Final Fantasy XIII: Next Gen?

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Run down a linear path, fight 20+ times, and watch a movie. Wash, rinse, repeat.

For a game representing the next generation of role playing games, Final Fantasy XIII sure doesn’t deviate from the established formula. I mean sure, the Paradigm shifts are fun and the battles are quick and breezy, but where is that next-gen wow factor? One could argue that:

  • The graphics are amazing. This is true.
  • The battle system is an extremely polished version of what has come before (what has worked and what hasn’t). This is also true.

But what about the storyline? The heart and soul of the game. Already, in my few hours of game play, I have found myself trying to figure out what exactly is going on. I have even visited wikipedia in an effort to unravel this mystery. This isn’t a good thing. Past Final Fantasy’s have grabbed ahold of me straight from the beginning. Take for instance Cloud in Final Fantasy VII. The game opens with Cloud, on a train with the terrorist group AVALANCHE, going to blow up a Mako reactor. At the time I didn’t know what a Mako reactor was, but I sure wanted to see it blow up! Simply epic. Similarly, Final Fantasy XIII begins on a train that quickly devolves into an endless escape sequence. Questions such as:

  • Why are we running/ escaping?
  • Where are we? Are we apart of the good guys? Are we bad?
  • Why do so many people have to die from all of these suspended roads collapsing? Surely someone thought that building such roads could be hazardous.

Soul burning questions (okay, not quite) aside, these questions are just not as compelling as going to blow up a reactor. No, I’m not bashing Final Fantasy XIII. I have kept playing it to see if the story becomes any clearer/ gets better. So far, I have learned that the story involves the main characters trying to figure out how to defeat a curse by figuring out exactly what they have been cursed with. This could be interesting I guess.

The graphics and battle system have kept me going thus far. But I wonder if ultimately I am wasting my time. I will not deny that this game certainly represents a step forward for the series, but I also wonder if it could represent a step back as well.

Darksiders

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Update: Looking back, I don’t think my criticism of this game was healthy. Read this.
Press Start:
War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has been accused of somehow beginning the end of the world early. Stripped of his powers as punishment, War must traverse what is left of the Kingdom of Men in order to seek out and eliminate The Destroyer.
Ideology/ Worldview:
Darksiders envelopes itself in a world of distorted Biblical allusions. No where is God mentioned, even though the entire story is loosely based on the book of Revelation. Instead of God ruling supreme in the game’s world, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse act as some sort of cosmic referees between the forces of Heaven and Hell. Which come to think of it, this game also exhibits a mixture of Eastern mysticism with focus on balance, and yin and yang. Also present are altars which require blood offerings.
Interaction/Gameplay:
Slaughter monsters and collect their souls to feed to demons. Beyond that, lots of flashy swordplay which evokes games such as God of War or Devil May Cry.
In the End:
As a Christian, I feel personally convicted over playing this game. The flippancy with which demons are interacted with and treated (as if it were a normal thing to interact with demonic creatures) sickens me. I also dislike having to feed “souls” to demons in an effort to buy them off/ obtain information. Darksiders is a dark game – surprise! – based on a pseudo spiritual mythology. While I am willing to overlook certain aspects due to their fictional nature, I am unwilling to treat Hell and demons with such a non-serious attitude. I really wanted to like this game (graphics and gameplay are fun) but in the end find that I cannot recommend it for myself or others.
Due to Darksiders intense spiritual nature, avoid at all costs!

– Level of Impact Rating –
Medium: Casual play. Does not require large chunks of time.

Dragon Age: Journeys

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Dragon Age Journeys

In a clever attempt at marketing, hype, and product synergy for the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins, EA 2D has created a browser-based tactical RPG by the name of Dragon Age: Journeys. Divided into chapter installments, subtitled The Deep Roads, the free-to-play RPG will serve as an introduction to the world of Dragon Age: Origins. This time killer will be available October 2009.

Dragon Age: Journeys Screen 1The age of the dragon is but a click away.