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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:41:44     -    Gears of War (360)

    GAMEPLAY:
    After another hour and a half of gameplay, and beating the first real level, I come back to write another game log. Wow is all I have to say. As soon as I picked up where I left off, they started throwing my tiny team against waves and waves of mobs. Each room you fight in has about 20 enemies to kill, set against you in waves as they dig up from underneath you. It can get overwhelming at times; each enemy take a significant amount of time to kill, maybe 10 seconds. However, every 30 seconds 5 more will spawn and attack your position. It leads to situations where your cover isnt protecting you from all angles of attack. Use grenades can change the tide, but only if you know how; the UI makes you change weapons into nades before you can actually use them, resulting in a bit of a delay.
    However, what really interested me was the boss battle against the Berserker at the end of the level. To defeat it, you had to lead it outside a building. It is blind, but had good hearing, so you lure it out by gunshots or movement. However, doors stood in your path that could only be destroyed by making the Berserker run head first into them. To make matters even worse, 1 hit meant death. However, once you got the beast outside one of the most satisfying deaths ever happens. You kill it by using a laser from orbit to blow it up.

    DESIGN:
    The design, while leading to excellent gameplay, did nothing extrodinarily different from any other FPS. The main difference I noticed was in how quickly you died, and the boss battle. Both relate to one another; they forced me to use my head in order to survive. Your quickly diminishing life does not allow you to storm a turrent directly. Instead, you have to find ways to kill the gunner without being in their sights. For instance, at one point I had to kill the gunner by breaking into another room, climbing up a few floors, and shoot up from a window high above him.
    Another way the game makes you think is the boss battles. The one I fought made you lure an enemy to the only place I could deal damage to him; outside. MY bullets did no damage to him, and only a special gun that only works outside could kill him. But, as he is blind, I had to manuver him through a tight maze of corriders using sound as a lure. It was an interesting element of gameplay that was a nice change of pace.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:21:25     -    Gears of War (360)

    SUMMARY:
    Gears of War is a first person shooter relying on quick thinking, taking advantage of your surrounds, and is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

    GAMEPLAY:
    As soon as I picked up gears of war, I thought this was going to be a great game. "Prisoners killing huge ugly aliens? Hell yes!" I went through the tutorial, learning how to control the character... then got in my first fight. The game suggested that I toss a grenade. I do, and everything dies. "This easy on hardcore? No way..." Then the real combat got going. If you aren't careful in this game, you die. Cover is a necessity, and running around like halo will make you full of holes.
    Three lives later I learned this. Although a combat system that acts real does make a FPS more difficult... its also fun. Having a challenge more difficult than a normal shooter felt nice for a change, since it required me to think. The story seems underdeveloped, and hasn't gone into the backstory of the human/alien war nor given any real plot other than "end the war... go fight". Hopefully, that will change.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 19:56:19     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    Game play:
    It seems as though even outside Chrono Trigger I am traveling through time, because what seemed like a few minutes turned out to be a couple hours. Since I left off, I have journeyed backward and forwards through time just by sheer accident. When I say accident I don't mean the means, I mean the reason. The story line in Chrono is amazingly plausible. The characters act like real people, not driven by some divine writer that said "this would make a good plot". For example, I just rescued the girl from the past and returned to the future only to find that I was going on trial for kidnapping her! But wait, it gets better: I caused the trial to occur by saving the royal advisor in the past; after his rescue, he was determined to make a legal system to put away criminals... but i didn't know that I would end up as a victim of the system I indirectly created. I didn't need to rescue the advisor; he was locked up in a chest, and had I not opened it I wouldn't have been tried. However, the fact of the matter was that I did get on trial, and was forced to break out of prison. In an attempt to escape the guards, I had to use one of the time gates to lose them, ending up in the future. It surprised me that the reason wasn't "go kill this bad guy", but more of a "run the hell away" reason. In fact, they haven't even introduced the main villan yet.

    Anyways, after I played for another 2 hours I was delighted with the battle system. It's natural, without any random encounters (gasp!). Well, their are "random encounters", but they actually show the enemies popping out from bushes or from off screen so it makes sense. It was a small touch that I think makes alot more sense than the normal system. As well as a actual decent introduction to battles, the battles themselves were fun. For instance, bosses require you to think. The first boss I encountered would counterattack when it was hit from far enough away, but wouldn't when it was close to you. I powered through the fight, but I almost died because I did not wait for him to move to a more tactically sound position. The second boss also required though; by reading a book on a desk, you gained information that the boss (divided into 3 parts) would heal itself and was immune to fire until the head was destroyed. It made the fight much more difficult, because the first time I fought him, I was unaware what part was healing, which led to my demise.

    Design:
    The design of this game is, quite frankly, amazing. I can see why it is on the classics list: from the story to level design to battle systems, it is a very well put together the use of time periods as level design seemed to be a tricky way to pull it off; unless they actually changed the map it would get repetative. However, after finding my way to the futuristic zone, I was no longer worried. The continents are completely redone, as the entire world was (to the best of my knowledge) devistated by war. Craters cover the ground, and people live in small civilizations called domes. Talking to the NPCs, I found that food is hard to come by, probably because the land doesn't seem fit to grow anything.

    I wondered after the last log if healing moves would be part of the double tech abilities. Surprising enough, I found that they were combined with attack techs. For instances, when you combine a heal with a AoE, it makes the heal affect all party members. It was an interesting way to include the healing in the tech combos, and one that I will be interested to see more of. The fact that bosses requires you to think is another great improvement over most RPGs. Where in most you can power your way through bosses without much thinking, in Chrono that does not seem to be the case unless you happened to be very, very over leveled. It seems like the battles will not get boring unless they end up rehashing the same abilities for the bosses over and over.

    The story was also impressive; as I mentioned before, it has characters that seem alive, with motivations other than "i must do (insert quest) to save the world!" One of the party members is a princess who, at this point, has rejected her father as a fool who can't even think beyond the crown. Another, your best friend, follows you because she tried to break you out of prison before finding out you had done it yourself. Finally, the Chrono himself seems caught up in a tangle of problems just because he was interested in a girl. I have high expectations of the story and character development, and doubt I will be disappointed.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 17:31:26     -    Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    Summary:
    Taking up the persona of Crono, you fight to save the world in the classic RPG setting. However, the world is divided into different time periods, making the world many times more expansive than normal. While the design of the planet is similar throughout the game, each time period is obviously different from another in both culture and even in geography. One of the first games to offer a real time battle system, it is faster paced than games that came before it, but still allows you to choose the typical turn style of RPGs if you so desire.

    Game Play:
    Amazingly, this game does not start off with an epic struggle between the forces of good and evil, or really any kind of conflict what so ever. It starts off with a simple day to the fair. Crono, the stereotypical strong yet quiet lead for this game, gets a day off to go visit friends and just relax. When he gets there, he meets a young girl named Marle, who is obvious the other half of the romantic storyline. Guess Crono works really fast... Anyways, you spend the day with this cute, interesting girl by doing events you normally find at fairs. A strong-arm bell ringing contest, food, a horror tent, more food, fights with a gigantic singing robot, a pie eating contest... Oh, and lets not forget the teleporter demonstration. What could possibly go wrong there?

    Anyways, after you've had your fill of the carnival minigames (that took an hour for me...) you meet Crono's nerdy friend, Lucca, who is demonstrating her newest invention, a teleporter! Square did a wonderful job of the carnival, creating a scene that relaxes you and makes you think you are just getting character development... but then Marle decides to try the teleporter and all of a sudden a huge flash appears and there is no more Marle. But wait, you've known this girl for a full day, you can't just let her dissappear! You travel back in time, and start the real gameplay.

    While the battles at the fair helped to level you and get you used to the combat system, you begin to get your real battle moves soon after you leave the fair. Instead of magics and battle skills, you have different Techs for each character. If you have the right ones, you can combine 2 Techs of 2 characters to create double techs, which cause much more damage. Its an interesting system, and one that I have just begun to unlock. What I am curious about is if later on, once you get a healer, if you will be able to double tech buffs to give yourself some amazing advantages. I doubt it, but it would be pretty cool...

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    1Chrono Trigger (SNES)Playing
    2Civilization IV (PC)Played occasionally
    3Gears of War (360)Playing
    4Knights of the Old Republic (XBX)Playing
    5Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)Playing

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