Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP) – Review

cover Following on the success of the immensely popular Final Fantasy 7 and the various spin-offs and media from that work, Square Enix has turned to a portable spin-off for the PSP in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 that explores the character of Zack some years before the events in the main FF7 game.  While the game does try to standalone from knowledge of FF7, it is best appreciated with full awareness of the previous title.  The game itself is very well done and works perfectly as a PSP title, but some odd, though not game-breaking, design choices lead to the game being a lot easier than I believe the creators envisioned.

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Final Fantasy XII (PS2) – ~16 hours

So I got the first major magical shard in the game, which had some very impressive cutscenes, and now have regrouped for what I’d call the second chapter of the game.   So far, I’m loving this.  The gambit/license system is pretty good, though almost gears to computer programmers and the like given how you have to think about it.  Seeing what new gambits and tactics are available with the start of the new chapter makes me wonder how many more options they can give you, for example, gambits based on having a certain number of items remaining in inventory, or the like.  Also, attempting to max out the chain level for killing monsters of the same type in a row is fun and also challenging.

And it still feels like I have a way to go in this game.

Final Fantasy IV Advance (GBA) – ~16hr

So after getting my butt kicked enough times in FF3 for the DS, and with FF5 Advanced in the wings, I took a step back and worked a bit more on FF4 Advanced, and have basically just escaped from the Underworld.

It’s interesting to compare how tough some dungeons are in that you start aching for mana for your white mage and your black mage to deal with flans that otherwise would take an infinite amount of time to kill off, and that there’s no save points until you get right before the boss.  I mean, I know some of the same aspects come in with latter Final Fantasy games, but I never remember being desparately aching for mana to be able to cast even weak healing or elemental spells.  And since ether recovery doesn’t come easily (where I am so far), it’s rather interesting that you really have to learn to conserve mana – sure, you could Blizzara all the foes at once, but it’s cheaper on mana to do a Blizzard one at a time on them, at the cost of having your front-line fighters take more damage.  Again, I never recall having to think about these things with the latter FF games.

However, hopefully these lessons will help when I go back to FF3 since I think those same aspects can help me last a bit longer there.

Final Fantasy III (NDS) – Initial Impressions

FFIII is one of those I’ve not played (To wit: I’ve completed FFI and II via the Dawn of Soul advance, working on FFIV through GBA, completed FFVII and it’s Dirge of Cerberus, FFX, and FFX-2, as well as a good way through FFTA), though I know they’ve taken the usual sprite based graphics and made the game into a simplified 3D representation (much like the 3D recreations of Nethack) but keeping the gameplay the same.  It’s easy to tell that the dungeons are based on a 2D sprite map, but at the same time, they’ve done a good job to give it a unique feel. 

My only nit so far is that the character animations take a bit of time to complete, and you can’t easily skip the battle win scene.  Of course, I’ve only just made it to the first town, and if I’ve heard correctly, there’s a few difficult parts if one’s not prepared this early.

Final Fantasy XII ~5hrs

Well, I’m liking the combat system a bit more, once you unlock the Gambits aspect.  That’s the part that seems to let the game play itself, but in reality, it’s how you set your other party members to act in a highly customized manner to respond to various conditions.  Each has a target (some you start with, but you have to collect other types), and an action (which is any action the character can do).  So, early one, having one character having one Gambit set to cast Cure on any ally who’s hit points are less than 50%, for example, and the second to attack the closest enemy, but as your characters grow and gain more Gambit spots (through the License grid), I can see this being an awesome way to basically take care of the usual “boring” details in battle so that you can have your main character focus on strong attacks.

I am disappointed at the lack of ability to switch the camera control access.  It’s opposite from how I like it, and it is sort of annoying to have to readjust after playing nearly every other full 3D game where I play the camera in the opposite direction.

Final Fantasy XII – (Very) Initial Impressions

So I finally got to get around to my FFXII copy (the Collectors case which comes in a nice tin container as opposed to plastic keepcase).  I’ve only got maybe an hour into it, but I can definitely see this more like FF 1 through 6  than more recent ones from the plot – it’s like a swords-and-sorcery world but still with technology to allow airships and the like.   Actually, it’s really more based directly on Tactics Advance, including the major races and the feel of Arabian archtechiture as well.

The combat system I’m not too fond of, yet, but that’s through the tutorial sections.  On the other hand, I’m rather excited about the skills/customization approach.  Like FFX, you have to gain ‘licenses’ to use certain items and skills; these are located on an irregular chessboard, and with enough ability points you can unlock any skill next to a skill you’ve already unlocked.  The board for the first main character is quite large (like 40×30 squares with maybe 20% of those missing), so I expect with other characters, they’ll be a lot of chance to take characters where you want.  And it seems to be not as linear as FFX was as well.

Graphics are better than FFX without being too grandiose.   I’m wondering how much in terms of voice overs and cutscenes there are since the game’s only on one disk.   We’ll need to see.