Final Fantasy 15 Review

When I was young, my family used to go on road trips in a conversion van that had a VHS player in it as its sole source of entertainment, and so I wound up watching a bunch of the same movies over and over again since the VHS tapes were too bulky to bring a bunch of them. One of these movies started with a skit featuring The Lion King’s Timon singing a cover of Stand By Me that caused Pumbaa to get pummeled by increasingly improbable cartoon violence, and seeing this hundreds of times over countless road trips caused me to associate the song with impending disaster. It felt apropos, then, when Final Fantasy 15—a game I went into expecting the worst of after playing two-thirds of the terrible FF13 trilogy—began with a rendition of Stand By Me. It certainly lived up to the expectations the skit had imprinted in me for the first 10 or so hours, presenting an unremarkable open world littered with shameless fan service and endless busy work. It eventually opens up and smooths out some of the initial rough edges, and there are some parts that were good enough that I even considered making this a positive review for awhile, but at the end of the day, this is a game that borrows so heavily from other games that it’s entirely bereft of originality or creativity. That’s not the same thing as being bad, of course, but Final Fantasy 15 takes so many cues from other games that it lacks any kind of individual identity, and considering how many games have done the same things better, you’re best off just playing those instead. Read more →

Final Fantasy 15 Screenshots

Considering their incessant hard-on for irritating DRM, killing off of the first three Chaos Rings games, and constant re-releases of classic Square games (like they’re totally the same company) that invariably have ugly new art or translations or other problems that ruin them, Square-Enix spent the latter part of 2015 and the rest of 2016 going out of their way to make me hate them. Imagine if Picasso had been possessed by some kind of mischievous spirit that granted him immortality, but also caused him to run around smearing excrement all over his most beloved paintings. That’s a window into the way I’ve come to view Square-Enix these past few years, and so I resolved to buy Final Fantasy 15 both used and at a price low enough to handle another Final Fantasy 13-tier disaster. The stars aligned and that happened surprisingly quickly, as it turns out, but don’t confuse my hatred of Square-Enix as a sign that I’m not willing to give their games a chance: Final Fantasy 15 is quite a bit better than 13 in terms of story (and as a result, better overall in my book), though its shameless forays into various types of “modern popular” trends and mechanics cause it to be unfocused, poorly paced, and frustratingly tedious. That’s not to say that there’s no fun to be had, of course. That fun is merely suffocated under 40-odd hours of maddening sidequest busywork. Read more →

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Review

I picked this up having enjoyed the previous two Shantae games and wanting to start 2017’s reviews off on a positive note before the inevitable parade of mediocrity that typically has to be waded through before finding another genuinely good game. Apparently this was the result of a Kickstarter campaign from back in 2013, which means I was three years too late to get in on any of those backer rewards, but it’s kind of nice to be able to experience one of these games around the same time as everyone else instead of years and years after the fact. Now, reviews generally exist to answer the question of whether something is good or not, but the answer to that question is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no in this case. In fact, if my notes are any indication, the answer is “yes, then kind of, then yes again, then no no no no why is this happening, then ehhh, then yes again,” which is a roundabout way of saying that the game is worth it overall despite having some pretty glaring issues. Read more →

Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Screenshots

Okay, okay. I’ve been a bit lazy with the screenshots lately, but honestly, Simon the Sorcerer? King Arthur 2? Those aren’t really the types of games that would have benefited from screenshots, nor would they have been particularly informative. Screenshots for a Shantae game, on the other hand, can show off some of the areas and humor, so here: have some Shantae screenshots. Read more →

King Arthur 2: Dead Legions (DLC) Review

The Dead Legions DLC’s store page describes it as “the chronicle of how the greatest adversary of King Arthur came into power.” If one takes that (as I did) to mean an adversary of the character King Arthur, it’s a lie. King Arthur doesn’t play a role in either the base game or DLC, and this supposed adversary doesn’t even get beaten by his son, main character William Pendragon. Instead, Willy P holds off his hordes of undead warriors while Morgana takes him on instead. If one takes “greatest adversary of King Arthur” to mean “the most difficult encounter of the game,” that’s slightly closer to the truth; I certainly found his fight to be the most difficult one up to that point in the game, putting aside the impossible-tier battles that keep you from straying too far off the story’s rails. Even then, though, he’s eventually outclassed by later such encounters. A better description for this game, then, would be: “the surprisingly interesting origin of a middling wannabe quickly swatted out of the way in the main campaign.” I totally understand why that’s not as marketable, but it’s accurate—while Septimus Sulla, who I’ll henceforth refer to as Silly Sully, is mostly just an annoyance thrown into the base game to have a middle-game antagonist, the DLC that covers what made him that way proves to be focused and enjoyable in a way that the base game simply isn’t. Read more →

King Arthur 2: The Role-Playing Wargame Review

It’s been 3 years and 8 months since I reviewed the abysmal King Arthur: Fallen Champions, and a month longer since I covered the surprisingly enjoyable King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame that Fallen Champions failed at being a sort-of-sequel to. To be honest, I’ve had King Arthur 2 for around the same amount of time (in fact, according to Steam I bought both of them on the same day) but put off playing it for a number of reasons. To start with, I didn’t pick up the Dead Legions prequel DLC until late 2015 and refused to get into the game without it being complete. Though I’ve yet to actually play through said DLC, the base game did a wonderful job of showing me what an incredibly dumb reason that was. By the time I had purchased the DLC, though, my memories of the previous two titles had faded and the mixed reception of the second game made it difficult to click on the little icon. King Arthur 2 must have been sitting on my desktop for 6 months before I finally decided to give it a try, and only then for the sake of being able to delete it from my hard drive in order to free up some space. As tends to be the case with the games I avoid for stupid reasons, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit, and though there are some huge caveats that keep it from living up to its predecessor, King Arthur 2 is still a surprisingly enjoyable game. Read more →

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