-- Thanks again Klyde for being wiling to sell such a wonderful title and at such a good price compared to other venues (and in such good condition too!)
EAT ASS, DEVELOPERS!
I kid, I kid.
Well, sort-of. The graphics team was TOTALLY jerking themselves off by the end --- HEY GUYS, LET'S MAKE SATURN, JUPITER, MARS AND THE MOON AND EARTH! And holy shit was that came out of nowhere... and holy shit, did it ever look *amazing*!!
I'm glad that for all the bitching about the Wii's graphical capabilities that there have been a fine few titles to demonstrate that it's not so much how strong a machine can put out graphics, but how well developers can use the hardware -- even if it is taking it to its limits.
The final act, and Mongoosey mentions this well in his review, is VERY spoilery ...but almost in excess. I don't think it's a terribly bad thing, but saying there's "too many spoilers" oddly makes sense in context. Mostly because I feel that for how *shocking* the ending sequence is, there is little that explains it! *Very little!* It does tie up a lot of loose ends, but it doesn't really dive into it as much as just throwing it at you.
Dickson's motives were nearly non-existent, as well as (for the most part) Zanza's. The fascinating "early history" of the Giants (of which, Prison Island seems particularly catered to them what with the giant-sized banquet hall) is also somewhat dubious. The super-raging scientist Klaus seemed to have caused an implosion and recreation of the world as his Assisstant Meyneth tried to stop him...then oddly became a god as well? Awesome potential, but it missed the mark. Fiora also goes back to a human body after some drama that she might die in the mechanical one (that there was probably the *biggest* ending cop-out).
Bah. Ah well. Everything else and all the other plot points made the game feel "wholesome" nonetheless. It wasn't about this one particular END-GOAL, but a pretty graceful build-up to a much larger thing. I love how we go from an "us-versus-them" plot, to one where we try to understand both sides of the story, then try to break down these walls altogether!
I also like that the ending still got light-hearted when asking Shulk if he wanted to be a god: Dunban jumps in saying happily - "Yeah, you're smart, but no way"; and Fiora kind of nonchalantly adds "None of us want to be one either". I like that! No deeper questions, no grand refutations!
More of a "thanks, but no thanks".
Anyways, the game clearly takes its cues from Gnosticism. So even if the whole Zanza/Meyneth gods things isn't well explained, I think it's meant as more of an Aesop for humankind and their many complications and pulls between power, knowledge, and self (and all the whims, perks, and flaws therein). Ideas of "playing god", yet being human, sound both enticing and frightening.
A few other remarks, and that's that:
= lol, New Game Plus?? Maybe one day, but oh man, this isn't really a title you can really pull up and play on a whim. I would like to take on the last few superbosses though. >:)
= Anyone else just kinda ignore the stat-resist gems? They never seem to hit that 100% from just one gem, so I thought them often to be a waste of space. I'm guessing all this "spike" business matters for the superbosses (the main game is easy enough without it) <--- READ THAT: GRIM
= Riki is a terrible
husbandpon, NO STOP
= Fuck it, I like Sharla. She makes battles easier. Riki too. Reyn was used the least, though I'm sure he's a good tank and damage-dealer.
= Melia is the queen though. I thought she was sweet. I also thought the reason for the mixed-blooded Entia was both predictable (though I didn't read the signs), but very poignant and perfect. Not too sure how crazy I am about the Telethia plot though...
= Kinda wished we could "save" Alcamoth from it's troubles. The world started to feel oddly 'small' by the end-game stretch.
= Bionis' interior felt really underplayed....
= The Bionis-side plot at the beginning was slow to warm-up... but man, I was thrilled during the entire Mechonis-stretch. I loved the history, lore, and mystery. Maybe because I played the games stoned a few nights...whoops.... NO, NO, it WAS good!
= Favorite Lands to travel:
- Colony 9 (I guess it just feels nice?)
- Bionis' Leg (the more I played, the more I realized Mesh
was right --- it's just damn well designed even if "same-y")
- Makna Forest (it just looked pretty, and I loved the clutter to make it feel like a thick, dense forest)
- Fallen Arm (that fucking finger provides quite the view and emphasizes BEST the epic-scale of the world the game takes place in, IMO)
- Machina Field (that song was great, and the refuge was a strange and interesting secret location)
= Least Favorite Lands to Travel
- Satorl Swamp (sure it looks nice at night, but i wasn't particularly inspired by its very segmented design
- Valek Peak (they went for cold, isolated, and lonely...and succeeded all too well; this place is simply a drag and the missions sucked)
- Frontier Village (nice to look at....But too many missions and too frustrating to walk through)
- Sword Valley (it's ugly and inhospitable, the location right after isn't much better either)
= Overall Good things:
- The story and its grand vision are, overall, very strong. The ending is somewhat rushed and hard to completely swallow (see my spoiler section or tl;dr: Mongoosey's
review was right), but many games do far, far, faaaar worse in this regard
- The battle system works. Not the best RPG battle system, but the customization is greatly appreciated, and I loved levelling up skills!
- Characters are good as well with numerous points to flesh them out and get more out of them (except Reyn, but his character is sort of sacrificed toward being that "good guy best friend" character).
- The music, although sometimes repetitive, but usually with strong melodies.
= Overall Bad:
- For a game with so many fucking quests, any conveniences would have helped. I hated remembering or looking up where a chracter NPC was (the game does give a somewhat handy affinity chart, but...). I kinda wish the game would prompt to 'teleport' you to it.
- Item management. Often and annoying. The UI is great, but a game like this has you earning items a LOT, so some micro-managing is required every so often (but in a game this long, "every so often" therefor happens "often").
- Lack of indoor environments. This is more of a nit-pick, but Dunban's house is beautifully designed and supplied....and the only real "house" you ever see the inside of.
- I kinda wish affinity between characters was better handled. I hated having "options" during a Heart to Heart, I think more of them with a specific, choice-less script would have been more interesting (the options in them otherwise are too obvious between the Right and Wrong answer that it sucks the fun out of it). It also takes too long to build those relationships (but I guess it balances to really WORK for those benefits from Skill Coins)
tl;dr IT'S GOOD, MMKAY?
I'm sorry I wrote a lot, but since t's in my gaming Top 10, I feel it's justified (and, y'know, it's a big game, so it'll be a big post). I think it's there mostly because it tickled my fancy creatively (in all of its sight, sound, and story). The reviews live up to the hype because few games I feel go to such a level of depth to make such a well-balanced title. The flaws are there, but the game is a one of a kind anyways.
I will Day 1 "X" even if they charge $100 for it. Good job, Monolith!