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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Date: 3rd October 2014 Time: 16:00 EST
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586  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: December 04, 2012, 05:46:12 PM
I don't think anyone asked for this, but I'mma do it anyway.  Monsoon breakdown of the entire Ratchet & Clank series:

Foreward: Ratchet & Clank is my favorite PS2 series.  Each of the four games had a clear direction, made specific improvements and further experimented with the series' formula with each sequel, and was a consistently fun blend of running, jumping, and shooting with ridiculous equipment and weapons, plus several alternative gameplay modes in each game like hacking minigames, racing, turret shooting, space shooting, and arena battles.  The stories of Ratchet games are character driven and HILARIOUS, with some chuckle-worthy jokes in almost every cutscene.  Each game is maybe 10-14 hours to finish, with a larger time investment if you get into item collection or special challenges in a big way.  

The PS2 games are a clear "original trilogy" plus a fourth spinoff (no "Clank" in the title, scaled down stages, etc.), and I really enjoyed all four.  The recent PS3 collection is the first three games.  In the PS3 era, Insomniac Games made two full-blown Ratchet & Clank Future games, a third half-game taking place in between the two Future titles, and then two more recent spinoffs that introduce new gameplay types, including co-op.  There are also three handheld R&C games, and they're decent, but I don't consider them part of the Ratchet canon as they weren't made by Insomniac.  I'll be using the American titles for each of the games and rating them each with up to five stars of quality.  Five stars = excellent, four stars = pretty good, three stars = decent, two stars = sub-par, one star = bad.  

Ratchet & Clank (PS2, 2002)

It's hard to go back to the original after playing the recent games, because the targeting mechanics are unrefined, the platforming is less sticky, and there is no weapon upgrade system to speak of.  Still good, though, with a well-crafted storyline and some truly ingenious platforming segments.  The old InfoBot macguffins were nice, and I sort of wish the series had continued using them in some capacity.  The first Ratchet & Clank is an important part of the series to introduce the main characters (mostly Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and The Plumber) and to just be a good foundation, but I prefer a number of its sequels.  Morph weapon turns foes into chickens.  Four stars


Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2, 2003)

I think Going Commando is where the series finds its groove.  The expanded arsenal is upgradable via EXP for the first time, the stages are larger and more diverse, the number of collectibles is huge, and we see some good character development out of Ratchet (who settles into a more laid-back persona) and Qwark (who is, for my money, the best character in the series).  The villains of Going Commando are probably the best in the series, and Ratchet has a voice actor change from Mikey Kelly (Michelangelo in the old TMNT cartoon) to James Arnold Taylor (Tidus in Final Fantasy X) that proves lasting.  Oh, for the record, Clank has always been voiced by David Kaye and Qwark has always been voiced by Jim Ward; they're awesome.  Morph weapon turns foes into sheep.  Five stars


Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2, 2004)

My second-favorite game in the series.  I think its storyline is roughly as good as the first two games, but Qwark is at his absolute best and the game also introduces Dr. Nefarious, who becomes a major character in later games as well.  UYA has my favorite weapon selection in the entire series, and some awesome in-game bonuses from having completed save files of the first two games.  Great stages and collectibles, but fewer than Going Commando and generally shorter stages.  Weapon EXP is better than Going Commando, with more upgrade tiers and better weapon mods.  The alternative gameplay modes (Rangers, vid-comics, arena, racing) are probably my favorite in the entire series.  Sadly, Up Your Arsenal is the last Ratchet game to feature voice work from Neil Flynn.  Morph weapon turns foes into ducks.  Five stars


Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2, 2005)

Spin-off game whose gameplay consists of ENTIRELY arena stages.  Sure, the arenas are a good size and the boss battles are solid, but the smaller arsenal (only 10 weapons, with one of them endgame-only) and lack of stage variety is a major downside.  The highlight is probably weapon customization, which improves upon the mod systems of both Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal.  Still, Deadlocked is a letdown compared to the original trilogy.  I think a lot of development time was spent on the multiplayer functionality, which was okay but unbalanced.  Morph mod turns foes into chickens, sheep, ducks, and pigs.  Three stars


Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3, 2007)

The older Ratchet games are crisp and nice to look at.  The Future trilogy is freaking GORGEOUS.  This was the game that got me sold on the visuals of the new generation of consoles.  But as a Ratchet game, Tools isn't in the top tier.  The weapons are great, but the new characters aren't quite as interesting as older NPCs and the Clank-only missions are weaker than usual.  The addition of Combat Devices is unnecessary (basically makes ammo more expensive for a few weapons), but the Raritanium weapon mods are a great change to weapon upgrades and the weapon selection is quite strong, maybe better than Crack.  Firefights are still pretty good, collectibles are still pretty good, the lack of PSN trophis is disappointing.  The Six-Axis controls (used on a few weapons and transportation modes) are okay, but ultimately I wish Insomniac implemented them less frequently.  Plot cliffhanger at the end was extremely frustrating at the time.  Morph device turns foes into penguins.  Four stars


Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty (PSN, 2008)

The download-only game is probably not worth the $15 price tag, but is decent fun for its 3 or 4 levels and provides a crucial plot point to serve as a bridge between Tools and Crack.  Your arsenal is five or six re-used weapons from Tools of Destruction and the gameplay is good, but nothing to write home about.  My recommendation: play Tools of Destruction, read a synopsis of Quest for Booty, then go straight on to Crack in Time.  No morph weapon.  Two stars


Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3, 2009)

This is what I'm talking about.  A Crack in Time (the original working title "Clock Blockers" was nixed by Sony and I still wish they hadn't) has bigger and better stages and some fabulous firefights and arenas.  Space shooting and space travel is the best in the series, and the Clank-only segments (mostly-forgettable parts of earlier games) are the best puzzles in the series.  They ditch the Combat Devices from Tools of Destruction, make the best of the old Devices into new weapons, and bring some old and new weapons to the table to make a solid arsenal overall.  The storyline is excellent, delving into the pasts of both Ratchet and Clank in a big way, bringing Clank to the story forefront for the first time since the first game.  Welcome returns of several old favorites as well.  My favorite game in the series, but if you like Commando or Arsenal better I won't judge you one bit.  It's a close call.  Morph weapon turns foes into chimpanzees.  Five stars


Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3, 2011)

This is pretty good as a co-op action game, but a little weak in single-player.  Players control Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, or Nefarious, and each can use a unique gadget in addition to a modest selection of traditional Ratchet weapons.  Stages are more linear than usual, but boss battles are big and entertaining and the shooting is still fun.  Great in a group, much less-great alone.  I'd say more, but I never finished All 4 One and won't be inclined to pick it up again unless I can get multiplayer going easily.  Morph weapon turns foes into pigs, sheep, or dinosaurs.  Three stars


Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (PS3, 2012)

Probably my least-favorite game in the series - not a very awesome way to celebrate a tenth anniversary.  FFA was released just last week for only $20, but it also has only five stages and they balance real-time strategy with platform shooting in a way that's not always fun.  Not very many weapons either, with only a few new additions to a selection drawn from the other PS3 games.  Challenge level is also quite low in a series where it's never been that difficult to begin with.  The co-op is better than the single-player when I tried it, but only made the game easier and seem even shorter.  Look, my favorite parts of Ratchet games are the awesome weapons, funny characters, and massive variety of gameplay, and FFA falls a little flat in each of those elements. The paid-DLC skin packs don't enhance the experience, either.  Take what I say with a grain of salt, though - I only played it for maybe 3-4 hours and I didn't even find the morph weapon.  Two stars

---

Look, long story short (too late), I'd go with the Ratchet & Clank Collection.  PS2 copies of the first four games are probably five bucks a pop if you don't mind tracking them down.  If you like those, then by all means continue with the newer PS3 games.  The Future trilogy heavily relies on background from the PS2 trilogy, and Crack is a direct continuation of Tools.  You can totally skip Deadlocked, the PSP games, All 4 One, and FFA and not miss anything important, but you really ought to try the first three.  
587  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: December 04, 2012, 01:47:17 PM
No superheroes and no war, hm....  maybe the Uncharted games?  They're basically in the Tomb Raider / Indiana Jones mold, with okay 3rd-person gunplay and great dialog.  Uncharted 1 is pretty good, Uncharted 2 is spectacular, and Uncharted 3 has some awesome parts, but is ultimately lacking in direction to the point of disappointment. 

And of course there's my favorite PS2 series, Ratchet & Clank!  Cartoony aliens and robots with multiple theatres of gameplay.  R&C has been my Mega Man replacement for the past several years - colorful, cartoony platforming and shooting with an over-the-top arsenal of weapons. You can get HD versions of the first three R&C games in a bargain $30 PS3 collection, plus there are 4.5 R&C games made more recently for the PS3.  The original trilogy is excellent; some of my favorite PS2 games.  On PS3, Tools of Destruction is decent, Quest For Booty is weak and not worth the $15 tag, A Crack in Time is one of the best platformers of the past 10 years, and the last two (All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault) are okay, not great.   

And while I'm bringing up those PS3 HD collections, the best reissue of them all is the Ico / Shadow of the Colossus collection.  Ico is really interesting and Shadow of the Colossus is on my shortlist of the very best games of the PS2/GC/XB/DS/PSP generation. 
588  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: December 04, 2012, 12:39:45 PM
that is a hell of a list.... kudos to you
Thanks.  In early 2011 I realized that my backlog was out of control, so I endeavored to beat 50 games on the year.  Some of them were cop-out entries like fighting games and arcade games, but I still did it.  After doing that, I set a similar goal for 2012, but targeting longer, more involved games in my stacks of unplayed titles like Persona 3 and FF XII.  For the rest of 2012 I'll probably just finish Valkyria Chronicles (haven't started it yet, but will soon!) and play a few side games of Torchlight II and Civilization V. 
589  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: December 02, 2012, 09:39:45 PM
I guess I should update my games beaten list as well:

1. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
2. Radiant Historia
3. Mass Effect
4. Mass Effect 2
5. Breath of Death VII: The Beginning (Hard mode)
6. Grandia II
7. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness - Episode 2
8. Mass Effect 3
9. Journey
10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
11. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
12. Star Ocean: Second Evolution
13. Red Dead Redemption
14. On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
15. Persona 3 FES
16. Final Fantasy XII
17. DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue
18. Super Mario Galaxy
19. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
20. Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi
21. Torchlight II
22. Rogue Galaxy
23. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
24. Okami

All of those are first-time plays except for SML2, BoD7, and FE6.  Right now I'm very, very early in a playthrough of Valkyria Chronicles and messing around with Tales of Graces F with a group of friends.  We only play Tales when all four of us are hanging out, so that one won't wrap until well into 2013. 
590  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 30, 2012, 01:00:15 AM
Illusion of Gaia

...I got nothin'.
591  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 29, 2012, 05:12:22 PM
I really enjoyed Jade Empire, except that I didn't like only having two characters in your party at one time (I like a party size of at least 3, preferably 4 or 5) and thought that a few specific styles shattered the game's balance in the second half (looking at you, Jade Golem).  Even with those setbacks it's a fun little RPG with decent characters and great dialog.  Final sequence of good/evil decisions are pretty cool for what they are, but EXTREMELY black/white.  My favorite party members were Silk Fox and Black Whirlwind. 

Code:
Also, Jade Empire has at least two plot twists that are "so he was his brother the whole time!"  Not a joke.  I wanna say there are three, but I only remember two....
592  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 28, 2012, 11:21:47 AM
I liked using Aht, mostly because of her absurdly high Speed, good healing, and fun traps. Speed hat a lot to do with it, as Marco's lack of Speed was crippling. Marco and Rosch were the two character I used the least. I probably used Aht the most in the game other than Stocke.

Okami had a really neat final boss encounter and endgame, but oh man my final results were embarrassing. Zero deaths, lots of yen and enemies killed (all cherry tree rankings). Praise was a green tree ranking, but Demon Fangs was only a sapling :(. Might replay for trophies one day down the line; Okami was a great time.
593  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: Remorse for things you did or failed to do in games on: November 25, 2012, 11:30:28 PM
Count me among the people who failed to save Lucca's mother and failed to wait for Shadow on the Floating Continent.  And felt AWFUL. 

I'm also a (sort of notorious amongst my gamer friends) theorycrafter, who writes detailed builds for characters in RPGs like Diablo or Torchlight (esp. Diablo II) and then maybe quits after I get to level 50.  Or, you know, level 5.  If I'm having second thoughts about where I spent my first few points, then I panic and start anew.  I'm finicky. 
594  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 24, 2012, 12:00:00 AM
Trying to beat Torchlight 2 with all four classes by the end of November.  Should be doable.  Already beaten with Engineer and Berserker, Embermage is in the middle of Act 3, and Outlander is near the end of Act 1.  Mage is on Normal and Outlander is on Veteran, and I sort of wish it was the other way around.  My poor summoner-outie is struggling a bit. 

Also made headway into Okami.  Just arrived in Kamui after doing sidequest stuff in Sei-An City.  For the life of me I cannot draw a heart pattern.  At all. 
595  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 18, 2012, 08:06:29 PM
Throwing down a little bit of Torchlight 2 recently.  Gonna try and get my dual-wield Berserker up to level 100 since she's the quickest killer in my stable of builds.  Currently early in Act II of New Game+. 
596  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 15, 2012, 06:58:22 PM
More Okami.  Ran around Ryoshima Coast and Sei-An city for awhile, but couldn't quite find the next plot point.  Stupidly blew all my yen on a new sword that I probably don't need.  Ah well, gotta explore-grind some more. 
597  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: RPG (or otherwise interesting) shirts on: November 13, 2012, 06:46:59 AM
I own this shirt and this shirt, both of which I bought from a vendor at a con.  I wear the Tiger Uppercut one quite often, the second one less often.  Brothers and sisters, I am a nerd. 
598  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 13, 2012, 06:41:29 AM
Okami is fantastic.  Embarrassed not to have played it sooner.  Wrapping up things in Taka Pass (wanted list, hidden treasure) before I head back to Kamiki Village for the festival.
599  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: If Namco wants my money... on: November 07, 2012, 06:40:43 PM
I played Tales of Innocence on the DS using the Absolute Zero patch in the first half of 2011 - http://a0t.co/.  I thought it was pretty good, but the dungeons were really dragging and the mandatory grind got a little rough.  I really liked how all the characters played, with the possible exception of Hermana (crappy magic selection, paper-thin defenses, and only redeeming value in combat was speedy combos). 

What I want from Namco we won't ever get - English-language versions of the PSP/PS2 Tales of Destiny Director's Cut and the PSP Full Voice edition of Tales of Phantasia.  I would buy Tales of Hearts R in a hot second, but I'm less certain of Innocence R. 
600  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: The NEW Game Journal on: November 06, 2012, 01:59:29 PM
Finished Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana Sunday night.  Final boss was surprisingly tricky, 85% because of his instant-kill attack that I never seemed to break.  Took me my third try to take him down.  Otherwise, I thought this was a so-so RPG that thrived on cuteness, familiarity, and item synthesis without being transcendentally good in any of those fields.  Its dungeons and overall playtime were mercifully short (good thing in general, but bad in that I consider it such a strength) and the English-language version had a lot of nice production value, but I don't think I need to delve deeper into the Atelier series.  

Up next, Okami HD!  Definitely pumped for this one.  Gonna go to an election party for most of tonight, but I'll fire up The Legend of Zelda: Gorgeous Painted Wolf Goddess Edition either late tonight or tomorrow afternoon.  
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