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Found 129 results

  1. Harrison Lee

    Review: Sleeping Dogs

    Developer: United Front Games Publisher: Square Enix Platform: PS3, XBOX 360, PC ESRB: M for Mature Release Date: Out Now This review is based on the PC version of the game A Triad thug charges you, carving knife in hand. He stands in a gang of six men; some armed, some not. All of them look like they want to make you into swiss cheese. How do you respond? If you're Wei Shen, you'd likely break the knife-wielders arm, throw him into a dumpster, and use the liberated sharp edge against the rest of the gangsters. Feel like punching and kicking? Go ahead, because Square Enix's Sleeping Dogs wants you to feel like the kick-butt street warrior you've always wanted to be. As an undercover cop hustling the crowded streets of Hong Kong, life is understandably difficult for Wei. He can't seem to find a stable girlfriend, avoid the cops (who are technically on his side), or escape the endless Triad warfare. Wei's singular reason for returning to the fabled city (after a stint in the US) is to infiltrate and destroy the Sun On Yee Triad, one of Hong Kong's most dangerous crime organizations. To accomplish his goal, Wei must work through the ranks of the gang, starting from the low-level enforcer. It's a thankless job, beating up rival gang members and all, and is only made awesome by the incredible melee system developer United Front Games has instituted. Those who've played Batman: Arkham City will immediately feel at home with the organic, simplistic control scheme. Wei has a light and heavy attack. If an enemy tries their own moves, they'll turn red and can be countered with a bone-cracking stunner. Wei can also grapple opponents and throw them into environmental hazards. Checking out that engine block suspended over a car? Throw a guy beneath it. See that batch of swordfish heads on the ground? Toss a gang-banger on top. Sleeping Dogs isn't subtle about its violence, and it doesn't need to be. After all, this is the most awesome gangster/kung-fu/open world game I've ever seen! Since it's open-world, there's obviously going to be a means of transportation. For Wei, cars are the best option as they handle like arcade racers. Players can easily nail drifts and aggressive auto assaults with the intuitive car handling. It helps to emphasize the sense of speed and style Sleeping Dogs so successfully pulls off. The car handling is also useful when Wei needs to hit the streets in a race. If you've played Burnout, you'll feel right at home here. It's a brilliant design choice that makes driving a joy rather than a chore. The melee and driving mechanics are great, but Sleeping Dogs isn't as slick in the shooting department. It's sometimes hard to target enemies and the controls are mapped to unusual buttons. Since I'm on PC, I was forced to hold shift when I wanted to zoom in. While you eventually get used to this quirk, it's not the most fun thing to deal with when 10 Triad footsoldiers are (literally) gunning for your head! The other quirk in Sleeping Dogs is the parkour system. While it's easy enough for Wei to climb up buildings and vault over objects, it may not have been the best idea to map that to the same button as the sprint ability. I've flubbed a number of table vaults simply because I wasn't fast enough to tap the key to jump over an object. It's not a problem in most games....except it costs you Cop points in Sleeping Dogs. Wait, Cop points? To give players a guiding system for managing their level of brutality, UFG has instituted the superb Cop and Triad experience system. Cop points are earned by not hitting civilians while driving and generally obeying the law. Triad points are earned by beating opponents into a bloody pulp. The more creative your kills, the more points you earn. Both Cop and Triad points help to level up Wei's combat system. At low levels, Wei is restricted to simple kicks and punches. At higher levels, Wei can vault over cover, tackle a guy, and take his gun in one swift kill. It pays in dividends to work with the system in equal measures. While the Cop-Triad system is mechanically great, it helps to enforce the larger sense of conflict brewing within Wei. Since he's technically a cop, he's supposed to limit the carnage and body count. But as a rival gang squeezes his buddies for territory and he begins to fall into the Triad lifestyle, the lines between cop and gang member are blurred. Taking down the real enemy will test Wei's resolve as he's forced to decide whether loyalty to the Sun On Yee is worth the asking price. Should he be the cop he's supposed to? Or should he join his new 'family' and take on the role of gang leader? Regardless of the choices the player makes, there's only one conclusion to Wei's story. Suffice it to say that it's worth beating the 13-14 hour campaign to see the end. I had a blast with the deep combat system and intriguing narrative. While the game may seem like another Grand Theft Auto clone, don't make the mistake of passing Sleeping Dogs by. It does many things better than Rockstar did, and for good reason. This is a high-octane gangster flick in video game form; not an emotionally-charged trip through crime purgatory. Once you've gotten your kicks from the melee system, you'll also notice just how great Sleeping Dogs looks and sounds. Visually, Hong Kong is gorgeous. Rain-slick streets glisten in the neon-lit metropolis and hundreds of residents go about their business as you'd expect real folks to. Their ambient chatter, full of entertaining news, often involves events you were responsible for. It's a great feeling to know you're having some sort of tangible impact on the game world. I must also applaud UFG for using real Cantonese for a number of characters. It adds an element of immersion and realism that I find lacking in many other titles. While nothing in Sleeping Dogs is truly realistic, it still feels grounded in a believable world. In the time between major releases from a certain open-world crime thriller series, few titles can step up to fill the void. Sleeping Dogs is one of the few games that can. It crams more action and intrigue into the relatively-short main story than most open-world titles could dream of. Even the revered Saints Row franchise has something to fear in UFG's masterpiece. While imperfect at times, Sleeping Dogs is one thrill ride worth experiencing! Pros: + The deep combat system + A great, if simple narrative + Visually stunning at times + Lots to see and do + Great audio and characters Cons: - Controls are oddly mapped - Some small glitches - The shooting isn't superb Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic If you're an action-junkie, this is a great title to dig into!
  2. Developer: indieszero Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: July 3, 2012 (out now) ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older The Final Fantasy series has not only graced us with memorable characters and stories, but also breathtakingly beautiful music. Terra“s Theme, To Zanarkand, Aerith“s Theme, and The Man with the Machine Gun are just few of many. So, why not make a Final Fantasy rhythm game? And that“s just what Square-Enix did when they brought out Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. It doesn“t disappoint at all, either. Right off the bat, Theatrhythm asserts itself as a creative and unique sort of rhythm game. Not only will you be tapping and sliding your stylus to Final Fantasy tunes, but you“ll also be leveling up characters, honing their stats and abilities, and collecting items and collectables. In a broad sense, it“s an RPG/rhythm-game hybrid. There are three modes for you to play in: series, challenge, and Chaos Shrine. Series mode allows you to play five songs from a Final Fantasy title in a row. Challenge mode lets you choose a single song to play through. Both series and challenge modes have three difficulty settings: basic, expert, and ultimate. Basic is pretty, well… basic. Those familiar with rhythm games will have absolutely no problem perfecting all the songs in this mode. Expert is a lot more challenging than basic, but ultimate is where the real fun is. It“s so fast-paced and will get your adrenaline pumping. You have to be a real rhythm game master in order to 100% all the songs on ultimate – or get all critical on each song, if you want to push it up a notch. The only annoying thing is that expert and ultimate modes are not available from the start. The third mode, Chaos Shrine, is where you“ll be spending a lot of your time if you“re interested in farming for rare items and shards (which are needed to unlock new characters). With Chaos Shrine, you receive “Dark Notesâ€, which consist of two songs. Every single Dark Note is randomly generated, so the amount of possible combinations for songs, scores, difficulty, bosses, and items is practically endless. The main problem I have with Chaos Shrine, however, is that there are only 20 songs (out of 70 or so that Theatrhythm has) that it uses. So, I hope you like hearing Fight with Seymour, Eternal Wind, and Mambo de Chocobo over and over again. Regardless, the random generation within Dark Notes still makes Chaos Shrine fun. The selection of songs chosen to be included in the base game of Theatrhythm is pretty nice. Most of the classics you know and love are in there ready to be played countless times. Of course, some of your favorites are probably missing and were made into DLC instead. Each song is only a dollar, but if you wanted all the ones currently available… it would be a little over $40 altogether. It“s a pretty steep price, but diehard Final Fantasy fans have had no trouble paying the money for all those songs. I“ve not bought any yet myself, but if I did have 40 bucks magically appear in my wallet right now, there might be a small chance I would put that towards some eShop cards to buy some sweet Theatrhythm tracks. And hey, with how much I“ve fallen in love with the game, it would be totally worth it. I also really enjoyed the wide variety of characters that are available to use. Not only are there 13 at your disposal right at the very beginning, but there“s another 13+ to unlock as you gather more shards throughout your playthrough. And they“re all so cute in Theatrhythm“s art style! Though I won“t spoil who you can get, I am somewhat disappointed Fran, Balthier, or Rikku weren“t implemented as playable characters. And as much as I dislike paid DLC, I would totally buy more characters to use in the game. I briefly mentioned that Theatrhythm has collectables. The main one is an album to collect cards in (called CollectaCards). There are 81 unique CollectaCards, however, if you want a 100% complete album, you“ll need 10 of each. When you collect four of one card, it will turn into a holofoil. And with seven of one card, it will turn into a super shiny platinum. Thankfully, you get plenty of CollectaCards throughout the game whenever you finish a song (especially in Chaos Shrine), so the feat of completing your album isn“t as difficult as it sounds. There are also unlockable videos to watch in theatre mode and songs to listen to in the music player. That“s self-explanatory, though. The last mode in the museum is records. Records includes your total play time, total number of chains, character usage, and so on. There are also trophies for you to achieve. There are 64 total trophies, and some are quite difficult, so those are sure to keep any completionist busy for a while. There“s so much to keep you occupied and entertained in Theatrhythm that you“ll be playing for hours on end. The replayability is sky-high! Not to mention it“s perfect for playing in short bursts. Theatrhythm was one of the most delightful gaming experiences of the year for me, and still is, since I“m aiming to unlock and achieve as much as I can. The game has also helped me rekindle a love for Final Fantasy. Now I want to go and play the games I haven“t touched or finished, like Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VI (oh, if only I had the time!). I“m sure I“ve made my point now about how much I love Theatrhythm. It“s a 100% must buy for any other Final Fantasy fans out there. And even if you don“t enjoy playing the main games in the series, but adore the music and you“re a fan of rhythm games, get it anyway! You“ll love it, I promise. Pros: + Mash-up of rhythm game and RPG aspects is unique, refreshing, and extraordinarily fun + More than 70 classic Final Fantasy songs to play, with over 40 to buy as DLC + Over 13 Final Fantasy characters to unlock, as well as other collectables + The chibi art style is adorable Cons: - Expert and ultimate modes for songs not available from the start - Chaos Shrine only uses 20 of Theatrhythm“s playable songs Overall: 9.5/10 Fantastic Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a dream come true for Final Fantasy fans and rhythm game enthusiasts. If you“re either or both, there“s absolutely no reason not to pick this game up.
  3. UPDATE: We've added concept art and the announcement video below. As the 25th Anniversary Celebration for Final Fantasy kicks off in Japan, Square-Enix broke news of a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII-2 called Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. This title will mark the end of Lightning's story in the series, reportedly. Series director Motomu Toriyama says that Lightning will be a much stronger character in this game and will face her final battle, so he asked the character designer to convey the "power" in her eyes. Series producer and showrunner Yoshinori Kitase also noted that the game will be much more active and the world features more interactive environments than before saying that "players can control Lightning as they see fit." He also brings up how players can customize her outfits, and that not only do they affect her appearance but her abilities as well. The controls and movements will be more extensive here as well, with Lightning being able to hang off ledges, pull herself up, duck behind corners, and even move around during battles. As far as the world goes, it will be based on four different islands and touches on three different themes: gothic, mechanical, and fantasy. The story will also feature a real-time countdown of sorts, as the world is set to end in 13 days from the game's outset, so Lightning has 13 days and 13 hours to stop it. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is slated to release sometime in 2013 for PS3 and 360. Check out concept art and video footage of the game's announcement (with English captions) at the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Celebration below.
  4. With the troubles that recently swarmed around cloud gaming service OnLive, it didn't seem like we would be seeing a new one so soon. However, it looks like Square Enix is ready to take on the streaming world alongside company Hapti.co to launch the service CoreOnline. CoreOnline is for PC gamers and lets you play games through your browser. There are only a couple games available now but they can be played in fullscreen and apparently in HD. The site supports Chrome, FireFox, and Internet Explorer, although before playing anything you must install the Square Enix Secure Launcher. Once that's done then you have a little more to deal with. You see, one of the biggest features of CoreOnline is that the library of games is free to play. Well, they're free as long as you can stand to watch some ads. When starting up a game you're granted 10 minutes of play but after that must select an ad to watch. Once that's done you can return to play for a while until it's time for another ad. Watching a tiny commercial grants you fewer minutes, while watching longer ones will award a fair bit more time. One unfortunate thing about the timer though is that it will count down even if you're in a loading screen. On the other hand, if you navigate away from the screen it will pause the game and not have the timer ticking away until you return. What if you don't want to have to be taken out of the game every so often? It's possible to buy access to specific levels or even the entire game. For example, one level in Hitman: Blood Money is 49 cents. So far there are only three games available and they are Hitman: Blood Money, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Mini Ninjas. Their next additions are set to be Gyromancer and Tomb Raider Underworld. Would you play games with commercial breaks in between?
  5. If you're one of the gamers who was hungrily eyeing the obviously The World Ends With You-themed countdown page then you may have thought a new game was coming. It seemed quite likely and fans were pretty hyped to see what would be revealed when it ended. The teaser site is still going and belting out TWEWY songs, but Siliconera reported the bad news. They have screenshots that were taken of Square Enix showing off a CD product page. The page advertised The World Ends With You - Crossover - album. Of course, as soon as people got wind of this listing, Square Enix quickly took it down. Why did they take it down? It's due to the fact that the listing revealed an iOS version of the game. This was mentioned because it will feature some arranged tracks from Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. So, yes, there's more TWEWY coming but it's not for a 3DS sequel or anything of that sort. Instead, Japanese fans will get a nice new album and iOS game. This port comes about 5 years after the game originally hit DS in 2007. How do you think the game will translate to iOS? Would you play it again or do you just want a new game?
  6. Christopher Haygood

    Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

    Developer: Indies zero Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ There“s been some debate as to how Square Enix has recently been treating its flagship series, Final Fantasy, these days. As in, whether or not the company is grinding the name into the ground like a stilettoed heel crushing a cigarette butt into the sidewalk. It“s under this massive shadow of doubt that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has hit the market, so is this bizarre title a mere gimmicky attempt to remind us of Square“s former glory, or…or…well, what is it, really? For starters, it's a rhythm game featuring Final Fantasy music. Now uncock that eyebrow and listen, because it's far cooler than you might be imagining. The game“s music spans the Final Fantasy series from I to XIII, meaning the bulk of it comes from the mind of the brilliant Nobuo Uematsu, with a few choice tracks from other talented composers as well. If you“ve played games like Elite Beat Agents, Theatrhythm“s gameplay won“t feel too foreign: you tap, hold, and slash at the bottom screen to correspond to the symbols on the top screen. Theatrhythm“s gameplay is deeper than that, however. There are three types of stages: Battle Music Stages (BMS) that involve fighting enemies to battle themes, Field Music Stages (FMS), which contain more relaxing world map music, and Event Music Stages (EMS), levels that play cutscene montages from the various games in the background. Each type of stage plays differently and has different goals to complete. You can play all the songs from one game in a row in Series Mode, play specific songs in Challenge Mode, or attempt difficult special stages known as “Dark Notes” in the Chaos Shrine. The game has you pick a party of four characters – title characters from the various games, all of whom have different skills and stats, and all of whom look ridiculously cute – who level up as you complete stages. Theatrhythm“s brilliance lies not so much in its level design but in its usage of these RPG elements. For instance, in every FMS stage, in which the object is to traverse as far across the plains as possible; a character with high agility and luck stats will guarantee that you accumulate more items as you go along, as well as reach farther areas where stronger bosses lie. In the battle sequences, characters with high magic and attack stats will tear through enemies to reach the boss of the stage, and characters with high HP will keep you alive if you start messing up too badly. And it takes more strategy than simply getting four random characters up to level 99. Around midway through the Dark Notes in the Chaos Shrine, you“ll have to choose party members, skills, and items very carefully if you want even a chance at beating the bosses. Luckily there are tons of characters to unlock, all with their own unique stats and abilities to help overcome the obstacles, which continue to get more and more obstacle-y as you play. New characters aren“t the only extras in the game; there are unlockable stages, collectable cards, attainable trophies, and a theater and music player to fill with movies and songs. Extras are obtained through “Rhythmia,” an aggregate score you keep building up through the game, and it“s always fun to see what you get when your Rhythmia hits certain amounts. All this should be enough to keep any gamer occupied for eons, and that“s not even mentioning the levels that can be purchased as DLC. Theatrhythm isn“t without its moments of frustration though. Oddly, the Chaos Shrine repeats certain songs often while omitting other songs altogether; Final Fantasy III“s catchy battle theme is surprisingly absent here, while Final Fantasy V“s obnoxious “Mambo de Chocobo” seems to make an appearance on every other Dark Note. There are also a few songs with vaguely-defined tempos that prove difficult to predict unless you know the tracks like the back of your hand. And there“s always the possibility that the adorable art style will turn away gamers used to the "visual kei" style of modern Final Fantasy titles. Still, these few diminutive drawbacks do virtually nothing to reduce the playability of Theatrhythm. What seems at first to be a cute rhythm game turns out to have an impressive amount of depth. Final Fantasy fans will get dozens of hours out of this title, and rhythm game enthusiasts will find much to respect in its original take on the genre. Wherever Square Enix takes the illustrious franchise (and prospects don“t look good), Theatrhythm Final Fantasy serves as a perfect homage to a series whose magic has survived in many of us, even through its darkest notes. Pros: + Over 70 of the best tracks from a series highly renowned for its music + Tons of unlockable content + RPG elements that have a large effect on the gameplay Cons: - Songs repeat with odd frequency in the Chaos Shrine - Certain tracks just don“t seem right for a rhythm game Overall Score: 8.5 (Out of 10) Great A fun and original take on the rhythm genre, and a must for fans of Final Fantasy“s outstanding musical oeuvre.
  7. Dominic Dimanche

    Review: Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

    Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Square Enix Platform: 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: E10+ Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, peculiar name aside, is the latest and - from what the developers claim - final installment before Kingdom Hearts takes the big step to Kingdom Heart 3. DDD (Dream Drop Distance) has the challenging job of not only wrapping up the world“s longest prelude, but also has to make everything that came before it make sense narratively with equally strong gameplay to match. Does DDD succeed? The answer is a resounding – “Sort of.” Let us get the major hurdle out of the way first: the infamous tangle that is the Kingdom Hearts storyline. The short and sweet version goes thus: Sora and Riku are called to take a special test called the “Mark of Mastery” to become official masters of the Keyblade and by extension, their own powers. All this is done in order to better prepare for the coming of the main villain behind the whole series, Xehanort, who is amassing his own army of darkness in order to plunge the world into darkness, chaos, and inevitable war. The “Mark of Mastery” test sends both Riku and Sora into the world of dreams to unlock seven worlds lost in slumber. By doing so, they will unlock a special power within themselves and possibly unlock more about their own natures than they were originally aware. The story itself wastes no time throwing characters, terms, and past storyline events at you. For those who have played the handheld editions or at least have read on Wikipedia, the plot is relatively easy to follow. While the game does provide an extensive compendium to initiate the unfamiliar, the several pages of text can be a bit daunting to slog through and may cause many to lose patience. Which would be a bit of shame since the story is possibly one of the strongest in the series, ranking up there with Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days. Of particular note is Riku, who the game tends to focus most of the narrative on, thus unveiling a great deal of growth and emotion for his character. You'll notice that the gameplay takes a lot of pages from Birth by Sleep while playing. The battle system uses the command deck system, allowing for a custom line up of special attacks, spells, and items. This makes the fighting quick and fun to strategize and tweak with. In addition, there is a new feature called “free flow” which allows you to jump and zip around the environment with cool parkour-esque attacks. The other facet to the game is your constant companions called “spirits,” which are essentially friendly dreams you can create and accompany you in your party. Each has their own powers, moves, and stat perks you can unlock via feeding, playing, and battling with them. I personally found them more enjoyable than Donald and Goofy and even more useful in battle. You can also join with them to unleash super attacks which do immense damage and various effects. Along with the battle systems and companions, the other feature is the “drop” mechanic. In DDD, both Riku and Sora reside in parallel versions of each world they visit and as you travel through one, a gauge slowly depletes. Once the gauge is empty, you“ll automatically drop off and switch to the other character waiting in the wings. In each world, the levels layout, environment, and even bosses change between the two worlds. This leads to an interesting experience…until you ”drop” in the middle of a heated battle or boss fight (the latter of which causes the boss fight to restart); then it just becomes an annoying interruption. However, the risk of this happening can be prevented by using items and some good old fashioned time management. Another sticky subject is the wonky camera. Without the second circle pad to control the camera, being forced to use the shoulder buttons or the lock-on camera led to one too many moments dying because of getting nailed in my blind-spot by a random enemy or boss attack. Overall, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance carries an excellent production value and really does take advantage of the graphic power of the 3DS. The Disney worlds are also an excellent variety this time around, ranging from Tron: Legacy, Notre Dame, all the way to old favorites like The Three Musketeers and Fantasia. Each world is lovingly crafted and an impressive sight with the 3D effects, though no magic is lost in the standard 2-D either. While DDD does struggle from being a bit backstory-heavy, it does a commendable job of paving the way for Kingdom Hearts 3…whenever that shows up. Pros: + The new Disney worlds are a treat + Battle system is quick and solid + Dream Eaters are a welcome addition in lieu of Donald and Goofy Cons: - Camera is a real nuisance at times - Story may be difficult to follow for those who“re not familiar with the handheld renditions of Kingdom Hearts - Dropping at inopportune moments Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good While it is not without its foibles, Dream Drop Distance does enough things right to make it one of the best handheld editions of Kingdom Hearts, second only to Birth by Sleep. That is...if you“ve played Kingdom Hearts beyond the second one.
  8. Last month, Square Enix kicked off the DLC for Theatrhythm with 12 add-on song tracks for $0.99 apiece. Now they've announced even more tracks for August - 20 new tracks, to be precise - and they've laid out the release schedule below. August 2, 2012 1. “Movement in Green” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “March of the Dreadnoughts” (FINAL FANTASY XIII) 3. “Gustaberg” (FINAL FANTASY XI) 4. “The Crystal Tower” (FINAL FANTASY III) August 9, 2012 1. “Battle Theme” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “The Dalmasca Estersand” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “The Darkness of Eternity” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “This is the Last Battle” (FINAL FANTASY III) August 16, 2012 1. “Challenge” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “Desperate Fight” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “Battle 2” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “The Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY V) August 23, 2012 1. “Otherworld” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “The Royal City of Rabanastre / Town Ward Upper Stratum” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “The Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “Battle 1” (FINAL FANTASY V) August 30, 2012 1. “Final Battle” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “Boss Battle” (FINAL FANTASY XII) 3. “Dark City Treno” (FINAL FANTASY IX) 4. “The Decisive Battle” (FINAL FANTASY V) Definitely some interesting tracks there, including some classics from FFIX, FFX, and FFXII specifically. Will this be the end of the run for the DLC add-on tracks? We don't know, but at the end of August there will be 32 add-on tracks available for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. It's a win-win situation for both sides since the players can choose to buy more musical tracks and Square Enix potentially stands to make a boatload of cash from this. Are there any songs in the list that you would be interested in buying?
  9. The OUYA is finally getting support from a major publisher as today Square Enix has announced (via press release) its intentions to bring Final Fantasy III to the open-source console as a launch title. For those wondering, yes, this is the version of Final Fantasy III that was first remade in 3D for the DS back in 2006 (and subsequently released for iOS since), and it will be fully optimized for the OUYA when it launches. In addition, the game will be getting a free-to-try demo as well as renewed controller support. Square Enix also states that they are interested in bringing other games to the OUYA as well. While nothing else is official, one can't help but wonder if Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions might be next on OUYA. After all, the game did get ported to iOS in the past few years as well. Whatever happens, it seems that Square Enix is now officially onboard with the OUYA.
  10. Jordan Haygood

    Review: Heroes of Ruin

    Developer: n-Space Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: Out Now ESRB: T for Teen If you“re looking for a solid, portable dungeon-crawler, there aren“t exactly too many choices, which is a bit of a shame. If you“re anything like me, one of the perks in life is being able to slay giant spiders and enormous dragons while sitting on the toilet. So you“ll understand why I decided to pick up Heroes of Ruin for the Nintendo 3DS. Heroes of Ruin is a fun little action RPG that relies heavily on the aspects of scouring dungeons and gathering loot – two things that made games like Diablo and Torchlight so much fun. And as a game within the same genre, Heroes of Ruin satisfies my hunger for a solid dungeon-crawler, but just barely... From the get-go, Heroes of Ruin begins showing its ambitions. As you start a new game, you“ll jump straight into selecting your desired character class, whether it be the spell-casting Alchitect, the barbarous Savage, the heavily-armed Gunslinger, or the all-around Vindicator. Once you make that choice, you“ll be given another to make – what your character looks like. Sadly, there isn“t that much customization, but hey, at least I was still able to give a lion a mohawk. Once you get into the actual game, you“ll be introduced to the story, which…isn“t really all that important to this game. Within the realm of Veil, your main objective is basically to save Ataraxis - sphinx ruler of the hub town of Nexus - from a curse inflicted upon him by an unknown entity. But really, the story of Heroes of Ruin is mainly just a catapulting device meant to launch the game into action. Think of it as sort of an isometric version of Dark Souls (but much, much easier). The dialogue isn“t all that important, either. Half of the time, I found myself skimming what the NPCs said just so I could get back to the action. All you really need to know is that these guys are giving you quests - whether they be part of the storyline or just some random sidequest. Anyone else you come across in the game is just there to take up space and make Nexus feel a little less barren. Of course, the cut scenes are always pretty fun to watch, even if the story is a little so-so. This is mostly due to the crafty art style to which these scenes are presented and the 3D effect making them pop out so nicely. I was also pleasantly surprised when I saw my own character translated right into the cut scenes, customizations and all. Unfortunately, I can“t say that the rest of the game“s graphical capabilities are all that impressive. The 3D effect made the isometric world stick out pretty well, but for the most part, the textures just made the game look like a 3D PSP game. But that“s not to say that the graphics aren“t tolerable. When compared with games like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Resident Evil: Revelations, though, the graphics are pretty disappointing for a 3DS game. But for the simple dungeon-crawler that this game is, the fun factor is by no means stunted by this. The people in this game look pretty dull themselves. The character models are all blocky and the character animations are a bit awkward-looking. These are things that sometimes make the game look better in 2D mode, because with the 3D turned on, the graphical flaws are further enhanced. And that is by no means a good thing. One other thing that makes the cut scenes in Heroes of Ruin enjoyable is the narrative. This is because the voice acting is so well-done here. And this is exactly what makes the rest of the game somewhat disappointing in the voiceover department. Why? Because the narrative in the cut scenes is just about the only area in which the voice actors show any effort. Aside from the occasional voiceovers for certain characters, such as before and after boss fights, anyone else who speaks just sounds like some college kids trying to imitate the British. The sound effects in the game are pretty good, too, panning between right and left speakers depending on the position of the sound“s source. But although the sounds are often pounding with realism, this game can often suffer from little sound farts, such as sounds being out of sync, or nonexistent at all. And that often includes the game“s music. On that topic, the music in Heroes of Ruin is decent, but it“s certainly nothing to rave about (especially not at rave parties). The soundtrack consists of simplistic tunes that are only there to complement the dungeons you“re in, along with the song that plays during the game“s hub town. Other than that, you“ll be hearing a few songs that are just remixes of the game“s menu theme, as well as a few generic boss battle themes. The real meat on the bones of this 3DS title is the hack-n“-slash combat and, of course, the looting. Suffering from a few minor technical bumps, the combat in Heroes of Ruin is pretty fluid and pretty fun, albeit a bit repetitive. Aside from your basic attack, you also get three slots to place skills of your choice, which you learn by leveling up. Unfortunately, your level caps at level 30, so you have to pick and choose which skills you want to perfect. Looting in this game is one of the most addicting parts about it. While scouring the dungeons to complete your quests, you“ll find plenty of treasure, which you“ll often feel too compelled not to pick up, even if your character can“t even use it. You“ll find a lot of useless loot that you“ll want to sell, but finding the good stuff makes me feel all warm inside. It“s a shame that Heroes of Ruin couldn“t be more challenging, though. I found it pretty easy to get through a dungeon by simply mashing the basic attack button over and over again until I met with the boss. I rarely even had to block or dodge at all, and I still managed to keep the max amount of potions most of the way through. And the lack of challenge is made even more lacking once you play online, as the difficulty is only on one setting, no matter what. After playing Heroes of Ruin online for a bit, it soon becomes apparent that the game was made to play online. And boy, does this game pull it off. With seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op that even includes voice chat, this has to be one of the most comprehensive online experiences the 3DS has to offer. It also provides an array of different challenges that offer rewarding loot upon completion in an online quest system that is updated regularly. This keeps the game quite fresh for those willing to give these challenges a shot, which is good, because the campaign will only last you about six hours. The online integration is also very stable, giving me very few lagging problems. There are a few flaws with it, however. These include the already-lengthy loading screens made even longer and the fact that those who host games will be booted as soon as the system is closed. Overall, Heroes of Ruin is a pretty solid attempt at bringing the dungeon-crawler genre to the 3DS. It“s a fun little game that offers a very robust online integration, fun combat, and loot - lots and lots of loot. But with all its draws, the game also has its flaws. It“s a graphically-unimpressive game that lacks in challenge, structure, and length. Fortunately, none of that will really keep you from having fun, at least until the next 3DS dungeon-crawler comes along to follow in its footsteps. Pros: + Robust online integration + Fun hack-'n-slash gameplay + Looting is always welcome Cons: - Graphically-unimpressive - Game lacks challenge - Too short Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good While it certainly isn't perfect, Heroes of Ruin isn't broken, either. If you're a fan of scouring dungeons and looting with friends, this is the game for you.
  11. Apparently someone thought it would be funny to spread a rumor about Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which was first unveiled in 2006, getting the ax. Said rumor went viral throughout gaming communities on the internet, and until now, we haven't gotten a word whether it was true or not. CEO of Square Enix, Yoichi Wada, told us himself through Twitter that Final Fantasy Versus XIII is indeed still kicking. Here is the translation provided by Siliconera: "Someone has been spreading a false rumor that Versus has been canceled, it seems. [Laughs.] Just now, we finished our regular Versus meeting. If you could see the city in today“s presentation it would sweep you off your feet." Hopefully after all this hubbub, Square Enix will provide us with some new screenshots or even footage from the long-awaited Final Fantasy game! Do you still care about Final Fantasy Versus XIII? Do you expect it COULD still get canceled or changed?
  12. Marshall Henderson

    Final Fantasy Versus XIII May Be Dead

    Get ready to put on your "I Told you So" hats, because if rumors are to believed, it looks like Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be going nowhere. After six years since announcement, and subsequent accusations of being vaporware, the Final Fantasy XIII spin-off is rumored to be losing its resources to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Square Enix, when contacted by Eurogamer, gave the often damning "could not comment on rumours or speculation" line. Square-Enix is supposedly avoiding public acknowledgement as to avoid getting hit in their stocks. Plausible enough, but it tastes better with a grain of salt. Of course, even were the rumors true, this isn't the curtain call for Final Fantasy XIII. Square Enix has already made it clear that additional Final Fantasy XIII content would be coming out, especially with the "Final Fantasy 13 Lightning Saga: New Developments Presentation" presentation ready for the first of September. This presentation comes in honor of the 25th Anniversary for the series... the Final Fantasy series, that is, not the Final Fantasy XIII series. Without confirmation from Square Enix, this is a big pile of maybe, but really, would anyone be surprised?
  13. I'll admit it; when I first heard of the newest entry to the True Crime series, I let out a groan. I thought to myself, "Another flawed open-world crime game? I think I'll pass." It wasn't until I got a better view of just how awesome True Crime: Hong Kong (renamed Sleeping Dogs) is that I realized I'd made a huge mistake in passing it off. Sleeping Dogs is a gritty, violent, mature open-world action that game that features a whole host of illicit activities, a deep melee system, and a truly impressive recreation of Hong Kong. What's not to like? Sleeping Dogs follows Wei Shen, an undercover cop, as he infiltrates a triad to try and destroy it from the inside. To gain the triad's trust, Wei must do the gang's bidding and kill, steal, maim, intimidate, and dismantle Hong Kong's rival triads. How he does this is up to the player. Whether you want to shove people into fans or chop at enemy gangbangers with meat cleavers is up to you. United Front Games has implemented an extraordinary hand-to-hand combat system that allows Wei to utilize the latest in martial arts techniques. Using a simple scheme of Attack, Grapple, and Counter, Wei can disarm opponents and break every bone in their bodies. If karate-chopping isn't your thing, the undercover brother is also proficient with firearms, though I feel you'll be missing out on some of the greatest-looking melee combat to grace a video game. Wei can also use the environment to his advantage by throwing enemies onto sharp poles, grinding them in fans, or lighting them on fire (among other things). Yeah, Sleeping Dogs is bloody. While Sleeping Dogs is all about brutal, graphic violence, there are plenty of other activities for Wei to partake in. He can run cockfights, race against street rivals, date women, and generally cause a ruckus about the city. What's really piqued my curiosity is how Wei's status as a cop will affect his reactions to life as triad member. Will he be rattled by difficult moral conundrums, be driven to bloodlust by killing, embrace his identity as a triad member, or become something inhuman? While UFG and publishers Square Enix haven't focused on Wei's development, morality and evolving Wei's character will likely be integral components of the experience. If UFG can pull it off, Sleeping Dogs may be the most compelling open-world crime drama to hit the markets in a long time. Like many other gamers, I passed Sleeping Dogs off as another generic open-world game. After Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, it's hard for me to imagine playing another criminal underworld-driven title. But Sleeping Dogs has done the impossible. By crafting a complex, rewarding combat system and a thriving version of Hong Kong teeming with new experiences, UFG and Square Enix have gotten my attention. I can't wait until the mid-August release date hits; I'm really looking forward to experiencing Wei Shen's Machiavellian approach to justice. Look for Sleeping Dogs on August 14, 2012. Still not convinced that the close quarters combat is awesome? Check out the trailer below!
  14. Despite launching with day one DLC, the newly released Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy still has plenty more DLC song tracks to offer in the days and weeks to come. Square Enix has announced that 12 additional audio tracks are on the way will be available for $0.99 each. Here's a look at the schedule they've layed out: July 12, 2012 1. “Somnus” (FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII) 2. “Desperate Struggle” (FINAL FANTASY XIII) 3. “Sarutabaruta” (FINAL FANTASY XI) 4. “Battle” (FINAL FANTASY VI) July 19, 2012 1. “Fight On!” (FINAL FANTASY VII) 2. “Etro“s Champion” (FINAL FANTASY XIII-2) 3. “Battle Theme” (FINAL FANTASY XI) 4. “Battle 1” (FINAL FANTASY III) July 26, 2012 1. “A contest of Aeons” (FINAL FANTASY X) 2. “The Archylte Steppe” (FINAL FANTASY XIII) 3. “The Sanctuary of Zi“Tah” (FINAL FANTASY XI) 4. “Crystal Cave” (FINAL FANTASY III) Though I'm saddened by the lack of Final Fantasy XII tracks, I'm definitely looking forward to a few of these myself, especially "Battle" (from FFVI) and "Fight On!" (FFVII). It's currently unknown if this is the last set of DLC that Theatrhythm will see, but if it sells well, I can imagine we might see more in the future. Are you planning on buying any DLC tracks? Any in particular that catch your eye?
  15. If you've been following rumors lately then you'll have probably caught wind that a Final Fantasy VII re-release was possible. Today, Square Enix has officially launched the site and announced that this is the real deal. It's not the remake that so many fans clamor for day in and day out, but it should still appease those who are interested in playing the game again (or for the first time). The game originally was out in 1997 for PS1 and then '98 for PC. No doubt that PC version isn't the easiest thing to find or run on modern machines so this re-release should fix that up. Why should anyone buy Final Fantasy VII today if it's not even remade? There are now achievements, cloud saves, and "character booster". This allows you to increase your HP, MP, or gil when you can't otherwise. Although there's little specifics, it almost sounds like some sort of F2P-style scheme where you invest real money to get an edge. No release date has been set yet but there was a trailer posted for the announcement: Do you think you might buy the re-release?
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