Sunday, September 24, 2017


As the needlessly hot weather sloughs off, and nature finishes ruining peoples' lives in the southern US, it's time to clam up for the next half year and get a little more passive. I started season 4 of Orphan Black, which, while a great show, has been kicked up a notch in terms of biological nightmares and R-ratings. It's bloodier, the language is coarser, and my girl Tatiana Maslany is showing more skin. I can't say it makes the show better, but my focus is in gaming.

Loot and stats, bro
Dungeon Defenders II is a free-to-play 3rd person tower defense game. You can dynamically switch between your 4+ heroes for different types of towers and of course different powers for your hero. This game is just about exactly what I needed, though I prefer god-view in this genre. Dungeon Defenders is also a little equipment-stat-heavy, but it's a sweet package considering it costs $0.00. Trophy-wise, the list is only 100%, no platinum. One of the reasons I like (reasonable) trophy lists is because they're a definite ending point where you can sell/let your friend borrow the game and move onto the next adventure.
My ro-bro, BT-7274

Continuing in the vein of sequels, I had an awesome week completing Titanfall 2, which has a trophy list that proves there are designers who want you to finish their game. Nothing is worse than 99% of trophies being reasonable, followed with a place-in-the-top-3-500-games-in-a-row-online trophies.The story's natural difficulty progression happens so that beating it on the hardest mode gives you a fighting chance: you don't get dropped into a firefight very often, and if you're pretty much always moving, it's not punishing. Plus the game makes use of the system's RAM in that when you die a hundred times, loading time is minimal.

Titanfall 2 fixed Titanfall's missing single-player campaign, having the story go out of its way to give you interesting levels to traverse as fast-moving pilot or blow-stuff-up mech. At one point of the game, you wander through a home manufacturing plant and are wall jumping and Parkour running up sideways bedrooms, upside-down fake-grass lawns, and dodging the factory machines that mercilessly press on. It's bizarre as hell, but quite fun.

The bulk of my time was spent with Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System, a mess of a title that came about because the devs wanted to distinguish from other upgrades of titles in the series. International means extra content and dual language options, and the new job system that allows you to assign your characters their own classes relates to zodiac signs. Originally, FFXII characters developed along pre-designed tracks.

Fran's ass is still awesome.
XII blew my mind when it came out on the PS2. Most people missed the online-only FFXI, so the quiet and depressing FFX with obnoxious lead characters was the last title we had played. Gorgeous graphics, really solid voice acting, set in the swords-iron-magick world of Ivalice, and a wonderful soundtrack in addition to a huge non-linear world that encourages exploration. You can finish the 30-hour story and still have more than 70 hours of optional (and trophy-hunting) content to wade through explore.

Vaan is a red/black mage
The massive departure in gameplay from the series is still there: budding programmers get to program their party's AI, one behavior at a time, using the Gambit system. In the beginning of the game, you get 3 slots for each character. You might have Attack: closest enemies / HP < 30% : use potion / Ally : eye drops, which means your character will prioritize attacking, and heal up after the realtime battles. However, if you put eye drops first, potion and then attack, that means that if these criteria are met in the middle of battle, your character will stop and heal up before going back to slashing away at the baddies. Endgame, you have 15 Gambit slots and about 100 actions to take, resulting in some pretty complex programming and planning. The resulting button-pressing is basically controlling movement and camera, but if you don't plan ahead, you'll find yourself micromanaging a ton to keep status ailments from overwhelming your party.

This place's music is definitely my favorite
My quest is currently at 55 hours and I might be half way to the platinum trophy. There are still a few poorly-designed areas of the game (Draklor Laboratories, Bhujerba) but it's still ultimately an awesome RPG experience and the PS4 version is an awesome upgrade.

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