From my time

As a sort of indirect follow up to my last posting regarding unfinished games, I wanted to give a bit of professional perspective to things.

Now, one of the big complaints about a lot of games these days is the lack of QA. Now, for those of you not in the know, QA is Quality Assurance. Every game goes through different levels of QA testing. Be it compliance (making sure that the release meets the standards of the specific platform Sony, Microsoft, etc), localisation (compliant with language standards of the region it’s being released in) and functionality (making sure, you know, that the game works and all).

I used to do QA testing for a living. And before people start getting all “wow playing video games for a living? AWESOME!” It’s not as cushy as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, the company I worked for is definitely my favourite that I’ve worked for to date, but there is a lot to be said for the actual job. I’m not going to get into this now. If you want to know more, I’m happy to answer questions in comments or you can e-mail (theegogames@gmail.com) or tweet me.

What I want to focus on is how some of the issues we’re seeing become predominant in gaming arise.

The biggest issue, at least in my opinion: not enough time. The last big project I worked on was a AAA title for the PS3. Now, this game was a sequel and what I can tell you is that the original time from from start to release was approximately two years. The development cycle for the game I worked on: Nine months…Now, there are some things to take for granted like the fact that an engine doesn’t need to be developed for the game the second time around. But, where as the first game had a little over a year for testing/development, this one didn’t have anywhere near that kind of time. This one had about six months. Now, as a tester, you’re expected to find tens of thousands of bugs over the course of the project. Which, given how many builds a game goes through, isn’t really a challenge. But it is a challenge for the devs to be able to fix everything. There comes a time in a project, especially when they are rushed, that choices have to be made to decide whether or not it’s worth the time to fix said issue. Now, there are going to be a lot of small things that your average player won’t run into, the issue is when those things you don’t have time for, end up in the forefront. Like it did in AC: Unity, ME: Andromeda, etc.

The other big issue I ran into was devs butting heads with testers. Like any time you’re dealing with other people, you’re going to have clashes over decisions. For me, I can remember a series of what I considered extremely obvious bugs (one being a game breaker if you play like me) just being flat out denied (ignored too, but consciously) by the devs. I had to watch one of them play out during an E3 demo. There seems to be some level of animosity between the two stations, with the devs often feeling superior due to their more “prestigious” placement in the scheme of things. Sometimes the end result of a bug going un-dealt with is simply a matter of opinion or (sometimes) pig-headedness. One such instance I faced, having a background in writing/editing, I pointed out and corrected a number of text issues (grammar, spelling, etc) where rather than just copy/pasting my corrections (as emphasised by my supervisor and the functionality manager of the company) they chose instead to leave the mistakes in place.

Well, that’s a small glimpse behind the curtain and a bit of my experience. It definitely doesn’t answer all of the questions, but I hope it sheds a little light on things.

– The Ego

My name is The Ego…

And yes, I have a problem. And yes, I know I’ve said it before. But this time, I’m doing something about it!

This has come up in my blog time and time again – backlog issues. What’s the issue? Well, I buy too many games apparently. At least this is one of those problems I can kind of track back to it’s source. When I used to work retail, I was really good at my job. And being good at my job led to me getting a lot of gift cards/free things. So I bought pretty much anything I had any inclination towards playing for about a year, and on top of that, I also picked up anything that looked even remotely interesting when it was on clearance, so I got it dirt cheap.

Oh, and fixating on one game for long periods of time. Like Overwatch and my incessant need to get those holiday event legendary skins. Takes up a lot.

Now, factor that in to a healthy attitude towards buying the good/must have releases of any given year, and you end up with nearly 30 games that have barely/have not seen the light of day yet.

So with that in mind, I’m (for the first time) making a reasonable plan to combat the issue. One of the first “adult” decisions regarding my gaming: I’m just not buying anything new until I can clear out my backlog. Or…you know, find something that is a must play day one game.

I even took it one further. Any of the games that I had coming out with an actual release date that I had pre-ordered at a discount – cancelled. Yes, I have given up on new games and good deals (though, cancelling the new Ghost Recon game came as a sigh of relief after I played the open beta…)And for anyone who knows me, this is huge. I’ve even written about the desire to buy games that might be interesting just because it’s a good deal. But I’ve given it some serious thought. Even if I manage to snag some new release at a “steal of a price” which often means at least half off, if I don’t get around to playing it till a year later, or longer in some cases, then – was it really a deal? I mean, good chance is it went cheaper at some point, so I didn’t win there, and I didn’t play it right away, so I lose there too.

So step 1 accomplished. Nothing new coming in.

(As an aside, I picked a devastating time to do that too, as Horizon: Zero Dawn, my most anticipated game of some time, is due out tomorrow)

On to step 2: Clear it out!

I will say that I am working diligently to hack my way through the library like so many vines in the jungle. So far, so good. Over the last week and a half I managed to finish Farcry 4 and Littlebigplanet 3. And I got a number of the trophies as well. So there’s that. But what I don’t is just brazenly dispense with the games in some consumerist driven frenzy. I still want to play and enjoy them, so I am.

How fast will I finish the other 28+ games? Who knows. Hopefully in time for some of the bigger releases of this year to still make their way to me within a reasonable time frame.

All that being said: I feel good about my decision. Liberated even. Frankly, aside from just picking out games I don’t foresee myself playing in a relative time frame, and just unloading them online, etc – this is really the only option. And, as a gamer, it’s nice to finally get to all of the things that had my interest – fleeting or not.

I don’t know how other people manage this. Life and gaming. Especially to the level with which I’ve become accustomed. But, I’m striving for balance. Let me know if you have any tips.

– The Ego

Cut me in half and count the rings

So I was online the other day, and I got invited into a chat party on my PS4 while I was playing Overwatch. These guys, who I’d never played with before, started talking to me and asking me questions. One of them was: “How old are you?”

To wit, I responded: “Old”.

Now, in context – it was true. Turned out I had nearly a decade on most of them, and an actual decade on one of them. But, in reality, I’m not that old. I’m currently (shudder) in my early thirties. But, in terms of the demographic, I guess I am old.

I later related this story to my wife, who guessed that they were quite a bit younger than me, and we got to talking about gaming as it relates to age. Which made me wonder – is there an age where people say “I’m too old for this”?

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True story: My grandmother is probably as old or older than this lady, and she still games on her NES/SNES. She’s a Donkey Kong Country boss. You need to know where a hidden banana coin is – she knows.

On point: I can’t say that there is a time in my life where I think I will no longer be interested in gaming. And thankfully, I failed 5/5 on this Cracked list of reasons you’re too old for gaming. So there’s that.

But the truth is – it’s pretty rare that I find myself playing with anyone older than me. In the last ten years, I can only think of two times where I was surprised to find out the age of someone I was playing with. One being a 70+ year old who was in my first WoW guild. And, strangely enough, the other guy was someone I regularly played Diablo 3 with. Maybe there is some corollary between Blizzard games and elderly gamers…But I digress.

The thing I find strange is this: to be an avid gamer is really a young man’s game. Mostly due to the kind of time requirements involved. Obviously, responsibilities and priorities change as we age. Significant others and kids, etc get in the way of the 10 hour/full weekend gaming binges we once knew. Though, I can also recall a couple I played WoW with who would parent while raiding high-level content. But, that may not be the best idea. The time constraints of life definitely factor out people after a certain age. I can even see this happening to me.

Simultaneously, though, having the kind of disposable income to keep oneself in games and new consoles is certainly the privilege of the otherwise employed. When I was a student, my gaming library was quite a bit more sparse. Thinking back to…2003/4 I certainly didn’t have much going on in the gaming department. I had my PS2, which I had gotten as a Christmas gift when I was still in high school, a Gamecube I got on sale for a whopping 99$ and maybe 10 games between the two of them before WoW came out. Then my gaming money went to the whopping 15$ monthly.

So, there must be a sweet spot somewhere in there for the ideal gaming age. But again, I digress.

Is there a time where we have to say “I’m too old for this”? I say no. Because I will always love games the same way I will always love movies. Do I foresee a point where I have to step back a little to focus on other things? Sadly, yes. But stepping back isn’t stepping away. Quitting gaming, for me, would be denying a part of my personality. It would be saying goodbye to something that makes me me. So, I won’t be doing that. Besides, giving up now would mean I would never get to use the Holodeck. Yes, that’s where I see things goes. And I won’t miss out.

What do you think? Will you ever throw in the towel? Are you already too old? Let me know below.

– The Ego

Refreshing

I’m sure, like many of you, gaming is an escape. A way to soothe a long days woes, the balm of hurt minds – as it were.

But then you have those days, and those games. And we all have them. I’m having one right now as I’m writing this. One of those days where playing the game you love causes you nothing but frustration. Whether it’s an online game where you can’t seem to get a win to save your life, or it’s that collectible you just can’t find even though you’re 100% you’re in the right area – or just one of those games you sink a couple of hours into only to die and realise – the game hasn’t autosaved since you got up to get a drink…about fifteen minutes after you started playing.

So what do you do when you’re having one of those nights? I know for me, I find myself going on a tilt because of it. I end up playing more when clearly – the answer should be to turn it off. Though, admittedly, I do that too on occasion.

How is it that something that we love doing so much, can also be the source of such agony. And, when it gets to that point – do we need an alternative activity  to take our minds off of how much gaming frustrates us? One can liken it to the idea of going on vacation, but then coming back so tired they feel like they need a vacation to recuperate. I know I’ve been there.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon. I can’t recall eating too many meals, only to find myself suddenly hungry for something else.

But as far as passtimes go, being a gamer can be intolerable.

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Personally, I think it boils down to passion. I love doing it. So, even though some times I do it to forget about my problems, or to take my mind off of things – like when I’ve had a particularly hard day – it doesn’t mean that it’s going to relax me necessarily. Because I do take it seriously. So losing those games, or that time from when you started to when you died, can end up exacerbating the problems you’re often trying to escape. I have been that guy – yelling at the TV when something doesn’t go my way. And yea, if I’m there trying to relax or calm down – sometimes playing a game isn’t the best plan.

Conversely – I find that playing games on those days and in general, tends to help me resolve some of my problems – or at least free up my higher brain functions to give me some extra  computing power.

Today, for example, was one of those days I couldn’t write to save a life. I sat in front of a blank screen for hours, trying in vain to put something substantive down. It just wouldn’t come. But then here I am now, gaming away, having one of those frustrating nights where I can’t seem to play a winner no matter what I do, and finally, this is practically writing itself. So there is definitely something to be said for diverting your focus onto other things – even if they seem to be negative in the short term.

And there is definitely something to be said about the curative nature of gaming. It lets us vent those frustrations that we can’t otherwise, into something healthy and constructive. Even if that means yelling at a computer generated avatar of someone across the country or one that doesn’t even exist. Either way – it’s still catharsis, right? Sometimes even that can be enough.

So as a form of escape – gaming can be both the balm and bane of a sane mind. It can soothe and strain. But at the end of the day, the love of the game is why we continue to do it. At least, that’s the case for me. Let me know how you feel in the comments, on Twitter or Facebook.

– The Ego

Rebuttle

Ok, so this post is a response to the following article I read on IGN last week (PSX and GOTY took precedence over me writing this counter-argument). I recommend reading it before reading this.

Here’s the link.

First off, in case this hasn’t become abundantly clear through my use of u’s in my words, I am Canadian. So I won’t be addressing the American Dream/American conflict aspects of the article. I am, however, going to break down the three aspects of the argument where I think the piece falls apart.

Guns sell/Sex Sells

Yes, of course this is true. People love to be excited and titillated. And, just like sex in games and movies, if it’s just shoe-horned in there for no other reason than because ‘who doesn’t like a bunch of violence and some fucking?’ – then I agree it’s stupid and it’s hindering the game. I’m no prude or violence abolitionist – but when something is there for no reason but to serve itself (like 90% of the sex in shows like True Blood) – it annoys me. And in those cases, I would agree that it is just a hindrance. It won’t further serve the art form, and it won’t lead to more great games being made. But one could easily make that argument for a number of things that hold the medium back. Once again – there is no one thing that is stopping the progression of games from getting better.

The Bioshock Paradox

So, the “ludonarrative dissonance” mentioned as the main issue with the series is mistaken, flat out. The whole thing about Bioshock is it’s a morality tale in story and in play. Put a man in a chaotic situation and make him fend for his life – and survival instincts are going to kick in. But where the “dissonance” fails to rear its head is in the choices you make – slaughter the Little Sisters for power and become a monster. Save them, and be a hero. And this choice has nothing to do with guns. The Last of Us is a perfect game to go hand-in-hand with Bioshock on this point. Is there combat? Yes, but it’s presence is not the aspect of the game anyone is (necessarily) praising it for. The guns in this game are simply a vehicle. A mechanic to push the story forward in order to get the story out of it. Could you do it without the guns? Definitely. And it would make a great movie. Does the action/inclusion of guns as a medium hinder the actual story or the message that Ken Levine is trying to get across? Not in the least. If anything, I would argue that the gameplay, in this case, is the most minor part of the series.

Playing it Safe

Is there laziness in the gaming industry? Fuck yes. Like any industry. Sometimes it’s just easier to make another game where you just shoot a bunch of dudes and forget about it. Where the story is just a reason to shoot more people. I get that. The same way the music industry pawns off derivative clones of pop music stars whose albums are nigh-indistinguishable. And there are times where the guns are there for no other reason than people like shooting people in games. I do agree, in a sense, that FPS games like Doom, CoD, etc are safe AAA games to make. They have a following, and they don’t require much in the way of “creativity” to an extent. But the genre of gun-heavy games compared to the rest of the industry is a relatively small number. For every CoD there is a Portal, Skyrim, Diablo, Final Fantasy, Heavy Rain and the list goes on.

So, thesis statement: Are guns holding the medium back? No. Are there numerous games with heavy-handed (gun) violence shoe-horned in to create appeal? Definitely. But the medium, as stated, is in its infancy and it is already proving that it is more than a one trick pony.

– The Ego

Best and/or Brightest

The new. It’s something I, and I assume others, struggle with. Always wanting that new thing. The latest and greatest. This mantra seems to apply pretty evenly across a bunch of aspects of the industry. From the latest consoles – which even seems to apply several times across a generation now, to new fads like Virtual Reality and even to updates in games like new characters. And that’s where I want to start.

I exist inside of paradox where I both understand and am baffled by people’s desire for the new. So let’s start with the small stuff.

As I’ve said a lot lately – I’ve been playing Overwatch again. And, in Overwatch, Blizzard has recently release a new character: Sombra. Now, I get that everyone, to an extent, is always going to want the new characters and everyone is going to want to play that character. But come on guys. Like everything – there is a time and a place. This is one of those paradoxes I was talking about. I understand wanting to play as a new character after a year of playing with the same 20. But at the same time, playing it in competitive mode where ranks are decided and team composition is important, is not the time to learn how to play the new character.

VR. That’s a big one for this generation. The proverbial toe in the water. VR is fancy, and it’s new. And, as such, carries a price tag that matches its status. But is it really that exciting? Or, I guess the real question to be asked is: Is it worth 700$ plus the applicable taxes to find out? It’s an interesting foray into an undiscovered medium – I’ll grant it that. And I think in time it will prove to be the next major leap that games take: Total immersion. I mean, we’ve seen it in science fiction in books like Neuromancer and TV shows like Star Trek’s Holodeck. It’s the logical progression.

Lastly – consoles. Now, in the past – and we don’t have to go back that far to see it, the PS3/360 generation had it – we’ve had multiple versions of consoles be delivered throughout the life cycle. PS3 started fat, with a small hard drive and it was backwards compatible. Then we go the slim, which offered a significant improvement on design, HDD size, over all size of the console and better functionality (i.e. less burnout). And the 360 saw several iterations of the same concept. But they were all effectively the same system. More or less, anyway. But this generation is funny. We’re being “treated” to several versions of the console, some with “vast” improvements.

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Now, how vast that improvement is is definitely based off of what kind of tech you have supporting the console. If you’ve got a 4K TV and you’re fully set up with the next rung of Blu-Ray discs, then consoles like the Xbox One: Scorpio are definitely what you should be aspiring to. Now, that’s to say, if you don’t already have a console from this generation. Because, if you do, and you have all of those supporting pieces of tech, the reviews are pretty underwhelming. Anyone with a good 4K TV will tell you, the upscaling that the TV does, regardless of whether or not you’re running the PS4 Pro, Xbox One: S or (granted this is an impression at this point) the Xbox One: Scorpio, is going to provide a significant improvement in graphical quality. Of course, the rest of the tech specs and in the case of Microsoft, the added 4K Blu-Ray player is something to consider I suppose. At least until things are developed in native 4K.

But I leave you with the question – is newer always better? Does it have to be the latest and greatest to keep you happy, or are you good with what you’ve got?

Sound off below or hit me up on one of the social media platforms that I’ve linked below.

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube.

– The Ego

Just when I thought I was out…

What’s enough to bring you back to a game. And I don’t mean a franchise. I covered Second Chances on Monday. I mean, you’ve got a game, you probably bought it a year ago, but it’s being published by one of those good studios who keeps giving you content (for free no less). But it’s been sitting on your shelf for the better part of the last year. So what kind of content is enough to bring you back?

Take Diablo 3 for example. Now, Blizzard is renowned for constantly updating and providing new content for all of their franchises, and Diablo has been no different in this respect. Here we are nearly four and a half years later and they are still giving us the goods. Recently at Blizzcon, they announced a new playable character and a new mode.

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Yup, it’s the Necromancer from Diablo 2.

So is that enough? I know it’ll be enough for me to dust off the game. And frankly, if I’m willing to, I bet a lot of others will be too. I got the platinum for the regular release on PS3 and I got the platinum for the re-release on PS4. So suffice it to say, I’ve dropped hundreds of hours into the series already.

And it’s not like I don’t have other games to play. But I’m curious. Plus I feel like when companies go out of their way to provide free content and support after this long – I owe it to them to at least check it out. Plus the idea of playing the old Diablo on my flatscreen should be pretty cool. I wasn’t privy to the original Diablo games because I didn’t have a PC that could run any kind of games when I was growing up.

Rockstar and GTA V are another good example. Now, I have friends who play GTA Online and only GTA Online. Granted – it can be pretty fun. There’s a whole slew of things to do there. But after a while, I feel like greener pastures are calling. Playing the same sorts of missions against/with the same sorts of people gets dry and requires a break. But then they release major updates like Heists and Bikers. Again – for free.

With major updates to the game the likes of Bikers (giving you the ability to form a Motorcycle Club and buy and manage illicit businesses, run MC missions and purchase your own clubhouse) it’s a real game changer. And, again, something worthy of blowing off  the dust and popping the game in for another run.

Then again, there is also examples of games like Destiny. Where the running joke seems to be “People still play Destiny?”. They seem to be putting out a combination of free and paid updates to the game, and it seems to be a harder and harder draw towards maintaining and bringing back their player base. Though, that probably has more to do with the initial offering than the applicable content.

But is that enough? Is new content a good enough reason for you to come back or is playing the game while it’s new and fresh the only joy that can be derived from the medium? Especially in this trade and play culture that we have set up all around us. Once beaten, does it get dropped off for something new and shiny? What about when it’s not free? Are you likely to pick a game back up if it requires you dropping another 24.99$ to access the content and play with friends? Where is the limit as far as price goes?

You can sound off in the comments below, I always respond. You can also now find me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So please like, subscribe, follow, etc. Everything helps. And as always, if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered here, just let me know. The new plan is to release content on here every Monday and Friday. This will allow me consistency.

– The Ego

Second Chances

So Watch Dogs 2 came out this week. And, frankly, I haven’t paid it too much attention.

Actually, I haven’t watched much other than the “Before You Buy” video from Gameranx. As an aside, if you haven’t checked out their videos, Gameranx and Jake Baldino are pretty fantastic.

So I have a pretty vague impression of the game so far, but what I do know very well, is how Watch Dogs 1 performed. So the question I ask today is: Do you give second chances to franchises that seriously under preform?

To start: This is Ubisoft. They have a track record of new IPs that stumble start, but end up being pretty fantastic. I’m of course referring to the Assassin’s Creed 1 and 2 debacle. For those of you un-aware of what I’m referring to: Assassin’s Creed 1 was an amazing concept with an incredibly flawed delivery. When Ubisoft came around to releasing 2 (and subsequently the whole Ezio saga…which was re-mastered and released this week) they took the concept and fixed all of the problems.

The problem with Watch Dogs, I think most people would agree, was that it was incredibly over hyped. We’ve seen a lot of that lately

The game itself was okay. I didn’t hate it, but I definitely didn’t love it. The hacking could be pretty fun. And the online aspect, having the ability to infiltrate someone else’s game and mess with them was incredibly fun. But the rest of the game was monotonous at the best of times. The description of Aiden Pearce as a “revenge man” is apt. He was one dimensional and so was his struggle. The gameplay was lacking in most areas – especially combat and the driving was a poor GTA imitation.

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Okay, yea, I’m being pretty hard. But to be fair, it was a pretty big let down. I’ve always liked Ubisoft as a company, and for that reason, I gave them the benefit of the doubt by buying their games at release, instead of waiting till Christmas time like the deal-hunters and watching the game drop 2/3 the price.

So, do you give second chances? If a franchise is really bad from the get-go, how do you handle it? In the case of Assassin’s Creed; I did give the IP a second chance because the conceptual stuff was so spot on and really hit a niche of my interests that it was worth it for me. And in that case – Assassin’s Creed 2 paid off. (Aside: We’ll forgo commentary on the current state of the series until they comeback with their re-worked game.)

And I know this isn’t a blanket moratorium on second chances. Because let’s face facts, giving something a second chance doesn’t always mean it’s going to work out. I recently started eating a lot of vegetables I hadn’t eaten since I was a kid – but I’ll be damned if you think I’m going to eat eggs.

I ask myself, and you dear reader, what does a game have to do to redeem itself in your eyes? Does it have to go the route of Assassin’s Creed 2 and completely fix all of its mistakes before you’ll give it another chance? Or is it a burned bridges sort of scenario?Once ruined, the earth has been salted.

I think the biggest thing I look for is a company’s willingness to hear out the fans and the critics. If they demonstrate the ability to take in criticism, and at least strive to make the changes the people playing their games ask of them – then I am generally willing to give them another shot. And, as I write this, I’m looking up reviews and articles on Watch Dogs 2. If I see it – that spark – the touch as light as butterflies wings that shows developers heard the issues and worked to correct the direction the series was taking, then I will likely grab Watch Dogs 2 and give it another try.

If you have topics you’d like covered, hit me up on social media.

– The Ego

Gamer/Collector

Is there ever a point where you think you’ll stop gaming? I have delved into the deepest pits, and fought treacherous odds to find someone to predict the future for me. And when I got there, and asked “Will I? Will I ever stop gaming?”, and shook the round, black prognosticator – it said “It doesn’t seem likely”.

I ask this question on the heels of a (small) decision I made recently. Now, I made the addendum – small – because in the scheme of things it was a rather small decision. Now, for me, it was footprints on the moon. Prepare yourselves, you may want to sit if you aren’t:

I opted out of buying a collector’s edition for a game I truly love…

Feel free to take a moment to catch your breath before you keep reading. You’re okay? Well, let’s continue:

Now I fancy myself a pretty hardcore gamer (despite time constraints) and more than that – I’m a collector. I have Funko Pop! figure, Marvel action figures and a bunch of random gaming memorabilia that I’ve accumulated from dozens of collector’s editions. I also don’t trade in my games to EB, or whomever. You can see how I feel about that here. So on top of all of the collectibles, I have my games.

But do we get to a point where we just end up buying games to put on the shelf? I know that I don’t have anywhere near the time I used to, but I still continue to buy games. To my credit, I have reigned in how many games I buy and when I buy them. Rather than just grabbing them all at release – a lot of them get put on the back burner till things slow down.

Does there come a point where we lose the distinction of being a gamer, and become consumers? I mean, we’re always consumers. But there is definitely a difference between buying to have them, and buying to play them. If they’re all just going to end up on a shelf, at some point, this is you:

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And, while the thought of owning all of those games is somewhat appealing, it’s just unrealistic.

Having moved across the country recently, I was able to purge a bunch of my old gaming stuff that I had stored in the basement. So I won’t end up in this situation any time soon.

The other reason I ask this question is: once upon a time we used to get a couple of big releases a year. Now, especially at this time of year, we get 3-4 AAA releases per month for at least 3-4 months. And, the industry has really started upping it’s game release wise. The release landscape has significantly changed in the last few years. I remember, having worked on the development side of things, that September to April was a dead time of year. Now, major releases are springing up in March (2017 will see the Switch and probably a Mario or Mario Kart game to go with it) and last May we had Overwatch to name a few.

So if we all buy the way I have for a long time, there must come a point where we have more games than we can feasibly play. Unless, of course, you’re all living my dream where someone pays you to actually play video games (which is what people thought I did for a living when I was a tester…and trust me, that’s not the case).

So do you consider yourself a gamer still? Do you still buy all of the collector’s editions with all of their fantastic plastic crap? Sounds off in the comments, tweet me, whatever. I’m curious to know. You con contact me here, here or send an e-mail here: theegogames@gmail.com. Please follow and subscribe.

As always, if there is a topic you want me to cover, shoot me a message, tweet me, leave a comment below and I will happily write it up.

– The Ego

First Final Fantasy Foray

In an uncharacteristic show of competence, Canada Post delivered my copy of World of Final Fantasy first thing in the morning Thursday. Granted – it was two days late – but that was Amazon’s fault. I digress.

I know I don’t traditionally do reviews (they’ve reared their heads a few times) but I was pretty excited to check this game out – it was the outlier in all of my pre-orders for the next year or so. I’m only about 10 hours in, but I think I’ve got a good grasp on it.

Pros:

So this game plays extremely well. It’s a combination of the standard Final Fantasy trope and Pokemon. Basically you need to be constantly hunting down, capturing and leveling creatures called Mirages (basically Final Fantasy Pokemon).

The mechanics are solid, once you get used to them. The whole concept surrounds catching different typical FF monsters and recruiting them to your party and then creating stacks with your own characters. Once you dig into the way the whole thing works, you can come up with some pretty cool combinations. The only problem is that there are too many cool mirages to pick from! The battle system works somewhere in between some of the more recent Final Fantasy games (like FF13) and classic FF and it’s all turn based. I mean, you can use their new battle commands where you can short cut everything, or you can change it back to the old menu – which is what I’m obviously using. The other really cool thing worth mentioning is the appearance of tons of classic FF characters. Cloud, Squall, Sephiroth – just to name a few show up as “champions” which function as one of the summons in the game.

The music, for any old school fans, is something worth paying attention to as well. If you listen closely, you’ll hear a lot of classic tunes remixed for the game.

And so far – the story is pretty solid. There’s enough intrigue to keep me hooked, and the characters are interesting and believable…with a few exceptions. I mean, this isn’t Shakespeare, but it’s classic FF. Classic JRPG.

Cons:

I only have three complaints:

  1. Graphics. Well, not the graphics persay, but the choice of art style. For some reason Square decided to go with a Nenodroid style of character for pretty much everyone in the world – including the PCs (except that you can also grow big to a normal looking character as well). Otherwise, the game is bright and colourful and looks great.
  2. For whatever reason (I’m assuming for comedic purposes) they made the male lead (Lann) a total idiot whose reactions to things are long past hamming it up. I mean, Shatner would shake his head at this guy on his worst day. Now, I guess it’s good that they didn’t just automatically make the sister (Reynn) dumb by default, but I think they could have skipped making either of them stupid in some poor attempt to make them “funny”.
  3. Finally: Tama. The dialogue coming out of this things mouth makes me wonder what Square was thinking? It’s so bad, it makes me wonder who I hate more. Tama or Navi.
    tama_world_of_final_fantasy
    If I were a religious man, I’d wonder if the devil created Tama to test my willingness to murder. Basically: Tama puts the word “the” needlessly in front of words that just don’t make a lick of fucking sense. As a writer, it baffles me endlessly. As a gamer, I want to see bad things happen to whoever thought it was a good idea.

 

Would I buy it at full price? Yes. The mixture of the two tropes works. Square was smart to capitalise on the Pokemon gameplay and the classic FF aspects just work. It’s a colourful and fun to play game that boasts a 50+ hour campaign. Despite what IGN said – I don’t find the battle system wears over time. All I can say is: If you weren’t prepared to grind – you’re in the wrong game IGN.

– The Ego