Category Archives: ARPG

Fantasy Life (3DS)

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Fantasy Life is a relatively new concept for Level-5, who are of the Professor Layton series fame. Fantasy Life is a game where you choose a “Life”, chosen from a crafting, gathering or combat job, and you can then play through the game. However, in difference to many other games with a job system, you can switch your chosen Life almost at will. This made for a rather interesting experience…

Continue reading Fantasy Life (3DS)

GTAV live stream – 17th September 12:00 – 17:00

cropped-fhgspgta5livemnm.jpgTune exclusively into www.twitch.tv/FireHawkLIVE Continue reading GTAV live stream – 17th September 12:00 – 17:00

Thoughts and predictions on GTAV (Grand Theft Auto 5)

Grand-Theft-Auto-V-Splash-Image1[1]So, with September 17th coming fast, I thought it would be a good idea to say my opinions and thoughts of GTAV, along with my plans for content and community around it. Continue reading Thoughts and predictions on GTAV (Grand Theft Auto 5)

Children of Mana (DS)

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It seems to be a little known fact that Square-Enix actually makes RPGs which are not Final Fantasy. One of the other series which Square-Enix has claim to is the Mana series, which were pretty decent at one point. Unfortunately, since the GBA days, the Mana series seems to be going downhill.

Story

4/10

For a series which traditionally prides itself on having a strong plot, I must say, in this game, it’s disappointing. The story essentially boils down to ‘oh bloody hell there’s an evil dude doing bad stuff and turning the elementals evil, you must stop him with the holy sword’.  The pacing isn’t great either – you advance a bit of the story, unlock a new dungeon to run through, complete that, go back to the hub village, advance the story, unlock a new dungeon, rinse, later, repeat.

Sound

3/10

Well, some of the soundtrack is decent (Jadd’s desert and Lorimar’s Ice Citadel come to mind), but the rest is… well, not great. Off the top of my head and away from the game, I am struggling to recall much from the game’s soundtrack. One thing that annoys me is, considering how much of your time is spent in the hub village, the lack of decent music for the village is glaring. Apart from a few select places, I can honestly say, I’d rather play this game with the music turned off. I don’t often say that for games…

Graphics

4/10

I will give the graphics, they are pretty. However, they also look like they’ve been pulled straight from the GBA games. Still, they do the job well enough. However, one glaring thing with the graphics is during the character creation bit, you get the option of choosing your character’s hair colour. You see the hair colour change on the in-game sprite. When it comes to character portraits during dialogue… there’s only the generic hair colour used for the portraits. That really niggles at me. Also, the sprites being completely static in the background when you’re in the village hub also annoys me. I mean, how difficult would it have been to make it look like the inhabitants aren’t statues?

Multiplayer Options

N/A

I have a slight problem here. I haven’t yet found someone else who plays this game to multiplayer with…

Challenge

4/10

Unfortunately for this game, it does suffer from the same problem a lot of Mana games suffer from. Once you’ve overleveled enough, which isn’t difficult, everything becomes easy to kill. The game does attempt to stop you from overlevelling by capping the amount of EXP you can gain per kill once you’ve reached a certain level, but that doesn’t really do much to stop you hammering away at the enemy until it falls. There are a couple of bits in the game where you will grind your teeth, but this game really does boil down to ‘meh, I died there, let’s level up a level or two and try again’.

Gameplay

3/10

I hate to say it, but the gameplay isn’t brilliant. You do have a very basic (and I mean basic) job system, whereby you get to choose at the start of the game if you have a fighter-based, magic-based, mixed-attacker or a defensive type to play through the game with. What I have found is, it doesn’t matter which you choose, the game becomes a mad button mashing frenzy of the A-button to kill things with whatever weapon you have equipped. This is a shame, because the Mana games do generally tend to do quite well with the magic system (Sword of Mana on the GBA comes to mind), and this is a bit of a let-down as magic is massively side lined in this game. The lack of strategy when it comes to fights is also an issue. I like being made to think about how I’m going to fight something, I don’t want to just mash ‘A’.

The boss fights are also a bit pathetic. I mean, yeah, sure, you occasionally have to think about how to kill them, but even they get killed with whatever basic weapon you were handed before you went into the dungeon.

And here’s another issue. The dungeons.  They are bland, repetitive and just generally ugh. They all have the same format of either being four or eight floors in size, and have a boss at the end. You do have the option of clearing a dungeon again and taking on jobs for rewards while you’re doing it, but meh. The rewards don’t really justify the means. Not to mention mashing through the text at the end of each dungeon gets painful as well.

The one thing I did like about this game is the gem system. In this game you get given a gem frame which you can fill with various combinations of gems you either find or buy from one of the in –game shops, which change your stats in different ways or given you different abilities. A little bit through the game you also get the ability to combine different gems for a small fee in order to unlock new gems. Being an SRPG fan at heart, anything which allows me to tinker with the stats of my characters is always appreciated, so this did go down well for me. I just wish it was more in-depth.

Replay Value

3/10

Well, you can play this game through four times with different characters.  From what I can tell after running through the game with three of the four, there are no changes at all, as far as dialogue, events or gameplay go. This is a shame, as I like playing through games with different characters if I’m given the option at the start. Still, I would say you can replay this game… only just though. And preferably with a very long gap between playthroughs.

Overall

Story:  4

Sound:  3

Graphics:  4

Multiplayer:  N/A

Challenge:  4

Gameplay:  3

Replay Value:  3

 

Overall:  3.5/10

Why Square-Enix, why did you do this to the previously solid Mana series, why? I’d recommend this game really only for hardcore ARPG fans and/or Mana series fans.

Written by Karen

Star Wars: The Old Republic

star_wars-_the_old_republic_-_music_trailer_hd-386051-1280827025[1]Not so very long ago in a city not so far away…

STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC…

Developed a few years back by BioWare and published by gaming tyrants EA, SWTOR was a game of mixed feelings, its conception had killed a much loved and much played MMO Star Wars Galaxies, but had returned players to the same universe featured in Knights of the Old Republic One and Two.

Having initially been launched as a pay to play, it flopped in reviews.
Plagued with bugs, plot holes and Korean gold merchants, EA and BioWare decided to make it free to play, keeping subscriptions for those who want the bonuses. Free to play however reduces the XP you receive, you cannot sit idle in a bar to get resting exp, and you can only list 2 items in the galactic market. You are also restricted to sprinting after level 15… and the normal running speed is horrifically slow. There are still glitches, such as the no head but eyes glitch (2 confirmed by FHG including the one named “Yollo” near the Jedi Temple on Tython) and the strange occurrence where you see AI speeding past you to their patrol point.
The big thing that SWTOR has over Galaxies is that you get your lightsaber pretty early on, and you cannot do what I did on galaxies, which is select Jedi class but somehow join the Imperials.
However, the story is not as open as people may have hoped and the worlds are very closed in and small as compared to the likes of Galaxies, which brings me to another point,
Player involvement with the universe…

There is not much impact you can make, you go on your own storyline that everyone else in your class does but it does not make a difference… in Galaxies, players could make a difference, capturing or desolating entire worlds as part of the Empire or Rebellion or even player made groups, forming their own towns and cities and owning their own homes, having a fully customisable starship they could truly call their own or flying a super specced fighter blasting anything that flies into their crosshairs.
In a way, it is disappointing that these features and gameplay styles are not in the game, but at the same time, it makes it different. For sheer mission based co-op lighsaber and blaster mayhem though, SWTOR is ace. The lightsaber combat is truly one to behold, not since the days of Jedi Academy have I played a game with proper lightsaber duels. The Co-op systems are a bit clunky, and can be annoying when doing the main story missions, however, remote NPC convos where people far away can join in with the group member initiating the conversation and the simple and easy to use group system make it at least workable.

You still don’t feel a true important part of the universe though and there is no real legacy. Similar really to STO, great action and a good story, but until recently in that game, no actual legacy. And that is where SWTOR falls flat on its face. The graphics are nothing to shout about, it has average MMO graphics and it uses a lot of resources but really does not help the lack of immersion. However, the OST is at least decent, and fits in with the era of the game.

All said and done, SWTOR is a good game, but is plagued by its early days, lack of immersion and player interaction and an increasing amount of paid for content, which is bad for the PVP servers as those are usually all level items ahead of everything else. The game would have benefitted from being a co-op based game with locally hosted servers and more streamlined for fewer players… the MMO aspects do not really make sense apart from the PVP and PVP-RP based servers.

It gets a 7/10, still a good game but not a true MMORPG.

Star Trek Online: A recent returnees opinions

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So, I have been away from STO for quite a while, about a year, and returned just a few weeks ago. Getting back into the Defiant, and flying some more missions, I quickly reached Rear admiral lower and then upper half, flying an even more powerful ship. I love the escort class ships, even though some fleet PVE players hate them… I saved their asses at the end of the day.

I still had the basic free Odyssey floating around in my bank, so I decided to bring that out when I reached Vice Admiral. Took what I could from my previous ship and built a decent ship from it. Yeah its not the best, and some weapons are not as good as what I could get, but I got a fleet starbase to upgrade too.

The Edinburgh's first voyage was to New Romulus on a diplomatic mission.
The Edinburgh’s first voyage was to New Romulus on a diplomatic mission.
Admiral Walker on the bridge! Edinburgh prepares to venture into deep space
Admiral Walker on the bridge! Edinburgh prepares to venture into deep space
This bridge is not my favorite, but it will do... for now.
This bridge is not my favorite, but it will do… for now.

So I took my ship on its first battle. And oh boy is it huge and powerful. Its shield could stand up to a lot of abuse, and it had enough power to keep all my abilities and weapons going whilst it was taking all that fire. That battle was a clear victory. The USS Edinburgh had won against some Cardassians… next fight saw it against the Borg. Again, exceptional performance… hardly a scratch would come off of it, and cube after cube, probe after probe would blow up spectacularly.

The Edinburgh visits the fleet starbase
The Edinburgh visits the fleet starbase

After a few days of missions, fights and visiting new worlds, I decided to check up on the starbase. After sorting out some freighter ques, I got my ship ready for its voyage to Deep Space Nine. On the way we battled a few level 2 klingons (not much for a level 50 cruiser to handle) and I quickly wiped them out just using phasers.

Klingons! The Edinburgh easily destroys them with its phasers.
Klingons! The Edinburgh easily destroys them with its phasers.

Upon reaching the sector block, I engaged the slipstream drive which took me to equivalent of Warp 38.9… and incredibly quick speed. Within minutes we had reached DS9 and proceeded to deliver supplies and personnel, along with engaging with missions against the local hostiles.

Edinburgh arrives at DS9
Edinburgh arrives at DS9

Now onto the opinions I have:

The game has massively improved, space combat is quicker and deadlier, ground combat has got a lot better, although still average, and the interiors have more variety. Although they are still MASSIVE. And that is one of the issues I have. Corridors, even in the small ship layouts for classes such as the saber (a light escort) are way too big, you feel like a midget in a giants house.  Some of the new features such as projects and stuff are amazingly complex, I dont even know how to craft many items yet alone do all this. Although I am sure I will learn quickly, it could be too much for a new or casual player to deal with.

So, all in all, in my opinion, worth playing and learning the ropes. Join a fleet, have a good time, shoot some stuff… Oh and Discovery Alliance fleet… Join it.

DISCOVERY ALLIANCE
DISCOVERY ALLIANCE