Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Super Street Fighter 4 Impressions

After a few days of play, here's what I thought....

1. I realized that Ken seems to have gotten screwed again with his new Ultra. It seems useless since you can just sit underneath it and not even get chip damage....poor guy.

2. Ryu's Medium dragon punch prevents trading hits, and hits twice! Yay!

3. Guile's sonic boom does charge faster, but it seems harder to combo for me from low punch - medium punch to sonic boom consistently. It's easier to combo M.Bison's scissor kick from low or medium kicks.

4. Juri is the most interesting new character in this game (in terms of moveset and potential). Too bad her voiceover is horrific! (I should switch it to Japanese --- is it any better?)

5. Is it just me, or has everyone forgotten about the last four 'new' characters, Abel, Rufus, C.Viper and , what's his name again? El Fuerte? I dunno, I just don't feel like using them in SSF4 for no apparent reason....just IMHO

6. Saving replays automatically = win! Being unable to save local match replays -

7. The netcode really did get better, but if the connection between you and another player is bad, it goes back to SF4 quality. The thing is, that seems to happen less with SSF4. Or maybe this is the release period of the game, and there really are a lot of players for now.

8. Just finished a few characters but early on it seems that NOTHING is going to happen with the story. This is a straight-up competitive game; don't expect any quality with the plot.

They did slightly improve the anime art in the intro and endings for the characters....

9. Not bad for a 40$ / 1,600 peso game! On that alone, and given all the features we get, this game is an 11/10!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Super Street Fighter IV Hits the Philippines!

Just got my copy of Super Street Fighter IV from Data Blitz! Here are my impressions so far:

1. Lots of ONLINE features - after playing with my friend I was surprised to see how nearly all of our online match replays were saved automatically in the Player Data -> Battle Log channel! That was a really nice feature, that it automatically saves like that. And you can pick the ones you can save permanently

2. It will feel like Street Fighter IV 'Plus' - Essentially, it still is Street Fighter IV, which explains the lower price tag....but all the new characters and extra features make it worth it. It was nice of Capcom to charge a bit less for it. The game is really not just DLC + SFIV because of all the stuff they crammed in.

3. Netcode - I was on Globe (2 Mbps) and my friend was on Smart bro. Got 3 bars in our match. Lag was occasionally noticeable but mostly manageable. I've yet to try more than just one other player for online play, so I can't tell yet how much of an improvement there will be.

Overall, I'm looking forward to playing a lot with this game; it feels like the definitive fighting game right now, with all the bells and whistles to make it feel like a very complete package :D


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If there's only one complaint I had to give about SSF4, it's that it doesn't seem to let you save local match replays. Only online matches are saved.

Still, great game!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII - Early Impressions

Played quite a bit of Final Fantasy XIII recently. Here are my first impressions of the game:

There are times when I like the game, like when cutscenes play or when in a good boss fight. The cutscenes are really beautifully rendered and are quite enjoyable to watch. The voice acting is okay, generally speaking; it's within the level of most other video games (re: don't expect Oscar-award winning acting, but it's bearable).

There are times when I really hate the game, when it gives you these long dungeons with repeating enemies that seemingly have incredible amounts of HP; some regular enemies seem to take 30 minutes or more to take down.

I hate how the game overuses the theme song that was in the E3 trailer. The music is very repetitive and Square didn't bother to make music suited for each character or situation. Some boss fights use the exact same music as battles with regular enemies, which reduces the overall impact of some scenes.

There are also moments when the music absolutely doesn't fit the moment being shown on screen. One area had music that sounded like it belonged in Starbucks (yes, the coffee place; and no, coffee was not being served during that level of the game). Another area had really sad, tragic music, which completely didn't fit because your characters were fighting all these monsters, and it's not as if anyone had died yet.

The music does improve slightly when you get past the first 10 hours or so....but it doesn't give a good first impression that it took that long for the game to get 'better'.

I like how they developed the Active Time Battle system (ATB) and somehow made it even faster and more strategic. The game doesn't do a good job of demonstrating this until much later in the game; so the effect of this is that battles earlier on will really feel tedious. If you keep on playing, eventually there will be moments when the ATB system will really show its merits.

I do dislike it that you can't control the other characters in your party during combat. You're stuck with controlling whomever is designated as the 'LEADER'. Later on you can switch things around and choose your own 'LEADER' but there are times during combat that I wish I could micromanage what each character in the party is doing during a fight.

I like the designs and the artwork throughout the game; obviously a lot of thought and work went into it. Compared to other JRPGs (even Sakaguchi's Lost Odyssey), the art in FF13 is really unique and well crafted. FF13 really does feel like a proper 'Final Fantasy' game, not like the previous game, FF12, which took so many liberties with the franchise.

Overall, there's a big chunk of the game that could have been better, perhaps if Square-Enix had done more play-testing. The amount of HP in ordinary enemies is really a bit much (yes, I know you can stagger them to do a lot more damage, but still....it really feels like extensive grind just to get anywhere). I get the impression that the developers used this 'tactic' to artificially stretch the number of hours of gameplay in the game, to make the game feel like a 'LONG' game. I can't recall any other JRPG in this generation that took this much GRIND to play through.

FF13 really isn't perfect. I'm pretty much what you'd call a hardcore player; I can't imagine a less dedicated player having the endurance to go through some of the regular battles that repeat over and over in this game.

So, it's a game that is hard to recommend to someone who is not familiar with Final Fantasy already.....for hardcore players who 'know the drill', the game is very good. Just be prepared for a whole lot of grind, and remind yourself that the cutscenes at the end of each ordeal are worth watching.