Ben's Week In Review: April 26
Warmest day of the year so far 'round these parts. Tossed the football around and stuff (nothing too exciting). ;)
I'm really tired of the word "multiplayer"
I'm well aware that there are plenty of gamers out there who can't live without it. I know they won't buy a game unless multiplayer is included as an option. I know many won't even play the single-player campaign, which is a brand new phenomenon and not one I like. I really don't think there's anything wrong with multiplayer, per se; it's basically a 100% positive...provided developers don't start gimping single-player campaigns to put more effort into the multiplayer feature. And now that I've heard about the Uncharted 2 multiplayer beta and the fact that EA will likely add a multiplayer option to Dead Space, I can't help but worry. I'm not concerned about these two particular games - I'm fairly certain both will rule - but if multiplayer turns out to be "essential," developers may sacrifice some single-player campaign quality if they don't have a big enough budget. It could happen with other titles in the future, and that will annoy the crap out of me. I like to play some games with other people every now and then, but I will absolutely never buy a game solely for that reason.
Maybe it's just because I'm from the earliest generation of gamers that saw this as a solitary hobby. I also know that multiplayer has allowed the gaming community to break through a few boundaries, set in place by old-fashioned stereotypes. It's no longer solitary; it's social. I have no problem with that. But you absolutely can have too much of a good thing, especially when that "good thing" begins to affect the very core of the entertainment product.
We really do need Kingdom Hearts III
So Square-Enix says there's little to no chance they'll continue to ignore this popular and critically acclaimed franchise; in fact, Hasegawa said he "can't think of any reason" why another installment wouldn't happen. We all know that Final Fantasy XIII will be the cream of the crop - I promise you, it will be - but Square-Enix needs all the help they can get. They've already ostracized many of the fans they garnered during the Squaresoft days, and the announcement of a third Kingdom Hearts would heal some of the injuries those fans have sustained over the past few years. It's not my favorite series but I really liked the first two and I'd certainly try a third. But don't think for even half a second that it'll be exclusive to the PlayStation 3; clearly, that's not how Square-Enix rolls this generation.
Also, I'd like to add that I'm keeping a curious eye on NIS America's currently unannounced PS3 RPG. I really won't have the time for something crazy deep - like another Disgaea - but I'd be interested to see a next-gen entry in either the Atelier or Mana Khemia franchises. I kinda miss the cute old-school JRPGs and as Star Ocean: The Last Hope didn't do it for me, I'm hoping NIS has something that might pique my still-existent role-playing interest. I really want to hear more about End of Eternity, by the way.
Personal gaming update
Star Ocean has pissed me off for the last time. I don't mind a challenge, but I have determined that the combat system in that game is either lame or poorly constructed or both. It was fun for a while, but the erratic, spiking difficulty (and, may I add, the cheating AI) wore thin. So if I get a preemptive attack, there are no more than 2 or 3 enemies...if they surprise me, there's like an army of 8. Always. Any enemy can knock you out of any combo attack you attempt, including all special skills and even Blindsides. The delay between attacks allows the enemy to just pummel your character on the ground before he even gets up, and if he gets stuck in a corner or along the side of the battle screen, he's basically dead. Lastly, after 20 hours, the story had yet to grab my interest and I never cared about any of the characters. So, it's done. I traded it in and as many of you know, I'm currently playing LittleBigPlanet. Yes, it is indeed a chick magnet...almost even more so than my ol' 350Z (sorry Arnold, but it might be true).
LBP is an incredible game, plain and simple. There really isn't anything wrong with it; or rather, nothing significantly wrong with it. It's just so imaginative and creative; it's so wonderfully polished, and yeah, even I have to admit, SackBoy is pretty damn irresistible. I'll be playing this for a while and I think my next game will either be Resident Evil 5 or Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, which I loved when I did the review. And because The Last Hope is toast, I kinda want to finish an RPG...
Oh yeah, and Ms. Courtney did read what I wrote. She liked it, though. Said I was a good writer. ...sadly, I'm really not, but what do insurance people know, anyway? LOL
4/25/2009 Ben Dutka