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    Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:36:02     -    Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 (GC)

    Summary:
    Clash of the Ninja 2 has multiply play modes including story mode. In story mode the player controls Naruto and advances through different fights that loosely follow the anime in order to unlock hidden characters. The other modes, such as Versus or Survival Mode allow the player to fight against an A.I or other players.

    Gameplay Entry 1:
    The great thing about this game is that you can pick it up and just start playing. You don't have to read much about the controls and it's easy to get right into it. There are certain moves that can only be acted out if you press the right button combinations, but honestly this game is a button masher. If you just hit A and B a random number of times then you can deal out a good amount of damage. The moves are pretty entertaining and match well with the characters. The chakra gauge, which allows you to pull off a powerul move (Special Jutsu) when full, is a nice aspect of the game. You can save your chakra in order to use the Special Jutsu or you can tap into the chakra gauge to automatically counterattack when struck.
    I've been playing the Story Mode which is rather mediocre but fun none the less. Suprisingly, some of the A.I opponants have been rather difficult. My roommate and I have taken turns trying to beat harder characters. Its's a fun decent fighting game.



    Gameplay Entry 2:
    After completing the Story Mode I was able to unlock characters, but not all the secret characters. I like how Story Mode isn't the only mode that enables you to gain characters. New characters are unlocked by placing first in Time Attack and Survival Mode. However the player doesn't automatically get them. The characters show up in the Store and can only be bought depending on how many points the player receives from playing the different modes. The longer a player lasts and the better they perform, the more points the player gets. I though this concept was fun because it allowed me to play through the Time Attack and Survival Mode multiple time useing different characters. The Story Mode can be played a over and over, which was also a nice aspect.
    However, once I unlocked all the characters I found that there wasn't much else to do in the game. The Verses Mode, where players can play against each other, is fun but doesn't hold my interest as other fighting games do. Since this game is a button masher it gets a little boring if there is no specific goal to attain.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 19:55:13     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Gameplay Session 2:
    Returning to the game wasn't hard at all. I'm so enthralled with this game. I must admit that it is a little overwhelming at times. Side quests such as the Hunts, where the player can accept requests from citizens to go kill certain monsters for rewards, have been my priority for a while. I've just made some progress story-wise, but honestly it was only because a Hunt was located in the same area.

    The idea of playing "bounty hunter" and fighting elite monsters is extremely enjoyable. It's fun to level up my characters and prepare them for a fight against a monster that won't be found anywhere else in the game. The reward for defeating monsters is also a very good incentive because you can receive weapons or money. Since the player doesn't automatically receive money after defeating monsters in battle, getting money in any way at all is very much appreciated.

    I feel that the different environments also encourage me to take a break from the story and explore. The designers did an amazing job creating the different levels that the player can go through. Each place is unique with it's own set of creatures, foliage, music, and overall mood.

    Design:

    There's no doubt about it that this game is gorgeous to look at. The cut scenes are beautiful and don't drag on forever either. Each city as I've already mentioned is unique, but not just with the environment or the building structures, but with the citizens themselves. For the most part they speak the same language that is used throughout Ivalice, but for certain words they use their "native language". This mixture of two languages reinforces the idea that the characters really are traveling to different parts of the world that aren't their native homeland.

    The Real Time battle system definitely makes the battles more interactive and less tedious. Though the player still has to wait for the characters' action gauge to fill, the battles seem more fast paced and active. The concept of the Gambits, where the characters can be controlled by a set of instructions when fighting, is interesting and helpful. However it runs the risk of causing the player to be lazy. If all the characters have their Gambits on, then when the player approaches a monster to fight, he can just sit back and watch his characters, who have been preprogrammed with instructions, engage in battle. I find that it defeats the purpose of playing a video game. Fortunately the designers took that into consideration when creating the Gambit system and have given the player the decision whether or not to use the Gambits on the characters. If such a choice was not given to me, I don't think I would like the game as much as I do.

    The concept of selling "loot" as a means to gain money as opposed to simply receiving money after fighting a monster was an interesting aspect of the game. When I first started it I was somewhat peeved by that fact, but I've gotten over it. This game makes it more challenging for the player to buy items and forces them to focus on tactics such as stealing from enemies and stopping what they are doing and running to items that had been dropped by defeated enemies.

    In FFXII the characters are not placed in a specific fighting class. The player is able to equip the character with any weapon or magic as long as said character has enough License Points (LP) that enable them to gain the ability to use a weapon, magic, etc. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this concept. While I like that I have more control over how my characters fight and that I can change their weapons to whatever is more conveniant for whatever battle I'm in, I feel that it also runs the potential of losing character diversity and the battles are no longer challenging. If all the characters are using the same sword then what's the fun of that? When characters lose their specific fighting class, then their importance in the party is somewhat lost because everyone is doing the same thing: casting the same spells, using the same weapons, etc. But it's left up to the player to decide what direction he/she wants the character to go.

    Overall this game is extremely enjoyable. I like the new elements that have been added into this game and if Final Fantasy continues to move in this direction, I would be pleased.

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    Jan 24th, 2008 at 14:36:41     -    Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

    Summary:
    War has broken out on the world of Ivalice which resulted in the aggressive Archadian Empire conquering many cities throughout the land. Dalmasca, a small kingdom, was one such city. However, an unlikely group of allies made up of two orphans, a fallen queen, a wrongly accused soldier, and two sky pirates, have banded together in hopes of restoring the Dalmascan Queen to her rightful place and ending the Archadian Empire's hold on Ivalice.

    Gameplay Session 1:
    Let me just say that I love this game. I have been playing it for a while and it is a very entertaining game. The cities and other explorable environments are huge. This really gives the feeling that I am exploring a world. I was surprised by the amount of free roaming that the game makers allowed the player to have. It was really easy for me to deviate from the story and where I was suppose to go so I could explore areas that weren't on my map. I've often come across places that I wasn't suppose to pass through until later in the game. I absolutely loved this feature because it gave me more options on where I could level up.
    Since FFXII doesn't have a world map like the older final fantasies, where the player literally runs/pilots an airship around the world traveling from city to city, this idea of having the cities all in someway connect to each other and allowing the player to explore them with few limits is appreciated. Of course there are still restrictions as to where and when the player can enter a certain area. I'm just saying that in this game, it seems the game makers were less restrictive when it came to exploring the world.
    What had always attracted me to FF games were the characters. I find these characters endearing. It's fun to watch their interactions with one another. I was surprised by how much I liked the voice acting and I feel that that feature really helps the player determine what kind of person the character is.
    When I play this game with my housemates watching, I find that they are also drawn into the story. They also become interested in what the characters are trying to accomplish and how the narrative turns out. Mostly though, I think they just want to watch me fight enemies.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 24th, 2008 at 18:08:08.

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    Jan 15th, 2008 at 02:31:02     -    Final Fantasy VIII (PS)

    SUMMARY:
    Final Fantasy VIII is the 8th installment in the RPG series Final Fantasy (go figure). It is a single person game in which the player controls Squall, a member of the combat-unit-for-hire SeeD. The world in this game is in danger of falling prey to an evil sorceress and it is up to Squall and his fellow SeeD members to stop her.

    GAMEPLAY:
    From the get-go this game had me excited to play it. I've always found the text conversations of the older Final Fantasy games to be entertaining, if somewhat quaint. It's a nice little "blast from the past" after having been playing Final Fantasy XII for a while. Through little snippets of conversations or random bits of information I was able to get a feel for what these characters are like. Right now I don't know much about them, but the fun thing about RPGs like Final Fantasy is seeing how the characters grow.
    What I really enjoyed about this game was that it let me take control of the character right away. I was able to explore the academy and go up to random people and strike up conversations. The introduction of the card game was a nice little perk to the game, though I must admit that I've lost more games than won. Little minigames such as that tend to get me off track and I found myself taking time out to read up on how to play the cardgame.
    What I found odd though was that there seemed to be a lack of items lying around the vicinity. Usually in Final Fantasy games whenever you are exploring a town, or someplace you've never been to before, you find "hidden" items throughout the area that could aide you in your travels. I was surprised by my lack of findings, considering that I searched throughout the two floors of the building: running through the hallways, exploring the cafeteria, dormitory, infirmary, etc...I was all over the place.
    I spent a good amount of my time in the training room so I could acquaint myself with the battle system. The battle system really makes this game unique from the other Final Fantasies. The characters are able to take an opponent's spell from them and then use it against them. Any character is capable of stealing an opponent's spell as long as that character has the ability Draw equipped.



    GAMEPLAY ENTRY 2
    I love how in RPGs you're suppose to travel to a specific destination in order to continue the story, but often times you can just wonder around the world map and level up and go to random towns, basically putting off what you're suppose to be doing. That is what I have been doing for my second entry: running around the world map and getting into random battles. With the older Final Fantasy games like FFVI and FFIX I use to get annoyed with the random battles, but I feel that the battle system in this game makes the random battles more compelling. I've found that since MP (magic points) don't exist in this game and that any character can use magic, I am using magic attacks more than physical attacks. It's a delightful change from how I usually engage my characters in RPG battles.
    For the second half of my play time my roommates watched me play the game. I found it interesting how even though RPGs are meant to be played by a single player, bystanders are still able to enjoy it. We compared the characters, music, and the world to other Final Fantasies and other RPGs.

    DESIGN
    So far I am happy with the design elements of FF8. Visually, it's not on the same level as the newer games, but it is still appealing. I feel that because the gameplay graphics are older and not as intricate, the cut scenes leave more of a profound affect. Those moments become more important. Since there isn't any voice acting the music becomes more memorable. For the cut scenes, since there isn't any text to convey what the characters are thinking or saying, the music has to speak for them.
    Going back to the battle system, the time-based battles do get a little tedious and time consuming. The battles go a little slow because the characters have to wait for their battle gauge to fill up. However, I am still impressed with how the battle systems are designed. I like how a character's ability to use spells isn't limited to how much MP they have, but how many spells they have stocked up. This unique element is definitely something that sets FF8 apart from the other games in the series.

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    1Blood Will Tell (PS2)Playing
    2Final Fantasy VIII (PS)Playing
    3Final Fantasy XII (PS2)Playing
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