Monday, April 25, 2011

New Article - Now Playing: Now Playing, Apr. 25th, 2011

Hey guys, I've decided that I'm going to put together a new "article", "Now Playing".  I think it's only fitting, after all.

Without further ado, the very first "Now Playing" article:

Currently Playing: Dynasty Warriors 7


System: XBox 360

Genre: Beat-'Em-Up

So far, I like it. The game has two main modes, Story and Conquest. Story mode is excellent, much better than in the previous entries. Conquest mode, not so much - especially since it lacks some of the gimmicks that make store mode so enjoyable.

The graphics have been given a significant boost, although generic soldiers still look really mediocre. The gameplay has been both simplified and improved. The combat system has been reverted to what it was prior to Dynasty Warriors 6 (this is a good thing) but has been made much more customisable by dint of the fact that each character can equip two weapons at once from 35 choices (34 weapons anyone can use and 2 gender-exclusive).  Furthermore, you can swap out any of the two that you always have equipped from the pause menu.

People who are experiencing the series for the first time will actually find a lot to like, as will people who have every previous entry. Much better than Dynasty Warriors 6 from a gameplay perspective, and much better than Dynasty Warriors: Strike Force period.  The game also supports offline and online 2-player multiplayer in Conquest mode exclusively.

What is in my other game systems:

Old Windows PC (P3 1Ghz): Diablo
DOS PC: The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
Xbox: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
N64: Jet Force Gemini
SNES: Ys III: Wanderers From Ys
NES: The Guardian Legend

Diablo is kind of a given because it's most likely going to be the May review. Plus I had to test it to make sure that the game was playable on my P3 (I ran into problems before). Diablo is an action-RPG that's also a graphical take on NetHack. NetHack is the original PC dungeon crawler, and I believe was originally made with ASCII characters. Ghetto graphics aside, it has a huge cult following. Diablo adds the graphics and Battle.Net. That I have not yet tested – I don't know if the servers are up and running, but it's worth finding out because it's free to play online. Just watch out for bastard cheaters.

For those who have read my, dissertation on The Elder Scrolls, Daggerfall is my favourite in the series. Mostly because of the instant death spells and the ability to climb sheer walls. Actually, I also really liked the combat system. As an action RPG, Daggerfall broke so many boundaries it isn't funny, and I have yet to play an RPG that comes as close to realising a character development system that is as deep as it is. Of course, this created a system that could be exploited all to hell, but it's FUN just to see how far you can take it.  And you can now play it for free!

I just got Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring because my girlfriend and I recently did a LotR Marathon. The game was received poorly, but I wanted to give it a shot. It's pretty interesting, and the music is very nice. Graphically, it's quite ugly. Unlike The Two Towers and Return of the King, Beat-'Em-Ups which were released by Electronic Arts, Fellowship (released by Black Label Games) is actually an adventure game, so I expect to get more than five hours out of it. For those who are interested, Two Towers actually covers the major battles from both Fellowship and Two Towers, so EA had no need to license a game based off of Fellowship.

Jet Force Gemini is an action-adventure title by Rare which is a combination of exploration and blowing up giant ants (that's about as far as I've gotten). The game is cute and quirky, but it doesn't do a very good job of telling you where you are and where you need to go. Quite fun, though. It's one of the few N64 games that I know of that supports surround (Dolby 4-speaker), but it does well enough with my 5.1 system. I don't really have much to say about it because as much as I like shooting up giant ants, I don't like running around in circles, so the game has been collecting dust. Not one of Rare's best adventure titles on the 64.

Ys III is a side-scrolling action-RPG. It's actually pretty straight forward, and fairly short...well, by today's standards at any rate. You play a warrior who, of course, starts off by saving the village from critters in a mine. Like many JRPGs of just about any stripe, there's a lot grinding involved. Aesthetically, it's actually aged surprisingly well, considering it's from 1991. Unfortunately, the gameplay has not. 

And finally, Guardian Legend. Guardian Legend is one of the earliest cross-genre titles, and you have to play it if you are into classic gaming even a little. And not just for its historic value. The gameplay is surprisingly good for a game that's 23 years old. Why? Because it's played in two formats: Exploration and Shoot-'Em-Up. I kid you not. The exploration mode is like Zelda with guns, more or less. I don't think I need to go into how a Shoot-'Em-Up mode works. It's one of those games you have to see to believe. It's like The Legend of Zelda had a bastard child with Galaga. And it works.

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