Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Once in a blue moon...

<Steps out of TARDIS>

Well, sorry about that.  I've been somewhat lax in updating for awhile... <coughs as he looks at the date of last post from 2011>  :)

I suppose I'll continue where I left off with updates on whatever happens to tickle my fancy!

New additions to the 317th Arborealis Regiment 

Over the last year I've been busy with my miniatures so a couple of interesting squads have been added in the meantime for my beloved 317th Arborealis Regiment...


Another view

Female Officers

Wark!! Chocobos!

"Canadian" veteran unit

Baneblade 1: "Ursula"

Baneblade 2: "Dauntless"


Quite happy with how they all turned out!  I don't win much on the field usually but it's still fun to play and play against.  Next up, probably some more veterans and another Valkyrie/Vendetta for my upcoming FoodHammer list. 

The Last Story:  Last swan song for the Wii?


I've also been playing through The Last Story for the Wii.  A work of the creator of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, the game shows off its creator's Final Fantasy origins quite well.  In fact, I would argue too well.  Playing through the game's story, I got a very strong sense of deja vu.  Not only are all your usual JRPG tropes alive and well in the Last Story's universe, but at times I felt that Sakaguchi-san had unfortunately cut and pasted whole sections from various Final Fantasy games... Indeed, without getting into spoilers, you will know what I mean when certain plot devices and points and settings are essentially identical.  As much of a fan as I am of Final Fantasy, it was somewhat disappointing when I saw this - I liked the games these sections come from, but I would have preferred a more original experience!

Graphically, the Wii's lack of power shows.  After playing contemporary RPGS on the PC and the other consoles, The Last Story's graphics looked a lot more square and jagged in comparison.  For a Wii game though, it looked pretty good although the massive slowdowns and blurry textures overlaid with garish colours for magic circles during combat got annoying very quickly. 

Combat was fun, but a bit lacklustre in depth and 3rd person aiming felt clunky and gimmicky.  Unfortunately, the game had a tendency to pull me out of the experience when it comes to levelling.  I did not feel too challenged for most of the game, and instead of random encounters to grind your characters, frequently there were instead summoning circles that only required the player to stand in them and press a button to spawn enemies, as often as you like to grind for loot or XP.  You could use these summoning circles an unlimited amount of times, and although occasionally a stronger mob of monsters would spawn, they were usually a bunch of pushovers that gave an inordinate amount of XP that made you sometimes level up 3 levels in one go!  I suppose Mistwalker had intended on getting players to focus on the story instead of combat a bit more,but by unintentionally making combat so trivial and optional, a lot of the "meat", sense of urgency, and danger had inadvertently been removed.

Adding to the disappointment, the game was not as free-roaming as I would have liked - in fact many dungeons were pretty linear although the main town in the game was sufficiently large enough to sate my exploration urges. 

Still though, Nobuo Uematsu does an excellent job as usual with the soundtrack that manages to be both epic and modern yet distinct from his previous Final Fantasy work.  And the voice acting is hilarious!

All in all, I give this game a rating of 3 out of 5 story volumes.  A solid work given the limitations of the Wii's hardware, but I am left with the feeling that the game could have been so much more.