Game Of The Year 2016: What A Ride!

Gaming was great in 2015 as there were many great titles like MGSV, Fallout 4, Rise of Tomb Raider, and others. It was a tough call, but The Phantom Pain was my favorite release of that year and perhaps my favorite Metal Gear Solid in the series.

This past year, 2016, did not have as many heavy hitters but there were solid games. Like the previous post, I had a tough time picking my Game of the Year.

There are two games that are very enjoyable. One of these came out during the summer while the other released late November.

A Very Close Second Place

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I will just go with the runner-up first. Uncharted 4 is a masterpiece and wonderful looking game.

If you are a fan of the franchise, then you need to play this game. For newcomers, you don’t need to play the older games, but there are some character threads that might be worthwhile exploring.

I am just say Nathan Drake is a baffon and he is well aware of his flaws. It’s actually why his character is only of most endearing aspects of the series. You seem him mature a bit, but falls into older habits which will ultimately haunt him later.

Gameplay is similar to the PS3 entries, but blends some mechanics from The Last of Us, another excellent Naughty Dog Sony exclusive. Stealth kills are possible and Drake can run in a straight ride and jump better without falling into a precipice. I won’t spoil plot details but there’s a pretty awesome yet frustrating fight at towards the end.

The Winner: Final Fantasy XV

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Admittedly, I have a bias because I am a huge fan of Final Fantasy. It’s not why it is my Game of the Year.

I have yet to finish this game, but the ending draws near. The road trip between Noctis and his pals has been a fun ride.

The boys in black are on a trip to see the Prince’s bride-to-be while an militaristic empire invades their homeland. Torn over his duties and own desires, Noctis seeks out an ancient power to reclaim his kingdom while looking for his fiance.

15443069_10102422217483930_5937583710742483285_oSome of the narrative is a bit convoluted, and it is better explained through the Brotherhood anime on YouTube and Kingsglaive movie. Although I have not completed the story missions, I have a better understanding of the overall plot and it is a decent story.

With that said, there are some holes in the narrative. If you didn’t watch the extra media prior to Final Fantasy XV’s launch, then you might be lost.

Despite that, I am able to grasp the main story, but I am still wondering a few things like the Empire’s intentions, why they want the Crystal aside from being a source of power, and does Noctis actually love Lunafreya.

Those are a few questions, but I feel the plot is similar to quality of the SNES era FF games. Rest easy in knowing it is leaps and bounds better than the mess in Final Fantasy XIII and its spinoffs.15259405_10102401298385970_1040456577925797878_o

Gameplay is pretty good and a step forward. Kingdom Hearts fans will find FFXV approachable because of the combat.

I can go on and on about this game that most reviews have covered. I will put my two cents in.

Final Fantasy XV, while flawed in some ways (especially the glitches), is what the series needs right now. The story is fine, but there is enough content and combat from keeping it boring.

I am 64 hours into it and still have numerous hunts and side-quest yet to be unlocked. This might be the longest Final Fantasy game yet.

15252521_10102397013123670_5353952262437231001_oThe relationship that Noctis and “his bros” feels genuine and their camaraderie is strong. Most Final Fantasy games centered around a “love story” but this one is more platonic than romantic. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone hasn’t made comparisons between Noctis & Friends with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It took Square-Enix 10 years to make this game and it was well worth the wait. By 2016, the series has seen underwhelming or underperforming titles.

They didn’t capture the magic that earlier games like FFVII were able to capture. This game’s magic is a calumniation of Final Fantasy’s best qualities.

There’s a little bit of every Final Fantasy game in XV. It reminds of Final Fantasy IX without the medieval/steampunk aspect.

It’s not my all time favorite Final Fantasy game, but it is definitely in the top 3. Certainly, it is my Game of the Year for 2016!

 
Also, let me leave you with this amazing glitch! Ignis is a master chef, but terrible chocobo rider.

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Chris Reviews Final Fantasy VI Android

10250139_10100987630802140_8852009242215364880_nSince its January 2014 release onto Android, I have been extensively playing Final Fantasy VI on Android. It has yet to be completed, but this game has been played through various versions on Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and Game Boy Advance. By far, this is my favorite version.

If anyone hasn’t played through this 20 year-old RPG, then here is a quick spoiler free background. The Gestahlian Empire, led by the crazed mage Kefka, lays siege to various towns worldwide using weapons of magical destruction. Piloting Magitek armor and unaware of her actions, the young Terra plows through the snowy, mountainous Narshe in search of an Esper. She soon gets entangled in quest of finding herself and saving the world.

There have been several tweaks to this classic game. Firstly, the graphics have been redone for high-resolution displays. All sprites and backgrounds are remastered and look sharp and crisp. This version has polarized fans, but I actually like the new design.

The user interface, particularly in battles, have changed as well. The Active Time Battle (ATB) still remains, but instead of a bar the character menus speed up to the top of the screen during battle. Menus have also been optimized to make use of the touch screen. Sadly, Square-Enix has yet to add controller support.1800310_10100953146748460_1115771694_n

In terms of performance, Final Fantasy VI runs well. As long as you have a current Android device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, HTC One, or Nexus 7, there will hardly be any hiccups.

While the mobile version has been reworked, the plot remains the same as the GBA version. It carries the same script and extra scenes from that version, which had a better translation. Additionally, the extra summons, skills, and weapons from FF6 GBA can be obtained in the mobile edition.

My only criticism is the high-price point. It currently costs a hefty $15.99 on the Google Play Store, but it is still worth the price of admission. Final Fantasy VI, despite its age, still handles its own against many modern games in its class.

Final Fantasy III Android Mini Review

There is confusion among the order of past Final Fantasy games. Once upon a time, FFIII was actually the Japanese version of FFVI on the Super Nintendo while FFIV was FFII in the U.S.

Since then, Square-Enix has cleared up this oddity by re-releasing the games Western audiences missed out on. The actual Final Fantasy 2 & 3 were originally on NES.

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In 2006, S-E eventually brought Final Fantasy III to the States and other regions on the Nintendo DS. Since then, the game has been released on other platforms including iOS, PSP/Vita, and Android.

The Android version is nearly identical to the DS remake, sans dual screens and opening cinematic. Instead of NES sprites, this version is presented in 3D with polygons and all. In fact, the graphics might make one compare it to the PlayStation era Final Fantasy games.

Unlike the DS version, FF3 on Android is in high-definition and looks good whether using a smartphone or 10 inch tablet.

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Controls are something of a mixed bag. While Google’s OS supports gamepads, this game does not so you are forced to use touch screen virtual buttons.

I prefer to use physical controls, however the touch screen interface is not bad, and much easier to use than most other games on mobile devices. After all, it is a RPG and works with the platform.

Most Android devices support FF3 so it should run very well on phones and tablets at least a 2-3 years old. I am using a Nexus 7 and gameplay runs smooth without a stutter.

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Final Fantasy III’s gameplay is very good and holds up well against some newer games in the series (here’s looking at you, FF13). This game first introduced the job system FF fans have come to love. As you progress in the story, your party gains a variety of classes with their own unique abilities. For example, dragoons can jump, mages use magic, and monks can retaliate to counter enemy’s attacks.

If you are looking for a challenge, this RPG will give you one. With numerous random battles and difficult boss battles, this game will make you pull out you hair or, God-forbid, throw your Android device against the wall.

With that said, it’s not too hard that no one can beat it and a little level grinding goes a long way. For a greater challenge, I would say use the Onion Knight class, which can use all black & white magic and equip all weapons/armor. It nurfs your stats, but proves very rewarding once your party exceeds level 90.

The story isn’t horrible, but it is lacking substance. It is a simple premise: four Warriors of Light must find the crystals and save the world. These characters have short backstories but after their initial introduction, there is no further development. To be fair, this is one of the earliest Final Fantasy games (originally released in 1990) so don’t expect something on the caliber of FF6 or FF7.

I also wish pricing was a little better on this title. While iOS and PSP/Vita owner can get this game for less than $10, Final Fantasy III is a whopping $16.99 on the Google Play Store. It’s a tad expensive for a mobile game. However if you consider that the Nintendo DS version cost $40 when it released, then the price for this version isn’t all that bad.

Overall, Final Fantasy III on Android is great and I am still enjoying it. If I had to criticize it, it would be for lack of a story and high price point for a mobile game. I’d score this classic RPG 8 crystals out of 10.

The Many Releases of Final Fantasy

In recent years, portable gaming has been greatly expanded. In addition to Nintendo’s & Sony’s handheld consoles, mobile games have flooded the smartphone & tablet landscape.

It can be argued that Apple iOS & Android could replace dedicated gaming devices or vise versa. In any case, major third-party developers are bringing hardcore experiences to mobile devices. Square-Enix is one of these companies that is supporting these platforms.

In the past three years, the famous JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) maker has brought well-known franchises such as Chrono Trigger to iOS and Android. It has also release new software such as Chaos Rings. Notably, Final Fantasy games are available on both operating systems.

FF4 is out for iOS but should be available on Google Play this Spring. This version of the game is from the DS remake.

Currently, the first four installments are on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad alongside Final Fantasy Tactics and Dimensions. Android has only FF I-III and Dimensions (FF IV and Tactics have yet to be released). Final Fantasy V (based on the GameBoy Advance version) is coming soon to smart devices with some graphical tweaks.

This flood of Final Fantasy remakes has some fans criticizing “Squeenix” about their strategy. The most common complaint is that there are too many re-releases, especially Final Fantasy IV. After all, the game is playable on Super Nintendo, PlayStation 1 & 3, PlayStation Portable & Vita, Nintendo DS & Wii, GameBoy Advance, iOS, and coming to Android this Spring.

Rather than seeing dozens of classic 2D-era games, some fans want more recent titles remade such as the ever-popular Final Fantasy VII.

Would it be awesome to play this gem on your smartphone or tablet? Unless you have an PS1 emulator, FF7 fans will have to wait for this classic to be released on iOS and Android. Until then, you can play it legally on PSN or Steam.

Although there is some merit to S-E’s many releases, I believe what they are is doing is not a totally bad idea. By expanding their library into the App Store & Google Play, more people will experience the series. This is especially great for those who either missed the series or too young to get to enjoy it.

My only criticism against Square-Enix is its app pricing. On both Google Play and the App Store, the cost of each game far exceeds any program. Compared to other developers, S-E charges a hefty price for newer content. As opposed to the budget $1 apps, most games are roughly $15-$20.

Check out Final Fantasy III for example. As of this writing, the game is $16 on Android and $9 on iOS (although it released at the cost of $16). Furthermore pricing isn’t consistent between platforms, especially comparing with PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s eShop where games are significantly cheaper (by about $5-$10).

However, I must admit the premium price tag holds value in S-E’s offerings. It is still much cheaper than console titles (which costs $60). In comparison to handhelds, they retail normally $40.

After all, Final Fantasy III (remade originally for the DS) costed $39.99 when it released in 2006. Once ported over to smartphones and tablets, it was about half the original price.

Plus, Square-Enix usually offers discounts and sales on their games on the digital marketplace. Final Fantasy I and II have been sold as low as a dollar on some occasions. Final Fantasy III was marked down by half  a year after its release on the App Store. This is just food for thought.

All this aside, I am excited for the Final Fantasy IV & V re-release on Android this year. The only thing I wish for is being able to use Bluetooth joypads. The virtual touchscreen controls are good, but using a controller with physical buttons would be swell.