[FIRST IMPRESSION]: NIER:AUTOMATA/DEMO REVIEW

Whether it be in anime, or video games it seems I have penchant for strong female leads. I especially love being able to play a female character in RPG games. (Mass Effect was the best experience for me in that regard). NieR:Automata had caught my attention due to the cover art and the main character, I’d always been interested in it so when I saw the demo become available on PS4 I decided to give it a try it to see if it’d interest me enough for me to go out and buy myself a copy.

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I’m not familiar with the history of NieR; so I’ve had to look it up. NieR:Automata is a sequel to the PS3 Nier, which is then a spin-off of another game called, Drakengard. Nier branches off from one of the endings of Drakengard; while NieR:Automata follows suit and takes place after one of multiple endings found in Nier. Automata still carries over some elements from Drakengard in terms of mechanics but not in storyline, from what I’ve gathered.

NieR:Automata’s story is as follow:

Humanity has been driven from the Earth by mechanical beings from another world. In a final effort to take back the planet, the human resistance sends a force of android soldiers to destroy the invaders. Now, a war between machines and androids rages on… A war that could soon unveil a long-forgotten truth of the world. – Gamestop

In the distant future, an extra-terrestrial force has unleashed a ruthless army known as the “machine lifeforms” on Earth, driving mankind into exile on the moon. Android 2B, one of the latest infantry models of the newly formed organization called “YoRHa,” is plunged into a bitter war to reclaim the planet. – Platinum Games

Let’s start with graphics. Square Enix just really never disappoints when it comes to art style, character design, and overall graphics. I really enjoyed the visuals they’ve created, not just as eye candy but also in gameplay. At first it started off as your typical RPG game, you run around along a path or an open world. But then at some points the view shifts to the classic linear scrolling screen found in the original Nintendo games (i.e. Contra).  It also shifts to a zoomed out overhead view that looks down at the top of your players head and her enemies; this was the most jarring to me just because it was so zoomed out, I couldn’t really tell what the heck I was doing.

I also got a bit confused with how the map worked. I found myself turned around at some points, thinking ‘hmm this seems familiar’ when in fact I had looped back somehow and was back where I started. I almost ended up at the starting point because I was so confused. Wayfinding was not my strong suit in this demo.

Our protagonist 2B is a beautiful android that is super badass with dual swords. I’m a sucker for swordplay in games! Running around and slicing up robots gave me that nostalgic feeling of playing PS3’s Heavenly Sword. Heavenly Sword brings me a lot of good memories because that’s the first game I played that had a female lead of color. I don’t count Lara Croft in Tomb Raider because I couldn’t identify with her; and I could never get into Tomb Raider like my Dad did. I want to say the mechanics of operating 2B was very similar to Nariko (Heavenly Sword). The combat is action based so if you tend to be a button masher like myself (half the time) then you’ll probably really enjoy the gameplay of Automata. I also accidentally found this ability that’s very similar to Noctis’ ability to leave a projected image of himself as he teleports away, like a decoy.

However sometimes, the demo felt super guided, like I didn’t really have to control her to much or fight too much, mostly evade. I know that there’s an “auto-mode” for beginners, but I had picked normal mode; so I’m not sure. I like the little familiar that we get; that robot comes in handy when you feel overwhelmed by opponents. Just aim and shoot while you have 2B fight the others with her swords.

Overall, I like NieR:Automata. I like the feel of the mechanics; the feel of the environment and the design and fluidity of the fighting and the transitions to and from the scroll-mode. The wayfinding problem isn’t something so major that it would deter me from buying the game. I mean Square Enix just knows how to empty my pockets, let’s be real. The games I get from them always blow my mind aesthetics wise; and I have no problem with that. I can’t say much to the story since the Demo was so short; but with that ending. I want to know, is that part of the game? If so where does it happen, the beginning or the end?

From what I’ve read, NieR:Automata is getting a lot of buzz and positive reviews which helps me with my decision to go for it and invest in the game. BUT, with Mass Effect: Andromeda releasing next week,I have to finish paying off my pre-order; Automata will have to take a backseat for now.   But when I do get back to NieR: Automata I hope to give a full review! Most of my game reviews will be late (no surprise); since I’m the type to really take my time with it.

 

First Impressions: Final Fantasy XV (PS4)

(author’s note: This is long winded! Bear with me!)


 

It never occurred to me to ever include gaming into this blog; it didn’t seem to fit my theme….BUT, let’s be real; my blog has always been evolving. If I can’t nerd out here 100% where else will I get that kind of chance? Also a special thanks to lethargic ramblings for supporting my idea for this entry. 🙂

I am by no means a professional gamer, and I’m definitely not a hardcore gamer. I just game because I find joy in it – and it’s something I’ve grown up doing as an only child.  I can spend hours a day playing and other days I won’t even get to touch my PS4. I’m not even sure how to go about writing this first impression since it’s my absolute first time writing about a game!

I’ve been a final fantasy fan for awhile. Maybe not from the beginning, and I didn’t start with the iconic FFVII. My first Final Fantasy was FFX. I LOVE FFX. It’s one of my favorite games ever next to the Mass Effect series! FFX resonated with me so much on the PS2 when it first came out – I loved the characters; but more specifically the OST is what really got me. I love all the music from the Final Fantasy series; so much so I treated myself to the “Final Symphony” for my birthday this past year.

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But I digress; let’s get back to the task at hand: FFXV. At it’s core FFXV was a 10 year in the making video game. There was a very familiar feel when I started this game. I thought it oddly felt similar to FFX-III (I haven’t even finished this series). I had asked a buddy if they were within the same Final Fantasy universe and he told me it shouldn’t be.  But I did a little digging of my own. Back when FFX-III was being developed XV had started out to tie into that world alongside Type-O (which I also started but didn’t make it far). The three games although not related in realms share the same Mythos, in which theres a link between crystals and dieties and that’s pretty much all that ties them together – it’s under the title Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy. According to Wikipedia, the level of connection of mythos varies from game to game. But anyways, let’s breakdown my first impression of XV.

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VISUALS
Square Enix just never ceases to amaze. They’re always pushing the boundaries of realism in fantasy and it just gets better and better with each iteration they produce.It’s been pretty fluid for me so far in terms of cut scenes and battles. But sometimes I get some weird pixelation when I have Ignis mark enemies. I’m not sure if that’s part of the game or if that’s a glitch – cuz the pixelation looks cool >_< like magic in his hands. Also I think the Regalia is a pretty slick ride for a road trip!

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Ignis might be my favorite

MECHANICS
I’m not used to this active battle system. I’m used to the one in FFX, a conditional turn-based system and I could never really get FFX-III’s Command Synergy Battle system, it became pretty clear that if I don’t have the time to think – I’m the button mashing type. I used Noctis’ warp strike a lot in the beginning; not thinking about the link strikes or the L1 button to dictate what your friends do. Hence my finesse rating was always a “D“. That brings me to the “wait” mode. Thank god for the “wait” mode of the battle system; this slight pause gives me a few more seconds to think tactically about how I want to advance or what orders I want to give –  it gives me a better look at my enemies weaknesses as well. I’ve been able to bump my Finesse up to a “B” but that took so effort to get to it! My anime counter-part Armin would totally be disappointed in my lack of tactical expertise. T_T I have a bit of trouble with the magic and elemancy components – just because I accidentally end up incinerating my comrades (thankfully I haven’t killed anyone). Even if I throw it a distance sometimes they run into it and at the end of battle I can’t help but laugh at how burnt their clothes are.

INTERFACE
Also, to be honest I completely flubbed on how to read the quest map. I didn’t see that there was a correlation to what you were selecting from the list to the map that was in the background. Wayfinding is definitely not the strongest suit of this game – sometimes I wish I could zoom in even more on specific points because they’re still too jumbled up together to really see what’s there.

final-fantasy-xv-noctis-gladio-ignis-promptoSTORY
If you’ve seen my twitter you’ll know that I’ve been posting screenshots as I play through. Mostly smart ass remarks about me going on a roadtrip with my homies and living up the bachelor life/broke college student life. But in all seriousness, I watched the anime Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV and liked the backstory we got of each of the other people that make up Noctis’ circle.  I know that the movie Kingsglaive happens during the time Noctis leaves home and heads for Galdin Quay. Noctis leaves his home in Insomnia as he makes his way towards Lunafreya, his future wife to be, in Altissia; but in some unfortunate events (I need to watch Kingsglaive again) his Father, the King of Lucis is killed and the country is in a state of turmoil so to speark. Since I’m still in the early stages of this game (I’ve only played like 20 hours and I’m still in chapter 2) – this is all I know so far, so I apologize this doesn’t have much else to say. I’ve also mentioned some of the Mythos story earlier too.

MUSIC
Ah, the music. As I’ve said – I love the OST’s of Final Fantasy. They’re well composed scores that are just really incredbile to listen to. What I like about the music so far in XV is that on the long roadtrips with my bro’s I can listen to other OST’s from previous Final Fantasy games. I’ve actually been listening to Final Fantasy X-III’sSaber’s Edge” because of the adventure feel it gives off with the use of the brass section and the strings (Oops the music nerd in me is coming out). What better song to go on an epic road trip than with this track in the background – especially with the sweeping landscapes you encounter. I think it fits it perfectly.  I’m still on the hunt fot the FFX soundtrack – I have yet to find it in one of the mini-marts.

OTHER THINGS OF NOTE:
The damn fishing mini-game is fun! I feel so accomplished whenever I reel in a fish. It’s the little things.  I don’t get the pinball game really, but I managed to score over 200,000 points the first time I played it.

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I have a gripe with Prompto. The weakest in the bunch; he dies so easily that I don’t even bother reviving him with a Phoenix Down  half the time because I know he’s just going to die again in a matter of seconds. I’ve started to equip him with HP boosting accessories and make sure Ignis cooks Prompto’s favorite meals to further boost his HP for the upcoming battles, and that’s helped quite a bit. I think this is the most planning I’ve had to do – just to make sure he can try to stay alive and help in battle. I love that he’s a photographer though! Also, rake in the moola with those photography sidequests. That guy pays really well! Ignis is shaping up to be my favorite homeboy. I think the marking of opponents for Noct to follow is visually pleasing; an on top of that Ignis is our cook! He can cook for me any day! His meals look delicious! Also, I’m probably partial to Ignis because I’m like him. Always writing things down in a notebook and the driver on a roadtrip..

Another thing I don’t like but will have to live with, are the dungeons/caves. I don’t do well with surprises, and I hate spiders on top of that. So you can imagine the heart attack I have when I’m in the tomb trying to retrieve one of Noctis’ weapons only to be ambused by a gigantic spider in the middle of the dark. Also, in that ice tomb, what the heck was that samurai looking thing!? This is why I could never play Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, or Silent Hill growing up – just knowing something was there waiting for me just gave me anxiety and therefore unable to playthrough. But I could watch others playthrough it.

Ah, I digress again! Overall, I’m rather enjoying XV. I’ve seen some reviews really hate on the battle system, story and little things like the interact/jump button. But as a Final Fantasy fan over the years, I really really do love this game! I love that it’s got that open world feel and I can just wander around aimlessly looking for random items or engaging in battle with strange creatures. However, I hate the magitek battles; no matter my level I find them difficult to take down.

This was a longwinded first impression but I figured my game reviews will probably be lengthy until I figure out a type of system. Thanks for reading my ramblings on FFXV! What are your guys’ thoughts on the latest installment of Final Fantasy XV?