Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

Preview: Tales of Vesperia

  • Platform: Xbox360
  • Genre: JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game)
  • Release Date: 8/26/2008 (USA)

This post marks my first real preview ever, and this is probably due to the fact that I’m afraid that Tales of Vesperia won’t meet great expectations in the sales department, and that would be unfortunate because Tales games are exceptionally great JRPGs.  The biggest surprise is that the game is heading to Xbox360 exclusively, a home console that is famous for catering to the hardcore, all-American crowd that usually favors shooters and action games over RPG games (just take a look on its 10 Top games and you’ll get my point). Although this is not a mockery but it’s more like a solid observation based on sales, however; things might change in the future especially since Xbox360 is getting some nice exclusive JRPG games such as Infinite Undiscovery and Star Ocean: The Last Hope. In the mean time, enjoy the write-up and the complied information for this promising game. It is also worth mentioning that the Demo Version is already available on Xbox Live, so go ahead and give it a try.

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Story
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The people of Terca Lumireis rely on Blastia, technology created from Core with a wide array of properties, to carry out their daily lives in peace. Most importantly, Blastia is used to create barriers. Because monsters overindulge in Aer and become powerful and dangerous, as a result, barriers are needed to hold them back from entering the cities. However, because Blastia protects and shelters people from the dangers of the world, it has prevented most citizens from exploring what lies beyond city walls.

Yuri Lowell, who he lives under the protection of barriers, longs to journey the outside world like his childhood friend Flynn Scifo. Flynn is a knight working for the capital, and thus is allowed to leave the city to protect citizens from harm. Yuri was once a knight with those same ideals, but because he hated the way the government enforced things, he retired and instead started up his own guild, Brave Vesperia, to serve the poor using his own sense of justice. When a Blastia regulating the water supply is stolen from the lower quarters of the capital, Yuri takes matters into his own hands, only to be landed in jail. There, he encounters the sheltered Estelle, who decides to help him capture the Blastia thief so that she can leave the castle that has confined her for many years and explore the world herself.

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Characters
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  • Yuri Lowell

The main protagonist of the game that wields a sword in battle. An empathetic young man, who doesn’t give a second thought about helping those in need, but he knows his limits. He is quite sarcastic and cynical but a nice man at heart. He was once a knight, which gave him the freedom of taking brief journeys outside his hometown, but now works as a bodyguard. Envious of Flynn, he decides to leave his city and see the world himself. He hates the nobility and the government. He also yearns for his older brother. He meets Estelle when events lead him to be imprisoned.

  • Estelle

The heroine of the game that wields swords and staves. Her real name is Estellise, but she is also called Estelle. She uses healing magic and has pink hair. In the castle, Estelle encounters Yuri. She separates herself from her sad world, and begins to speak out and take action. She was kept in her castle for a long time, where she took up training with the sword. The many things she encounters in the outside world also surprise her. She enjoys reading books and takes the knowledge or other info she gains from them very seriously.

  • Flynn Scifo

A knight that wields a sword and shield. Flynn shared his childhood with Yuri, though they contrast from one another. He has similar ideals of helping others, but chooses to work them out via politics instead. After Yuri retired from the knights, he began to gain many achievements and was promoted. He neglects those of the nobility, but is friendlier to the common people of the empire. He travels regularly to fend off monsters, a fact that makes Yuri envious.

  • Repede

Yuri’s loyal dog, who accompanies Yuri to places and fights with him using a dagger. He holds a pipe in his mouth, which is a memento of his previous owner. He is very close and friendly with those he accepts, but hates it when those he doesn’t know try to touch him. He appears to be the calmest of the group.

  • Rita Mordio

A brunette-haired girl who wears goggles. She is a researcher that studies Blastia, and hates to be interrupted during her research. She is eccentric and has a poor social disposition. In battle she wields a book and is capable of using various magical attacks.

  • Karol Capel

A little boy who wields a giant hammer and various other large weapons. He says that he is from the Hunting Blades guild. Due to certain circumstances he accompanies Yuri on his journey

  • Judith

A beautiful woman that wields a spear. She is a member of the Kuritea tribe, a minority race. She encountered Yuri while wandering the world with two companions. She is sensible and speaks of going ahead without taking measures. She appears gentle, but she decides without hesitation and pushes onward. She speaks strongly without delay, which makes it difficult to socialize with her. When she goes into battle, she becomes violent, which creates a feeling of mystery about her.

  • Raven

A frivolous and shady-looking man that wears long clothes, and uses a bow and a dagger. He appears before Yuri while he is traveling, and annoys Yuri and his friends through his persiflage. To step back from troublesome things his voice becomes high-pitched immediately, and he becomes defiant to answer with his worried personality. As might be expected of someone his age, he strangely implies of past hardships, but the actual truth no one knows.

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Basic Features
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  • A classic series returns: The newest installment of the Tales RPG series keeping the established gameplay formula that fans love
  • Next Gen sights and sounds: First Tales RPG game with high-definition graphics, broadcast quality animation, and Dolby surround sound
  • Evolved real-time battle system: New refinements and additions to the trademark Tales real-time battle engine making for dynamic, action-packed RPG fighting
  • Fan favorite character designs: Characters designed by famous manga artist, Kosuke Fujishima, responsible for popular series’ Ah! My Goddess, Sakura Taisen and You’re Under Arrest
  • Immersive look and feel: Detailed environments, animation and an artistic style so good, it’s like playing a cartoon
  • Dramatic story: Gripping tale of a young hero on a quest for justice, trust and friendship filled with unexpected twists and turns at every step
  • A decade of Tales: The first game celebrating the Tales 10 year anniversary

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Exclusive Features
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  • Titles are obtained through main story, sub-events, & mini-games.
  • Attachments are accessories you can equip and they change the appearance as we already know. They are obtained through synthesis, depending on the materials you have. Each character has different attachment and some characters even have ten of them. Keep in mind that attachments don’t have stat boosts or anything like that.
  • You can mix titles and accessories together, but some combination cannot be done.
  • Some titles and attachments can be downloaded via Xbox Live but they are definitely in the game as well.
  • The Xbox Live list is international, ranking from fastest clear time, highest combo, highest damage, highest mini-game points, arena, etc.
  • All kinds of transportation: boat, airship, flying creature, etc. It seems the boat will be used for a large portion of the game.
  • The world map is made of six continents.
  • Time and weather change: day, night, dusk, twilight, sunny, raining, etc. There are materials and monsters that would only show up at specific times and weather, in addition, different NPC at towns and dialogue at different times and weather. This also affects story events: one could get this scene during a sunny day, but someone else could get the same scene during a rainy night, etc.
  • Making the same recipe over and over again can produce out a new recipe.
  • There are three difficulties known so far. You will not succeed in secret missions if you beat the boss on Easy.
  • The gameplay time is around 50 to 60 hours (longest main scenario in the series supposedly).
  • After beating the game, you can unlock about half of the achievements. Then the “real” challenge begins.
  • Rare weapons, mostly made from synthesis, have the Special skill (5 SP), which is for Mystic Artes. Usually, you need Over Limit Lv3 to do so.
  • Over Limit Lv4 requires key items, made from synthesis. Many key items are made through synthesis. Sorcerer’s Ring, this time around, has levels. Lower levels allow to get rid off small items like trees and wood, but for stuff like the Gigant Monsters, the path will be blocked till you have a higher-level Sorcerer’s Ring. Otherwise, you’ll run into Game Over before you notice it.

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Video/Trailer
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In The Mean Time…
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Go and pick up Tales of The Abyss for the Playstation 2. It’s one of the best JRPGs released in the last console generation. You will absolutely love the compelling characters, the diverse side-quests and mini-games, and mind-blowing gameplay. As a matter of fact, Jade Curtiss alone justifies purchasing this game; he’s one of my favorite videogame characters of all time, really. Read my review HERE.

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On The Horizon
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A Dreadful E3 2008

How to sum up the most awaited gaming convention that almost every gamer in the world was waiting for since July of last year?

It. Sucked. Major. Ass

  • Microsoft’s conference was flashy and hip just like last year, but it didn’t have as many surprises and announced titles as initially anticipated. The new Avatar system was a nice addition even though it was a clear rip-off from Wii’s Mii functionality. Gears of Wars 2 and Fallout 3 weren’t big surprised since it was announced weeks before E3. But, I guess the confirmation of Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox360 was definitely an unexpected turn of event. I always thought Metal Gear Solid 4 would squeeze its way to Microsoft’s cherished home console, but Final Fantasy XIII, not in a million years. I think I’m more surprised how Sony let this game slipped from their hands than anything else. And finally, Banjo-Kazooie remake announcement has definitely made my day and made me more eager to snag an Xbox360.

  • Sony’s conference was a snooze fest as always. The video renting service didn’t do a thing for me at all, and the announcement of God of World III was expected, unfortunately, the trailer that was shown wasn’t direct gameplay footage, but I don’t think the game would change significantly from its predecessors. The price cut however was nice; despite the fact it served the same function as the 40GB model (i.e. no backward compatibility with PS1 and PS2 games).

And that’s all she wrote folks. Click HERE to sink your teeth for more E3 news as it comes. Who knows, we might get a surprised announcement from some publisher since E3 still hasn’t closed its doors for its attendants.

P.S. Please, take off your fanboysim shoes at the discussion door before you chip in your 2 cents. It won’t be tolerated here.

Summer Readings

I’ve just received my first order from Aramex (using big brother’s account) and the damn thing cost 10.500KD just to be delivered, it’s robbery I tell you. I thought it would be a smart move to exploit my brother’s Amazon Premium account and get some nice discounts, but now I’m thinking of it, it really didn’t do me any good. Oh well, I guess there is no use in crying over spilled milk.

Anyway, here are the six books I ordered from Amazon, which they came in the right time since I finished reading Artemis Fowl – Book One yesterday. Any suggestions on which book should I read first?

The Orgasmic Persona 4 Opening Cinematic

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It’s very funny (and odd too) that a video that has zero sexual preferences can send a shiver down my spine just by gawking at it. It’s the same sensation when Star Trek geeks meet William Shatner in person, or when bitter Republicans crave to have sadistic sex with Ann Coulter. It’s disgusting, but it feels darn good. Oh Atlus, why you are so good to me?

RPG Heaven

I just added the following four games to my ever-expanding videogame shelf. I have no idea when I’ll find the time to actually play them, but I think I can manage to do so this weekend if there aren’t good movies to watch or satisfying reasons to go out. Although, considering the fact that most of them are RPGs doesn’t make things easier as most RPG games require extensive commitment from the player. To me, playing an RPG is like reading a novel. That is, I try to finish one RPG game at a time before moving to the next, but I usually indulge myself by playing another game from a different genre on the side. Here’s the order that I am going to play those games:

Console Games

This is actually a “director’s cut” version of the original Persona 3 that was released last year. The game introduces the player a new game scenario called “The Answer” which provides the true ending after the completing the original scenario that is entitled “The Journey”. The game also packs great amount of additional components such as new persona(s), quests, cut-scenes, and customs. If you missed the original Persona 3, don’t dare to miss this one. Click HERE to read my extensive review of the original game. The game is sold for a budget price of $29.99.

I missed the original Okami on the PS2 but thankfully, Capcom has ported the game to the Wii for a second round since it didn’t sell well on the PS2. The game is quite similar to the Zelda franchise and it features a plethora of side quests in addition to the main story. The Wii version exclusively supports 480p resolution and 16:9 widescreen, along with intact waggle. The game also comes on a budget price of $39.99.

Handheld Games

You didn’t expect me to miss a Final Fantasy game now do you? The game mainly focuses around Zack Fair and the events leading up to his demise. Expect to meet lots of new faces and familiar faces on this installment of the series. The game however is more action-orientated than the usual turn-based RPG fair. In another word, it is similar to the Kingdom Hearts series, which is something I highly approve. If you have a PSP and happened to be a Final Fantasy fanatics just like moi, then I’m pretty sure you already have this game to your library.

This game presents a truly fresh air to the action-RPG genre. The first thing you will notice is the distinctive funky art style, which is inspired by the aesthetics of Shibuya youth culture in Japan. Based on the reviews I read, the game features a very addictive battle system and a compelling storyline with fleshed out characters. Definitely a must have for those of us who hungers something original.

The Happening

The new trailer of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is finally here. Now, let’s hope this one doesn’t suck like Lady In The Water. The movie is scheduled to be released on June 13th of 2008.

Preview: Zune 2 Generation

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I usually leave the introduction of new gadgets to my tech savvy friends 3biad and Marzouq, but I’m not going to let them hog this privilege for themselves anymore (sorry guys). Anyway, yesterday Microsoft revealed the new lineup of their MP3 players dubbed as “Zune 2” which features pretty neat additions that some of them aren’t available in the iPod…yet. Here is a quick walkthrough of the new Zune features that will be also obtainable to old Zune users via a simple upgrade:

  • The newest additions are smaller 4gb and 8gb players with flash memory with sport video playback and wireless functionality.
  • They are priced at $149 -4gb and $199 -8gb.
  • Currently the small Zunes come in red, pink, green, and black.
  • An updated hard drive model will have 80GB of storage and come in black at launch.
  • New Zunes are due to release around November 13th.
  • New Wi-Fi features will include wireless sync with PC. Shared songs will no longer have a 3 day limit for use, but the 3 play rule remains in effect.
  • Photos as usual have no restrictions at all when shared Zune to Zune.
  • To improve on “the social” online Zune Cards will be introduced. Each card can be personalized based on unique interest.
  • Zunecasts (podcasts) are coming to the Zune marketplace along with video content. TV shows recorded on Windows Media Center can also be synced up with the Zune devices.

Why I Won’t Buy It?

  • The Zune Marketplace is still not as strong and user-friendly as the iTunes.
  • Is not compatible with Mac OSX.
  • No touch screen and Wi-Fi iTunes ala iPod Touch.
  • Still not that good looking.
  • Won’t be able to take advantage of Wi-Fi sharing because I don’t know anyone who owns a Zune.

Regardless, I think Zune is a good hardware and complement PC owners quite well. However, I still cannot consider it as an iPod Killer mainly because Apple owns roughly 75% of the MP3 industry while Zune only owns a mere 10%.