I reviewed Final Fantasy XIV a few months ago when the game was still relatively new and was mostly not impressed by what I saw. Go here to read my first review. Now that Square Enix has made a number of updates, I wanted to review the game for a second time.
Arc and I just finished watching a few new anime series straight from Japan via CrunchyRoll and would like recommend a few series to you.
Fortune Arterial: A charming boarding school anime that involves fitting in, coming of age, and vampires. This anime features some of the most charming and tame vampires I have ever seen.
The World God Only Knows: The main character in WGOK is an anti-social dating game obsessed young man who is only interested in 2-D girls. One day, he receives a challenge that states he can conquer every girl he meets. Keima accepts and finds himself saddled with a demon partner named Elsie and a challenge to woo girls who are possessed with escaped souls. The show itself is enjoyable and worth watching, but the last episode has to be one of the coolest/scariest things I have ever seen.
Panty & Stocking: An acid trip. It’s a damn enjoyable acid trip, but this show is really off-the-wall. Must be consumed in small amounts over long periods of time.
Squid Girl: Ika Musume is the cutest world conquerer that you will ever meet. De geso!
Otome Yokai Zakuro: Zakuro is set during the Westernization of Japan, when European ways are clashing with the traditional Japanese spiritual world. A group of young soldiers is sent to work with the Ministry Spiritual Affairs and an understanding begins to grow between the two groups. An interesting note, Arc and I think that Agemaki must be the grandfather of Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club.
I have been planning on writing a review about Tenjho Tenge, but have been putting it off because I wanted to watch the series again before making any judgement about it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to force myself to watch the show again to make a fair judgement about it. So, please bear in mind while reading this review that it has been at least a year since I have last watched Tenjho Tenge and at least 4 years since I first watched the series.
Tenjho Tenge has great promise as a series. The characters are lively and well constructed, the opening theme is great, and the sword skills/fighting styles that are demonstrated in the anime are awesome. But, the plot and the show structure are designed and presenting in a fashion that leaves the viewer lost and irritated. I’ll say more about that later.
If you are interested in watching any part of the anime, I recommend watching (or listening) to the opening theme, “Bomb a Head!” As well as being a great example of Engrish lyrics, the song is peppy, upbeat, and pretty awesome. When I first watched Tenjho Tenge, I really hoped that the show would live up to the awesomeness of the intro song, but it continually fails to do so.
The problem with Tenjho Tenge is the plot and chronology. Most of the show is a flashback. The entire series is spent explaining events that happened about 2 years and not explaining the current events. While the events explained in the flashbacks are interesting, there are a lot of better ways to present the same material.
Despite the bad plot/flashback issues, Tenjho Tenge can be worth the time. If you are interested in fan service, large swords, and awesome fights, Tenjho Tenge is a good anime. If you like consistent plot and timelines, don’t watch Tenjho Tenge.
Almost 15 years ago now, I came across two tomes that forever changed my course in life. They were the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual and Witchblade #15. Continue reading
I have been putting off this review for the past month, hoping that I could find some interest and fun in FFXIV, but I am giving up at this point. To be brutally honest, I feel kind of cheated about this game. Square had a good opportunity to make a beautiful and interesting game, but instead released a half finished game that is not really worth the time and money that I am spending.
To be fair, there are a few things that I like. The variety of choices that is included in character customization is wonderful. I really enjoyed making different characters and tweaking their looks. I enjoyed it so much, I would just keeping making characters over and over if that was the only thing to do. I also am in awe of the gorgeous scenery and cut scenes in the game (another reason I enjoy making new characters over and over.) There is an enormous level of detail put into the art in this game and it is the only reason I keep coming back.
The list of what I don’t like is unfortunately more extensive and is best presented in bullet points.
- Getting anywhere is time consuming and tedious. There is too much open, empty space in this game. Sure, the scenery is pretty, but that doesn’t alleviate the boredom after a few hours of playing.
- Combat is also very tedious, partially because enemies are few and far between and most because there is not a large variety of enemies in the game. I can only kill so many star marmots before losing interest in combat.
- Gathering isn’t so bad…just a little time consuming. I guess I don’t have much to say about gathering, which says something about gathering. Meh.
- Crafting is completely annoying. First, you have to find the right ingrediants (which are either scattered across the entire world or extremely expensive). This often involves a large amount of work to track down everything needed, plus having a bunch of friends who specialize in other crafts. Then, you have to make the parts of the item–spin the thread, make ingots, etc–and hope that doesn’t blow up in your face. Then, assemble the thing, once again hoping that it does blow up in your face. In the end, it is usually less expensive to take the time to search through the markets (see below) and buy the item. Plus, things like this happen: (http://www.arcandio.com/2010/11/ffxiv.html)
- The markets are confusing. At least you don’t have to stand around selling things yourself, but it is impossible to locate anything. You could spend an hour clicking on individual retainers and still come away without finding one item that you need.
- I can’t sort my items. Why can’t I sort my items?
- And much more….
I am aware that Square has promised to fix a number of these issues, but I really don’t feel like I should have to wait about 4 months to be able to sort my items. I would much rather have purchased a complete game in 2011. If you haven’t bought this game yet, save your money. Check on it in early 2011, maybe it will be worth the investment then. If not, try Kitsu Saga instead.
Here it is, Vindictus, yet another game published by Nexon. I was hoping it wasn’t going to smell too badly of cash shopitis, but I was disappointed. Vindictus, previously titled “Mabinogi Heroes” is a pretty standard fare in terms of a fantasy setting with all of the accompanying themes. You choose one of three characters (soon to be more, and hopefully won’t require a cash shop purchase), a female magician, a male dual-wielder, and a female sword-and-shield fighter. You are immediately thrust into a tutorial session once confirming your character selection. It involves a giant spider, which is apparently the city guardian, that is going berserk and must be defeated while treading the halls of the bell tower.
Character customization once the tutorial is concluded is rather impressive. You are still locked into your gender and class role, but an array of options can be tailored to suit your particular style. The areas you can customize are height, bulk, chest/bust size, eyes, eye color, hair style, hair color, facial features. Once again though, most of the avatar items are locked until you purchase them in the avatar cash shop.
The city layout of the game is also pretty impressive. It easily could have been just a series of menus to navigate through, but they have a small(ish) city framework you can interact with others in. When you enter buildings for in-game purchases or quest gathering, it is quite anime-like in its presentation. A fully detailed 2d rendering of the speaking character is shown with a panning camera displaying a 3d model of the interior with a menu overlay.
Into combat, the visuals of the game still remain rather impressive. The characters feel like they have weight and react accordingly when hit. Most items are destructible in some form or another, such as stone pillars. Pillars can be destroyed through repeateded hacking with sword or shield. A few of the resulting pieces can be picked up and hurled at enemies, which deal a nice amount of damage. Be careful though, if you don’t hit the pillar correctly, the debris may fall on you instead! Even with all of the extra destructible and interactive items, the game feels similar to Dynasty Warriors. While you are not hewing through wave after wave of soldier minions, it is still quite repetitive to maim gnoll clones.
One of my favorite things in art is playing with form. That’s what Sculptris lets you do. Dynamically generating geometry is a truly awesome feature. I hear that 3d Coat and some others have this feature due to the nature of their sculpting systems (i.e. that they use voxel sculpting). There is something to be said for just going with the flow and seeing where a concept or a shape will take you.
This weekend I spent most of my time working on Seraphiel but this morning I cracked open Kurt again to try out some retopology tools. In specific, Wrappit by Matt Clark. It’s a plugin for 3ds Max and it works like a dream. I confess I felt a little guilty about spending that amount of money on it, but after just picking it up, I found how easy it was to retop something with some fairly complex geometry. That edge grow tool is fantastic, and so is strip painting. I finally have a use for Screen space gizmo control too, since it allows me to position points in space and shift them around on the surface of my highpoly.
So, Arc and I just finished watching Casino Royale. Or rather, we just finished wasting our evening trying to understand Casino Royale. Not the plot, mind you, that was easy enough to figure out, but what people were saying. I thought that the British were good at enunciation. Yet we both spent the evening trying to figure out what the characters were saying to each other. For example: early on in the film, Bond says something about being out of practice when speaking to his first lady love. Except, I heard him say something about being out of crackers. Yep, crackers. Arc finally got so fed up with the whole thing that he turned the subtitles on.