Posts Tagged ‘News’

Final Fantasy Versus XIII Lets You Play the Cutscenes

It’s not very often we get to talk about Final Fantasy Versus XIII and quite frankly that’s just sad. To look around the internet at anything related to Final Fantasy XIII you will find a myriad of gamers complaining about the linearity and lack of engagement and you will find other gamers praising it for its beauty and combat system. It really has gamers split. While we tend to fall into the former rather than the later we have been patiently waiting and holding out hope for some glimmer of news to break about Final Fantasy Versus XIII that would have us jump up and down yelling “Holy s#*t this is amazing.” It looks like we have some of that news.

I am not going to lie: I actually stopped playing Final Fantasy XIII. I got distracted by other video games that were released. The game’s grasp on my interest was only tenuous at best since I felt no real connection to the characters other than I too wanted a baby chocobo to live in my hair. Final Fantasy has been criticized for its overwhelmingly large volume of cutscenes since Final Fantasy X. I can actually vividly remember buying it in college and having the guy behind the counter say “I didn’t feel so much that I was playing a game. It felt more like I was watching a long movie. It was kinda boring.” While this does not constitute scathing professional criticism it was enough for me to take notice of the cutscenes in every subsequent Final Fantasy video game.

final fantasy versus xiii noctis

So Square Enix is telling us that we will assume direct control...where have I heard that in an RPG before?

But this sentiment must have caught the attention of Square Enix as well. Siliconera is reporting that in Final Fantasy Versus XIII you will in fact be able to control Noctis (your character) in the cutsenes.

There are apparently multiple character models that Square Enix is working with in Versus XIII, the gameplay models and the event scene models. Events are rendered in real time and are said to be the same quality as the pre-rendered cutsenes. But since they are rendered in real time they afford you the ability to maintain control of your character.

You may be asking yourself at this stage “What is the difference between the high quality event scene character models, and the lower quality gameplay models?” Well Nomura explains that there is little difference but noting that the hair is more detailed in the high quality character models.

My mind keeps going back to the trailer below. In this epic scene of Noctis’ total badassery and display of “I have weapons, but I’m so awesome I don’t have to hold them to use them,” and hoping that we may actually get to control that scene. Coupled with the rampant teleportation and general ass kickery my level of fanboy glee just spiked.

Given the attention to detail typically displayed in a cutsenes for Final Fantasy I cannot wait to see how this plays out. My only question is will it go on autopilot if we don’t interact or can we actually die if fail to do something? Additionally what will this do to the future of cutscenes in video games? Will this ramp them up to more playable and interactive experiences? One can only hope.

It’s no big Secret that Square Enix has been steadily declining over the years focusing on churning out remakes and sequels that didn’t quite live up to the original. While not all of them were poor or sub par it always seems that they never quite live up to our memories. While it may not be fair to blame Square Enix for our placement of our historically favorite video games on a pedestal, they sure aren’t doing much to win favor. But the dilution of the Final Fantasy VII brand with each subsequent outing we find ourselves getting infuriatingly frustrated that Square Enix has lost its way and that they may not be listening to the wants and desires of the fans.

While “interactive cutsenes” are by no means something that the fans have been clamoring for it does put up a notice, albeit a small one, that Square may in fact be hearing the fans, but by giving us what we want in a totally new and innovative way. The reason we haven’t been asking for it is simply because most of us never even considered it.

We want to feel connected to our characters again. We will stand up and say “the story seems to have taken a back seat to character design.” We want to be able to live in their world and walk a mile in their shoes. We will declare that “we don’t want to watch a game play itself, we want to take part in it more.” This is really what they have done. Their plan is just another way to do that without sacrificing control time for story telling. Square may have found a way to make their visions come to fruition while still giving the gamers our there what they want.

While performance is always more important than speculation and intent we can’t help but feel a renewed excitement for what will come when Final Fantasy Versus XIII is eventually released. But we can say that it appears that Square Enix is making steps to make the video game experience more personal and engaging once more.

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Okay, mistakes were made. But what were they?

I read a post by Jim Sterling on GameFront that got me thinking about journalism and popularity contests. The very nature of Journalism is a popularity contest. We report what people want to read. Rarely does mind blowing journalism pop up that shakes the core of an industry. People write things to put proverbial butts in the proverbial seats. It’s why entities like Google and Bing exist in the first place; to wade through the BS and find the core of the information.

reddit wallpaper

Reddit, Digg, Twitter, N4G, hell even Facebook are asking to be constant targets of blackhat SEO tactics in the video game world to help push a site up in both rankings and pageviews. This isn’t the first time that something like this has been done and it certainly will not be the last.

The websites in question absolutely didn’t keep a close enough eye on their brand to make sure that its integrity was upheld in the online communities. They failed on that and failed big. You have to watch what people say, do, and communicate with or about your property while online. Their crime is piss poor brand management.

However they all owned up to it. Yeah GamePro had fun with it and more power to them.

It’s definitely true that we’ve had some power users recently spamming content on our behalf. We have already stepped in and asked those people not to do this in future.

The reality of the situation is pretty straightforward – Reddit can be gamed, it was gamed by people on our behalf, and those people got busted. We take full responsibility for engaging those people. And yes, we’re apologizing because we got busted. Damn you. We’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids. So give us the kicking we deserve, and we’ll look forward to seeing what the conspiracy theorists will come up with.

We’re hoping that the more reasonable of you will respect our honesty regarding our deferred dishonesty, but we’re sure some people will run riot with it, which is to be expected – and in some places celebrated – on the Internet. Ultimately, we respect Reddit and its community, at least the ones who don’t live under a bridge and forget to take their meds. We also believe in our content, but in future we want you, not spammers, to be the judge of it.

A Statement from GamePro *But not verified as GamePro

A long standing source of journalism shouldn’t have to grovel at the feet of the overly opinionated online denizens that are so quick to issue a verbal smack down under the anonymity of the internet when they find an opinion that makes them feel that they have been the least bit befouled. Was anyone really hurt? You got to read something you may have enjoyed. If you didn’t enjoy it then okay. Is your life any worse by it?

I don’t blame the video game websites for wanting to perform better and get bigger numbers. That’s half the fun of a website. It’s the reason they exist. If they didn’t then they wouldn’t be able to employ much of a staff and you wouldn’t have seen them in the first place.

reddit downvote

Maybe you should downvote a little more.

I also don’t blame “MasterOfHyrule” for doing it. He got free stuff and enjoyed it. Can you blame him? Apology accepted. I would wager that well over 80% of gamers lashing out at this situation would have done the same thing. Forgive and move on. It’s really not that big of a deal. It’s easy to hide behind your scruples until the situation is presented to you. Granted he did it to an absolutely staggering degree and when caught he reacted rather juvenile in his attempts to discredit but ultimately he owned up as well.

As a gamer, a website owner, and a full time SEO I admit that I see problems like this from a very different view. What I have yet to see and what would ultimately impress upon me a wonderful and much needed apology is a “we may want to update how we rank things” from Reddit. It is absolutely, as Jim put it, a popularity contest. But what is the best gauge of popularity?

I don’t want anyone thinking I’m saying Reddit is bad, evil, or in any way shape or form anything other than a delight and a phenomenal way to spend an entire day. I’m simply saying that if it wasn’t so easy to game then perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.

Nobody in this dance is as nefarious as online sentiment would make them out to be. They are nothing more than symptoms and effects of a much larger problem. The question is how does a website guard against being gamed for the purposes of personal benefit? Simply put, it can’t. Everything can be gamed. It’s the reason the big players don’t release their ranking algorithms.

Until we find a way to measure popularity and validity without influence you will continue to be gamed. You may not notice it. You may not see it. In some instances you may not even mind it. But you will be gamed. Sucks don’t it?

Afterthought Edit:

Mad props to Deimorz for not just noticing something was up but also for sticking to their guns. Fairly impressive. You get our “Ass Stamp of Approval” for the week.

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Dragon Age II – Facts About Hawke: Now with more screen shots!

BioWare, oh BioWare. You are really throwing out a veritable metric ass load of information as of late about Dragon Age II. I for one am delighted to receive said information and spread it around. According to Game Informer:

1. Hawke will be a voiced character.
Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, the player’s character in Dragon Age II will be fully voiced. This opens the door for a more cinematic approach to dialogue and creates an identity for the character outside of the text you see on-screen. It also eliminates those awkward scenarios where you feel like your character should be reacting, but instead just stares blankly without so much as a grunt.

2. Hawke is human.
Yes, that means that you won’t be able to select Hawke’s race. However, just because that one aspect of Hawke’s backstory is set doesn’t mean BioWare is eliminating character creation. You can still choose your class and customize your appearance. When we visited BioWare’s studio, we only saw (and heard) the male Hawke in action, but the team promises that players can select either gender for the character.

3. Hawke didn’t just survive the blight…he escaped it.
As the Grey Warden from Dragon Age: Origins was fighting darkspawn, Hawke was living in Lothering. Fans will remember that the small village was raided and destroyed (an event that occurred off-screen in Origins), and Hawke was one of the survivors. However, rather than stay and fight the darkspawn menace, Hawke flees Ferelden and heads north.

4. Hawke is the Champion of Kirkwall.

Kirkwall is a major population center in the Free Marches, a collection of city-states north of Ferelden. This means that at least some of the action in Dragon Age II will be set in Kirkwall itself, though Hawke will also spend time in other areas of the Free Marches. What exactly Hawke does to earn the honorary title of Champion, however, is up to you.

5. Hawke drives the story.
Dragon Age II is not about killing an ancient evil or about quelling another blight; Hawke is the driving force behind the narrative. Over the course of the game’s 10-year timeline, players’ actions and choices will determine Hawke’s history, relationships, and regrets…all in service to answering the larger question: Who is the Champion of Kirkwall?

So we learn that Hawke is (potentially) a deserter who rises to become the Champion of Kirkwall. Obviously (as shown in the images below) he still has to contend with the Darkspawn, but is it on a grand scale like the Grey Warden? The games take place (or at least begin) around the same time frame. Given that Dragon Age II is a decade in duration (I can’t wait to see how long this bad boy is) it will obviously end some time after, perhaps even after Awakenings.

Will there be rumblings and rumors that tie into Origins? Will we see a Witch of the Wilds with a small child (around 9 or 10) that bares a striking resemblance to a certain Grey Warden?

Oh so many questions and oh so little time to answer them all. But BioWare didn’t just stop at giving us some new information. They were also kind enough to oblige us with some fancy pants screen shots:

Dragon Age II - Hawke with Sword

I swing my sword from above my shoulder...that's how Hawke rolls

Dragon Age II - Hawke - Ogre Finishing Blow

It's true...the Hawke can fly

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