December 18th, 2008

Enough has gone on since August’s multi-purpose post that I think we can do with another one. I’ll catch you up on what I’ve been playing and reading most recently.


I’ve managed to finish some more games. My Xbox 360 and Playstation 2 have occupied most of my gaming time on the singleplayer front. After finishing Final Fantaxy XII I attempted to do things nice and backwards and move on to Final Fantasy IX. Using an LCD HDTV, however, PSOne games don’t look too hot. FFIX, as well as several other PSOne games I tested, were all plagued by gigantic dots which I think must be blown-up pixels. Pushing that aside until I could acquire an old SDTV, I moved on to Rogue Galaxy for the PS2.

Rogue Galaxy (Playstation 2)

Rogue GalaxyRogue Galaxy was a mixed bag. I loved the cell-shaded art style, the music and the voice acting. The story was interesting at first, but i felt myself getting fatigued about half way through. Long dungeons with minimal assets and very few story elements sprinkled throughout didn’t do much to keep me invested past Chapter 3 or so.

The inventory management, item/weapon crafting and upgrading systems in Rogue Galaxy are somewhat groundbreaking for a JRPG, though the skills system is ripped straight from Final Fantasy X. I don’t think there was enough emphasis on utilizing the crafting feature, though. I was able to get by without it for the most part. As it was a time consuming, albeit rewarding process, I decided that I just wanted to finish the game if I could.

While the real-time combat is implemented well and makes for fun and interesting battles, I found that the pace of battles was often times bogged down by the frequency and way which items had to be used. With using items being the only way to heal your party during battles, I found myself with battles paused more often than not while trying to keep myself and my party alive. Because of this I ran away from the majority of encounters in the final dungeon, which is obscenely long. My trek took about 45 minutes through a series of copy-and-pasted ramps, tunnels and cliffs. It’s fortunate that the game’s ending sequences were very cool and interesting.

Because of some pretty revolutionary mechanics and spectacular ending events, I didn’t walk away with a completely bad taste in my mouth after 74 hours of Rogue Galaxy. I wouldn’t be opposed to playing a sequel.

Bully: Scholarship Edition (Xbox 360)

BULLY!Next up I played Bully: Scholarship Edition on the Xbox 360. I bought it before the PC version came out, but honestly, I don’t think I’d have played it on PC anyway. Even though it was developed by the same team that did the 360 version, which received several post-release patches for game-breaking issues, the PC version doesn’t seem to be receiving the same support. They just don’t seem to care. Anyway, I think this game is a known quantity at this point. It’s a T-rated Grand Theft Auto on a much smaller scale, and it does what it sets out to do very well. The Xbox 360 version performs and plays fine once patched. I have only one real complaint: MUSIC CLASS. It requires you to play the beat to simple songs on a drum by pressing LT or RT at specific moments, but they’re completely unresponsive. Single notes work fine as long as you don’t have to push them in quick succession, but the times when you have to hit two notes at once are ridiculous; even if you’re spot-on, it’ll usually register as a miss. LB and RB would have been better choices than analog triggers; the mini-game really needs digital input. It’s because of this I gave up on trying to get 100% completion and stopped at 84% once I finished all of the main missions. As long as you’re cool with possibly being too frustrated to get 100% completion, Bully’s worth playing.

Dark Sector (Xbox 360)

Dark SectorFinally, just last night, I finished Dark Sector. I picked this up for $10 during a sale a couple of months ago. Though I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it for much more than that, I am happy that I played it. Obviously taking some cues from Gears of War, Dark Sector was released in March of ’08 during a more dormant release season. It received fairly good scores of around 73 – 77 from the bigger review sites, but I think a person would be surprised to hear that based on the reputation the game seems to have. Complaints I’ve read seem to boil down to the fact that it incorporated elements of Gears of War, but it isn’t Gears of War. I’m okay with that, and Dark Sector did some things differently anyway.

Early on, during the game’s tutorial, you’re infected by some virus that begins to take over your body and you’re eventually able to manifest a glaive (which isn’t a glaive at all!) that will be your main weapon throughout the game. At first you can just hack at people and throw it at them, but later on you can manipulate its flight, light it on fire, freeze it, or electrify it and pass the effects on to your enemies. Achievements are attached to each of these uses to encourage you to use them, and they’re actually quite attainable. Despite the glaive being really cool, guns still manage to stay useful and interesting. Guns that enemies will drop are usually military-issue and, as such, are programmed to self-destruct after a short amount of time if an infected person is hold them. They’re good for a clip or two and then you discard them. There exists however a black market where you can purchase guns of your own as well as upgrade them with attachments you find along the way. A pistol will be available in your offhand when using the glaive while you carry a rifle on your back.

Unlike the combat, the story in Dark Sector is pretty uninteresting. I felt like they could have fleshed it out a bit more had they not spent time on the multiplayer, which nobody plays, but it’s a fine game regardless. I think it was reviewed and scored fairly, but perhaps not talked about fairly. It’s worth a play through if you can pick it up on-the-cheap.


Transhuman #1This week I also spent some time catching up on comics as I am a few weeks behind. Two mini-series’ by Jonathan Hickman that I’ve mentioned before came to completion just before the year ran out: Transhuman and Pax Romana. Though I haven’t written proper recommendations for these two books yet, you should go back and read some the issues and/or look for trade paperbacks to be coming out early next year. Both Transhuman and Pax Romana deal with some mind-blowing concepts, feature fantastic art by J.M. Ringuet and Hickman, respectively, and are simply testaments to storytelling in comics. A five-page preview of Transhuman #1 as well as the entire first issue of Pax Romana can be found at Jonathan Hickman’s website.

Finally, issue #5 of Air, last week’s comic recommendation, came out this week. You really should be reading that. Just wanted to give it another mention!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.