August is here and new games are back! No more dusting off your collection of unplayed games.
Next week sees the release of Sleeping Dogs, the undercover cop drama from United Front Games and Square Enix London Studios. Players will assume the role of Wei Shen on a quest to take down one of the world’s most fearsome criminal organizations
Sleeping Dogs will be available on August 14 for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Check out the launch trailer below.
Quirky puzzle/platformer Quantum Conundrum is going to be expanding with even more mind-bendyness. Today Square Enix revealed two DLC packs that will be heading to all platforms this August.
The first is the Desmond Debacle and will somehow focus on Desmond, the game’s “drinking bird,” as you explore a new wing of your uncle’s manor. The first pack will launch on Steam on July 31 with the PSN and XBLA versions hitting on August 14 and 15.
The second DLC is titled IKE-caramba! and will feature Quantum Conundrum mascot IKE. IKE-caramba! launches on Steam on August 28 to be followed by the PSN and XBLA versions on September 11 and 12.
If you’re the type of Quantum Conundrum fan who dropped the extra money to get the Season Pass on Steam, these are your two promised DLC packs. Otherwise you’ll be looking at $2.99 or 240 Microsoft Points when they release in the coming months.
The game that many pointed to as Square Enix’s next Final Fantasy game, after this year’s Final Fantasy XIII-2, has apparently been canned. A source tells Kotaku that Square Enix has decided to quietly cancel Final Fantasy Versus XIII and that the decision came in the last couple of weeks.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII was first announced in 2006. It was intended to take place in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII but in a new era with different characters, story and design. The game itself was promised to be much different in style than XIII with a real-time action akin to something like Kingdom Hearts.
Since Versus XIII was announced it has basically been a ghost, with barely a mention by the developer. It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that Square Enix wants its cancellation to go by quietly. Surely fans can’t be too upset about a game that they barely know anything about not coming out. Hopefully we’ll hear more about Square Enix’s next project soon, whether that be Final Fantasy XIII-3, Final Fantasy XV or something different entirely.
IO Interactive has released a new Hitman: Absolution trailer to promote Agent 47′s appearance at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
I can sum it up in two words people: nun assassins.
Check it out guys and expect to see more next week at E3.
If you are an eager assassin looking to get a head start on some wet work, now is the time to run down and pre-order your copy of Hitman Absolution.
Today Square Enix has released Hitman: Sniper Challenge on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network exclusively for players who pre-order the upcoming title featuring Agent 47. the deal currently only runs through GameStop and a code from the game is free with your pre-order. Check out the trailer below.
Square Enix has announced that the final pieces of DLC content for Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be available to download starting today via the Playstation Network and Xbox LIVE Marketplace.
They will consist of two new episodes, new White and Black Mage outfits and sixteen different costumes for Mog. Not that Mog. Not half- man, half-dog. Mog’s a moodle silly.
The first new episode is entitled Snow’s Story: Perpetual Battlefield. players will assume the role of Snow after he has been separated from Serah. It will feature a battle against the Arbiter of Time and Snow will be unlocked as a party member.
The second new episode is called Lightning’s Story: Requiem of the Goddess. This DLC will show the battle between Lightning and Caius not shown in the main game. Players will also be able to unlock this version of Lightning as a party member.
Here’s a price breakdown for all the new DLC:
One of the surprises from last year’s E3 was how good the reboot of Tomb Raider looked. When first revealed many fans were not in favor of the new direction but after the on-stage demo most were suddenly excited by what this new imagining would bring.
Now it looks like we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to explore caves and ruins as the young Lara Croft. Square Enix has announced today that the title has been pushed to the first quarter of 2013.
“Our priority right now is to make sure we fully deliver the very highest quality game. In order to do this, we have decided to move the game’s release date by a few months…We believe this is the right choice and I guarantee it will be worth the wait,” said Crystal Dynamics Studio Head Darrell Gallagher.
Crystal Dynamics also said that more from Tomb Raider will be shown at E3, which is just a couple of weeks away.
Agent 47 has been dormant for a long time and this year with Hitman Absolution is looking to return in style. Today Square Enix has revealed two new voice actors for the game. Powers Boothe (of Sin City and 24 fame) will be playing Benjamin Travis, a new ICA handler. The other new character, Jade, is being voiced by Shannyn Sossamon, who people will no doubt recognize from A Knight’s Tale. The video below provides a nice interview with both actors about the characters they play, the motion capture process process and more.
It’s no secret that Square Enix’s first high definition entry in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII, was polarizing. It introduced an amazing new battle system that felt like a revolution for Japanese role playing games. This feature was widely praised by critics and gamers alike. However Square changed many others things in the formula, with the primary sticking point being making the game an incredibly more linear experience, all in favor of presenting a better overall story. The final result of this shift led to many fans crying foul over a game where you could (almost) just push forward and mash X to get through the first twenty hours or so.
Two years later we have Final Fantasy XIII-2, a continuation of the events and characters of XIII. Along with being a sequel, XIII-2 also hopes to redeem Final Fantasy to gamers who were burned by the linearity of XIII. It represents a time- hopping journey filled with towns, side quests and NPCs; basically everything that gamers complained was missing from the original. However in all this change to the formula was Final Fantasy XIII-2 able to still hold onto the interesting setting, fun characters and great combat that made XIII bearable even with all the linear gameplay? Or is something lost in this sequel?
Final Fantasy XIII-2 starts out in a mysterious world as you witness an epic battle between XIII’s main protagonist Lightning and Caius Ballad, a man of immense power. Both characters are commanding great forces that clash on the battlefield but naturally everything ends in a confrontation between the two. It is in this battle that we are introduced to brand new character Noel Kriess, who literally falls from the sky and is saved by Lightning. She immediately recognizes that Noel is a time traveler and sends him on his way to find Serah, her younger sister who you might remember for being trapped in crystal for most of XIII.
Back in the familiar world of Gran Pulse, we find Serah living in a small seaside village, except that something is off and Serah knows it. She keeps dreaming of the day that Cocoon was saved at the end of Final Fantasy XIII where Lightning was there and blessed her marriage to Snow. However everyone remembers the events in such a way that Lightning was never there, almost as if she was removed from history. When the mysterious Noel appears talking about Lightning and time travel, Serah leaves with him on a journey to rescue her sister and restore the correct timeline.
The story in Final Fantasy XIII-2 deals with Serah and Noel jumping around through time and correcting paradoxes. These rifts in time are causing all sorts of things to go awry including monsters attacking, people disappearing and more. The story is pretty nonsensical at times and the conflict between the protagonists and Caius doesn’t develop as well as it should. There are moments where Noel and Serah question whether they are doing more harm than good in all their time changing but the idea is never explored enough. The story at often times is unfocused and everything feels like Noel and Serah succeed through pure chance rather than actually working towards their goal.
Neither Noel nor Serah are very compelling characters and sadly they are the only main characters in the game. There are occasional cameos from other Final Fantasy XIII characters but they don’t last very long and never join your party. As such the game is some kind of creepy relationship between this young time traveling man and a married girl (she’s with Snow, remember) who seems to not care at all about her husband. In fact Serah seems to be more interested in finding her lost sister than her missing husband, which just always feels off. Add Noel into the mix and you have no idea what kind of mindset she is in. I guess they are just platonic friends but it comes off as really weird.
The linearity of the original game was a sour point and Square Enix took those complaints to heart when crafting Final Fantasy XIII-2. There is certainly a set path that gets you from beginning to end but along the way there are several alternate timelines and extra locations that you can visit. Even better is the improvement to the actual level design. Many times in the original you literally were just walking down a corridor and such is definitely not the case. Areas are complex with different routes and many tucked away areas to find hidden goodies. It’s simply better to go through areas like these although there are some areas that go too far in the opposite direction and literally feel like mazes.
One thing that didn’t need to change in this new entry was the great combat system and it is still pretty great here. The Paradigm Shift concept still remains a brilliant way to revitalize the oftentimes stale turn-based combat system of JRPGs. However even the great combat suffers from a slight change. I already mentioned that there are only two main characters and this limitation greatly affects the feeling of combat. In Final Fantasy XIII you had six characters which matched the six Paradigms available. Each character was essentially great at one Paradigm, good at another two and okay with the last three. With only two characters they both have to be good at basically everything but it also makes them feel interchangeable. Sure Noel has higher attack power and Serah has higher magic but they just aren’t different enough.
With the limitation of only two party members Square needed to do something with the third slot and this is accomplished by adding monsters to the party. Almost every monster in the game can be “captured” and then used as the third member of your party. Each monster has one Paradigm role such as Commando or Ravager and you can select three monsters at a time to use as your third spot. It’s a fun concept at first but it eventually becomes pretty clear that the monsters are poor substitutes for an actual third character. The way that monsters advance is also bad. They don’t grow by gaining experience like Noel and Serah; instead they level up by being fed components that are dropped randomly after battles. I think it would have been much better to have the monsters advance along the same path as the main characters instead of making it a completely separate system.
The worst part about Final Fantasy XIII-2 is the overall content of the game. The main story took me just under twenty hours to beat. Take a second to let that sink in: twenty hours to beat a Final Fantasy game. The story feels like it never gets a chance to get going. Right before the ending section Noel and Serah have a long conversation that I imagine is supposed to feel like they have been on this epic journey and tons of stuff is at stake but the game never earns that moment, instead coming off incredibly flat and almost laughable. You also may have likely heard a lot of gamers are upset over the ending but I in fact found nothing wrong with it. The ending wraps up the main story very well and then simply hints at more to come, similar to how Back to the Future “ended” and then Doc Brown came back to say “It’s your kids Marty. Something has got to be done about your kids!”
After your twenty hours to complete the main story, Final Fantasy XIII-2 lets you back into the world to complete any other side content you want, and there is a lot to do. There are 160 time fragments to collect through defeating monsters and finishing quests and getting them all will certainly take a long time. However the pure chaos of how this game is laid out will leave you with no idea where to begin. There are about a dozen areas and several alternate time periods of those areas with each one being home to a variety of fragments to collect. After completing the game I sat down to begin looking for the fragments and found myself completely disinterested. To accomplish anything you would need some kind of FAQ, which is a poor way to handle any type of content. This is a complete 180 from the post-game content in Final Fantasy XIII, which featured tons of interesting stuff to explore.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a game that was obviously crafted with the complaints of the original in mind. They went far away from the linearity of XIII but instead of finding a nice balance they end up in a game that is oftentimes confusing and unfocused. The story definitely suffers from this change. On top of the move away from linearity XIII-2 also lost a bit of what made the combat so fun. Granted it is still great and some of the best turn-based combat you will ever play but it’s not as good as it was in XIII. With the clear hint at more coming to the series it’s possible a Final Fantasy XIII-3 could find a nice middle ground between XIII and XIII-2 and be amazing. In the meantime Final Fantasy XIII-2 sits as an interesting entry in the series but definitely not a highlight.
Final Fantasy XIII: The original game in this two-part series is by far the better title. The story is much better, the characters more interesting and the combat better utilized. XIII-2 does show signs of improvement over XIII but it comes at the expense of other areas being not as good. Perhaps the worst offender is the post-game content, which I found to be the best part of XIII. In XIII-2 it might be that good but it is presented in such a disorganized way that it’s hard to get into.
Lost Odyssey: Here is where Final Fantasy XIII-2 really falls flat. I consider Lost Odyssey to be the pinnacle of JRPGs for this generation and it literally offers the perfect mix between XIII and XIII-2. The story is great, the characters are interesting and the combat is fun and filled with strategy. It also manages to tell a mostly linear story while maintaining the RPG elements loved by so many such as towns, side quests and a wide open world with huge bosses to fight and secrets to uncover.