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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 19:41:46     -    Halo 3 (360)

    Gameplay:

    I got pretty far but about a couple of levels after my first gamelog, I had to change the difficulty to Heroic because it was just getting a little easy to get past levels. After I change my difficulty, a lot of unique stuff started to happen when I tried to kill my enemies. First off, the enemies AI went up almost a factor of 10. Now the enemy uses unique grenades to try and kill me off. Some of these grenades do different things, such as create a large impenetrable shield around the user for a short period of time, drain the shields off any person that is caught in its path, recharge any units shield that is within the range of it, and create like a wall that you can peek around to shoot at enemies. What made this really cool and challenging was multiple levels, the Brutes would through down Bubble Shields, stay in the bubble shield, and force you to come inside and kill them. This proved quite challenging because most of the enemies that stayed inside of these shields would carry large explosive weapons that would destroy you if you got too close. The Brutes would also throw drain grenades to drain all of my health and then come in to try and finish me off, or they would drop a recharge grenade and while I would try to kill them, they would heal at the same time, making my attack almost useless.

    Another thing I thought was cool about the enemy AI was the use of the smaller Grunt units to perform some unique tasks to ultimately get me killed faster. First off, the Grunts would sometimes run to a Bubble shield that was active, so as a player you would want to kill them, but instead run after them, enter the shield to finish them off, and come face to face with the blunt end of a grenade launcher that had a pretty sharp edge to it. The Grunts would also come up to me sometimes holding two live grenades in their hands, trying to be like a kamikaze unit, and blow me up while they to were killed as well. I can't begin to count the times that happened to me, after I had just disposed of a group of Brutes in the same area. But the thing I loved the most about the enemies improvement was the semi-boss battles against these walking tank units known as Scarabs. In Halo 2, you only had to destroy 1 Scarab and were linearly led up to attack it because it stalled at a predetermined point so you could board it and kill all the enemies. But this time, you have to fire rockets or tank rounds at its legs to get it to crouch to the ground, then board it and destroy the reactor for it to be completely killed. This proved to be a challenging task because the Scarab would fire a large plasma beam that would instantly kill you if it touched you, so riding around in a slow tank trying to fire at it would ultimately end up in you dying about 80% of the time. But I loved how you are just 1 genetically enhanced super solider and you are able to take down this massive, destructive machine all by yourself.

    Design:

    One of the first things that makes this such a good game is the design of the enemy AI. Off the bat, you instantly can tell a huge difference in how the Brutes organize their attacks against you. In Halo 2, Brutes didn't have much of a personality and thus weren't able to construct well thought out plans of how to kill you. You could basically just launch a grenade at them or fire you rifle at them and they would go down. But this time they organize better and pull of some unique skills that make them a truly challenging enemy. I thought that the way that they commanded other units to kind of lure you to them was pretty interesting as well. The games new AI engine in general is just such an improvement over the other games because I had to really think out my attack plans before I would go in and try to blast my way through them. This time the enemy would take advantage of the unique secondary grenades, surroundings, and a better arsenal to try and eliminate me. The design of this enhanced AI system would scare away some players due to the difficulty of getting through the levels, but as a serious FPS player, this made for a much better gameplay experience and as such a more pleasurable feeling when you were able to kill your way through this onslaught of intelligent creatures.

    Halo 3 also seemed to try and capture some of the elements that made the first Halo game a success. In this game, they brought back some of the older weapons, such as the classic assault rifle that was fully automatic and not just a 3 round burst mode, and the classic pistol, that had a small scope to it, over the pistol that was available to you in Halo 2, that didn't have a scope. This addition of the old weapons was great because I personally liked the old assault rifle, but at certain points in the game I would carry both the old assault rifle and the new assault rifle just so I could have one weapon that would be good for up close and personal attacks and something that was good for long range head shots.

    The graphics in this Halo game were also a huge improvement over the second and first Halo games, due to the large amounts of detail that went into the environments. On one level, you are in a desert like area and you truly feel like you are part of a real life desert, but in reality you aren't. The designers also seemed to put emphasis on old, classic material when they thought of some of the levels. A small amount of the levels seemed to have similar aspects as those in the previous games. In particular, it seemed in the final level, that I was almost playing the same exact level as the first Halo game. Overall, the design of Halo 3 was beautiful and very well developed, and as such makes this final installment of the Halo series a great conclusion to a gaming series that has changed the way FPS are played.

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    Feb 8th, 2008 at 18:59:25     -    Halo 3 (360)

    Summary:

    Halo 3 is a first person shooter where you take control of Spartan 117 aka Master Chief to finally defeat the rest of the Covenant army and finish the war against the human race. This time, you are on Earth trying to stop the prophet Truth from using an ancient artifact to activate the remaining Halo's which will destroy all life in the galaxy.

    Gameplay:

    I have played through the previous two Halo games and have loved both of them. The same applies to Halo 3. The first thing that you notice when beginning this game is that your enemies are somewhat similar and also different. In the first Halo game, your main enemy were the elites, but now they are on your side so the next best things are the Brutes. Brutes are basically a primate-type creature except they can speak and fire large destructive weapons at you. As I played through the first couple of levels, a lot of interesting things changed during the second Halo and this installment. One was that there were a couple new weapons at my disposal. The first of these weapons was called the Spiker, and basically it was just a different version of the Needler, a weapon that fires a barrage of energy charged needles at your enemy. The designers focused more on this type of weapon due to they stopped letting the player dual wield the Needler and let them dual wield the Spiker.

    As I continued to play the game, I felt like I had more of a challenge this time as my main enemy had much stronger armor and weapons than the previous Halo game. It took more effort and more unique ways of killing them. In the first two, it was kind of possible to just walk up, bash your opponent, fire a large amounts of bullets at them, then leave. But in Halo 3, this was not the case. On a Normal difficulty, walking into a large crowd of Brutes almost guaranteed you a quick death. I was constantly having to crouch behind cover and try to take quick shots at their heads just to weaken them enough were I could attack them with a simple assault rifle. On certain parts of a level, I couldn't count the many times I would have to restart the area just trying different techniques of killing my enemies without dying. One might consider this to be quite tedious and force the player to put down the controller, but I loved figuring out witty ways of tearing my way through 3-4 Brutes at one time.

    Something that I loved about this play session was the addition of the Gravity Hammer. This has to be one of my three favorite weapons in the Halo series, behind the Energy Sword and the Shotgun. Nothing makes this game more fun then running up on a Brute who has you in his cross hairs and bashing him to death with this massive, two handed hammer. It is also quite effective and cool to watch when you might have a group of 8-10 small Grunts and with one effective swing, take them all out at once. Just this small addition to the arsenal and the changes to enemy attack and effectiveness made killing them that much more fun. I always enjoyed killing the different enemies but this time I have almost a wave of euphoria every time I dispose of a batch of deadly creatures.

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    Jan 25th, 2008 at 02:20:05     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Gameplay:

    I have played another 4 hours and have come across two new party members, Balthier and Fran. When I finally got these characters, the game introduced what were called Gambits. Gambits are like battle commands you give your party, except they are defined by you and the party member automatically executes them within battle. Gambits have different parts to them, such as whether to perform this action on a enemy or party member, whether to attack, use techniques, or use magic, and finally a certain condition to perform this action. So for example, I gave Fran two gambits. The first one was to use the cure spell to heal Vaan whenever his health fell below 70% and the other was to attack all enemies the Vaan had targeted. This allowed me to fight battles without having to stop and give battle commands to my other party members while in the middle of a battle.

    Another cool aspect of the game that I have come across is the usage of what are called Licenses. Licenses in FFXII are what the name entails. Whenever you receive a new weapon, armor, spell, or accessory, you need to have the correct license for it. Now some people might not like this new element in the game, but I find it quite fascinating. First off, you change your license through the use of License Points. You obtain License Points by defeating enemies, and you always have a enemy to fight, so upgrading your license isn't that demanding or limiting in the usage of certain equipment. One reason I love the license feature is that you can customize your party to focus on certain weapons, such as Vaan using more swords and Balthier using more sword guns.

    Design:

    One thing that makes FFXII's design so rich and interesting is the vast amount of detailed artwork and animation that you come across while playing the game. The detail in the levels you walk through is amazing and allows you to feel like you are actually in the royal city of Rabanastre. The game is full of magnificent cut scenes that look like they come from an animated motion picture. The cut scenes are also amazing because they take a very important part of the story and give it that little extra touch to make it quite exciting to watch. One of my favorite cut scenes so far is when I come into the castle and the resistance is trying to take over the castle during a royal banquet. They invade on a hover ship and well the entire scene is quite awesome to watch.

    Another element in the game that I also found innovative was the use of these dashed blue lines to split a large area into a much smaller area. Whenever you entered say the sewers, you would every so often come across a blue dashed line. This would take you to a new area but you are still in the same sewers you were when you entered. I found this interesting because you could focus more on discovering hidden items and not be worried about becoming lost in the area. Did I say that the level design was something to fascinate over? Overall the game uses magnificent artwork to really bring this imaginary world to life and it pays off because as a gamer I am drawn into the world and am curious to see what the next game session on this has to offer. I'm off to save Ivalice!!!

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 23:56:58     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Final Fantasy(FF) XII is a role playing game where you take control of Vaan Ratsbane, a young boy in the royal city of Rabanastre who joins a rebellion against the Archadian Empire. Throughout the game, you accumulate party members and go through the fictional world of Ivalice destroying evil monsters and soldiers of the Archadian Empire as you try to ultimately defeat the evil empire.

    Gameplay:

    I had heard many rumors about FFXII, most of them being that this was one of the best FF games out there and a couple saying that it was way to complicated and just mimicked what the other FF games on the Playstation 2 did. After playing the game, I would have to agree that the rumors of it being a great game were actually true. I had never played any of the PS2 FF games, such as X or X-2, so this allowed me to experience the game without a certain bias.

    The first thing that I loved about the game was it's storyline. It was very complex and the game began with a long and detailed background of the Archadian Empire and it's oppression through Ivalice. While playing the game, I discovered that the battle system was unlike any other FF game I had ever touched. First off, it isn't turned based. You can freely move and lock onto enemies, but from there you can choose to attack or use techniques or even magic. This made the battles seem more real because depending on where you attack, you can deal more damage from the back then the front. The environment also becomes more realistic because you aren't constantly going off to another screen to battle, like previous FF games.

    I kept playing the game due to the beautiful landscape and areas that I traveled through. Even down in the sewers felt like you were traversing a ornate castle. The enemies were quite unique as well, including a side mission where I had to defeat a "rogue tomato", and potentially fight a T-rex like creature that had the same size and dimensions as a potential real-life T-rex. All of these aspects had very detailed drawing and artwork, so it felt at all times that you were emersied in this beautiful and chaotic world.

    I have had friends watch me play and they all have PS2's, and from what I hear, all of them hope to rent copies from the library as soon as they come back in. I myself can't wait to put in another 4 hours tomorrow so that way I can finally get some party members.

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    1Final Fantasy VI Advance (GBA)Stopped playing - Got Bored
    2Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Stopped playing - Something better came along
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    4Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)Finished playing
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