Games…games. I have been playing them yes, but not talking about them. I run into these huge cases of writers block sometimes; where no matter what, I cannot commit a single fucking word to any sort of written medium. However, here I am, trying to fix that right now, and will be fixing it more so later with something totally unrelated to video games. But regardless, I have been playing video games, and I have actually completed a couple since the last time I wrote anything…which was about…Final Fantasy 9? Really? Wow. Well first I should go over what ended up happening with FF9, then I can go more into the games I beat recently, and what I have been playing as of now.
Final Fantasy 9, like I wrote about last time, has really come up in my esteem. The story is something I find something easy to follow and a lot more enchanting than a lot of the later Final Fantasies. However, after getting about as far as I did when I first tried playing the game way back when, I got very, very, so very bored. It was not the game’s fault either, it was mine. It seems that basic ATB style of fighting in RPG’s do not get along so well with me any more. I don’t know if this is the result of me getting older, and not having the time to devote to a game like this, or maybe my tastes have simply changed. Because really when it comes down to it, the combat system feels too slow, and really, I don’t mind the whole level grinding thing while I am doing it; but after I turn off the system and stand up, I will always look at the clock and wonder where the fuck all that time just went. It’s weird though, as I find I can still play some of the older games, like FF7 or 8, and not feel this sense of time being wasted. However, nostalgia probably plays a huge part there. Those are games I played to death when they came out, and my rose colored glasses keeps those titles oddly pristine in my eyes.
But alas, in the end, the problems with fighting all the time, like I said, does signal a possible issue I may be developing with the genre at large. The first piece of evidence I have of this is unfortunately Final Fantasy 9. It just feels antiquated. Which especially sucks because it is such a stellar example of gameplay over the newer pieces of shit Final Fantasy has squatted onto the retail shelves in the last few years. It just seems to be the case the gameplay is not for me anymore. However the next few games are more my style lately.
Bastion was a fantastic game. I meant to do a longer, full review of the experience, but it seems that was not possible with my issue at the time of playing. It was colorful; something that is missing from all too many Triple A titles in this generation. It had a varied color palette that came together beautifully. Rustic reds and yellows for the things made by man, your hammers, spears, bows and such. But then the natural world was a vibrant area of blues and greens. I think right there, in that basic description of Bastion’s color tastes (which I am describing horribly), I named more colors than the entirety of Gears of War’s fucking color wheel. The levels themselves are also varied, offering different pitfalls and setups, which makes sure the environment never lets you feel complacent, like you’re just going through the motions. Everything feels foreign the first time you visit a stage, and Bastion does a good job of making sure that foreign is fun, keeping the stages engaging and varied.
Bastion is also full of great action/rpg elements. Every weapon has an upgrade system using the shards you get from every enemy and crate, with each weapon having 2 columns of options, 5 levels of upgrading. Each column seems to focus on one aspect of the weapon, making it stronger in one respect over another, equally good choice. It really all comes down to play-style there. Between the mindboggling amount of weapons you get, mixed with the options available, there seems to be a way to satisfy every type of person who would play this game. Best example of this to me is the spear, which is a great melee weapon. Either you can improve the melee version of this weapon, giving it a higher chance to crit and do more damage, or you can increase the ability by which it can be thrown at enemies, giving you a deadly keep-away option. On top of that, while Bastion has no difficulty options, an elegant mechanic is in the game that allows you to tweak the difficulty to your liking (eventually) by setting up idols that empower enemies, giving them extra damage and abilities. But rather than just making the game harder, with the greater risk comes greater reward, with the harder enemies yielding more experience, as well as more of the world’s currency for upgrades. It’s something that should really be put into future games, as it has a greater potential of creating the game the player wants to play, as opposed to the oft-used “Easy, Medium, Hard, Really-Hard” way of doing things.
The best part of this game though, easily comes in the audio department. The music for this game kept me bobbing my head while playing, pretty much the entire time. I cannot think of a game that has come out lately that makes me so happy, simply because of the music. It keeps a light-hearted pace to the game, which is hard to do considering you are basically surviving after the end of the world. What this game is going to be remembered for is Logan Cunningham as the narrator/Rucks. Not since Bard’s Tale has a narrator been to integral to moving a game along, and not since the same game has a narrator been such an absolute fucking pleasure to listen to. With the smooth nature of a Morgan Freeman narration, Mr. Cunningham makes sure no line delivered is wasted, always done at the best possible time to move the story along.
This is by no means a perfect title however. The enemies are not terribly varied, with the same cast of differently sized slime-type ghosts making way too many appearances. Also, while there is a great variation in weapons, a lot of the more interesting weapons you don’t get until the end of the game, some of which you may not even want to bother trying, as you have gotten so used to what you have been killing with up till now, and have been upgrading. For instance, the bow and arrow…I used it the entire fucking game, at the expense of any ranged weapon options that came along later. Really though other than those two…somewhat minor details, I could not find anything else wrong with this game. Supergiant really did a great job of crafting this title. It is rare to find something this colorful, imaginative and fun. In the end I can recommend this easily…to anyone. Everyone should be playing games like this. Games like Bastion are the rare treats that remind me as to why I love video games.
Okay well…I was going to go into more games after Bastion, but honestly this went a lot longer than I intended it to. I have no problem with that though, as this really seems like the review I struggled with for weeks. It is a lot better to have too much to write, rather than too little I suppose. In any case, the next post should be at least somewhat about Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and what I thought about Ezio’s last outing. Till then…well till then. I don’t have a pithy fucking send off.