Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Review

SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 3 (2008) – ATLUS

And the prize for boxart that gives nothing away goes to…

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is oft considered as a modern classic; a game that came from virtually nowhere to give the JRPG genre a serious lesson in style in the midpart of the last decade. Mixing the simulation of a normal Japanese high school life with a dark story and a pulsating atmosphere, it won over critics and provided the base for the excellent sequel, Persona 4. This summer, I put aside some time to go through Persona 3 and see what makes it a fan favourite. Continue reading

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Paradoxes, Paradoxes Everywhere – Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 (2012) – SQUARE ENIX

Caius & Lightning fight for sole ownership of the logo…

For all intensive purposes, Final Fantasy XIII-2 shouldn’t exist. Final Fantasy XIII was not the new age hit that Square Enix hoped it would be; in fact it did the opposite and split much of the fanbase with its questionable plot and automated battling. The decision to make a direct sequel, tailored more to a Western audience, is questionable at best then. Strangely though, for whatever reason the premise works – XIII-2 is a much better game than the original, but still suffers from quite a few of the problems that made XIII a disappointment. Continue reading

The Gambit That Got Away – Final Fantasy XII Review

FINAL FANTASY XII (2006) – SQUARE ENIX

The Judges (arbiters of law in Ivalice) get some truly badass armor

Considering that it had a record development period of five years and the budget of a small Hollywood picture ($48,000,000 if reports are accurate), the first word that comes to mind when I consider Final Fantasy XII is…disappointment. It reviewed very highly upon its release, but after a recent playthrough I simply couldn’t understand the hype. No doubt it is a finely produced game, one of the best that you can find on the PS2; but for sheer gameplay it falls well short of the lofty heights reached by its predecessors. Continue reading

Beyond The Finale, There’s A Game In There – Mass Effect 3 Review

MASS EFFECT 3 (2012) – BIOWARE

In a nice touch, the boxart is reversible – on the other side you will find the female version of Shepard pulling a pose

Yes. The ending is pretty disappointing.

I apologise for starting a review so bluntly, but it seems that whenever I have witnessed Mass Effect 3 being mentioned in conversation, it is the finale that is the immediate point of contention. Rarely has the conclusion of a game been so poorly received; Bioware were only just cleared of a ridiculous court case that claimed that the game broke advertising rules by not giving players a satisfying ending based on their playing history with the franchise. The thing is though, it’s really quite sad – because ending aside, Mass Effect 3 is an excellent game and has much to praise. Continue reading

An RPG To Leave You Feeling Blue – Blue Dragon Review

BLUE DRAGON (2007) – MISTWALKER

He’s behind yooouuuuuu…..

Two summers ago (which seems like a bloody long time ago now), I found myself running a bit short on games to play through – I had completed Mass Effect more times than I care to remember, was getting bored of FIFA and wanted something new and a bit different to play. It just so happens that one day while browsing the shelves of a local supermarket, I saw a copy of Blue Dragon going for £5. Considering that I had played through and quite enjoyed another of Mistwalker’s efforts during the previous months (the often overlooked Lost Odyssey, which followed Blue Dragon), I decided to give it a go. The result? Unfortunately, a rather childish affair that disappoints on quite a few levels. Continue reading

An Average Trip Through The Starry Seas – Rogue Galaxy Review

ROGUE GALAXY (2007) – LEVEL 5

Don’t you wish you were so important that you would get a entire star system named after you?

As far as alluring concepts are concerned, being a space pirate has to rank up there with the best of them. Just imagine; trawling the widest reaches of the universe for fantastic treasures – it’s enough to bring to out the adventurous kid in anyone. Rogue Galaxy (which was an original project by Level 5) aims to capture this feel, and set it within a RPG mainframe. The end product is a very nice concept with several praiseable qualities, but a product that ultimately does not deliver the satisfaction that you were perhaps expecting from it. Continue reading

Less Space, More Guns And No Elevators – Mass Effect 2 Review

MASS EFFECT 2 (2010) – BIOWARE

Shepard, Miranda and Thane look to wage war on the EA logo

Back when I reviewed the original Mass Effect near to a year ago, I claimed that it was a fine game and a excellent space opera produced at the first attempt by Bioware, but that it could do with a bit of refinement. When the long-anticipated sequel was released in 2010, it seemed to have done the trick amongst critics – instantly becoming one of the best reviewed games of this generation. But having played it myself, I can’t quite agree with the unanimous praise for the game; it is undoubtedly a superior product overall, but something about it doesn’t quite click. Continue reading

A Horse! A Horse! My Princess Is A Horse! – Dragon Quest 8 Review

DRAGON QUEST VIII: THE JOURNEY OF THE CURSED KING (2006) – LEVEL 5

There are very few game series that can command the respect that Dragon Quest does. A colossal franchise in its Japanese homeland, it has remained rock steady in the JRPG genre, and whereas Final Fantasy has always felt the need to adapt and change with the times with each instalment, Dragon Quest is pretty much the same now as it was when the original game was released in 1986 on the NES: turn based combat, text driven screens and lots of grinding. Even the development team has remained the same, with the creator Yuji Horii, artist Akira Toriyama and composer Koichi Sugiyama working on every single game.

The impulse to write this review was provided by an article I read recently on CVG.com that simply proclaimed ‘Why Dragon Quest 8 Is The Best Game On The PS2’. Having read the analysis featured within, I began to ponder about the statement, and the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that the statement may well have some truth to it. Because while Dragon Quest 8 did nothing new or original for the JRPG genre, it does what it does with an exceptional amount of aplomb. Continue reading

Bringing Classic Fantasy Back In Style – Final Fantasy 9 Review

FINAL FANTASY 9 (2001) – SQUARESOFT

Given the huge success of Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 8 on the Playstation, you could have forgiven Squaresoft for continuing along a futuristic line for the next game in the franchise. However, it was clear from the start of its life that Final Fantasy 9 was going to be a combo breaker for the futuristic formula. Development for the game started before Final Fantasy 8 had even been released, and Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted to make a game that he felt was as close as possible to his original views for what Final Fantasy should be. This meant a return to more medieval settings and a more European flavour than its forbearers. Question is, did this gamble pay off in the end? Continue reading

30 Minutes Of Live Skyrim Footage From Quakecon With Analysis

At Quakecon, Bethesda Game Studios, the developers of the award winning Oblivion and Fallout 3, held the first public demonstration of their new big hitter (and one of the most eagerly awaited games in years), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. In an obvious bid to keep things under wraps, Bethesda asked no-one to record the footage of the game…but since when has that ever stopped eager gamers and convention goers? Today, several videos hit entertainment sites such as Youtube and Dailymotion showcasing a whole 30 minutes of live gameplay footage from the show….and most of them promptly got removed due to copyright stuff. Fortunately, I was quick enough to see one of the videos in its entirety on Dailymotion; I have posted the link below, so if you want to try your luck at watching it then go right ahead, but if not I made notes on the video highlighting what I thought were the most impressive things Todd Howard had to show the delighted Quakecon crowd. Continue reading