Monday, March 28, 2016

Backlog Gaming Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Good Game, Not Great

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was next in my backlog of games to play. I started out with relatively good hopes for the game. That dwindled as my play through progressed. The story starts out strong with the fighter cadets of Class Zero fighting in an epic battle with an enemy that they're at war with. The scenes are beautifully done and the music for the game is fantastic. There are of course, the adorable Moogles (as with most of the Final Fantasy games) to help Class Zero in their missions throughout the game.

Adorable Moogles just want to help. 

First, the good. The combat system is pretty close to perfect with a user menu that is easy to navigate. Considering that you have 14 characters to choose from for your party of 3, the secret training at the training arena area is a big help. When you are finished playing the game for the moment, you can select a character to participate in secret training and it returns to the main title menu and while you're busy doing other things that person can go up a few levels. It only lasts up to 24 hours however, but gaining a few level ups on a character from secret training is not too shabby. 

The fact that you can adjust the difficulty level of the game is a huge plus. You can play on easy if you wish so you can just enjoy the game or make it a challenge for yourself. The reserve system works really well. Out of the 14 characters, you can pick 3 to be in your party. The rest remain in reserve so that if one of your party members dies, you can swap them out easily. The Eidolons are incredibly cool looking, even after you consider the fact that a party member has to sacrifice themselves in order to summon one. 

Ifrit, one of the Eidolons.

The world outside the Academy is fairly vast. This is where your Chocobos come in. Calling a Chocobo is easy and the menu is simple and straightforward. You can also breed your Chocobos to make more Chocobos and you can also capture wild Chocobos roaming free on the world map. Each of your party members has different abilities and no two are alike making for a lot of interesting possibilities. You can't just mash buttons here, you do need to plan some strategy and tactics which makes for some fun and solid battles. 

Exploration is easy on your trusty Chocobo.

Now let's get to the bad. While there is some freedom to explore, Final Fantasy Type-0 is not as open as it could be. Yes, it's meant to be linear going from Mission A to Mission B and the like. That being said, you actually have a set amount of time to do things until the day of the mission. For example, if you go out and level grind, fighting monsters and other enemies when you go back to the Academy 2 hours have passed. This cancels out a lot of side quests and talking to other NPCs because time will pass. Some side quests you can do, but the rest are meant for a second play through or more of the game. It's a little frustrating because it means you can't fully go after ALL of the side quests like you want to because of time restraints. Maybe that works for other people, but for myself I don't have that kind of time or that kind of patience. Yes I have done multiple play throughs of other games, but the difference is I could get all the side quests done in one gaming play through and not pick and choose which ones I would do right then and which ones I would save for the next gaming session. With that constantly ticking timer at the bottom of the screen, it adds a lot of unnecessary pressure and detracts a bit from enjoying the game. 

That timer at the bottom of the screen is annoying.

The story or lack of one is rather confusing. There are a lot of proper nouns used along with some puzzling lingo (think a'la Final Fantasy XIII with that F'alcie and L'icie business) that will have you scratching your head wondering what the heck is going on. Basically the plot consists of: Commander Cid who is the commander of the Imperial Army is invading all the nations including the nation that Class Zero lives in. Class Zero goes on all these missions to basically stop him. There isn't enough time to really get to know all the characters so I found it hard to connect with them emotionally or even care about them. That's not a good sign.  The story itself is rather vague which is why you should definitely not play the game for the story because you'll just be disappointed. Play it for the combat system because that is where Final Fantasy Type-0 shines. The only drawback to that is how uneven some of the battles feel and yes, that includes playing the game on the easy setting. Sometimes the difficulty level of a battle will spike ridiculously high causing a lot of frustration especially when a mission is timed. 

The camera angles that are absolutely terrible. Nothing kills a gaming session for me than bad camera angles. The motion blur while not deal breaking can throw you off for a moment and you lose sight of the character you're controlling. There are also moments where the camera seems blurry and I have no idea why. Factor in that there are times when running down a narrow hallway you can't see because you can't turn the camera completely where it needs to be, then you have a problem. This was something that could have easily been addressed, but was not. 

I really struggled to finish this game because of these issues. When a game becomes a chore to finish, it doesn't bode well for anyone involved. Final Fantasy Type-0 is a good game, but it's not a great one. I'm not even sure it was worth playing through once because the reward is not fulfilling and that's a damn shame because it could have been a terrific game, but it missed the mark for me. 

The game has amazing artwork like this, but I need more than pretty. 

*Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is playable on these platforms: PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Adventures in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Since I finished the main story line of Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn, I have moved on to the next advancement in the story with Heavensward. This unlocks new areas, three new job classes, a new race, and flying mounts. That's right. In the Heavensward areas your Chocobo can fly and you can have other flying mounts as well.

A gorgeous cathedral in Heavensward.

Heavensward continues the story from where A Realm Reborn ended and introduces some new characters along with a flurry of side quests and main story driven quests. The level cap has also been increased to 60 which means some more level grinding on my bard, but Final Fantasy XIV is so enjoyable to play you find you don't mind at all. A big part of that is the fact that I play the game with my husband on the weekends and the fact that we belong to a really good Free Company with a lot of great people who are always willing to help out fellow players and truly feel like a community. If you're on the Famfrit server and you're looking for a great Free Company with laid back, nice people check out Flames of Paradise.

The environments in Heavensward are beautiful with colorful areas and awe inspiring buildings. The music for the different areas are quite pretty as well. There's a lot to do and see in Heavensward and while some of it is a lot of fun, there are some things that are rather tedious. One of the big things is the fact that you can not fly until you run around an area and find all the aether currents and attune to them. Each zone has 15 aether currents. Some are found by using your key item; a compass which you use to figure out how far away an aether current is. It's basically like playing the world's worst game of Hot and Cold and on top of that some of them are in bizarre places where you have to figure out exactly how to get them. There was one on top of a waterfall that took me a good ten minutes to find which was frustrating to say the least. The other aether currents are found by doing certain quests and the rest are rewards for doing dungeons. Once you have all the aether currents for that area, you can fly everywhere in the new areas in Heavensward and enjoy a fantastic aerial view. 

Rocking this whole flying thing on my Chocobo.

The new race that you can play as is called Au Ra (pronounced Ow-rah) and honestly, I think they're gorgeous. They have a very dragon-esque feel to them with horns, scales, and tails for both the male and female characters. Their lore and history is pretty interesting and you can choose which of the two clans your Au Ra hails from. I did create a second character and chose the Au Ra and when I'm not adventuring on my Elezen bard, Pirotess I run around adventuring on my Au Ra lancer, Raina.

My Au Ra lancer, Raina ready for some adventure.

The three new jobs you can unlock in Heavensward are Dark Knight, Machinist, and Astrologian. When you unlock the jobs, they start out at level 30 and do not require a base job class. Dark Knight essentially has been made into an MP based tank and you get to wield a great sword. It's a little different from what Dark Knight was before, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it adds a different aspect to the job class. I am a bit disappointed that it's not a damage dealer (honestly I thought the scythes were cool), but I've played with a few solid Dark Knights who know what they're doing and handle the skills rather impressively.

Astrologian seems to be a healing class along the lines of White Mage with a bit of a spin on it. Your healing spells seem to revolve around your Star Globe and you can use buffs and debuffs using a variety of cards. For the few minutes that I tinkered around with it after unlocking it, it's definitely interesting and fun to play. I may mess around with it more once I have fully leveled bard.

Machinist like Bard and Black Mage is a ranged DPS job class, but instead of magic and arrows this uses firearms as the main weapon. You can even add attachments to your weapons to change the effects of attacks and you can also deploy turrets that add a support style role. Machinist shares more in common with Bard than with Black Mage and the two seem to complement each other really well. 

Unlocking Dark Knight in Heavensward.

It's been fun exploring Heavensward and it's a lot of fun to play. There's always something happening and with the addition of the new job classes it adds to the enjoyment of the game. It's worth checking out and it's a blast to play especially with friends and family. More adventures await!

*Dedicated to Mrs.Magik who became my friend on Final Fantasy XI Online, then became family and showed me that adventuring in Final Fantasy XIV is more fun together. I love you and miss you, my soul sister.

An adventure with Mrs.Magick and friends.

**Final Fantasy XIV is playable on these platforms: PC, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4