Dear Diary: 10th March 2010
I've forgiven Mass Effect 2 for the events of last week.
It's truly amazing the difference a couple of days can make. After my well documented disappointment with Bioware's crew member selection system for the finale of Mass Effect 2 last week, not to mention the associated rage quitting that took place, I picked the game up again, sat through the cut scenes, made some more educated choices and finally got through the first section of the mission without anyone dying.
I had mentally prepared myself to spend the next few hours replaying subsequent segments until accidentally stumbling upon the right combination of crew members and assignments, but my following choices (Samara as the biotic, Grunt as the escort, and Tali and Mordin as my boss team) were apparently appropriate as an hour later I was watching the credits with my entire party intact. The final encounter of the game was easier than I expected but still incredibly epic. How could I not have a blast shooting the face off of a giant robot filled human mush straight out of industrial sized food processors?
The concluding cut-scenes turned out to be as solid as those you would see during the finale of a good action movie, although I was a little disappointed that the fanfare for your accomplishment was kept to a bare minimum. Once I was back on the Normandy, the most congratulations I received for saving the galaxy was a subdued back-slapping session my crew members and despite knowing that the point of the story was that no-one else acknowledged the Reaper threat, I would have at least liked a small party in the cargo hold. Still, the fact that the finale set up a sequel in quite a spectacular fashion more than makes up for lack of a shindig as I know there's definitely some more fun at a currently undefined point in the future.
I hate being asked what my favourite game ever would be, but if I was forced to at gunpoint, Mass Effect 2 would definitely be a strong contender. However, there is some potentially tough competition in shape of Final Fantasy XIII and next week's God Of War III that should take the fight right to the final round.
I'm hoping I'll be able to party with Final Fantasy XIII like it's 1999.
Unfortunately, due to a work dinner last night (where I found it necessary to have two main courses as the company was picking up the bill), I was unable spend much time investigating the quality of the competition from Final Fantasy XIII. Before collapsing on by bed in food coma though, I did find enough time to remove the cellophane wrapper, pop the disc into the console and play up to the first save point. Despite this whole process taking approximately forty-five minutes, only fifteen of these were spent in the heart of the action because my brain demanded I fully explore the plethora of menus and tutorials that Square Enix feel it necessary to provide in their games.
I should probably mention at this point that aforementioned disc was a Blu-ray because after a significant amount of flip-flopping between both sides of the fence, I decided that the PlayStation 3 version and technical superiority should come before a more robust achievements system. For me, Final Fantasy games are all about the visual extravaganza and so it makes perfect sense to maximise the quality of that part of the experience, my being justified almost immediately as the full glory of the 1080p opening cinematic is definitely a cut above anything offered by Final Fantasy XIII's peers. As someone who can't really tell the difference between varying levels of high definition without serious scrutiny, the fact I noticed this right from the outset is even more impressive.
From my incredibly brief dabble in the game world, I can tell I'm going to enjoy the sci-fi setting. It seems that all Final Fantasy games contain both technological and religious themes to varying degrees and I always enjoy those with a stronger emphasis on science rather than theology. Let's face it, slicing a colossal robot in half is way more fun than praying for the poor souls of innocents. Yes, I'm talking about you Final Fantasy X. Not being a Japanese boy, I'm also happy to see that the main protagonists aren't receiving style advice from Japanese girls. Well, apart from the one who actually is a Japanese girl, but I guess in that case it's forgivable.
From the fleeting moments I've spent with the game and the pre-release media I've encountered, it would appear that the Square Enix are making a return to what they do best, making no fuss Japanese role-playing games. My favourite installation of the franchise is still 1999's Final Fantasy VIII as I feel their attempts at innovation since this point have generally resulted in a degradation of the experience. Therefore, I'm glad to see the return of the active time combat system, which feels like a familiar old friend in a new set of clothes.
Essentially, I like Final Fantasy games because they do what they do better than any other franchise. I don't want a Final Fantasy game to be anything other than a Final Fantasy game and so I'm hoping that the back-to-basics trend is one that continues throughout my experiences with Square Enix‘s latest release.
I'll let you know how it goes. Until next time diary.