Let’s face it; the original Phantasy Star Online is outdated. It’s still a great game, don’t get me wrong. But, with the nostalgia goggles off, it’s the video game equivalent of spoiled milk: once fantastic, but now just clunky, lumpy, messy, and a bit odd.
So, with that in mind, Sega brought out the big guns with Phantasy Star Online 2. It was released in Japan late last year. Long story short, the game is good. It fixes plenty of issues from the original PSO, it takes a page out of various contemporary action RPGs to update things a bit, and it even adds some interesting ideas to boot. And it’s free to play.
But that’s the PC version. How about this Vita beta? How does it stack up? What does it foretell about the official release? Will it be the PS Vita’s killer app? Well, let’s dive right in and see.
As the battle between the Templars and the Assassins rages on, Desmond Miles must once again return to the Animus and skate the chains of his DNA to unlock more memories of ancestors past and hopefully regain some of the power that was previously locked away. Previous connection to the Animus granted Desmond the power of advanced sight, enhanced climbing and movement abilities, and he even found Ezio’s hidden blade – but as Desmond delves into a new ancestor’s story, what new secrets will he find and will learning more about his descendants help his future?
In Assassin’s Creed III, Desmond relives the journeys of yet another member of his Assassin ancestry – a fierce half-British, half-Mohawk Indian warrior called Ratonhnhaké:ton. As a child, he watched his people suffer at the hands of the Colonists. Taking their suffering in mind, he sought out to protect those who could not defend themselves from tyranny and oppression. Ratonhnhaké:ton eventually became a member of the Assassin’s Order, with that he adopted a new moniker; one that would allow him to easily skitter amongst the colonial people. To the colonists, he was known as Connor Kenway.
Why do game journalists insist when describing games, to compare them to other games instead of simply summarizing from their own unique perspective? Simply put, when a game does absolutely nothing new, it would be a waste of time to describe the battle system or graphics engine, especially one that’s been seen several times in the past.
So this is why I’m going to basically describe Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch as a combination of several games, because it – while being absolutely gorgeous – brings literally nothing new to the table of gaming. It has the exploration of any Final Fantasy game – including idle and still citizens of towns offering a smidgeon of advice or random piece of gossip. You explore a massive outdoor area, encounter random enemies on the battlefield, reach towns, explore dungeons, etc. And when you get into one of those combat situations, the game turns into a Tales-esque Pokemon/Folklore-style experience, where you can switch from combat controlling Oliver, or summoning monsters to fight for you all in real time. When a battle begins, you control Oliver in real time, running around the battlefield, able to choose from magic attacks, summons, items, etc. When you choose a summon, you directly control the creature’s attacks – including magic, combat, defensive – and can, at any point, put the monster away and summon another that may be better for the situation. It’s a fun wrinkle to the formula that gives each battle a unique feel, and I bet there’ll be hundreds of monsters to choose from when the final version ships.
Murder never looked so damned adorable.
While the gameplay isn’t anything new – which isn’t necessarily bad. Lookin’ at you, CoD – the style, setting, character and graphics are what are really going to set NNK:WotWW apart from literally everything else. Level 5 – developers of the Professor Layton series, Dragon Quest VIII and Dark Cloud 1 and 2 – have teamed with Studio Ghibli, the legendary animation studio behind Japan – and the world’s – finest animated films, like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle. In-game is startlingly beautiful, with a massive, fog-less map and bright, saturated colors Ghibli is known for. NNK may also take the crown away from Wind Waker for best use of cel-shading. The characters are all incredibly dynamic, detailed and gorgeous and it truly feels like we’ve taken direct control over one of the characters from a Ghibli film. And sometimes they are directly lifted from the animation prowess of the studio. FMV sequences switch between the in-game engine to animated shorts by Studio Ghibli. It feels like a fantastic reward.
Speaking of, I may not have had much time to spend with the characters, but they were all very well voiced (and British) and bursting with personality in the final game.
All-in-all, I enjoyed my short time with Ni No Kuni. It’s been an RPG I’ve had my eye on since it was announced and felt right at home when I started playing it. It really reminded me why I love Japanese RPG’s in the first place, including the quirky atmosphere, jaw-dropping visuals and themes that other games are afraid to even contemplate, including growing up, dealing with death and letting go.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch comes out January 22nd, 2013.
In the weeks since Diablo 3’s release, any ARPG that has the misfortune of remotely resembling Blizzard’s newest installment will most likely be labeled a clone and be largely disregarded. But developer Wizarbox’s new game is something to make people stand up and take notice.
Realms of Ancient War is set in a world torn apart by conflict. A tentative peace has been established between the kingdoms of men, elves, and dwarves. But much of the world lays in ruin, serving as nothing more than prey for pillagers. Yet a new power is on the rise, and those who still live must determine its true nature and what can be done to stop it. The hero of this story can either be a sorcerer, rogue, or warrior.
Sounds like a recipe for every fantasy game ever, right?
Well, you certainly wouldn’t be wrong.
Everything from the classes that will be available to the gameplay harkens back to the early days of Diablo. But there’s something terribly cathartic about making enemies go BOOM from a distance, and Realms of Ancient War definitely promises to deliver on that front. With the ability to possess a weakened enemy’s mind, the player can wreak havoc among attacking mobs.
And besides, there is really isn’t anything wrong with taking combat mechanics from a game like Diablo. Why fix what isn’t broken? Realms of Ancient War also offers your standard two person co-op mode, and there are also rumors of an offline single player.
While no specific release date has been announced, Realms of Ancient War can be anticipated on Xbox Live, PSN, and PC sometime this year.
About a year ago, Telltale games announced they’d be developing a game based off the popular AMC series, The Walking Dead. Earlier this week they finally confirmed that The Walking Dead: The Game will be available on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, and iOS.
“Telling the story of a new group of survivors as they struggle to flee the horror of Atlanta and the surrounding communities consumed by the undead, The Walking Dead offers players the chance to experience the very first days of the apocalypse, meeting people and participating in events that intersect with the story seen in the comic books.”
The game is to be a ‘episodic adventure game’ based on the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. The main character is a convict named Lee Everett, who encounters a little girl named Clementine while trying to escape the zombie apocalypse.
Kirkman has said that “unlike typical zombie games such as Left 4 Dead, it will focus more on characterization and emotion than action.”
The Walking Dead: The Game will release its first episode in April, with the next four to follow “regularly.” The first gameplay trailer won’t be available for prying eyes until Monday, March 19th, on IGN’s Up At Noon Show.