Long Time, No See

It’s been two months since I last updated this blog. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to. Believe me, updating this is one thing I really do want to do, however, I finish university on May 7th, and that is consuming my time at the moment, understandably. Along with having very little time to update, I am saving up to move down to London with my other half at the moment, which is eating into my gaming fund.

I just thought I would take this opportunity to do a quick update about where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, and my general gaming ponderings at the moment.

This Christmas just gone wasn’t a heavily gaming based one for a change. My parents bought me a PS Vita, which I absolutely love, but due to the financial situation I’ve only been able to download the PS+ games; I don’t actually own a physical copy of a PS Vita game yet. I’m not even sure which ones to buy to be honest, because I’ve just been sucked in by all the PS Store sales, so I have Spelunky and Hotline Miami that I’ve actually purchased. Oh, and FFIX, but I just couldn’t resist the Square Enix sale. Ironic that the PS Vita Slim is announced just as I get the original, but to be perfectly honest, I’m glad I’ve got the original. The Slim doesn’t really appear to add anything else, aside from £’s.

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Aside from that, my gaming time has been very scarce. Lightning Returns has been released, and I have to say I’m quite glad I don’t have time for it at the moment, because it looks terrible. It’s almost like Square Enix have thrown away everything that made Final Fantasy good. I can’t believe they’ve taken such a bad character and made her the focal point of a terrible trilogy. It’s received some terrible reviews from the public and the critics. All I can say is, bring on FFX/X-2 HD next month.

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I’m still waiting for Bravely Default to drop in price, but again, I probably won’t be getting hold of this until May time. Bravely Default looks to be the JRPG of the year so far, but it’s early days.

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That’s it from me for now. As I said, May 7th is my final deadline, and I’m optimistic I’m going to graduate my Journalism course with at the very least a 2:1. It’s been a tough three years, and I’ve neglected this blog a lot in favour of my degree, but I hope that what I’ve learnt I will be able to transfer to here, and start making this blog as great as I want it to be. If you want to keep up to date with what I’m doing/ranting about until I return in May, then follow me on Twitter @Debus42. Is there anything you want me to write about upon my return? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to post before then, but I can’t promise anything.

Changing Teams

Well, it’s been a long time again, and that’s been for a multitude of reasons. First of all, I informed you all in my last post that I was going on a week-long work placement with a certain official console magazine, and I can reveal now that I went to work with the wonderful people at the Official Playstation Magazine. It was a great week, full of lots of research, writing and general journalism goodness. I actually got a feature published on the website which can be read here, so please go and give it a read.

There may also be several articles I assisted with, and news articles being published in the next issue, so if you’re a PlayStation fan, pop down to the shops on the 27th and pick up a copy. I won’t know until it comes out, so it will be one big surprise.

Then I had a nice long week with the man who I hadn’t seen in two months, so unfortunately blogging was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t even really do any gaming that week if I’m honest, and the lack of new games, and my ever decreasing funds aren’t helping.

I downloaded Puzzle Quest because it was on offer on XBLA and that’s keeping me going, but it’s an old game, and will only occupy me for so long. As always, I crave a JRPG, but they just don’t appear to be out there. I might have to raid the Classics library on the PSN.

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Simple and fun, an instant winner

Anyway, I have been thinking about the new generation of consoles, and which one I”m going to be getting, but also thinking about what’s on offer from the current generation. I’m sure that many Xbox 360 owners feel my frustration at the mostly un-inspirational Games For Gold. I’m downloading them all because they’re free, so don’t get me wrong, I’m taking advantage of it, but this months first release leaves a lot to be desired and I just feel a bit let down by the whole ‘offer’.

I’m intrigued by card games, but I can’t confess to be very good at them. Baten Kaitos is one of my favourite JRPGs, and that featured a bizarre battle system utilising cards, and I enjoyed that. I appreciate anime such as YuGiOh for its use of cards, but I really can’t get my head around Magic The Gathering. Personally, I think card games belong on tables, not on consoles. The tutorial completely baffled me, and because it was so long-winded I basically just pummelled the A button just to get through it. I managed to beat about 4 opponents and then I got stuck because there was so much to remember, and so much tactics involved that I simply gave up.

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Too many stats make this a confusing experience

The thing is, when I look at PlayStation Plus, and all the free games they get, it makes me wonder ‘What am I paying my Gold subscription for?’. I don’t do online gaming. When I do, I’m just racing around a track with the man in my life, and that’s once in a blue moon. It seems pointless to me now to even have a gold subscription, I don’t appear to be getting much out of it, aside from some games I’ve already played, or are so old that you’d have to give them away anyway.

I am seriously considering taking on a PlayStation Plus account in the future, not only for the free games, but also for the decent discounts. Sony just appear to be so much more clued in to what people actually want. Sure, if you cancel your PS+ subscription, then you can’t play the free games you downloaded, but that’s just an incentive for me to keep a subscription going. I have no reason (unless someone can give me one) to keep my Gold subscription on the Xbox 360, so it may be time for a change of allegiances.

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What are your thoughts? Are you thinking of changing teams, or are you sticking with your first choice?

PS4 or Xbox One? Well, probably both

I hated it when Microsoft announced all their ridiculous policies regarding the new Xbox One. I know that a lot of players felt angry and betrayed by Microsoft when they announced these very unpopular policies, and I can’t say I blame them. Not everyone hated them, some were excited, but the angry outweighed the happy. The internet was awash with gamers full of rage, declaring their newfound love for Sony and the PS4, and hey, who wouldn’t after that tremendous end to their E3 conference?

All of this has changed though. Microsoft have seen the error of their ways and reversed pretty much all the policies they first announced. This week they even announced that the Kinect wouldn’t have to be connected to the console in order for it to function. Personally, this is music to my ears. I never liked the first Kinect, and as much as I would never rule out giving it another chance, I strongly objected to having it plugged in all the time simply for my console to function. I make my feelings on motion control very clear on here, but if Microsoft had promised more than voice control and sports, I may have been swayed towards their camp.

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The question of which console to get is one that is still flying around though. It’s a tough one for me, because I don’t really have a preference in some ways. I’m a student, I can’t afford either console when it comes out, so I’m going to have to wait anyway. Any money I make from my part-time job goes into paying rent, affording to eat and spending time with my friends and boyfriend. I wait for games to go down in price because quite simply I can’t afford £40 every time a new game comes out. I’m also entering my final year of university, so as much as I’d like to sit and play all the up to date games, I can’t see myself having the time. This is all personal circumstance though, and if my financial situation were different, well, I’d probably own a Wii U and a PS Vita by now.

However, before all these policy reversals, if I had the money I would definitely have purchased the PS4 on day one. Why? Well, it’s cheaper, and just looks a lot more consumer friendly. I’m still high-fiving Jack Tretton in my mind for Sony’s landslide victory at E3 (in my opinion anyway). Now though I’m a little bit torn. I love my Xbox 360, and I spend a lot of time on it. I’d like to spend more time with my PS3, but when I fire it up it’s got so many updates to do, that it’s like waiting for your friend to get off the phone before you can ask them if they want to do something. I just can’t stand the waiting. The PS4 looks sleeker than the Xbox One, and I’ve been a Sony fan since the days of the PSX and PS2, but Microsoft have won me over ever since I got my Xbox 360. The PlayStation controllers may be tiny, but they’re comfortable and they’re what I grew up with. The Xbox controllers may be fat, but you get used to them. It’s a tough call.

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I’m glad that Microsoft have reversed all their policies. Yes, it’s true that we will never know exactly what the Xbox One could have been us in terms of being different, and yes, both consoles are offering very similar features now, but at least I don’t have to check in with Microsoft every 24 hours, nor do I have to watch the Kinect keeping it’s eye on me all the time. Okay, so it wasn’t going to do that, but I just don’t like the thing.

I’m still more excited about the PS4 than the Xbox One, but the playing field has been evened out a bit now, so it’s a bit of a free for all when it comes down to release dates.

Have Microsoft’s policy reversals changed your position in the never-ending console war, or are you sticking firm with your initial choice?

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.

 

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?