The comma (and bracket) filled thoughts of Sam Coleman.

Category Archives: Games

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

Forget everything you once knew about Final Fantasy – Type-0 immediately throws everything out the window. The very first scene of the game depicts a bloodied soldier, caught in a warzone, collapsing against his equally bloody Chocobo mate and tearing up about his swiftly-approaching death – it’s raw, shocking and powerful.

Mercifully, Type-0 eases up on the Chocobo deaths but the war motif is used heavily throughout. The player controls the 14 students of Class Zero, members of a magic academy who are charged with aiding a rebellion to save their home country Rubrum. It’s fairly intriguing stuff but the game detracts from this with a tendency to throw complex terms around without really explaining them – those who paid little attention to Final Fantasy XIII might spend most of the game wondering what exactly a l’Cie is, for example.

There’s an odd contrast which needs to be discussed too. Yes, Type-0 (rather ambitiously) seeks to create a tale about the brutal realities of war and conflict but it’s also a game which features cartoony Moogles who end every line with ‘kupo!’. It’s really quite jarring at times (though it never fully detracts from the experience), almost as if Square wanted to completely start fresh with the series but had to keep certain elements intact for the fans.

This can also be seen through the excellent but underutilised soundtrack. Hefty, dramatic themes are placed alongside classic remixes from across the series, creating a score which evokes nostalgia but also seems to want to push forward in a different direction. These conflicting themes and ideas aren’t really bad, they’re just slightly odd – Square were clearly in two minds when making Type-0 originally.

It’s the fourteen main characters which really stand out and pull the game together though. Rather than handpick a couple of characters for the game to revolve around, Square created something of an ensemble cast – every character has their own role to play and they’re all equally important to the narrative (something which ties in really well to the gameplay). This is especially notable in the sections between missions where the player is free to wander the Academy – building relationships and chatting with classmates might not be as vital as it is in Persona 4 but it’s still an interesting way to learn more about Class Zero and their various personalities.

Class Zero’s differences really shine in battle though. Each character has their own unique weapon and set of skills, offering a whole bunch of different playstyles to choose from. The game actively encourages the player to switch characters regularly to keep everybody’s levels balanced but you won’t really need prompting – trying out each character, getting to grips with their unique talents and unleashing them on foes is terrific fun.

Type-0’s focus on war and combat needed a strong gameplay system to match and happily, Square didn’t disappoint. Borrowing the ATB system from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was a great move (there’s definitely a dash of Kingdom Hearts in the mix too) and the quick pace of the game encourages players to constantly be on the move; dodging attacks and maneuvering around the battlefield is essential for survival in Type-0.

The game layers tactical elements on top of this too – enemies will be vulnerable at certain moments (usually after attacking) and the player can capitalise on this for massive effect. Landing an attack on an enemy while they’re surrounded by a yellow circle will result in a massively damaging critical hit; attacking while the circle is red will kill the enemy instantly. It’s a neat way of preventing the player from simply spamming attacks and hoping for the best – pausing and waiting for the opportune moment in the heat of battle is tricky but rewarding. It’s a battle system which tends to favour ranged characters (they’re less vulnerable and they’re able to target weaknesses far easier) but melee characters are far more fun to use, thanks to the fast, skill-driven dodging and combo attacks. It’s a fine balance and it works really, really well.

But what about the HD tag in the game’s name? Unfortunately, this is generally where problems arise. Type-0 for Xbox One and PS4 is a high-def remaster of a PSP game, released in Japan in 2011, and the limitations of that portable console are still on show here. The game’s mission-based structure breaks the action down into small, bite-size pieces; those who want to push on with the story might be aggrieved at the constant breaks.

The PSP’s limited hardware has left some areas poorly textured, something which would look awful in high-definition, were it not for the quality of the art design – the remastered cutscenes make up for this somewhat though. Another constant source of trouble is the atrocious camera; a slight nudge to the right stick results in the angle violently swinging around, making it hard to accurately point the camera where it needs to be facing. The motion blur effects which accompany a change in angle are fairly unwelcome too.

Don’t allow yourself to be put off by these factors though. After all, it is a port rather than a fully-fleshed next-gen title – there was bound to be some rough edges. Persevere through the game’s cutscene-heavy intro and you’ll be rewarded with something special. The diverse, thrilling combat is reason enough for Final Fantasy fans to buy into this remaster and the mature re-imagining of a classic series is certainly intriguing, to say the least. It even brings back the world map, a lost RPG staple; if that doesn’t get the hardcore Final Fantasy crowd interested, absolutely nothing will.


(So I’ve been looking for a series to create for a while and this suddenly clicked with me last night. Hopefully, when I actually cough up the dough to buy a capture card, I’ll be able to pair writing and video together to make an interesting series. For now, enjoy these baby steps.)

Thanks to the intense, crushing boss battles found in Dark Souls, YOU DEFEATED has become a phrase synonymous with success. Everytime a boss falls in From Software’s masterpiece, those two words flash up on screen as a reward for the player’s success; in our minds, it should be accompanied by the Victory Fanfare from Final Fantasy VII.

What makes a boss battle great though? Is it the gameplay? The setting? The soundtrack? With this series, I’m going to break down some of my favourite boss battles of all time, looking at the finer details and savoring the moments which need to be appreciated.

As always, feedback is massively appreciated – hit me up in the comments on here or on Twitter (@colemansa).


Vergil (DMC)

The rebirth of Devil May Cry may have upset many but those who looked past the stylistic changes and gameplay rework found a great game – it was a little rough around the edges but very few titles can match the stylistic, fluid, combo-driven gameplay found here.

There’s some exceptional boss battles to enjoy too; ridiculously over-the-top confrontations which provide constant highlights – slapping the digital face of Bob Barbas around or laying the smackdown on a giant demon slug-like baby (still attached to it’s mother’s umbilical cord, by the way) are inexplicable joys.

Sometimes it’s the quieter moments that linger in the mind longest though; DmC strips away the flair and extravagance for its final battle, instead crafting a one-on-one encounter which genuinely feels like a battle for the ages.

Destruction (DMC)

Dante’s sibling rivalry with Vergil was well documented in Devil May Cry 3 so unsurprisingly, despite co-operating for the majority of the game to defeat Mundus, the two brothers face-off with the fate of humanity on the line.

The setup is extraordinarily well done. Vergil’s sudden declaration that “the path is clear for us to rule” is a neat little plot twist which suddenly reveals Vergil’s real motivations for battling Mundus – he envisions himself (and Dante, presumably on a minor scale) as humanity’s master. When Dante compares his brother to Mundus, Vergil simply laughs, remarking “we’ll respect our subjects, not enslave them!” Not particularly reassuring.

Set within the ruins of Limbo City, the atmospheric surroundings of the battle’s arena is remarkably well done too. Mundus’ destroyed tower can be seen off in the distance and the destruction caused by Dante’s battle with the demon god is clear for all to see. It’s a really effective way of showcasing just how much damage demon overlords can inflict on humans, making it all the more vital that the player stops Vergil in this climatic showdown.

Dante Vs Vergil (DMC)

As the battle continues, the sky gradually darkens and creates a spectacle that’s simply incredible. Vergil’s immense power seems to dictate the weather patterns somewhat too as when Dante lands a blow on him, lightning cracks across the sky – another effective way of showing the supernatural powers that the two brothers possess.

From a gameplay standpoint, the fight is relatively simple, though on the harder difficulties it still provides ample challenge. The player must dodge Vergil’s moves and then counter with a quick combo – it’s very similar to Dante’s encounters with Drekavac, a ninja enemy who requires quick dodging reflexes and short but damaging combos to defeat.

Vergil's Doppelganger (DMC)

The real fight begins when Vergil is near death. Here, he uses his Devil Trigger to produce a doppelganger, aping his moves and giving Dante two foes to combat at once. Despite Vergil’s low health, the fight grows in intensity as the player has to dodge twice as many attacks, making opportunities to counter scarcer too. Ultimately though, Vergil’s encounter is only really excruciatingly difficult on Hell And Hell difficulty – old school Devil May Cry fans might be disappointed in this aspect.

However, the build-up and glorious setting of this fight is where the magic really lies and thankfully, the encounter is left wide open for a sequel to revisit. Vergil’s final departing line – “I loved you, brother” – might have created a number of creepy fan fiction stories (seriously, look it up… or don’t, actually) but it’s also a great line to end Vergil’s role in the game – despite Dante’s betrayal, Vergil still bitterly wants the best for him. It’s a story arc that desperately needs revisiting in a sequel – get on it Ninja Theory.

Dante Devil Trigger (DMC)


I freaking love Mass Effect. Or at least, I did. Mass Effect 1 brilliantly married two contrasting gametypes – the run and gun action game and the RPG. It had issues but was largely carried by the engaging stories and locations. The sheer depth of the game is evident through the extensive lore in the game’s codex. All in all, it took several hours of my life.

Mass Effect 2 carried on where the first began but was slightly disappointing to me. The RPG elements were watered down into basic mechanics. The gunplay was much better however and the story continued to shine, even if it never did really advance the overarching plot.

So I approached Mass Effect 3 with caution. Particularly because Bioware’s last release before ME3, Dragon Age 2, was so dire that it worried me about Bioware’s ambitions. Happily, Mass Effect 3 was good. The RPG elements hadn’t returned to ME1’s standards, but they were much improved. Once you passed the slightly tedious introductory level on Earth, you were back to hopping from planet to planet and free to explore, making the game massively enjoyable. Completing the story; discovering galaxies and planets; gathering resources for the final war effort: I quickly decided this was my favourite in the series. Then I got to the ending.

You’ve probably heard about the outcry from the ending even if you haven’t ever touched a Mass Effect. It’s as disappointing as everybody says. I read somewhere before the game’s release that the story for ME3 had been leaked; the outcry apparently leading to Bioware making last minute revisions. Whether this story is true, I have no idea, but it damn sure feels like it is. Without stepping into spoilers, it was rushed. Events happened for no reason; you are shown little outcome of the decisions you’ve made and overall, it just makes no sense. As the closing paragraph to a trilogy renowned for its story, it was as disappointing as they come.

Now Bioware has released the ‘Extended Cut’ version of the ending for free. It’s currently available on Xbox Live Marketplace. I’ve downloaded it, but I’m not entirely sure I can be bothered with it. Is this what we just come to accept in gaming now? “The original ending was bad, so let’s just paper over the cracks with some scenes we should have included anyway”. It’s almost textbook laziness. I’m just amazed that we weren’t actually forced to pay for the DLC; I guess if enough people are heard, you can make a difference.

It just seems to me that the original ending was deemed good enough to be released. This is what Bioware decided was acceptable as the ending to Mass Effect. A rushed DLC with some missing scenes just sounds like the deleted scenes you get with a DVD – they were dropped for a reason. If I felt the ending was bad in the first place, am I going to be pleased with the second, perhaps even third rewrite? Perhaps we should be encouraging this sort of attitude in games companies – acknowledging their mistakes and attempting to fix them, but I feel that the damage has been done here.

Despite this, I probably am going to pick up and play Mass Effect 3 with added fixed ending again, if only to mop up the rest of the achievements on my growing to-do list. I’m just not sure that I can overlook and forget the immense disappointment I felt with the ending only a couple of months ago.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below or tweet me – @colemansa.


They say only two things are certain in life – death and taxes. True. However, there is also a third. Death, taxes and an EA Sports tie-in to every World Cup or European Championship. This year however, proves slightly different. Instead of an entirely new game, such as Fifa 2010 World Cup, we get Euro 2012 for Fifa 12, in the form of a downloadable add-on. Cheaper? Yes, but only just. The add-on costs 1800ms points, or £15.99 for PS3 users. Better?

Positives

+ Official… ish

Euro 2012 is as close as you can get to the real thing without, you know, actually watching Euro 2012. Every stadium used in the tournament has been recreated and added, including Warsaw’s National Stadium and Kiev’s Olympic Stadium (home of the final). Every team that entered for qualifying can be played, complete with kits and players. Always wanted to ensure England get out of the group stage by placing them with San Marino, Georgia and (for home pride sake) Wales? Enjoy. The game has even added in the annoying overhead camera shot from just before kick-off. If you love the minor details, you’ll love this. Wondering about the ish? Keep reading.

+ Game Modes

The game comes with the standard modes, as well as a few additions. Kick Off (pick a team and play against another) is there. Offline Euro 2012, where you play through a Euro 2012 campaign as one team, is there. Online Euro 2012 adds the needed competitive play. A new mode called Expedition has been added as well. It plays similar to World Tour in Fifa Street. You pick one player, or your virtual pro, as your captain, and then choose a qualifying group to start off in. The objective of the mode is to beat every team in the game and assemble a European XI of sorts. After beating a team, you are given a random player from their squad. Beat them once and you get a reserve player. Twice, you get a sub bench player. Third time bags you a first XI player. It’s a decent concept and works well for the most part.

Negatives

– False Advertising

You might be confused when first picking a team in this game, especially if you happen to be Welsh. After all, Wales’ renowned left winger is not called G.Belth. Nor is their golf club swinging forward known as Belmont. In fact, 24 of the 53 teams in this game are unlicensed. That’s almost half. Of course, the major nations are all there.  But I would have thought a lot of people would be interested in playing as Wales, or owning Gareth Bale in their Expedition team. Other unlicensed teams include Estonia, Belarus and co-hosts Ukraine. EA have blamed ‘market size and limited resources’ for not acquiring licensing for the teams. Whatever the reasoning, there is no excuse for continuing to brand the game as official and authentic without full licensing, especially when you’re charging nearly £20 a time.

– Needs More Testing

The game is rife with crashes, bugs and glitches. People that claim they have found none are LYING. Constant crashes on the menus become tiring quickly. Online, you will be frequently disconnected from the EA servers, but still be online. It’s the sort of frustrating experience that comes with nearly every release from EA. In game, my camera resets to default everytime someone pauses the game, meaning I have to go back into the menus to fix it. It’s a near constant hassle. Some things you can overlook; you’ll struggle to overlook anything this throws at you.

– Squads

There is no option within the game to change your squad how you want. You can download the most recent squads from the EA Servers (a requirement for online play) but you cannot switch players in and out at will. Perhaps this is to help balance and protect online play, but you can’t even change the offline squads. You can in Fifa 12, but not in this add-on where it is almost a necessity. It seems like a complete oversight on EA’s behalf.

– Game Modes

While the game does several things right when it comes to modes, it also does some things terribly wrong. The lack of an Online Head to Head mode is disappointing, but being unable to play a friend online is almost criminal. Expedition mode is okay, but tires quickly. An option to import your Expedition team into the Euro 2012 modes would have been nice – another missed opportunity. The Challenge mode is another nice addition but being unable to play previous challenges makes them pointless, especially when the game keeps a record of the ones you missed. This almost sums the game entirely – an exciting prospect but woefully short of expectations.

– It’s Fifa 12 with new paint

Of course the game is not going to be dramatically different from Fifa 12. However, it does mean that the add-on suffers from the same problems of Fifa 12. The impact engine hinders you constantly. Referees make completely inaccurate calls. Players don’t make proper runs; defenders fall over at will; finesse shots are overpowered; Ronaldo is broken – whatever your complaint with Fifa 12, it applies here. It’s not necessarily bad… It just adds to the overall frustration with the game.

Overall, Euro 2012 isn’t a bad add-on. It adds some longevity to Fifa 12 without costing £40. With a proper challenge mode and online modes, it would have made for a great addition to the tournament itself.  As it stands, it’s a collection of poorly implemented ideas. With a bit more polish and ideas, this could have been great. Without them, it’s just disappointment. The lack of official squads makes this entirely criminal for the price.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below or tweet me – @colemansa.