Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

Dissidia_Final_Fantasy_NT_Steelbook_Brawler_Limited_Edition_-_PlayStation_4_1024x1024Date Completed:  March 2, 2018

I played a lot of Dissidia (like, 100+ hours) on my PSP back in the day, and put up with a lot of jokes from my wife about stupid video game names so I was expecting this to be more of that.  My expectations failed to be met.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a 3-vs-3 fighting game.  It doesn’t appear that it was ever meant to have a single player mode.  There is a single player mode tacked on but it feels like a bit of an afterthought.  It consists of a series of preset 3-vs-3 matches where you are paired with some AI controlled buddies.  I understand that the game was originally an arcade fighting game in Japan, which explains quite a bit.

The graphics are beautiful but that’s about all this game has going for it.  I played through the single player which was OK but not super memorable.  I tried some of the online matches but I only played a few.  It would take an average of 5 minutes to find a match so I would usually get bored before being paired with anyone.

I let the kids play a few matches and they didn’t care for it much.  The controls are greatly simplified from the PSP Dissidia games but they are still a bit involved.  My kids did enjoy seeing Prince Noctis’ from Final Fantasy XV (Which was the game I had played immediately prior) though!

In conclusion, this one is a dud.

  • Is it fun: No
  • Score: 3/10
  • Length:  8
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: Fighting
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Horizon Zero Dawn : The Frozen Wilds

Date Completed: February 10th, 2018

Holy late blogging Batman!  It’s that time of the year again when I realize that I’m almost an entire year behind and that I should play some catch up.  Fortunately this wasn’t a full game, only an expansion so it should be quick.

Horizon Zero Dawn is one of my favorite games ever and my daughter still refers to it as ‘The Mommy Game’ because she decided that the heroine was like her Mommy.  I never owned the game originally having borrowed it from my brother-in-law so when the Game + Expansion combo pack was made available I put it on my Christmas list.  Luckily Santa Delivered!

I had a lot of fun revisiting the world of Horizon and my daughter was very happy to sit on my lap and watch me play (She was only three at the time, I was careful to only let her watch when we were exploring and not the violent parts of the game).

Overall a great expansion to one of the greatest science fiction stories of our time.

Final Fantasy XV

Date Completed: January 25th, 2018

In my opinion the Final Fantasy series peaked during the Playstation One era and has been in a gradual decline since.  While I haven’t played XI or XIV (since they are online only) all of the main titles since X have been slightly inferior to the game immediately proceeding it.  I had decided long before FFXV was released that if it was not ‘good’ I would officially be hanging up my Final Fantasy hat.  So, did the game deliver?  Periodically my wife would walk in on me while I played and I’ll let her statements speak for the quality of the game.

“All I’ve ever seen you do in that game is drive around in your car.”

“You’re fishing now! That’s new.”

“They look like a boy band from the 90’s”

“Is that a Cup of Noodles hat?  Final Fantasy has finally jumped the shark.”

Ready for Battle.

So the question that must be answered is “Was Final Fantasy XV ‘good’ enough?”  The answer is “It’s complicated”.

While playing the game I was constantly irritated by various aspects of the game that I thought were either boring or poorly executed.  Most of the game takes place in a vast open area that you traverse by driving around in your car.  You don’t have access to controlling the car at first but you can tell your driver where you want to go.  If you think a game where you watch other people drive is ‘fun’ you are clearly insane.  You do eventually gain control of the car yourself however it still mostly self-pilots and isn’t very much fun to drive.

I also found the combat system to be both boring and frustrating.  Combat is performed by holding down either the attack or the defense button.  While a button is held down combat is mostly automatic.  I rarely felt like I (the player) was necessary for success and that my role in battle could have been fulfilled by a strategically placed rubber-band.  The frustrating parts occurred when I’d encounter a critter that would kick my butt and I’d have to figure out what I was doing wrong.  I spent some time reading online about the combat system trying to find out if there was something I was missing (There wasn’t).  Usually the answer was ‘level up more, die less’.  Good advice I suppose.

Final Fantasy games are traditionally very story driven but I found the story to be….suboptimal.  The story is broken up awkwardly and it’s clear that some decisions were made with the intention of selling additional content after release.  The story as told in the game makes very little sense so I found myself reading supplemental material online to fill in the gaps.  It also helped to watch the YouTube animated shorts as well as the Kingsglaive movie (available for an additional fee).  Even if you invest the time and the money into all the supplemental material the story is kinda dumb.  Beautifully animated though.

I could spend a lot of time complaining about the failings of this game but I should note that I did enjoy playing it enough to stick with it for 80 hours.  My three-year-old daughter really enjoyed watching me play and especially enjoyed the characters (Prince Noctis was her favorite).  While the game might not do anything particularly well it also doesn’t completely bomb either.  If I could put a review on the cover I’d write “Utterly Average”.  While average might be considered ‘good’ by some I was hoping for more.

So, am I giving up on Final Fantasy?  It’s hard to say.  FFXV failed to meet my expectations but if Final Fantasy XVI looks amazing I’m sure I’ll find myself being cautiously optimistic once again.

  • Is it fun: Yes – barely
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  80 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: RPG

 

Farpoint VR

Date Completed: January 14th, 2018

Most of the content that has come out for the Playstation VR would be better understood as ‘experiences’ rather than games.  I was hoping that Farpoint VR might be something different – something fantastic.  The game came out in May 2017 as part of a bundle with the Aim controller and the total bundle price wasn’t much more than the price of a normal game.  I decided to wait for the reviews to make any purchase decisions and the reviews were very disappointing.  I decided that even with poor reviews I was interested in the game if it came as part of the controller bundle.  Sadly they sold out of the controller bundle and I didn’t see it in stock again FOR SIX MONTHS.  There were even rumors that the bundle had been discontinued.  Shortly before Christmas 2017 I started seeing it show up online again but my budget for the month had already been blown several times over so I didn’t buy it.  Luckily I received some cash for Christmas and I noticed the bundle had gone on-sale at the local Walmart for 10$ cheaper than anywhere else.  I snatched it up immediately.

I started playing the game and immediately got motion sick.  This was a surprise to me because I had played the Doom demo in VR and hadn’t experienced any major issues and Farpoint VR isn’t anywhere near as frantic a game.  I was only able to play in 5 minute intervals at first.  I started reading up on VR sickness online and found that ginger supplements were recommended as well as pointing a fan at yourself.  I set up a series of fans in my game room and made myself tea with ginger oil my wife had supplied before each play session and surprisingly it worked.  It didn’t completely eliminate motion sickness but I was able to complete the game with minimal discomfort.

The game is a first person shooter but movement is restricted in most directions by the game’s ‘Comfort Controls’.  I didn’t try changing the default comfort settings because of my early issues with motion sickness but it appears you can play the game with a more traditional range of motion.  There is a minimal story to the game but mostly it involves exploring an Alien world and killing what you find there.  Since movement is restricted the game itself ends up being very linear.  You mostly walk down corridors with very few twists and turns.  The story unfolds as you explore via a series of hologram flashbacks.  The story is very basic and while it does have a few interesting parts overall I’d call it forgettable.

With only a few basic enemy types, linear exploration and a ‘meh’ story you’d think I wouldn’t have enjoyed the game but much like other VR titles the VR makes it fun.  Combat felt realistic (especially with the Aim controller) and while movement was linear the sense of immersion into the environment helped with the enjoyment factor.  If this game wasn’t in VR I would not recommend it, but I think my pre-purchase impression was correct.  If you can get it bundled with the Aim controller it’s totally worth it.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 6/10
  • Length:  6-8 hours
  • System: Playstation 4
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter / VR

 

Hellblade : Senua’s Sacrifice

Date Completed : December 1st, 2017

I had never heard of this game but a co-worker bought a surprise copy of this game for me (Thank Again!) and after reading about it I was intrigued.

This is one of those games that once it’s spoiled you can’t go back so I’m not going to say much about it.  It takes place in a Norse setting (which gets it 10 extra Awesome points) and follows the story of a woman named Senua.   Throughout the game you hear the voices that are whispering to Senua which I first tried to ignore as background babbling.  Eventually I got to a point where I realized I was listening to the voices and doing what they told me.  When I realized the game had subtly led me to listening to the voices in Senua’s head I realized it was something special.

One of the top billed individuals in making this game was the Psychology Consultant.  The descent into mental illness particularly in a time when it was not understood or remotely treatable was believable and horrifying.  More than once I’d go to bed after playing, look at my wife and say “I shouldn’t play that game before bed.”

I recommend playing with headphones on for maximum effect.  When I was wearing the headphones gave the sound a better ‘sense of immediacy’ and it felt as if the voices were in my head as well.

Since completing the game we’ve had many conversations at the office about what was really going on – how much of the game was a delusion and how much was real.  There are a lot of possible ways to interpret the events of the game and there is so much depth to them it may take a few play-throughs to fully understand it.  I ended up playing through 1.5 times, just to pick up my platinum trophy.

I will leave you with the soundtrack of my favorite scene.  When I got to the Bridge with the Nordic Chanting started I was all smiles.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~8 Hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Third-Person Adventure, Psychological Thriller

Horizon Zero Dawn

Date Completed : August 27th, 2017

When I first saw the trailer for Horizon Zero Dawn I sensed greatness.  Robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic world?  YES PLEASE.  Sadly I live in a world without money so I didn’t pre-order it at launch.  It also had the unfortunate circumstance of sharing a launch window with The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild so I knew I wouldn’t get around to it for awhile.  Luckily being married to my wife paid off once more and my brother-in-law loaned me the game for free.  I played through the intro and was instantly hooked.  The robot dinosaurs did not let me down.

The game takes place on earth after a robot apocalypse.  Human beings have reverted to tribal lifestyles and robots and animals live side-by-side.  During the course of the game you discover the answers to the mystery – what caused the Apocalypse?  And what has happened since then?  And quite a mystery it turns out to be too.  I won’t give anything away but in my opinion it is one of the best sci-fi stories ever.

The game is rated Teen but most of the violence is human-on-robot so I figured I could get away with letting the kids watch.  Violence is OK if it’s against machines, right?  Oddly enough my boys weren’t particularly interested in this game (unless they walked in on me battling a Thunder-jaw or something) but my daughter loved it.  She declared that the heroine (‘Aloy of the Nora tribe’) was her mother and she called this ‘The Mommy Game’.  I assume this is because my wife, like Aloy, kills with impunity and uses a zip-line to get down the stairs.  Hopefully my daughter will not grow up thinking that a video game character is her biological mother.  We played a lot of hours of this game together and she was heart-broken when I returned the borrowed copy to her Uncle.

Since completing the game I have badgered everyone I know to play it so I’ll have someone to talk to about it.  Because of my actions I have no friends left and at least one marriage is on the rocks (long story) but it will be worth it.  It’s a great game and worth buying a PS4 to play it.  Yesterday for Christmas I finally received my own copy of the ‘Complete’ Edition that includes the DLC and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~70 Hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Third-Person Shooter

Until Dawn : Rush of Blood

Date Completed : April 22, 2017

I received a Playstation VR for Christmas from my in-laws (who instantly went up a notch on the awesome scale) but I didn’t receive any games so I had to content myself with the demo disc that game with the system.  I started the year off with the laughable goal of spending less than I earn which has sadly been a failure but did prevent me from making any un-budgeted 60$ purchases. While poking around Amazon one day I discovered that Rush of Blood was available for 10$ and since I already had a bundle of crap in my cart for my wife and son’s birthdays ( which unfortunately for my budget are only three days apart ) I figured this game would only be a rounding error.

Rush of Blood is on the demo disc so I knew what I was getting into. Each level consists of a short roller coaster ride where you are armed with two handguns and everything tries to kill you.  This was typically the demo that I’d let friends try when they tested the Playstation VR unless small children were present.  In my opinion it’s a rather sub-part rail shooter that was rushed out to be available for the launch of a new gaming platform.  I wouldn’t have paid full price for it but I figured the 10$ investment would be worth it to have an actual retail game for the VR.  (In true form Sony made the game free to  Playstation  Plus subscribers recently once again proving you should never pay for Playstation software).

I made one minor change to my play style when I started the full retail version of Rush of Blood.  I dug out my Playstation Move controllers and paired them up to my Playstation 4.  It turns out that playing this game with motion controllers MAKES IT AWESOME. I could look at my hands in VR and they would appear to be where I thought my real hands should be.  I could control them independently and shoot two targets at once.  The sense of immersion was complete.  I forgot that I was in a chair in my office and unfortunately I forgot there was a wall to my left.  Once I tried to point my gun at a bad guy only to find that I couldn’t physically orient my arm in the desired direction.  It was because back in the real world the previously mentioned wall stubbornly refused to give way.

I usually played 15-20 minutes at a time before going to bed but the game would get me so wound up I’d have a hard time getting to sleep.  The game is really short so It only took me about two weeks to finish all of the mission.  The short duration of each level was the perfect way to begin acclimating to VR.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation VR (PS4)
  • Genre: Rail Shooter, Horror