Month: February 2012

Weekly Recap: Week 4 of February

February is coming to a close but the gaming drought is starting to subside.  We are quickly approaching dates for releases, plus more announcements from developers and publishers.  Let’s take a look at what some of those announcements were this past week.

“GTA TV” and “Rockstar TV” has recently been trademarked by the publisher, Take-Two Interactive.  Take Two, parent company to developer Rock Star Games, filed trademarks at the Trademark Office and United States Patent earlier this month.  No other details regarding GTA TV or GTAV is currently available, but Rock Star says that information is coming soon.

We are only a few weeks away from the highly anticipated Mass Effect 3 and the first DLC content information was leaked by Xbox Live.  From Ashes  is due out as a same day DLC.  Bioware has clarified details and reassured players that they are not getting sold an incomplete game. The new DLC is set to include the Prothean squad member, an adventure on Eden Prime, new weapon and an alternative appearance for every squad member.  Mike Gamble, producer at Bioware had the following to say about the DLC; ” The Collectors Edition has been advertised from the beginning as containing a bonus character/mission, but we were not at liberty to provide the details. The Prothean is optional content that is certainly designed to appeal to long-time fans, which is why he is part of the CE offering (the version many fans would be likely to purchase)” Gamble also added “The content in ‘From Ashes’ was developed by a separate team (after the core game was finished) and not completed until well after the main game went into certification.”  The collector’s edition of the game will provide the DLC for free, but consumers of the standard edition will be charged $10 for the content.

Ubisoft released five games for PlayStationVita , the new handheld console from Sony Computer Entertainment. Ubisoft shipped Asphalt: Injection, Dungeon Hunter Alliance, Lumines Electronic Symphony, Michael Jackson The Experience and Rayman Origins to retail on the PS Vita at system launch.  Raymond dives into more detail of the game releases here.

Playstation Network logoLastly, Sony has a scheduled maintenance shut down for the Playstation Network next week.  The shut down is set to start 4pm GMT on Thursday, March 1 and last until 7am GMT the following morning.  PlayStation Home will be completely unavailable, the PlayStation Store, customer account management and user registration will also be effected the maintenance.  Any users that wish to play online during this scheduled time should log into prior to the beginning of the maintenance shut down.  This scheduled period is one of many to heighten security which was implemented by former Homeland Security chief Philip Reitinger.

That’s it for this week, check back into Zero1Gaming for more news reviews and more!

 

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Following the release of Final Fantasy XIII, the segregation between Final Fantasy fans has become abundantly clear. Many fans were dissatisfied with the quality of the release and the apprehension regarding the release of Final Fantasy XIII-2 became apparent. I, for one, enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII immensely but still proceeded to approach this release with an unbiased opinion and open mind.

Despite the appearance of this title closely resembling its predecessor, Final Fantasy XIII-2 showcases enhancements to gameplay and an extremely engaging plotline and narrative. Although it is indeed a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, there are clear examples of alterations throughout this title.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 features random encounters as you traverse a location. This feature allows for bountiful combat opportunities, but can be somewhat frustrating as they appear frequently and can hinder your progress. As these random encounters take place, you are greeted with an encounter circle. If you vacate so that no enemies are present within the circle, you flee the battle and are not required to engage in combat. A mog clock is also displayed upon enemies appearing .The mog clock is a countdown system that represents the opportunity to achieve a pre-emptive strike upon the enemy. The quicker you engage the first strike upon the enemy, the more opportunity there is to successfully administer a pre-emptive strike.

 

Paradigms allow you to customise your party’s formation and strategy for battle. Various formations will aid you in combating enemies and bosses. A formation that allows you to defeat one group of enemies may not work on others. Players can now assign monsters to their paradigms within Final Fantasy XIII-2. Upon defeating a specific enemy, you are granted access to allocate them to your paradigm. Each monster possesses unique abilities and attributes, which can be developed within the crystarium. Upon selecting a monster, the formations available to you within the paradigms expand.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 grants you access to a trusty companion known as a Moogle. A Moogle’s bobble will glow when you are within the vicinity of special items and treasures. It may also help you discover artefacts and lead you to locations where live triggers are present. A Moogle also has a unique function known as ‘The Moogle Hunt.’ Treasure sphere and other objects which are out of phase with the current timeline will reside across various locations. These hidden objects will be made noticeable by a shimmering aura. With Moogle’s assistance, the paradox effect is dispelled and will allow access to the now-tangible object.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 places a massive emphasis on conversing with people throughout the various locations. You are able to converse with individuals and discover information that is sometimes helpful regarding the storyline. The characters may also converse amongst themselves, especially during live triggers. These live triggers appear occasionally and are an opportunity to discover more about the character and sometimes topics such as location and history. Upon receiving a question during these live triggers, there are four unique responses present, depending on the nature of the discussion. This directly affects the response of the other character you are conversing with. As you make progress, people may proposition you with missions you may wish to undertake. You are not required to partake in these missions, they are simply side missions. Upon completion, you will receive a reward for your efforts.

During selected parts of the game, you have access to Chocobos. Upon mounting a Chocobo, you may traverse the map freely with no worry of being attacked or having to engage in combat. Chocobo’s also grant you access to locations you may be unable to reach on foot. You must feed a Chocobo a gysahl green before they will allow you to mount them.

Throughout the Final Fantasy XIII-2 experience, you are required to time travel through the Historia Crux. It acts as a compass for navigating time and allows you to select a year and location that you wish to travel to. With each gate successfully unlocked, more locations become available to you. Gate seals allow you to close various locations within the Historia Crux. Upon closing a location, it resets part of their history. It can also be utilised to rewind to a point before an artefact was obtained, allowing you to complete past mysteries again.

Whilst you travel to plentiful locations, you may discover a function known as a temporal rift. To progress further, you must unravel the mystery presented and resolve the anomaly. You may also encounter cinematic actions within Final Fantasy XIII-2. During the cinematic action segment, you will be prompted to complete a button sequence. Upon completing this sequence perfectly, you receive a random bonus. Decision making is a primary feature within Final Fantasy XIII-2. The game will present you with a situation and prompt you to select an action to resolve the predicament.

Owing to the difficulty of individual enemies within Final Fantasy XIII-2, you may find yourself seeking robust weaponry and items to aid you in your quest. Chocolina’s Shop appears in various locations throughout the game. The shop grants you bountiful amounts of weapons, items and accessories to compliment your character’s abilities. Each accessory possesses a unique attribute, and clever combinations will improve the capabilities of your characters. Weapons can also be optimised to focus on strength, magic and HP.

The quality of presentation within Final Fantasy XIII-2 is phenomenal which swiftly captured my interest. The inclusion of music and sound created a powerful atmosphere in specific sections of the game. I did find occasionally the use of specific tracks became repetitive but, was utilised effectively for the most part. Final Fantasy XIII-2 combines a harrowing storyline with a light-hearted connection between two protagonists, creating an emotion-wrenching experience for the player. If you were not a fan of Final Fantasy XIII, chances are this title will not sway your opinion. If you’re possibly a fan of the older releases within the Final Fantasy series or have not played the prequel, this game may present a new lease of life for you. It provides a brief summary of the prequel so this game is accessible to avid fans of Final Fantasy or those who are just beginning their journey.

Thanks for reading,

Hannah

Weekly Recap: Week 3 of February

Welcome back gamers, another week is over as we march our way to spring.  In the mean time, let’s take a look at what’s happened this past week in the gaming world.

This week Activision Blizzard released information on how the publisher finished with some of it’s larger titles last year.  Of the information provided, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the top selling FPS title in 2011, with record profits of $1.08 billion on revenues of $4.76 billion; which is a large improvement from 2010.  In addition, Activision reported 7 million registered users on the social networking platform Call of Duty: Elite.  Not all news released was good news, the highly anticipated Diablo III had its expected released date pushed back again to sometime during Q2.  Its likely that Diablo III will share a release date close to Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm or World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.  The popular MMO, World of Warcraft, came back with negative news as well. WoW is showing signs of weathering; since September 2011, World of Warcraft has had another 100 thousand  accounts become inactive, going to 10.2 million active accounts, down from 10.3 million.

 Ubisoft confirmed when they plan to release Assassin’s Creed III this fall.  The game will arrive on October 30, 2012, the publisher said.  No other details were announced.“We will push the title a lot because it’s a fantastic product that the team has been working for three years,” said CEO Yves Guillemot.  “What we have seen is just fabulous.”  Ubisoft also has shipped 7 million copies of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations so far throughout December 2011.

Rovio, publisher of the popular mobile game Angry Birds launched onto PC via Facebook this week.  This new version features a variety of new selections of gameplay elements,  some of those changes include power-ups, new social competitive leaderboards and Facebook exclusive levels.  This move  for the popular franchise comes as no surprise.  To date, Angry Birds has had over 500 million downloads on Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian OS, so moving to Facebook is likely to increase the game’s exposure.  Here’s part of the announcement, with the brand-new social features for Angry Birds on Facebook, fans can compete with their friends, brag about their scores, and earn coveted gold, silver, and bronze crowns for the top three scores in any level. Fans can also give their Facebook friends “mystery gifts” of power-ups.

After a successful release in North America and Europe, BioWare, announced Star Wars: The Old Republic, will be officially launching in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore on March 1, 2012.  “Our biggest priority for The Old Republic has always been to deliver a high quality product and high quality service and we are pleased with our results in North America and Europe,” said Dr. Greg Zeschuk, General Manager of the BioWare Label’s MMO Business Unit and Co-Founder of BioWare. “We appreciate that our fans in these countries have been patient and we are excited to deliver this same great customer experience to players this March.”  BioWare and EA will also be offering players in the region an in-game color crystal to change their weapon effect as a pre-order incentive for reserving a copy of the Standard Edition from participating local retailers. There are no participating retailers for pre-orders in Hong Kong and Singapore. Finally, players in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore will also be eligible for the Founder’s medal, a distinction given to the early members of The Old Republic community.

That’s it for this week, check back in with Z1G for more news reviews and more!

Weekly Recap: Week 2 of February

Another week is down, and gamers are still taking in their FFXIII-2 and Soul Calibur V after a long anticipated wait.  The gaming world was not without its news, let’s take a look back at this week to see what’s happened.

Square Enix has announced the production of Sleeping Dogs, a new “gritty, open-world copy drama” from developer United Front Games.  The title is set on the streets of Hong Kong, much like the studio’s previously canned project True Crime: Hong Kong.  Square Enix London picked up up and is now supervising the production that was scrapped by Activision previously.  In this open-world adventure, you are an undercover cop by the name of Wai Shen out investigating the criminal under world.  Promising “intense shoot-outs, adrenaline-fuelled street races and intense, brutal martial arts combat,” the press release emphasised the game’s combat mechanics.   With martial arts inspired hand-to-hand combat and cinematic finishers using environmental elements, Sleeping Dogs looks to be different than the typical open world title.  Sleeping Dogs will be available on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 later this year.

Recently, Valve has released a statement regarding the hacking attempt on the Steam forums this past November.  It was expected that the hackers gained accessed to a data based which may have included encrypted personal user information.  President Gabe Newell announced that it is probable the hack allowed access to a copy of a backup file containing Steam purchase information dated from 2004 to 2008. The backup file included user names, email addresses, encrypted billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. User passwords were not a part of the backup file.  There is still no evidence  that suggest that full credit card information was compromise, and Valve is continuing a full investigation in conjunction with law enforcement agencies.  Despite the late year news, Steam had its seventh year of 100% growth.  The growth is largely attributed to holiday season titles which were highly anticipated.

Namco-Bandia will be sharing a co-publisher slot with Paramount pictures in the upcoming release Star Trek, set for release in 2013.  The game will pick up where the 2009 motion picture left off.  The game will feature Kirk and Spock attempting to stop a legendary villain from conquering the galaxy.  Star Trek was shown off during E3 last year and revealed that the Playstation edition will come with an addition chapter which is available by download.  The game will feature an original story by BAFTA Award-winning writer Marianne Krawczyk, who is working alongside writer/producers Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman of the Star Trek film.  Though there isn’t a set date, but Star Trek is expect to be released prior to the movie sequel which is set for March 17, 2013.

Coming back the Z1G camp, there is going to be a new face/voice around these parts, as next week Z1G adds a new contributor to its ranks. But just who will it be? Will they like RPGs and Anime, or perhaps FPSs and chest high walls? Only time will tell whom has joined the ranks of the Z1G family. To find out the answer to the mystery, you’ll have to stay tuned to Z1G during the week to see just who is going to make an appearance, and just what will their favorite game be?

 

That’ll do it for this week, check back to Z1G for more news, reviews, and more!

Hidden Gem: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles by Corey Sexton

The Final Fantasy franchise isn’t exactly known for its sequels and spin-off titles, and until Final Fantasy XI, neither was the franchise normally associated with its multiplayer capabilities. Shortly after Final Fantasy XI’s debut, Square Enix released yet another multiplayer game for the Nintendo GameCube (the first time an original Final Fantasy title had graced a Nintendo system since Final Fantasy VI) called Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, which featured for the first time ever a fully real-time combat system, and the ability to team up and play with friends through the use of your Game Boy Advances and link cables. This game’s art style is more animated and cartoon-like than the realistic-looking approach most other FF games have taken. However, there are many elements such as classes, moogles, enemies, bosses, magic, items, equipment and classic Final Fantasy staples that fans expect out of any installment to the series.

In this new world, everything has become shrouded in a poison referred to as “miasma,” and only the crystals that each city is built around have the ability to keep the poison at bay. The crystals however, are powered by a substance called “myrrh,” which can be harvested from any myrrh tree and stored in a crystal chalice once annually each year. Each town sends out a caravan once a year in search of myrrh, in an effort to keep their homes safe for another year. As one of the citizens of your hometown joining the caravan, this is where your quest begins.

As you start your journey, you select from one of four different classes. Each of these has their own special fighting techniques, weapons, and statistic set.
From there, you’ll choose your family’s trade. This will affect the types of services that will be available in your hometown such as blacksmiths or merchants, altering the types of crafts that you can construct or the ability to purchase items. Throughout the game, after you complete each area, one of your familymembers will send you a letter and your response affects your relationship with each member. The gifts that you receive when you return home at the end of every year are determined by your chosen family trade, your relationship to each member, and the gifts you send them while out on your quest. This is also how you get some of the best items in the game, so it helps to stay on good terms with your family.

Once out on the world map, you will be able to move your caravan along the roads that connect various towns and the individual areas that you must traverse in order to collect myrrh. While moving your caravan from location to location, you sometimes trigger short cut scenes involving relationships and conflicts that you and your party experience with other travelers. In my experience, these incidents can become a bit annoying when you need to go back and forth between different areas on the map.

While out on this adventure, it doesn’t take long to realize how essential the crystal chalice is while progressing throughout the world; the chalice creates a protective barrier around the party from the toxic air. As a result, one player will always have to carry the chalice in order to move around. While playing solo, a moogle assistant will be provided to carry the chalice for you. You will also have the ability to attribute different elements to your chalice which plays another important role in advancing across the world map, allowing you to cross through gates called “Miasma Streams.”Seemingly useless, each miasma stream requires a certain element to be attributed to your chalice, which can be done simply by traveling to an area with the required element and selecting it from a menu. However, that can become quite annoying as each miasma stream’s element changes every year, forcing players to redo certain levels while they wait for the elemental requirement to change. But if there’s one thing Square Enix knows how to do right, it’s creating visually stunning environments, and even in my re-visitation of this last generation title, I still enjoy simply walking from one side of each deadly stream of miasma to the other.

The GBA may have seemed like a primitive controller at first, however, the controls are actually quite smooth. You switch between your attack, magic, and defend commands on your HUD with L and R, and can even equip single use items for quick and easy consumption. When attack is selected, players can either mash A and deal multiple quick weak strikes, or press and hold A to perform a focus attack, creating a target circle on the ground that allows them to move around freely and attack any enemy they wish. This also does significantly more damage and varies depending on your weapon. When selecting types of magic, players must press and hold A to create a target circle, and line up their attack over their enemy to unleash their wrath endlessly, as the “magicite” players pick up throughout each level does not require MP! Unfortunately, the downside is that the magicite doesn’t leave the level with you.

The Defense command varies from class to class. Races like the Yukes with lower defense can make their bodies intangible and protect themselves from any attack, whereas Races like Clavats, who have higher defense, are only able to defend themselves from frontal attacks.The GBA screen proves to be very useful as well, as each player receives their own specialized map to help guide the party forward throughout each level . One screen will have a scale map of the area, while another has upcoming enemy locations marked. If there are more than two players, there is also a map indicating treasure chest locations and a screen with information about the enemies that you are currently battling. Of those last two, someone will have one or the other if there are only three players.When you are exploring the vast maze-like mushroom forests, goblin-overrun mines, treacherous deserts, and many other memorable environments, you really get to enjoy the simple beauty of FFCC. By incorporating the ability to team up with your friends, gameplay becomes far more enjoyable because players will encounter large amounts of enemies that could be a little overwhelming while playing alone. The ability to stack your magic together and create new spells by yourself in single player mode is beneficial, but not quite as satisfying as using teamwork and strategizing with your companions.

This is a great game for any group of FF fans or for anyone who has ever been turned away by the slower-paced turn based titles. As I had previously mentioned, the Final Fantasy franchise isn’t quite known for its spin of titles, and that could be part of the reason that FFCC is largely overshadowed by its numbered ancestors. Another reason could be that the game simply required too much extra hardware for a system that wasn’t as popular as its competitors at the time. Whatever the reason may be, this is a game that I feel deserves more attention and should at least be given a fair chance alongside the rest of the FF canon.