After the madness of the fourth quarter, I have a lull in the review schedule right now. It's nice to not be reviewing something for a change, so I'm plowing ahead with Final Fantasy XII. I'm about fifteen-ish hours into the adventure and still loving it. Loving it a heck of a lot more than I expected, actually.
It's not a good sign when a 2008 release date, slips to 2009 and now 2010. Making things worse is the exclusivity deal Square-Enix struck with Microsoft—FFXIII would be released simultaneously on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 outside of Japan—Square-Enix has announced that development wouldn't even begin on the 360 version until the PS3 version was finished. How much does that add to development time?
Putting aside all concerns of characterization and storytelling for the moment, as far as I'm concerned, Crisis Core is a complete failure in terms of mechanics and gameplay. There's no arguing that it's probably the most beautiful PSP game produced thus far, easily eclipsing the vast majority of PS2 games when it comes to visual sweetness, but once the sugar high wears off, it's hard to ignore the repetitive combat and absurd design choices that keep it from being anything but fanservice piffle.
Game Description: Seven years prior to the events of FINAL FANTASY VII—The Shinra Company is rapidly increasing its influence through its monopoly on mako energy and military might. With the burgeoning city of Midgar as its base and symbol of prosperity, Shinra is on the verge of establishing absolute dominance over the world. SOLDIER is a group of skilled combat operatives within Shinra. The elite within the group—those strong enough to be deemed SOLDIER 1st Class—are respected and idolized by the citizenry. Zack is a young SOLDIER 2nd Class who aspires to become a 1st. He spends his days carrying out assignments under the guidance of his 1st Class mentor, Angeal. During an operation in Wutai, a large number of SOLDIER members, led by 1st Class operative Genesis, go missing. The severity of the situation prompts Shinra executives to deploy even more SOLDIER operatives in hopes of bringing an end to the war with Wutai—and conducting an investigation into the mass desertion. The ones assigned to the mission are Zack, Angeal, and the 1st Class hero who is known the world over as Sephiroth... What truths lie behind Genesis's disappearance? What secrets bind the three SOLDIER 1st Class operatives? For Zack, a cruel and fateful struggle awaits...
I don’t know what went wrong with Dawn of Mana. Its worlds are bright fairylands; its characters are pretty without looking sickly cute. The gameplay itself is an interesting twist on Devil May Cry-style combo-racking, with few lulls in the action and lots of property to destroy. Unfortunately, a lousy camera and odd difficulty levels make the game much more frustrating than it should be.
Game Description: In Dawn of Mana players will finally uncover the origins of the long-running MANA series, which boasts unique and fully interactive 3D environments. Players will be able to interact with their environment like never before, as they explore, destroy and use objects in their fight against fierce—and often funny—enemies. Four difficulty levels, gameplay-altering emblems and a battle arena with collectable pets add customization to the adventure and increase replay value.
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