Sympathy for the Devil

Last night we got a much needed reprieve from the onslaught of tornado spawning super cells.  As a result I tried my best just to chill out and relax.  So much is going on right now relating to the tornado effort in Moore, but other than the links I posted yesterday I am not really going to dwell much on it.  It is still pretty much the only thing we are thinking about, but I just needed to relax last night.

Now I Remember

The other day I was talking about restarting Final Fantasy 13 on a whim, and not really being able to remember why I stopped playing it in the first place.  Last night I continued my journey into the game, and reached a point where now I know exactly why I stopped playing.  Basically FF13 is this super relaxing game, that does most of the work for you by managing your abilities based on what “stance” you are currently in.  This is does a great job of taking the tedium out of a JRPG and letting you just sit back, relax and watch the events unfold before you.

This all goes extremely great until you encounter your first Eidolon fight.  Basically all the gaming vocabulary you have learned to that point becomes completely useless for the encounter.  You have to do one specific gimmick, over and over… and do so with flawless timing or you die.  Basically the Eidolon fight goes against everything you have experienced in the game to that point.  On top of this, usually the gimmick you have to perform is something you would never do in another fight after this one. 

Ultimately the Eidolon fights become these cruel precision mini games, that are forced upon the otherwise very casual experience.  You cannot avoid them, and they usually occur at key times in the storyline that are unavoidable.  The Shiva sisters fight shown above for example occurs after a minion battle and two cut scenes.  So each time you attempt the fight you have to slog through those to get back to the boss fight.  If the numbers over snows head tick down to zero, the fight is over.

I remember the last time I played the game I managed to slog through several of these fights, but ultimately it was one near the end of disc two that got the best of me.  I simply did not care enough about continuing the game to learn whatever pattern needed to executed flawlessly to get through the fight.  I don’t mind the concept of battles like this, I just mind them greatly when they are so drastically in contrast with the super causal gaming experience as a whole.  It feels like the game does exactly zero training to this point in the skills needed to succeed at these egregiously gimmicky fights.

Sympathy for the Devil

After attempting the Shiva sisters a few times, I decided that I needed to retreat into something warm and familiar…  and thanks to the wonders of the PlayStation Network, that happy place was Symphony of the Night.  I am not sure if I can quantify it, but this is as close as I think I will ever find to my perfect game.  It has awesome side scrolling exploration, fun fast paced sword melee combat, the ability to collect gear and level your character up, interesting abilities to unlock, and non-linear progression.  This is literally everything I want in a game wrapped up in one gorgeous package with an amazing hard rock inspired soundtrack.

I think more than anything the soundtrack is what sells the experience for me.  I own an original copy of the Japanese soundtrack that was released, and have listened to it over and over.  For ages this was my defacto coding soundtrack, and was not really replaced until the Tron Legacy soundtrack.  Interestingly enough, Tron Legacy has now been trumped and The Secret World has become my default background music at work.  Everything about this game screams a level of attention to detail that you just don’t see much in games.

I can happily fall back into this game at any time, after playing any other game.  Last night I continued onwards with my game, trying to remember where things were in relation to other things and start gathering up the relics needed to progress further.  I completely surprised myself last night… with my ability to keep from taking damage.  I was going through an area of the castle I remembered, but completely forgot the fact that I was about to get trapped in a room with a shadowy clone of myself.  I only had 15 hit points going into the fight, and somehow managed to make it through defeating the boss with 5 to spare.

My favorite version of the game so far is the PS3 Emulated one.  I just wish that it supported the digital stick, rather than gamepad only for movement.  Someday I will hook back up my Saturn and play the Japanese import version again.  It has the unique features of being able to play as the default Alucard, but also Maria and Richter from the start of the game.  My only problem with the Saturn version is that while it has all these extra features, the controls are nowhere near as responsible as the PSX rendition.  Also when you get a large number of creatures on screen at a time, there is a bit of slowdown and hitching.  This combined with the fact that there was never an english version released…  definitely put the PlayStation version on the top of the heap.

MMO Vacation

Other than the game that must not be named due to a super strict NDA, I have not really been playing a lot of MMOs over the last week or so.  This is really a combination of two factors…  firstly that I now have this awesome apartment like game loft, that I can go up to and chill out in without feeling like I am taking the television from anyone else.  Also thanks to the quirks of acoustics, my wife can be sitting downstairs on the sofa, and we can hold a conversation at normal volume.  So it doesn’t really feel like I am that far away from her when I am playing.

Secondly, and this is the big one…  I wrote awhile back that my ISP is discontinuing residential internet access.  I have a feeling that they have begun throttling users to try and get them to switch faster.  Essentially my ping times have been horrific in any game I play, and this has lead to more than one extremely frustrating death.  This has caused me to completely swear off League of Legends until this has changed, and even in Rift doing daily quests has become annoying with lots of mob warping.

Luckily this will be remedied tomorrow.  I have them scheduled to run a new line to the loft, which will then host the wireless router for the house.  It is a good centralized location, and the limited obstacles will make it prime for internet access from the living room downstairs.  So as of tomorrow I will be going from roughly 4 meg internet to 25 meg, and going from single room dvr to whole house dvr.  I am extremely pumped, and ready for not having to worry about streaming slowing down everything else on the network.  We are starting with 25, but may at a later date bump up to the full 50 meg connection.

I imagine that once this goes in, I will be having a renaissance of online gaming… as I can not only download patches much faster but not have to worry so much about my ping going to shit.  I know this will not be the be all end all cure for bad ping, but it will certainly take a step in the right direction.  Also the ability to watch anything we have recorded on the DVR from the livingroom, loft and bedroom is a huge boon.  There are a ton of shows that I like to watch… that my wife has zero interest in.  I can pop up to the loft and watch the show til my heart is content, while she is watching whatever she wants to watch.

Wrapping Up

On top of the new internet, we will be getting our sectional delivered tomorrow.  So it is going to be a super exciting day, when a lot of realities change around our house.  However, it is also going to mean a super busy night of prep work to get ready for the furniture movers and the cable installer.  Additionally right now I have a cat trying to tell me that I should stop typing and pet her.  So I am going to do just that. I hope you all have awesome days, and that you get accomplished everything you need to.

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