Why I’ve Got So Many Unfinished Games

I’m coming to the end of my summer break, and I’m just now finding the time to look through my game collection and see what I really need to complete. I’ve got a stack, no, a mountain of games that remain unfinished, and some that I’ve barely even touched. For each one, there is a reason, and I’m sure that most gamers can relate to some, if not all of these reasons.

Dishonored

Dishonored is one of those games that I absolutely adore. In fact, I adore it so much that I don’t want to finish it. I’ve come to enjoy it so much, that the mere thought of bringing an end to my time with it is almost upsetting. I know there’s DLC for it, but it just won’t be the same. I’ve been saving finishing it since Christmas, so perhaps I should really get back to it over these coming weeks.

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Dishonored is just too enjoyable for me to let it end

Final Fantasy XIII-2

I’m not a fan of the FFXIII-2 universe, at all. I think it’s over complicated, and I don’t like any of the characters at all. The battle system is almost beyond button bashing, with a slight edge towards tactics occasionally, and it’s utterly baffling. I abandoned this right towards the end, very much like Dishonored, but for a completely different reason; I simply didn’t care. I didn’t care about what was going to happen if I didn’t save the world. I don’t really understand why the world is ending anyway, and what all this Fal’cie nonsense is about. However, I’m not one to leave a JRPG unfinished, so this week I started backing on it, grinding my way through numerous levels so I was strong enough to do the final boss. I rage quit last night as the final boss annihilated me with limited health remaining, but my plan for today is to grind some more, and beat it. I just want to have the satisfaction of beating it, so that I can go onto Lightning Returns with complete knowledge.

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I just don’t care about anything FFXIII-2 has to offer

Persona 4 Arena

I waited for this game for so long, that when it finally arrived all the excitement had kind of disappeared. I’ll go back to it, but currently, I just don’t want to play it. Almost like I’m blaming the game for the failing of its publisher. Also, the story made is so text heavy that it makes me eyes hurt. I have the subtitles on in games, and always like to read them over listening to the characters, but Persona 4 Arena takes it to a new level of irritation.

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All I want to do is fight. I don’t want a text heavy fighter.

DmC

I rage quit one day after I got annihilated by a boss. Devil May Cry games are known for being unforgiving, but sending me into a boss fight with endless rounds was a bit silly without any health along the day. I don’t want DmC to hold my hand, but a little help wouldn’t have gone amiss. I’ll again go back to it one day, but when that day may be, I’m not so sure.

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DmC is good fun, I’m just suffering from rage quit syndrome

Lolipop Chainsaw

This is one of those games that I need to play for light relief. It’s got the most ludicrous ‘story’ in the world, and it’s nothing more than a button bashing piece of light entertainment. I think I’m saving Lollipop Chainsaw for those stressful days, when all I want to do is come home and slice zombies heads off with a perky cheerleader.

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Lolipop Chainsaw is good, (not so) innocent fun, but I’ve got to be in the mood

Resonance of Fate

I cannot dent that Resonance of Fate is a truly amazing twist on the JRPG genre, and I enjoy it very much. It’s just too damn hard. The difficulty level leaps about all over the place, and as much as I enjoy grinding levels in JRPGs, there has to be a limit, and I keep reaching that limit more times than I’ve been able to count. I want to progress with it, but the more I think about it, the more I remember the endless grinding, the endless death, and then I let out a loud audible groan.

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It’s just too much like hard work sometimes.

What reasons do you leave games hanging around and collecting dust on your shelves? Are you the same as me, or do you simply just move onto the next new shiny thing? Let me know in the comments.

The Highs and Lows of E3 2013

I’ve had my 6 hours sleep after E3, and it’s safe to say I’m still reeling off the excitement of the Sony conference last night. It wasn’t a perfect conference, suffering from the usual delay which enraged the 2AM British crew watching online, and experiencing at least one technical hitch, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Sony have easily won E3 for me so far. Jack Tretton essentially punched Don Mattrick to the floor, and continued to kick him while he was down, and I think Sony deserve every ounce of praise they get for that. It wasn’t all about Sony though, and it’s not all about the console war. Here are my personal highlights, and lowlights of E3 2013, including games as well as hardware.

Microsoft had the tough job of opening the show after a less than warm reception to their new console, the Xbox One. They did however stick to their promise of keeping their conference all about the games. In a bold move, slightly copied from Sony, Xbox 360 gold members are going to be treated to two exclusive, free games each month up until the release of the Xbox One, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3 are the only titles confirmed for this so far. Microsoft Points are also changing into local currency, so you can now buy your games in GBP, USD etc without having to pay for more than you need in MSP.

Onto the new games however, and Microsoft had a lot to be proud of. Max The Curse of Brotherhood looks like a fun side scroller for the Xbox 360, while the Xbox One will be getting Ryse Son of Rome, as well as the intriguing Sunset Overdrive, to mention just a few. Project Spark made use of Kinect, allowing you to build your own game world starting with the landscape, as well as your own characters, villages and monsters. This will appeal to fans of games such as The Sims, and those who dream of building their own games and it does look like a lot of fun.

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Sunset Overdrive looks gruesome in a fun, cartoon-y way

Unfortunately, Microsoft came out with a rather high price point for the Xbox One, coming in at $499 and £429. I will never understand the inability to be able to convert currency efficiently in the games industry, but that’s steep by anyones estimations.

Next up were EA, the home of sports games and some truly incredible gaming franchises. Choosing to open with Plants VS Zombies Garden Warfare was an inspired move, opening the conference on a light-hearted note, and it does look like serious amounts of fun. Peggle 2 was also announced, pleasing the Popcap fan base immensely.

Next up was Need for Speed Rivals, a title which I am very excited about. As long as this performs better than Most Wanted I’ll be happy. Another title I was thrilled to see was Dragon Age Inquisition. Though it may have been brief, it certainly looks exciting, and if Dragon Age 2 was anything to go by, this could be an utterly astounding title in 2014.

Unfortunately, EA Sports just had to take up a big chunk of time with their ‘new’ games. I know I’m in a minority when I say I couldn’t care less, but I do appreciate the graphics that they showcased with titles such as Madden NFL and UFC. They’re just not for me.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally happened; Mirror’s Edge 2 finished off the conference with a very stylish trailer, showing the classic gameplay fans of the original have grown to love, as well as improved graphics. The roar of excitement from the room was incredible.

The third conference slot was taken up by Ubisoft. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, they chose to use the same awful host from last year, thinking it was a good idea to promote the hash tag #girlwood from last years equally cringeworthy conference. The host was terrible, not funny and unnecessarily crude at times. I want to hear about games, not someones sexual promiscuity.

Anyway, Ubisoft had a few surprises up their sleeves with PC title The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot which looks a little bit like Torchlight on speed if I’m honest, and that’s a good thing. They also went on to showcase new racing game The Crew, which puts a bit of a unique spin on the racing genre. The clue is in the title, you are part of a crew of racers battling to infiltrate and take over criminal organisations in an incredible open world. You can also tune your car as much as you want, from the inner workings to the shiny exterior, as well as using SmartGlass to craft a car while out of the game. It looks new and exciting, and I can’t wait to see more.

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The Crew looks fun and new

Assassin’s Creed 4 also had an interesting, if not slightly laggy live demo, which leads me to believe that it’s going to infinitely better than Assassin’s Creed 3. The usual suspects like The Raving Rabbids and Rayman made an appearance too with some pre recorded gameplay, and two new Trials games were announced; one for console, and one for mobile devices.

Finally, the conference we had all been waiting for, Sony. Sony had kept quiet about their stance on the used games argument, always online etc, as well as the look of their console. Early on Sony had unveiled their new console, which bore a striking resemblance to the Xbox One, but appeared to be much smaller. I’m not sold on the design just yet, but I’ll need to see more images, and maybe a size comparison with Xbox One.

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It’s not a pretty console, but it’ll do

True to form, Sony went straight in with the games, and my goodness do they have some good games coming up. The only company to announce the new episode of The Walking Dead, titled 400 Days, is coming to Vita, as well as their promised HD versions of games such as God of War 1&2, as well as FFX & FFX-2. They carried on at a quick pace, blasting us with trailer after trailer for new games. No talk, just games. Games such as Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond Two Souls and Batman Arkham Origins, all for the Ps3.

Then onto the PS4 titles; The Order 1886, Drive Club, Infamous Second Son and Knack. And then the first blow to Microsoft came; high support for indie developers. A stage full of indie developers playing their games live, screens behind them, looking glorious. Titles such as Mercenary Kings, Don’t Starve and Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty were just a few that were mentioned.

A personal favourite moment of mine is when Square Enix finally gave us a new trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII. But here’s the kicker; It’s no longer called Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but is being developed as Final Fantasy XV. I’m not so sure about the gameplay so far, it has a look of Crisis Core, but the graphics looked beautiful, and so undoubtedly Final Fantasy. The next shocker? Kingdom Hearts 3. Finally, Kingdom Hearts 3 is happening. I was getting so overjoyed at all this news that I forgot to update my live blog for a good ten minutes (That, and sleep deprivation). Squeenix really knew what to announce to get their fans back.

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Final Fantasy Versus XIII becoming Final Fantasy XV is probably a good move

And finally, the glorious moment for Sony was this; PS4 supports used games. Want more? Ps4 users can lend their games to anyone, at no extra cost. More? PS4 doesn’t need to be online to play your games, and there are no authentication checks along the way. The best part? $399, £349 pricepoint. Sony listened to the consumer, and the crowds cheers of excitement are testament to Sony’s success this year.

So those are my highlights and (minimal) lowlights of E3. What about you? Do you think Sony stole the show, or is there more to this than meets the eye? Are Microsoft still your favourite, or are Nintendo going to sneak in through the back door with their Nintendo direct later on? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned with Ramblings of a Gaming Girl for live updates from the Nintendo direct at 3PM BST.

 

In love with Sidequests

I’m about 20 hours into Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch, and I’ve just been given the ability to travel around the world freely with a rather nifty travel spell. This is the point that I look forward to in most JRPGs. That moment when you are taken off the rails and allowed to zoom around, completing the little things you forgot to do in previous locations.

The main reason I love this? Sidequests. I love nothing more than a good sidequest, and I can spend hours hunting around for flowers that people want, and beating up monsters that are causing havoc. There’s just something so rewarding about it, and Ni No Kuni has done an excellent job of this.

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I get maybe a bit too excted about Ni No Kuni’s sidequests

As soon as I enter a town in Ni No Kuni I make sure to accept all the side missions, and sign up for all the bounties. To be honest, I don’t really absorb all the information in these little extra quests until I’m looking through my journal and wondering ‘What on earth did this person want?’, but when you go out onto the world map and see all these little icons hovering over where you need to be, there’s a real sense of excitement that washes over me. I’m thinking to myself ‘Is that a new bounty? Or is that where that person needed me to find something?’.

I can’t quite explain it, but I’ve always love sidequests. Even in games that aren’t JRPGs, there is still an element of excitement at being able to explore some more when you recieve an ‘Optional mission’ in something like Bioshock Infinite. To tell the truth, I only really managed to do about two optional missions, but that’s because I was too busy drooling over the landscape and wanting to know more about what on earth was going on (my ponderings on the ending of that will be coming very, soon I promise).

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Optional quests in Infinite help you learn more about the world around you

Extra missions just add a little bit of extra fun to games. You get extra things for your efforts, some of which are a bit useless, but it’s worth plodding through all the rubbish ones to get the good stuff. In the case of JRPGs you normally end up getting a lot of money that would have taken you ages to scrounge from grinding out in the field, or you get some rather handy pieces of equipment for free that will help you later in the game.

I find it quite sad when people ignore sidequests in games though, like they’re not important. I can understand just wanting to get on with the main story and not get too distracted, but side quests really help you learn more about the character you are either playing as, or the others you are travelling with. Ni No Kuni is full of witty banter on the optional parts, and it really adds even more magic to the already wonderful story. It gives you even more time to appreciate the world you’re in, and regardless of whether I’m hunting down a giant beastie, or simply foraging for flowers, I haven’t been let down by a side quest yet.

Are you a side quest fanatic, or a main story plower?

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The Stigma of Easy Mode

I’ll be the first to admit that if I a game is kicking me while I’m down, I will occasionally counterattack with a change in difficulty. I had to do this recently with Bioshock Infinite, which while frustrating as I had gone through the whole game on a different difficulty level, I was quite relieved as it just let me finish the game. I had to switch down to easy mode as I was getting completely obliterated right at the end of the game. I could have done it on normal mode, but I lacked the patience and to be perfectly honest, I just wanted to finish it.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a challenge in games just as much as anyone else, but my skills aren’t always up to the test. There does appear to be a certain amount of snobbery at times when it comes to difficulty modes in games. Tell someone you completed the new Call of Duty on the highest difficulty setting and you’re a God. Tell that same person you completed it on easy mode, then you’re just a newbie who apparently doesn’t deserve the title of ‘gamer’. This does annoy me slightly, as I think it really depends on the game genre, and the kind of player you are.

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Games are starting to realise what different players want

There are some people who are excellent at completing FPS games on the most hardcore settings, and that’s because they have the patience and the strategic knowledge to get through them. Me? I’ve got an itchy trigger finger and if someone jumps in front of me, I’m going to fire as many rounds into them as I possibly can. I don’t have the patience for conserving ammo, so I normally set my FPS games on normal difficulty, which is just the right amount of strategy and ‘all guns blazing’ for my gaming style.

I would absolutely love to be able to claim I finished a game on super hardcore mode, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon. If JRPGs had a better range of difficulty settings, then you can guarantee I’d be all over that. I can spend hours grinding my characters up to a good enough level, and then spend several more hours utilising the perfect strategy to beat down that secret boss who refuses to give in. I’m not sure how many hardcore FPS players would have the same patience and strategic planning, however.

My point is, every game has a different strategy, and a different set of mental skills is needed for each one. I start every game on a normal difficulty setting, but when it comes down to fighting games, it’s normally knocked down to easy relatively quickly. Is it because I’m just a bit rubbish at them? Mostly, but it’s also because I just want to enjoy the story. Persona 4 Arena finally arrived on Friday, and about an hour in I got fed up and had to knock down the difficulty mode. It’s very accessible and allows for people of all skill levels, but I’m just awful at fighting games, but I do still love to play them. I just lack the brain power to remember all the combos, but at the same time I’m not a button basher. I like to think i sit comfortably in the middle, with mostly my lack of patience to blame when I knock the difficulty down a notch.

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Persona 4 Arena is a beautiful, but at times difficult fighting game

I think the whole stigma of easy mode has become even more apparent with Xbox Achievements and PSN Trophies, as gamers can wear these with a virtual badge of honour. The person who completes Bioshock Infinite on 1999 Mode will have more achievements than someone who can only get through it on Easy mode. Does that make them less of a gamer? No, of course it doesn’t. I’m sitting on a comfortable 32K  gamer score on Xbox Live, and that would be so much higher if I completed some games on harder difficulty settings, but I really don’t care that much. Some people clearly gain enjoyment from playing their favourite games in the most challenging way, but it’s just not for me I’m afraid.

What do you think? Do you think easy mode is an acceptable mode for the so-called ‘hardcore gamers’ to play through, or can you only be classed a real gamer if you hoard your ammo and spend extra time on a game with a perfect strategy on Hard mode? Should we be playing for the achievement and virtual trophy, or should we be plying for enjoyment, regardless of the difficulty?

The Sequels I’m Still Waiting For

If you’re a fan of any particular game series, you’ll know that feeling of frustration when you’ve been waiting so long for a sequel, that you’re not entirely sure whether it’s going to happen or not. I’ve got a few that I’m still waiting on, and I’ve nearly lost hope. Whether I’m waiting for them to be released at all, or just waiting for them to come to this country, here’s my list.

Kingdom Hearts 3

I don’t even know how long it’s been since I played a decent Kingdom Hearts game. Even Kingdom Hearts 2 was a bit rubbish, and after all the incredible promo that they did for it. The most annoying thing is, that Square Enix have done so many random spin offs and rehashes of the original that it’s like they’re trying to distract us while they throw away anything to do with Kingdom Hearts 3. Will it happen? I don’t know. I want it to, but I do worry that by the time it does happen, I’ll have lost all interest in the series at all.

If the most recent attempts at the Final Fantasy series are anything to go by, then I’m not sure I even want Kingdom Hearts 3 anymore.

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It would be nice to see the KH gang back together again

Drakengard 3

I’ll be the first to admit that the Drakengard series isn’t the best. It’s hack and slash at it’s finest though. Ever wanted to ride a fire-breathing dragon and kill hundreds of soldiers by spitting fire at them? Well, Drakengard is pretty much that. I suppose more than anything it just appeals to my love of mass slaughter in video games. I love nothing more than beating down huge crowds with a single swing from a ridiculously pathetic looking man called Caim. Who calls their child Caim? That’s just cruel. In fact, I can’t even remember the story of Drakengard (if there even was one). All I remember was a demonic child and some pretty awesome cut scenes for its time.

Apparently Drakengard 3 is coming this year, although I’ll remain sceptical about that one. It would be nice to have a hack and slash game that is even marginally better than Ninety Nine Nights though. Apparently, this sequel will include a female protagonist, that’s certainly an interesting change.

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If this is what Drakengard 3 looks like, then I want it, now

Baten Kaitos Origins

Ah Baten Kaitos. It took me years to finish you, and I still remember the day I did it. I spent all day grinding my characters in the final tower, occasionally attempting the final boss once again, hoping I wouldn’t get annihilated. Inevitably I did get annihilated, lots of times, but after lots of rage and tantrums, I did it. It was one of those games that wasn’t exactly brilliant, and it utilised that weird card system that the Japanese love so much, but there was something about it that made it magical. The characters were wonderful and camp, and as annoying as the battle system could be, when you got it right it was glorious.

Unfortunately Baten Kaitos 2 never made it to this country. I can see why, it was in a rather tiny niche pretty much all on its own, but it would have been nice to have been given the option. I still hope that one day it will make its way into my hands, but it’s been 7 years already, so it’s not looking good.

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Sure it’s niche, but could we not have at least tried it?

Grandia 3

Another game that never made its way to the UK, and I really don’t understand why. Grandia was one of the best JRPGs on the PS1, and Grandia 2 was simply amazing. I still remember Justin and Feena like it was yesterday, and the brilliant real-time battle system was truly a piece of genius. Evidently though, after the second one, someone decided that we Brits just didn’t want it, so we were denied this piece of gaming beauty.

The annoying thing about this one, is that it actually was meant to be getting a release in the UK, but it just never happened. It’s been 7-8 years since Grandia 3 was released in Japan and North America, so the chances of it getting a UK release now are very slim. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a PS3 download in the future.

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Why weren’t we allowed this?

Are there any sequels you’re still waiting for?