU October 26th 2010
Rating: ESRB: M | PEGI: 18+



Despite receiving 8s and 9s from review sites across the board, Vanquish, developed by Platinum Games, is an under-marketed game that's still pretty much unknown to most gamers. From the mind of Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil series, Dino Crisis series, God Hand) comes a fast paced (possibly the fastest-paced ever) third-person shooter--but hold that thought: it steers away from the type of TPS that saturates the market now. Inspired by the 1970s anime Casshern and also the Bullet Hell genre, Vanquish takes third-person shooting to new heights and speeds.

The gameplay is all the focus of this title. At a time when heavy-cover-based shooters dominate the market, Vanquish dares to be different. While cover is implemented very well in the game, it stands as a minor mechanic, a two-second grace or breather, if you will, especially on higher difficulties. You can't stick behind cover all the time; enemies will move up, they will flank you. Enemies come in from almost every side. There's no whack-a-mole gameplay here; it's all fast-paced and always on the move. Despite it not being cover focused, the game has perfected cover system mechanics, simply because it focuses on getting around/getting over/getting to cover at a moment's notice.

So what do you have to rely on since you can't fully rely on cover? This is where the real meat of the gameplay comes in. Sam Gideon's suit, the A.R.S. (Augmented Reality Suit) is the focus. It offers a swift way of getting around, through the slide/boost mechanics, and bullet time (Augmented Reality Mode) for when things get too hectic, or you need to pull off a perfect shot... Or you're just trying to be crazy and stylish.

There are no upgrades to the suit, you have to use it as is for the entire game. The only thing that can be upgraded are weapons (I, personally, recommend that you almost always have a shotgun), and that's it. That may be a turn off to some, but the game puts you in different situations so that you have to the best you can with what you have; and what you have can basically equate to a high-speed one man army.

At the end of each mission, you receive a results screen, totaling how much points you manage to rack up. It's worth noting that the game checks how much you used cover and deducts points for overusing it.

This is a game that demands quick reflexes, quick thinking under pressure and mastery of the mechanics for you to succeed. It's a game that you have to play, not something that plays itself.

The story, while present, is completely negligible. It's just present to string things along, give you goals, objectives and an overall target. It takes place in the near future where the Earth is so over populated, people fight for scarce resources. The U.S. attempted to relieve their own problems by launching an O'Neill Cylinder, a satellite that supports life, into space that supports itself purely on solar energy.

At the same time on Earth, the Russian Federation is overthrown by an ultra-nationalist force calling themselves the Order of the Russian Star. The Order captures the satellite and uses its stored solar energy to hit San Francisco with a massive beam of microwaves, killing millions, in an attempt to force the American government into unconditional surrender.

Instead of backing down, the U.S. President Elizabeth Winters sends war veteran Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Burns along with special forces of marines in an attempt to take back the satellite. The President also requests that DARPA send their researcher, Sam Gideon, who has been trained in using their newest cutting edge technology; the A.R.S., along for the ride.

And what a ride it is. There has been no game like it, and no game so far has been like it.

The Bad:
- The campaign is short, about 6 or 7 hours long
- Little to no replayability; there are different difficulties and challenges, however. And you can also keep playing to just simply master the mechanics.
- The story is pretty cliche and negligible. Can be ignored.


The Good:
- Since the gameplay is purely the focus, you can expect a full, high-speed, high-octane, adrenaline pumping experience that steers away from the cliche mechanics of popular third-person shooters of today. It's a game that deserves to be played simply for the gameplay and mechanics alone.
Last Edited by insaney; 03-18-2012 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:09 PM
Kikaider Antarctica Kikaider is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

This makes me what to play all these games, but I don't want to be a gaming gigolo, where it is a little bit of this game, a little bit of that game.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:43 PM
Halcyon Hero Halcyon Hero is a male United States Halcyon Hero is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

For the PS3:

Folklore



Release date(s):
JP June 21, 2007
NA October 9, 2007
EU October 12, 2007
AUS October 18, 2007


The Overview: Folklore combines storytelling, adventure, and combat into one very neat game. You have the choice to play each level as one of the two protagonists, who's story and gameplay differ from each other. The story centers around the small Irish village of Doolin and a strange fantasy world, with the protagonists traversing the two. Ellen, a young university student is summoned to Doolin by a letter from her dead mother. Keats, a paranormal journalist is receives a phonecall from an unknown woman in distress, bringing him to Doolin. From there, mystery and investigation ensue. Combat involves capturing different fantasy creatures and then using them to fight for you. Each creature only has one move, and fights consist of using different creatures in a sequence, chaining attacks. You assign a creature to summon to each button, and can switch them at any time, varying your attacks as needed.

The Good:

The story-telling is fantastic. By which I mean, not just the story itself, but the medium in which it is told. It's a unique and pleasing mix of traditional cinematics and a comic-style overlay. Here's an example.



Ellen and Keats have differing storylines, though they often intertwine. You can play through each level as each of them, making use of their different Folk Summons and abilites.


The Bad:

Gameplay can get a bit repetitive. Differing your attacks is fine once you have plenty of Folks to summon, but in the beginning you rely on the same few moves over and over and over.

Getting the chance to play through each level as both protagonists is great, but you don't want to do them at the same time. The gameplay and story doesn't differ between the two enough to keep it as interesting as it needs to be. You're still playing through the exact same level after all (although with different enemies). It's much better if you play through the whole game, or at least half the game, as one character before playing through as the other.



I feel like there's more I could say about this game, but my head hurts, so meh.
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Old 03-19-2012, 06:38 AM
John John is a male Canada John is offline
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Folklore is lots of fun, but I really, really wish they'd gotten rid of that infuriating half-second pause when you want to switch powers. It doesn't sound like much, but it's really jarring and gets really frustrating really fast.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:06 AM
insaney insaney is a male Trinidad and Tobago insaney is online now
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Re: Insaney's Picks: Underrated and Overlooked Gems

Look out! It's on the PS3 | 360!:





NieR





Release Dates: NA April 27, 2010 | EU April 23, 2010
Rating: ESRB: M | PEGI: 18


"Weiss, you dumbass! Start making sense you rotten book, or you're gonna be sorry! Maybe I'll rip your pages out one-by-one, or maybe I'll put you in the goddamn furnace! How can someone with such a big, smart brain get hypnotized like a little ❤❤❤❤❤ huh?! 'Oh, Shadowlord! I love you Shadowlord! Come over here and give Weiss a big sloppy kiss, Shadowlord!' Now pull your head out of your goddamn ass and START ❤❤❤❤ING HELPING US!"


These are the first words you hear when you put on this game developed by Cavia (Drakengard series, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles) and published by Square Enix (even though the name is all over it). Sadly, this was Cavia's last release before they were absorbed into AQ Interactive, its parent company. Due to time and money constraints, the developers cut some corners with the game, but did so cleverly; some short scenes play out in text as if you were reading a book (which is actually part of the theme of the game) and in some parts of those it turns into a homage to text adventures, where you have to select directions ('go north', 'go east' and so on) or solve riddles. In many ways the game is like an affectionate commentary on or parody of other genres and video games ("Try throwing a bomb into its mouth!" "I think I've heard that plan before." or just the other banter between characters) There's even an area affectionately called the "Resident Evil mansion" by those who've played the game. The game is full of it. Some areas even become sidescrolling/platforming, while others get you a top-down camera or even isometric views, reminiscent of older RPGs.

The gameplay: isn't very amazing. It starts off as a very typical, somewhat clunky hack and slash. You can dodge/roll and block, and charge your attacks. It's a bit clunky at the beginning, but you get used to it. Most of the mechanics and moves will probably be forgotten (like the Wall Kick move), since the most effective thing will just be to roll around and slash, guarding when necessary. Later on in the game you gain access to two-handed swords and spears, alongside one-handed swords. All of them play differently, and each has different weight and effects on your magic and attack power. You can upgrade these weapons if you have the proper items and adequate money.

You also have magic. Two of which can be assigned to the shoulder buttons. There are ranged types and melee types, as well as those fit for multiple and single enemies/targets. Just like melee attacks, you can charge magic attacks, though they'll eat through your MP the more you charge. Despite the good bit you get, by the time you get all of them halfway through the game, you'll come to rely on just one or two at almost all times, using others when the situation specifically calls for it. Some magic techniques are somewhat useless and you'll probably never use them at all; they seem unnecessary when you can get through situations just fine without them.

Killing Shades (the primary type of enemy in this game) normally, using your weapon, will refill your MP bar.

Adding to this, you also acquire "Words" that are randomly dropped from enemies, used to customize effects of your magic and melee attacks, as well as your dodge and guard moves. These words range from increasing your attack power, to decreasing knockback, raising the item drop rate and inflicting paralysis and poison with your attacks.

The main character acquires three party members over the course of the game. The first helps the main character do the magic spells, while the second does both melee and magic and the third focuses entirely on magic. They do little in the way of helping, most times providing a distraction. It's you who'll be doing the most damage.

It's also not a very large game by any means; in fact, the size and layout of the world feels much like a Zelda game, where you have a central area that connects to all the other important areas. In this case, the central area is the main village, where your house is. The village connects to other areas in the four directions, which then connects to towns or dungeons. Overall, the world is somewhat bland and a bit lifeless along with being very small. There is nothing to see that amazes or catches the eye, and most areas are filled with animals such as sheep or goats, deer or boars, or enemies. These areas will be seen a lot of times as you repeatedly have to go through them to progress; expect to get somewhat tired of them if you're aiming for 100% sidequests.

The sidequests themselves are mostly shallow, just normal fetch quests. However! There are a few that are deeper and well written, and others, though seemingly pointless fetch quests have amazing and unexpected outcomes. One even grants you the pleasure of listening to twins singing together (whereas, before, one used to sing alone).

From the sidequests, you learn that you can hunt for meat, wool or hides from the animals and sell them for profit. Also through sidequests, you gain the ability to grow crops and flowers that you can harvest and sell. One achievement/trophy has you planting flowers in a certain way to achieve hybrids in order to cultivate a "legendary flower". Crop growth is determined by your console's clock, so you can fiddle with it to force the crops to progress through their various stages quicker, when it would normally take at least 36 hours for them to grow fully.

The story is where the game really shines. The story and the characters. The game takes place some 1300 years after the downfall of our modern civilization; technology is lost and has regressed to somewhat medieval times, though some areas still use modern technology. Entities called "Shades" roam the land and wreak havoc, while food is steadily growing scarce. No one says it, but everyone can feel it. The world is slowly dwindling down once more. The entire atmosphere of the game has bittersweet sprinkled all over it.

It revolves around the main character, Nier (though you can rename him at the start), is a gruff-looking but kind-hearted man who wants nothing more than to protect his sick daughter, Yonah, and cure her of the disease she's suffering from; the dreaded Black Scrawl plague. Nier meets up with Grimoire Weiss, a prideful book that contains knowledge about the old world, but has lost some of its memories and magic called "Sealed Verses". It's said that Weiss can cure the Black Scrawl, but the Sealed Verses need to be recovered. On their journey, they encounter Kainé, a vulgar-mouthed, violent girl who is apparently possessed by a Shade, allowing her to use its power and then Emil, a young boy who turns everything he lays his eyes upon to stone. Each character is expanded upon greatly throughout the game, through dialogue and banter and each develop over the course of the story until the very end.

The characters and story is even expanded upon in subsequent New Game+ playthroughs; new scenes and new dialogue are added. For example, the NG+ right after your first playthrough focuses on Kainé; her past and motivations. The Shade that's possessed her is also given a voice, so you can understand what he and other Shades are saying; but Nier doesn't hear or know about it. Only Kainé and the player do. It brings things into a new and interesting light.

New Game+ starts you off at a pivotal point, halfway through the game, so you don't have to play the beginning anymore--this also means that you won't be able to complete the quests you missed in the beginning. All stats and items are carried over. There are also several different endings; the first you earn by playing once, the second by playing an NG+ and the third and fourth endings are made by choice.

Divulging any more would just be revealing spoilers, and the best thing about the story and characters are the twists and emotions involved. It's a well spun, emotional tale that will make you question everything you do; especially during another playthrough. Are you truly doing what's right? What is the Black Scrawl? What are the Shades? Why is the world dying again? Will the world be saved? Or will you watch it die? Do you want to find out at all or is your Yonah all that matters?

The Bad:
- Bland environments in a small world
- Somewhat clunky and very basic combat system that takes some getting used to
- Most sidequests are just fetchquests.

The Good:
- Amazing story and excellent characters; will be a treat for those who love to get emotionally invested and attached to developing characters
- NG+ has new scenes and dialogue added in, encouraging you to play through again.
- Four different endings, each providing new takes on the story and fate of the characters
- The soundtrack is amazing. One of the best I've ever heard. All the lyrics are sung in a fictional language. Just listen.

The Bonus:
- In Japan, there are two versions of the game. The 360 version (NieR Gestalt) has Father/Older Nier, (who is the protagonist of every copy outside of Japan, including PS3), while the Japanese PS3 version has Brother/Younger Nier (NieR Replicant). There are slight differences in story between the two.
- BOAR DRIFTING
Last Edited by insaney; 04-29-2012 at 12:09 AM. Reason: Reply With Quote
3 people liked this post: BloodRawKnuckle, hobbitz, Traeh
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