RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Feb 20th 2009 at 01:42:17 AM by (Nionel)
Posted under Pokemon, Gaming in Retrospect, RPG, GameCube, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS

Welcome to the third, and final, in my series retrospective on the Pokemon franchise. This final entry will cover the Advance Generation of the Pokemon series, which spanned even games on the Gameboy Advance, four on the GameCube, and three on the Nintendo DS. The Advance Generation was a sort of reboot for the franchise, when Ruby and Sapphire were originally released for the GBA, they were not connected in any way to the previous games in the series. The stories weren't connected like the first two generation games were, the new region, Hoenn, was in a completely different part of the Pokemon world, with no connection to either Kanto or Johto, and while Ruby and Sapphire contained data for all of the Pokemon from the previous games, a vast majority of them were unobtainable within the games themselves, without the use of a cheating device, and the games featured no way to connect to any of the previous releases. Some fans felt this lack of connection to the previous games was a step in the wrong direction and questioned whether or not Nitendo truely knew what they wanted to do with the franchise, little did we know that Nintendo did have something in mind, but we'd have to wait some time to see what it was...


Continue reading Gaming in Retrospect: Pokemon Generation III



Posted on Feb 19th 2009 at 11:24:07 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Gamecube, Unloved, Review, Baten Kaitos, RPG

The Gamecube was definately not known for its robust RPG library last generation. The PS2 did a good job of blowing both other systems (combined) out of the water in that category (I don't know enough about the Dreamcast to confindently add it to that remark). That said the Gamecube still has a surprisingly strong showing in the RPG arena if you look closely. Games like: Fire Emblem, Tales of Symphonia, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Phantasy Star Online, X-Men Legends and Harvest Moon lead the pack. There are still a few other Cube RPGs that fell under the radar of most gamers.



Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (henceforth known as BK) deserves a lot more attention then it gets. Lets take a closer look at its strengths and weaknesses, shall we?

STRENGHTS:

Story

This is "THE" most important factor of any RPG in my opinion. In most genres I'd say gameplay is key, but RPGs are the exception. If your going to be investing 20-40 hours of your life into a game it had better be darn interesting.

The game starts off with Kalas waking up in a small town after getting beaten up in the woods. After he regains his composure and figures out where he is he remembers his goal. Kill Giacomo the man who killed his family and burned his home down.

As you progress you find that the Empire is trying to ressurect the power of an ancient god that swalled the entire ocean leaving only a few islands left on the planet. Kalas eventually meets some others that join his party that are out to stop the emperor from suceeding in his plan. Kalas is reluctant to join, but because Giacomo is a higher up in the Empire he joins because their mission because it may eventually lead him to get the revenge he desires.

Visuals



This is by far my favorite looking game on the Cube. While some games may be more graphically impressive such as Resident Evil 4 the art sytle of BK game really shines above. The entire world and all the characters in it are very bright and vibrant and full of life. The world really seems to be alive as you explore it. Simple things such as running through some bushes and spooking some birds to see them take off in a large group gives an extra amount of depth to the islands you explore.

Each Island you explore in this game has its own unique visual identity, wheather it be a lush green forest like enviroment or a hazy mountain top covered in clouds each place you visit is vastly different from the last.

Battle

This is another area in which this game really shines. At first the game just throws you into battle without much explanation and you slowly learn some tricks to help increase your skills over the next couple hours of game play through both experimentation and NPC tutorials.

You fight using a card based battle system. Each card belongs to an element and has at least 1 spirit number assigned to it. At first you can only attack with a couple cards, but as you level up and progress throughout the game the amount of cards you can lay down during battle increases.

Each Element type obviously damages enemies of opposite types more than those of the same time (such as Water hurts Fire based Enemies more than Dark would). But if you use a water based attack and a fire based attack in the same turn they partially cancel each other out (attack for 10 water and 6 fire in the same turn would result in a final attack of 4 water). This keeps you on your toes and quite aware of what cards to use and when to use them. It also involves quick thinking on your part because after you use your first card you have a very limited time to use your next few cards.



As I mentioned above each card also has a spirit number. These numbers range from 1 to 8 and cards can have multiple numbers on them. If you manage to attack an enemy with a straight sequence of cards (such as 5-6-7) then a bonus percentage of damage is added to you final attack. As you become capable of playing more cards during battle later in the game you find more and more combinations become available to you (such as 2-2-2-3-3 or a full house) that will add more depth to your fights as you may choose to play less cards than you are capable of in order to receive a prize bonus to your final attack.

One more interesting note about battle combinations is that you can combine seemingly useless items (or useful items too) by using them together to create more helpful items. For example you can attack with a pot, some uncooked rice and charcoal to create a healing item of cooked rice.

Overworld Exploration

This is pretty standard as far as RPGs go, but if its not broken dont fix it right?

You explore the world as your main character Kalas (other party members only appear during non-playable areas such as cut sceens or NPC interactions). To enter a battle you simply touch an on screen enemy to initiate the battle.

Lots of items are hidden in ordinary scenery so make sure to check everything you come accross during your journey to collect a lot of helpful items and cards.

Puzzling

This is another one of my favorite parts of the game. Most of the puzzles in this game are not necessary to further the story so if you not all that into puzzling just skip most of them. You'll be out a few items that may help, but you can always grind your levels up a bit to make up for it if you prefer.

Throughout the game you get a limited number of Blank Magnus (Magnus is just a fancy name for cards). With these you can turn items, such as fire, into a card so that you can carry it to another location. So while your in town and you see someone has a roaring fire in their home you can take some of that flame with you into the forest and burn down a tree to gain access to a treasure chest.

Time Mechanic

This is something that is really cool to play around with and also a little frusterating at times. Lots of items change with time in BK.

For instance if you originally find a bunch of Bananas they might be Green Bananas. These are not good to eat yet and will function more as a weak weapon than anything else. After some time though they will ripen and become a useful healing item. After more time has passed then will rot and once again become a weapon.

This same mechanic has a few other functions such as puzzle solving. If an NPC is looking for a specific item such as yogurt or cheese and you only have access to milk, you simply have to wait until your milk has aged enough to turn into either item, just dont wait to long or it may not be they wanted when you get it to them!

One last fucntion the time mechanic plays is in gaining money. Instead of selling items in BK you take pictures of enemies during battle and sell those pictures to card shops. The pictures develop like a polaroid would. To get the most money for your picture you need to wait long enough for it to delevop properly, but dont wait to long or they will become damaged from your travels and the price you'll fetch will fall considerably.

Levelling up

Nothing ground breaking just something that I found quite unique and interesting.

Instead of simply gaining a level for a certain amount of experience, you hold onto that experience until you are able to visit a special "church". Once you are there you must pray in order to refect upon your past battles and only then can you increase in strength.

Along with this is the class increase which is treated much the same way as the level increase with the exception that a speical item is given to your character that you must pray with to unlock its potential. By increasing your class you are able to have more cards in your deck and increases the amount of cards you can use for each attack.

WEAKNESSES:

Characters

With the exception of Kalas I find the playable characters in this game quite annoying and stereotypical. Fortunately Kalas is the main character so it does oddly enough balance out. The reason for my annoyance isnt so much the characters themselves as it is the dialouge and voice acting.

I do however find Kalas interesting, as unlike most main characters, he isnt interested in doing any good. He just wants his revenge and could care less who dies or what nation falls in the process. He often voices his objection to joining his teammates and is reluctantly dragged along for a large portion of the story.

Dialouge/Voice Acting

Some of the worst I've heard. The old characters (70 years +) sound like a 13 year old is trying to make their voice raspy. The main characters that speak the most (Kalas and Xelha) both have shrill annoying voices and poorly written dialouge that often just sounds weird.



FINAL THOUGHTS:

BK is a great game for any RPG fan. The battles are a lot less boring than your typical grindfest because of the random element and depth added by the card based battle system. This game can also appeal to someone who loves puzzles/side quests or to someone who just loves an interesting story. It is also (in my opinion) one of the best looking Gamecube games. This game can easily be found for under $15 and I would highly recommend anyone interested in a new adventure to check it out if possible.

FINAL SCORE - 6.5/10



Posted on Feb 15th 2009 at 02:03:03 AM by (Nionel)
Posted under Pokemon, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, Nintendo 64, RPG

Due to the global success of the Pokemon franchise, it was obvious that a sequel to the popular Red, Blue, and Yellow versions was imminent. From 1995 until 2001, the world played the first generation Pokemon games and waded through a number of spinoffs awaiting a true sequel to be released for the series. In 1997 the first details emerged from Nintendo in the form of screen shots for Pocket Monsters 2: Gold and Silver, and even though the games wouldn't see release in Japan until 1999, the world anxiously awaited the release of these sequels. The second generation of Pokemon is small, especially in comparison to the first generation, as the second generation is only made up of five games, Pokemon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Pokemon Stadium 2 (Pokemon Stadium Gold and Silver in Japan) and Pokemon Puzzle Challange, these games, with the exception of Pokemon Stadium, are all available for the Gameboy Color, with Stadium available for the Nintendo 64.


Continue reading Gaming in Retrospect: Pokemon Generation II



Posted on Jan 26th 2009 at 04:28:32 AM by (Nionel)
Posted under Preview, Pier Solar, Genesis, RPG

Pier Solar and the Great Architect is an entirely new Japanese style RPG currently in development for the Sega Genesis by Watermelon Development, a group who is dedicated to breathing some new life into the long dead console by releasing some new and original content.


Continue reading A Look Ahead: Pier Solar and the Great Architect



Posted on Sep 30th 2008 at 03:15:08 PM by (Sirgin)
Posted under Review, Modern Gaming, PS2, Sony, Square, Disney, RPG, Kingdom Hearts

What would happen if we put many of Disney's famous characters, some random evil guys, a couple of Final Fantasy's greatest heroes and some new spike-haired kids all in one game? That must've been the question Squaresoft and Disney were asking themselves when they were creating the concept of Kingdom Hearts. What made them came up with such a crazy question? I have no idea. Does it make for an enjoyable RPG? It sure does.

No matter which way you look at it, Kingdom Hearts (2002) is a pretty unique game. It shares some common points with the Final Fantasy series, but it's profoundly different otherwise.
At the start of the game we meet Sora, Riku and Kairi. These three friends are simply enjoying the little tropical world they live in and spend their days playing, talking or staring at the ocean. One day changes everything when the Heartless, a purple army of toy-like bad guys, attack the island. Both Kari and Riku disappear and Sora decides to go and look for his friends, with the help of his magical Keyblade.

Before the main story takes off, you're placed in a church-like darkness, with only glass windows displaying sleeping princesses to walk on. This area serves as a tutorial for basic combat action as well as facing you with a choice that'll decide your "destiny". Destiny may be a big word, but it comes down to you having to choose a strength and weakness with "attack", "defense" and "magic" as your options. This will later influence the way your character (Sora) levels up, what abilities he'll get first and even how fast he'll level.

Soon after embarking on his quest, Sora will meet up with Donald and Goofy, who will accompany you throughout the rest of the game. You stumbled upon the hilarious duo because they are on a quest of themselves: to find King Mickey, who has given them instructions to assist the Keyblade wearer, which just happens to be Sora.
Although the plot may seem quite heavy, it is treated pretty lightly during most of the game, mainly because you'll be working to get all the sub-plots in the different Disney worlds settled out. There's more to say about the main plot but revealing any more story feels like spoiling to me, so I won't. I'll just say that even though the story has its depth, it's clear to see that Square wanted to make this a lighter digestible plot than the average Final Fantasy; a decision that's also reflected in Kingdom Heart's gameplay - but more about that in a minute.

You'll meet many famous Disney characters on your quest to find Riku and Kairi, all living in their specific world based upon their movie counterparts. Funny is how these Disney characters (except Donald and Goofy) don't know anything about the major story, but are preoccupied with their own little problems. Along the way you'll find yourself playing alongside characters like Alladin and Jack Skellington in worlds such as Wonderland, Agrabah, the Hundred Acre Wood, Halloween Town, etc... Next to that there are some new worlds designed specifically for this game such as Traverse Town and Hollow Bastion.

Now for one of the most irritating aspects of the game: travelling between all these worlds. Rather than just having your party "teleport" to a world, you'll have to play a minigame each time you'll travel to a new world. Your ship, called a Gummi ship, travels along a determined path until you reach the next world. While flying around you'll have to shoot (often unidentifiable) enemies. This is clearly a Star Fox rip-off, and a bad one at that. By defeating enemies you'll receive "Gummi blocks" which you can use to upgrade your ship. Instead of making this easy, Square decided to put in an awkward ship editor in the game that allows you to make your ship stronger by adding parts or even create a new one. This sounds better than it actually is because there isn't any point in doing so. The Gummi levels are so easy, you'll just want to get them over with quickly to advance to the next world; so what's the point of upgrading the basic ship? The whole feature could have been left out of the game for me, but I guess Square found it necessary to let players "experience" how the party travels between worlds.

Luckily, the game is a whole lot better when inside one of the worlds. Unlike the (until then) Final Fantasy series, Kingdom hearts is an Action RPG. This means all combat happens directly in the main environments, without "going" into a turn-based combat area. Your main weapon is Sora's Keyblade, with which you can use to hit the enemies one time or in combo's (depending on the abilities you have). You can also cast traditional FF-style magic such as fire, blizzard, thunder, slow, etc... These can be selected in the "Command menu" in the lower left corner of the screen with either the D-pad or the right analog stick. You can also assign up to three magics to the cross, triangle and square buttons that allow for easy-casting in combination with L1. Lastly, you can summon Disney characters that'll temporarily help Sora out, giving Donald and Goofy a break. The camera can be moved only to the left and right by holding down either L2 or R2, which feels quite restricted. In fact, it's the main thing that bothered me while playing Kingdom Hearts; I find the camera much too close to Sora's back to give a overall perspective of your environment. Oftentimes you won't even see the enemies you're fighting, with the camera struggling to get them into view. If it wasn't for the lock-on function (activated with R1), Kingdom Hearts would be almost unplayable.

Combat happens frequently, with enemies spawning almost everywhere on the map. Sadly enough the limited tactical options will make fighting the hordes of Heartless a rather boring venture, and feels like "something you have to do" instead of being a source of fun. It isn't so irritating that it'll make you stop playing, but it could've been done a lot better. As I said earlier, Donald and Goofy will accompany you on your quest, so they're also with you during combat; helping out by attacking enemies, using magic or throwing a potion your way when your health is low. You can also opt to temporarily exchange one of the two by an optional character, depending on the world you're in. On a positive note I can say that the boss fights are much more fun than the random battles and can be quite challenging, too. (if you haven't leveled up your characters too much, that is)

Besides the fighting, there's the traditional RPG action to be done such as talking to characters, buying items and weapons in stores and saving your game at save points. There's also a bit of platforming included, which is a nice distraction from the combat but suffers from the same camera problems as well as the not-so-fluid jumping animation. Kingdom Hearts clearly is an RPG with some platform elements rather than a platform game with RPG elements.

In the main menu there are the traditional "item", "equipment", "status" and "abilities" menus as well as a "customize" and "journal" menu. In the customize menu you can set the quick-access magics for Sora and determine Donald and Goofy's combat behavior by selecting if they have to do certain things "constantly", "frequently" or "occasionally". The journal menu serves as a log in which a summary of the story is kept, next to character and world descriptions.

Graphically, Kingdom Hearts is a feast for the eyes, especially if you're a Disney fan. Both the worlds and characters accurately resemble their traditional animation counterparts, something Square can be proud of. You can also enjoy the colorful scenery in first-person view when pressing the select button. Once again, the restricted camera is the only thing that keeps this game from being a sightseers' dream.

Vocally, Square has done their best with much of the dialog being voiced over by an excellent cast of voice actors. Most of the actual Disney voice actors have lent their voices to their respective characters and Haley Joel "I see dead people" Osment gave his voice to Sora. Sound effects are average but just like in most of Square's RPG's, music is excellent. Each world is accompanied by its own theme (often a variation or adaptation of the famous Disney themes) that either sets a happy tone (in the Disney worlds) or a more serious tone (in the non-Disney worlds).

Despite its flaws, Kingdom Hearts is a unique game that successfully merges the worlds of Disney and Square into a unique experience. Whether you're an RPG fan, Square fan, Disney fan or action fan; there's a little for everybody in Kingdom Hearts. 8.4/10



Posted on Sep 22nd 2008 at 02:56:29 PM by (Sirgin)
Posted under Review, Modern Gaming, PS2, Sony, Square, Enix, Level 5, RPG, Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King (in the US: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King) is Level-5's third RPG for the Playstation 2, and also the third game ever by the developer. After the good Dark Cloud (2000) and the great Dark Chronicle (2002), Level-5 decided to take on the massive task of making the next instalment of the long lasting Dragon Quest franchise. Not only that, Dragon Quest: The Journey of the Cursed King (from now on called Dragon Quest 8 ) would become the first game of the series for the Playstation 2, as well as being the first Dragon Quest game with 3D graphics. Not an easy task, but Level-5 fulfilled all expectations.

The game starts when the evil mage Dhoulmagus tries to steal a legendary sceptre, locked away in a local castle. To reach his goal, Dhoulmagus cursed the castle and petrified everyone inside into plant-like beings except for three individuals. The King, Throde, gets transformed into a Yoda-like toad, while his daughter, princess Medea, gets turned into a horse. The last survivor of the curse is you, the hero of this tale, and the only one not affected by the curse in any way.

Despite the shallowness and classic feel of the story, there are some interesting plot twists that'll keep you entertained until the end. Along the way you'll meet three more characters that'll join you on your adventure: Yangus, Jessica and Angelo. Yangus is rough fellow that got his life saved by the hero and calls him "guv" out of respect. Another recurring line of Yangus is "Cor' Blimey!" whenever King Throde appears out of nowhere. Jessica is a hard headed aristocratic girl that wants to avenge the death of her brother, Alister, who got killed by Dhoulmagus some time before his attack on the castle. Angelo is a Templar Knight, devoted to Abbot Francisco, but lacking the will to follow the Templars' strict moral code.

This lively bunch sets out to find Dhoulmagus, and while doing so encounter countless other characters that need assitance of some sort to advance the main plot. The game offers alot of content and a whole world to discover. Rushing through the story without doing any sidequests will almost take up 50 hours. You can almost double that number when playing at a normal pace and getting involved in most of the sidequests.

Gameplay-wise, Dragon Quest 8 is an as classic RPG as it gets. Combat is turn-based and gets triggered by random encouters. Because there are only 4 playable characters, switching characters isn't an option, meaning all characters will level up at the same speed. When faced against a number of monsters, you'll have to assign tasks to all 4 of your characters first and then watch them get executed together with enemy attacks. Besides melee and ranged attacks, characters can cast offensive or healing spells, aswell as use weapon-specific abilities. Lastly, players can opt to raise the tension of a character to build up energy that can be released in a single, devastating blow; especially useful when doing a boss fight.

Characters differ concerning the spells they can cast, aswell as the attributes they can raise. When a characters levels up, you can assign points to any of 5 attributes of that character. 4 of those attributes are to increase damage done with specific weapons, 1 attribute is different for each character. Some tactics lie in the fact that not all characters can use all types of weapons. For example, Angelo is the only one that can wield bows. The maximum amount of points that can be assigned to an attribute is 100, which can be obtained at around level 40. This gives players some time to experiment with different weapon types first before having to stick to one type to get it as strong as possible. The different weapon types are swords, boomerangs, axes, clubs, knives, scythes, whips, staves, bows and fisticuffs (no weapon equiped).

Besides weapons, characters can also equip a piece of body armor, a helmet, a shield and an accessory. These aren't as many categories as in some other RPGs, but you'll still spend a great deal of time finding, buying or making better weapons and armour. That last option is available once aquiring an Alchemy Pot. You can throw in multiple items and see what new item pops out. This mini-game is similar to the "invention" system in Dark Chronicle or the weapon system in Rogue Galaxy. It's quite important to try out as much combinations as you can, because it's the best way to get a hold of some strong weapons/armour/items before being able to purchase them. That's needed, because the game can be pretty challenging, especially early on when it doesn't take much hits to get your party wiped out. After the game's ending you can load your saved game again to just before defeating the final boss and enter a complete new dungeon after which some of the hardest boss battles can be found. Sometimes you'll have to go through large stretches of land without really knowing what to look for. Although this might set off the less experienced RPGer, old-school gamers will love the classic approach to this RPG.

If I could say only one thing about Dragon Quest 8, it would be that it's a very polished, rich and complete games. Alot of thought went into the menu, which looks particulary nice. All your items can easily be sorted with an auto-sort option in the menu, where they are displayed with beautiful icons. Also nice is that, when pressing select, you get a "battle records" menu in which you can watch a full list of of monsters, collected items and Alchemy Pot recepies.

Coupled to the great gameplay are stunning visuals and sound. Graphics are some of the best on the PS2 and the best ever in the Dragon Quest series. The cel-shading suits the game perfectly, with characters and monsters looking like they've just escaped from an anime, yet staying faithful to the Dragon Quest franchise. Akira Toriyama did the character design of this game and is the man responsible for the Dragon Ball Z series.

Sound is just as nice with convincing voice acting (despite the sometimes over-the-top voice of King Throde), great sound effects and fantastic music. The songs are all classic orchestral tracks that really set the mood for the many areas that the game is rich. From the regal intro tune to the upbeat battle song or the creepy dungeon track; they all maintain the same high level and are never out of place.

I'll wrap it up by saying that Dragon Quest 8 is one of the best games in the series aswell as one of the best RPGs on the PS2. If you're looking for a good RPG, a game that will last a long time or just a good game in general, this is a must-buy. 9.3/10



Posted on Aug 24th 2008 at 12:38:37 AM by (Sirgin)
Posted under Review, Modern Gaming, PC, ArenaNet, NCSoft, MMO, RPG, Guild Wars

Guild Wars: Prophecies, released in 2005, was the first game ArenaNet ever developed. It's an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that shares many traits with other games in the genre, but also introduced some interesting things; most importantly maybe that there's no monthly fee for playing this MMO.

If Guild Wars (GW) would've been an offline RPG, its story could've been considered a bit shallow. It is however an online RPG, where story is somewhat less important than the actual online interaction with other players.
You start out as a new recruit of Ascalon, which has been at war with the Charr for years. The Charr are a bunch of savage creatures from the North, who look like upright walking tigers with horns. Suddenly disaster strikes as the Charr launch a massive, magic-fed attack and almost completely overrun Ascalon; an event later called "The Searing". You regain control over your character two years later in the now post-apocalyptic Ascalon where the story further unfolds...

This story is what it should be and drives the main missions well. However, you already get to play with your character before the Searing, all of which serves as a big tutorial. In this tutorial (which can easily take up 10 hours) you learn the basics of combat for all professions and have to choose your secondary profession before you'll get thrown into the actual game.

As with most MMO's, you first get to create your character: male or female, tall or short, brown or blond hair. Also, you immediately have to decide which profession you want to be: ranger, warrior, monk, elementalist, necromancer or mesmer. This is a choice that'll profondly effect your further gameplay, so it's wise to try a few professions first before investing too much time in one that doesn't suit your style of play.

GW features pretty standard gameplay. Each profession can wield any type of weapon, but can only wear its own specific armor. The attributes of each profession are different though, which is why it's best sticking with weaponry suited for you. A ranger, for example, has an attribute called "Marksmanship" which improves damage done with a bow.
You gain attribute points every time you level up, until level 20, the maximum level. Different than in most MMO's, getting your character to the maximum level doesn't take hundreds of hours, but can be completed within 50-60 hours on your first playthrough. (Incredibly fast for a game of this type) Also armor and weapons which feature maximum stats aren't that rare, giving GW quite a unique perspective on achievements compared to most MMO's.

In GW, the real goals are titles which you can display under your name. These can range from obvious ones as "Champion", "Hero" or "Explorer" to "Drunkard", "Party Animal" or "Unlucky". Some of these are relatively easy to complete but most take tens or hundreds of hours, some almost a thousand hours to complete. Craziest title of all is "Legendary Defender of Ascalon". To achieve this title you need to get to level 20 in the tutorial area (before The Searing) which requires you to make enemies level up by letting yourself die over and over again. A perfect example of playing the game without actually playing it, something that can be said of alot of the titles in this game.

To advance through the world you'll have to explore Explorable Areas (what's in a name) by yourself or in a party, making your way from outpost to outpost. Some of these areas are linked to specific missions, which also push the main story along. Don't worry though, because the other areas are filled with NPC's giving you lots of FedEx quests to gain some more experience. GW's world map is huge; exploring it alone takes hundreds of hours.

In these explorable areas, you'll come across the unavoidable monsters, which drop some gold or items for you to pick up. Every profession has different abilities, which you collect along the way. Only 8 abilities can be used at the same time, making for some strategic tactics when putting together the ultimate set of abilities.

Graphically, GW is great, with nice characters and monsters and interesting and diverse scenery. I think the water is particulary nice, even maybe by today's standards.
Music and sound are pretty standard, same goes for the voice work; although there are some catchy musical themes. It's not mind-blowing, but never gets on your nerves aswell. (Very important for a game that never ends)

Now to discuss my theory on MMORPG's as a genre, and something that GW suffers from too. The problem with an MMO is you're either addicted or you're not. There's no middle way. (Atleast not for me)

When you're addicted, the game you're playing is the greatest game ever and you don't want to play anything but that game. With objectives (in GW's case: titles) taking hundreds or thousands of hours to complete, you can easily spend a whole year on an MMO, completely submurged in the game and everything about it.

However, once that addiction fades it's hard to stay interested, because games like GW or WoW are specifically made so they're only fun when played alot. Finding the motivation to perform these long, tedious tasks becomes much harder without that obsessive drive aswell.


As a conclusion I can say that Guild Wars is a great game in its genre, but it's still an MMORPG, so beware! Once you're hooked, you might not play another game anymore for months. Don't say I didn't warn you... 8.5/10



Posted on Jul 19th 2008 at 07:39:09 PM by (Marriott_Guy)
Posted under MGs Game Take, Elder Scrolls, Oblivion, RPG, Bethesda Softworks

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Being a hardcore RPG gamer and a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to make this purchase after being disappointed in the previous downloadable content offered by Bethesda. Sure, The Knights of the Nine did satiate my Oblivion appetite for a little while, but by no means did it satisfy my craving as completely as did the expansion packs Tribunal and Bloodmoon for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. I am glad to report that the extra investment you will have to fork over for the Shivering Isles expansion will be money well spent.
 
Your quest begins on an island in the Niben Bay, which can be accessed at any time, by any character - there is no prerequisite for entering the domain of the Shivering Isles (there are leveled items in this new world, so level up a bit in Cyrodil if you want to add the really good items to your inventory). In this new realm, you will be greeted by fresh environments across the land and the dungeons/towns that you will frequent. The isles are comprised of two main political factions and their respective lands are portrayed well by the appropriate use of colors, textures, and wild life. The ruler is a fellow named Sheogoreth, who many of us know as the Daedric Prince of Madness. The world has an almost surreal feel to it, which accurately reflects the deranged minds of its inhabitants. Though presented beautifully, this new realm can never be mistaken for the almost 'Sound of Music' atmosphere that the general landscape of Cyrodil screams of.
 




Without giving away any spoilers, your main quest is to protect this demented paradise from, of course, an invasion from an evil force. You must rise through the ranks of this land through both factions, save the country, and become its ruler. New enemies will thwart your efforts, including the Knights of the Order, various hell hounds and the Grumnites, a race that is somewhat similar to the Orcs, though more organized. There are plenty of side quests apart from your main objective that are also available. These include the standard 'fetch item' missions to the more obscure (one nut wants 100 calipers to build a fantasy air ship that only resides in his mind).

The basic gameplay is the same as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - there have been no changes to any commands, menus, or the like. That being said, I will not review the general mechanics of the Shivering Isles since this has already been done in various reviews on Oblivion. I will say that certain graphical elements have improved over the already great performance of its parent - frame rate is more consistent, water reflections are improved, general AI of the new fiends you will encounter is better.

Many new types of armor, weapons, and magic are available for your discovery/purchase. Depending on your level, these may not replace any of your current inventory, but are nice additions. There are also two weapon shops that will create new items for you if you collect the respective ore that they request - this is very similar to the quest in the Bloodmoon expansion - not great items, but kind of cool. There are no houses or horses to buy as there are in Cyrodil, but you can acquire a new traveling companion, if completing a certain quest, that will aid you in your efforts against the minions.

You do receive 250 additional achievement points for completing all of the missions, but, curiously, your fame/infamy points are not affected at all for your deeds/actions. I think that this is a severe oversight on Bethesda's part - this is a stat I monitor frequently. Total additional game play will put you around 40 hours or so, more if you spend time exploring the vast isles.

Having the Xbox 360 version of ES IV, I downloaded the new content via Xbox Marketplace. The total download is a little under 1 gig, so make sure that you have the space available on your storage device. I have a relatively slow cable/DSL connection and it took around 40 minutes to download it.

Overall, I was very pleased with The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles and would highly recommend it. The download is pricey, but the content is varied, interesting, and most important, plentiful. Be prepared to let your loved ones know that, once again, you are a non-factor in real life and instead are going to take another journey into the world of Oblivion: Shivering Isles.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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