Wii:Disaster Day of Crisis

i:When the Wii was first unvailed and showcased at E3 2006, A little title caught people’s attention and since then Disaster Day of Crisis has taken 3 years to finally release in Europe. The tittle by Monolith Soft (No relation to Monolith Studios) has crafted a tale that is both intriging and strangely addictive. The game showcased some of wii’s more impressive visuals and got many to anticipate the title’s arrival. The game was thought to be on indefinite hold after E3 as no news on it was made right up until 3 months before the title’s launch date. Disaster Day of Crisis brings all of mother nature’s Wrath into one day, but is that day exciting or is it a disaster?

The story starts off as you play Ray, a former member of the Search and rescue team along with his partner Steve on top of a volcanic mountain. Things however don’t go as planned and the volcano starts to erupt sending lava to flow down the side of the mountain. As the pair make their way down, Steve injures his leg and falls off the side of a cliff as Ray tries to save him. Steve however saves his friend by scarificing himself as he makes Ray promise to protect his Sister Lisa. 1 Year later, Ray, now in mourning for his friend finds out that terrorists have kidnapped a siecismologist and his assisstant who just happens to be Lisa. Ray now sets out to protect and keep a promise. The plot has a number of twist and turns and there seems to some melodrama involved and the style plays out similar to an action movie. The characters themselves never try to be serious about themselves and the plot for itself played out pretty well. There wasn’t a moment where one would feel bored. The range of disasters and how they work into the plot is actually pretty impresive. You’ll experience flash floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the list goes on and none of them ever feels out of place which is partly due to the storyline.

The gameplay is a mixed experience. One point, you’ll be facing seveal bouts of action gun shooting sequences similar to “Time Crisis” where the aciton is basically an on rail shooter and the next you’ll be running around finding citizens to save. Most of time you’ll be walking around bashing open crates and saving citizens as seen in the trailers. The rescue portion is fairly initutive and innovative using the Wii Remote for actions such as wrapping bandages and performing CPR. They are however limited and I hoped to see more variety with them but the Wii mote actions do appear in other portions of the game. The gun shooting sequences plays out way too much and the repetitive of it may make some plays fustrated. The problem is that the ememies are crack shots, they’ll hit you perfectly until you hide and wait for them to reload draining much of your health. However, there are crates and barrels you can shoot to replenish some of that lost health. One of the biggest gripes, is the car driving portions. The problem is that the the driving mechanics are based on tilting the wii mote and due to the poor car physics engine,crashing into walls will either flip your car entirely or send you heading towards the wrong direction. At one point I had a problem distingushing a street from stairs, there was just that much happening with debris flying at the windscreen.
Boss battles are mixed however, the first few,play out like a puzzle game requiring you to work out ways to defeat them usually very obvious by a purple circle appearing to show their weakness. Later you’ll be faced with quick action sequences which require a gesture of the Wii Remote to act upon. The variety of boss battles aid in helping an otherwise repetitive experience from taking down helicoptors to a large mechanical robot.

The Controls are generally okay, using the control stick to run around and the A Button to check items in the adventuring sequences. A simple waggle of the wii mote in front of barrels and cates destorys them open. Car driving portions however is an utter disgrace. Holding the wiimote horizontally, a la Mario Kart, steering is controlled by tilting the controller from side to side but handbraking is performed by the A button which is no where near intuitive. Why couldn’t they make it the 1 Button? We use the handbrake more than the useless brake anyway and there seems to be issues with detecting the tilting involved when doing turns which is hard to judge the right amount of tilt for. The on rail shooting plays out as expected from an arcade shooter. The B button controls your trigger, the directional pad lets you change weapons and the nunchuck is used for ducking with Z and C button for Focusing more accurate shots.

Visually the game looks impressive when depicting the natural disasters but grainy in some areas. You’ll see a gigantic tsunami that looks terrifying to red hot lava flowing and destorying everything in it’s path. You’ll be impressed with what the wii manages to push out and the experience is worth while.

The audio in Disaster is fairly average. Dialogue is mostly by text but there’s voice overs in all cutscenes and the actors play their part decently.The music for the game brings out the drama of each disaster well, but that’s about it to it. Other than that, you’ll get the normal gunshot sounds and effects. There isn’t any problems with audio quality so I don’t know why Reggie would think the audio quality is subpar.

Upon finishing the game once, you’ll be enjoying various extras being able to reply cutscenes and replaying the game with all your unlocked weapons and collected items. Other than that, there’s costumes you can collect through various playthroughs though i wouldnt expect many would.

Disaster Day of Crisis has taken 3 years to finally release and the experience is worthwhile. The game brings new meaning to mesh gameplay but also delivers in it’s presentation. the game is definitely addicting but there are some flaws that keep it from achieving the potiential that it should be. The gameplay though a mesh of 3 genres, never seems to fully expand on any of them and the atroucious car driving seqences and the drawn-out shooter gameplay definitely gets uninteresting. But the experience is still there and is definitely worth a look.

Story: 8.0
Gameplay: 6.0
Video: 8.0

E3 2008

Wow…I haven’t done one of these in a while. So far E3 this year is looking okay, Microsoft just had their press conference and it’s looking to be a stunning year with all the new games and IPs being launched. Their press conference, however, did bring back the old “hey! they’re making heaps of money off that idea! lets copy it!.” feel. Instantly as they announced the new interface for the Xbox 360, did they also announce the new 360 “Mii”s or avatars for the live service. The whole thing seems like a blatant rip off from Nintendo and is being developed by Rare, a former subsidy of Nintendo. The update to the interface did bring a sporty new look which the current menu design surely needs. “Lips”, a new IP to the Xbox looks exactly like a sing star clone all the way to the game mechanics and interface. However, the most surprising news to come out of the conference is that Final Fantasy XIII is coming to Xbox!. The first true final fantasy to be launched simultaneously on both PS3 and xbox 360 (Final Fantasy XI doesn’t count!).

Oh well..I’m more interested in the Nintendo Press Conference anyway since it usually is the most entertaining to me.

On the gaming side, I haven’t really been doing much at all. I’ve finished Assassin’s Creed, and boy does that ending make one go “Huh?”. The game mechanics in it were awesome and the “sandbox world” (which it isn’t really) is very impressive. The only downfall is the fighting system where the enemies seem more like they’re lining up for you to take them down one by one which isn’t even hard. Not only do they stand around you, just waiting for you to attack, they just stand there watching each comrade get taken down one by one. The challenge of fighting is taken out by the combination of the poorly implemented AI with the counter system which basically gives immediate invulnerability and one hit kill. With that said, the game is still impressive and should definitely be played by all. The cities are vastly populated and unique that it immediately immerses you in it’s environments. The citizens are varied and each have their unique phrases which change accordingly with your actions as Altair.

Eternal Sonata is one game which I hope to finish soon. This RPG developed by Tri-Crescendo gives the feel of a Star Ocean game but in a completely different world. The story is touching and characters like-able in their own ways. I hope to do a write up about it once I’m done.

DS: Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles:Rings of Fate

Released in US not too long ago, the saga continues on, this time in handheld form. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Rings of Fate is the latest in the spin off franchise of the Final Fantasy Series and delivers it as a brand new package in the form of an Action RPG. Developed by Square Enix and taking advantages of both local and wireless features of the DS, can this new game bring anything new to this genre on the DS?.

Being a prequel to the original 2004 Gamecube game, the game starts off you off in your home town, as Yuri, twin brother of sister Chelinka. You set off on a journey to claim revenge against the death of your father. As you wander across the land, you meet Alhanalem, Meeth and Gnash who you quickly befriend into coming along on the journey and fighting the evil Cu Chaspel. The plot thickens with many twists and turns and the characters develop over the course of the game. You’ll find the story engaging as well as being humorous at moments.

Game play in Rings of Fate revolves around hitting the A button to perform attacks, X to perform spells and B to Jump. There really isn’t much else to combat except the occasional shoulder button to initiate commands depending on which character you control. Characters can be swapped at an instant using the DS’s lower touch panel by touching a character icon. Magic or otherwise known in the final fantasy world as “Magicite” is represented by small spheres which you pick up from certain chests or monsters you kill. You can carry a limited amount of Magicite and the amount can be increased by purchasing bags at the magic shop in Rebena Te Ra or through various Moogles found throughout the game. To Cast magic, you choose a Magicite by touching the appropriate icon in the bottom touch screen and hold down X to choose a location to cast. Using magic spells becomes vital to open new areas and activate switches so you need to make sure you carry enough. You can change magicite by using the bottom touch panel.

Certain characters have different abilities and classes are a big part of any final fantasy game. This is no different. You start off with your basic melee class Clavats who carry swords and rely on close quarter combat. The Yukes is a mage class which is able to reveal hidden areas. Selkies are your basic archer class and Lilities are alchemist with the ability to create magicite. Of course all are different in stats with each other as you’ll see mages have more increased MP compared to higher Attacks of Clavats. There is also a crafting section for creating new weapons given you have obtained the necessary materials and also many ways to customise all characters with many different pieces of equipment.

Square Enix is one of the few companies who push the DS to its limits. The choice of 3D in this game and how they have mostly used in game cut scenes are astounding. The Locations are beautifully rendered with only a few drops in framerate when there is multiple characters on the screen at one time. All the characters look good but lack facial expressions but this can be overlooked due to limitations of the DS hardware. The use of both the top and bottom screens is well used with the action mostly on the top screen and the bottom for on-the-fly inventory, character and magic switches. The plot is strung together by in game cutscenes which serves the flow of the plot.

The soundtrack, composed by Kumi Tanioka , mixes into the action well and is the one area that Square Enix never falters at. The Arrangement of piano and orchestra pieces requires one to use headphones for full enjoyment. The sound effects of hitting enemies to the sounds of water are all top notch, however one can say otherwise about the voice acting which only does a on par and at times annoying performance though it is tolerable.

The Crystal Chronicles series have always been known for its multiplayer options and this one is no different. It offers an extensive multiplayer mode allowing up to 3 other friends to troll through the games various dungeons and areas as a party. The game also allows Wifi for up to 4 friends to battle it out.

Overall the game is definitely worth a look and you’ll be impressed with it’s art styles and multiplayer.

Review score: 8.0

Wild Arms XF is looking good so far.

After 10 minutes into the game, my initial impression is overall good. The Battle system has adopted the console Hex based grid system but into a more larger context. The Hex system now covers the entirety of the map requiring your character to move in this system. The magic in this version known as ‘Originals’ allow your player to cast elemental magic or healing magic. The Story follows young Clarissa Arwin in her quest to retrieve her Mother’s Sword and while this does sound kinda cliche it’s typical for most Jap RPGs. The story is told through character stills and images broken up by the occasional cut scene. The Dubbing in this is atrocious and fans definitely will be switching the audio to Japanese. The missions in the game so far have been varied and attempts to encompass story elements into the missions themselves which are pretty interesting so far. Some missions have you trying to escape from a village where you basically have to go from one side to another side of the map while avoiding enemies which are often hinted as to which to avoid by their ridiculous levels. Other missions have you releasing prisoners from their houses whilist avoiding guards roaming the area. The visuals ,at first glance, look like they originated from a flash game but the more time you spend playing, the less noticable it becomes.

Overall the game has a good feel to it. Expect more later.

DS Copy Protection??

Alot of DS owners who obtain DS games from the internet for playing in flash carts, now have something to worry about if it becomes standard in new releases. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles:Rings of Fate hit US stores on Mar 11th and subsequently pirates hacked and produced a ROM image for distribution on the Internet. Soon enough they were hit with what they feared 20 minutes into the game. Square-Enix has adopted a new copy protection scheme which allows the unbeknown player to play for a random interval before locking them out and presenting them with a “Thank You for playing screen”. This has hit alot of flash cart users and currently seems to be related to a firmware problem. Many users have speculated that the ROM does a CRC check sum to test whether it has be patched to run on unauthorised hardware (ie. Flash Carts).

Of course this wont deter pirates from cracking this protection scheme and I don’t expect this new protection to appear in mnay DS games.


PSP: God of War: Chains of Olympus

Currently released in America on PSP, if you like blade swinging, mindless killing and Greek Mythology, then this is your type of game. Following in the line of the formally console based action title, SCE Santa Monica have finally ported the action-adventure title over to the PSP but does this port live up to the hype?.

You play Kratos, a ruthless Spartan warrior hell bent on revenge against the gods for making him take his wife and Daughter. The story in COD, predates the first PS2 installment and takes place 10 years before the lead up to the start of the original game. Kratos is immediately sent on another mission by the god in retaliation against the invading Persian army. Along the way he discovers the sun chariot and the temple of Helios where Athena pleas for Kratos to save Helios.
What then ensures is a plot full of twists and turns though the plot is easily forgettable by the great game play and doesn’t shine out in any way.

Game play is what you would expect from a God of War game. Simple attacks are done by the square button which is basically all you’ll need for a majority of the game while aerial attacks are all controlled by mashing triangle. There aren’t alot of weapons in the game as you’ll be mostly using Kratos Blades of Chaos which sufficiently does the job well for a large portion of the game. However there are a few additions like Zeus’s gauntlet which allows for more damage and special combo attacks all of which can be upgraded by the collection of red orbs dropped by enemies. There are at times where you’ll feel like all you’re doing is just the same repetitive actions again and again. The action is broken up by a mini-game for a few enemies where you’ll tap certain buttons displayed to you on screen at the right time for a more vicious kill.

Magic, though limited, do return in this installment but for the most part does not play a big role in terms of combat. You can obtain 3 types of magic. Efreet Magic which allows you to summon Efreet who creates a powerful blast on the ground eliminating nearby enemies whereas Light of Dawn throws fireballs at selected enemies allowing long range attacks. Save points are plenty and you can blast through most of the game without even using one. God of War Chains of Olympus plays very much like it’s predecessors and retains much of what made the game play so great even when condensed into the size of a portable.

Visually the game is stunning, even given the limited screen size the of PSP the game rarely hinders in frame rate. The only noticeable drop only occurred during transitions between places in the levels where the rest of the level is loaded into memory. Kratos and enemies are detailed in their set up and all the viciousness from the action is brought into light where you’ll see blood splatter from hits to the aftermath of unleashing hell upon enemies. Levels are vast and impressive to look at such as seeing the fiery depths of Hades to the gigantic Titans of Tartarus. Story elements are told through a mix of pre-rendered CG and in game cut-scenes which not only look impressive but do a marvelous job of using the capacities of the PSP.

The audio in this game definitely requires the use of headphones for the best enjoyment. The music is all orchestrated in full and mixes well with the onscreen action. The voice acting does a decent job though the emotion in some parts is not conveyed well by Kratos.

Given that the PSP is missing an analogue stick and two buttons, you’ll wonder how they managed to retain a majority of the controls from the PS2 editions. What they have done is mapped more actions to the shoulder buttons in combination to face buttons. This does the work decently but you can be overwhelmed by remembering what combination does what.

The game however does tend to be on the short side, clocking the normal difficulty in 6 hours though harder difficulties do stretch this time longer. Upon finishing the game you unlock God mode, this is of course, a much harder version of the whole game and will mostly be played by expert or perfectionists. There are unlock-ables and extras obtained by completing the main story and challenges in the games treasures menu.

Overall the game though short lives much to it’s hype and definitely a must have for any PSP owner wanting to at obtain an additional game to the limited selection for the PSP.

Game Play: 8.7
Replay Value: 7.8