Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “square enix”

Life is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time (Steam Store)

After Max discovers her rewind powers, she finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for.  Not only does Max not know what her limits are, but she finds herself caught between Chloe and Kate.  To make things worse, the school’s psychopath, Nathan, is out to get Max and even her rewind power might not save her.

Spoiler alert, which I try to avoid, but it’s difficult not to talk about some video games without mentioning them.  First, I’m going to talk about Kate, the religious friend of Max’s who found herself on a viral video.  I’m going to tell you what I’m sure you’ve already figured out if you played the game.  Kate when to a party and Nathan drugged her.  As a result, she unintentionally starred in a sex video and has no memory of what happened.  People hassle Kate for it with Victoria in the lead and her mother and aunt disowned her.

According to them, Kate’s disgraced the name of God by starring in that video and, either they don’t believe that Nathan drugged her, or they feel that it’s her fault.  First off, I would think that people that raised Kate would know that she would not do something like this voluntarily.  Another thing is that, as tragic as the situation is, I’m glad that they chose Kate to give it to rather than Victoria.  I’ve seen rape used too poorly in many fictional franchises where the victim is usually a provocatively dressed party girl.  What many people fail to get is that rape is about power and ugly people can fall victim to it.  By having this happen to Kate, who preaches about abstinence and wears conservative clothes, you demonstrate that this can happen to anyone.  Doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how modestly you dress and how much you preach about God.  Anyone can be a victim and it is not your fault.  Kate’s storyline also shows how evil Victoria is and yet the game shows hints that she’s not pure evil.  Yes, she does spread Kate’s viral video around, bullies Max and even films something at the end that I won’t give away because I have to keep some mystery.  However, Victoria is there for her friend, Taylor, in her time of need and, at the end, even feels remorse over her actions.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t redeem Victoria but it makes her a more complex character.  Nathan, on the other hand, seems closer to pure evil but the game hints at a troubled family background in the first episode.  I applaud that they’re not using this to excuse him and it doesn’t look like he’s getting a love redeems plot.  That’s something that happens quite often in these types of stories.

Now, I’m going to talk about Chloe.  Right now, I don’t know what to feel about her.  I do like that she’s not pure evil as society would portray most female characters like her.  Chloe can also be rather tough and I can sympathize with her situation.  In the last episode, we learn that Chloe has an abusive step-father her mother married after her real father died.  This episode does give the step-father depth but it doesn’t excuse him beating up Chloe and harassing Kate.  Chloe dreams of leaving Arcadia Bay and making it out on her own in the big city.  However, some of her actions are very questionable, such as attempting to exploit two insane people who could kill her if she so much as makes the wrong move.  One of them, Nathan, actually did in the first episode.  Chloe also encourages Max to use her powers as much as possible, which causes Max’s nose to bleed and for her to pass out.  If that’s not enough, Chloe plays with guns and lays on train tracks, the latter nearly getting her killed.

When you save her in a destructive way, Chloe does thank you but asked if you could’ve found a less destructive way to do it.  I don’t know if this is a Final Destination Paradox, meaning that Chloe’s fate is to die, or if she’s just too dumb to live.

The game play is similar to TellTale with no QuickTime events.  You pick dialogue but you don’t have to pick it right away.  You explore different areas, talk to people, examine various items and take pictures.  If you discover certain information about people, you can rewind time and use it to get closer to them.  You can also rewind time if you don’t like the choices you made.  Sometimes, the game play is rather frustrating on the PC if you can’t line the camera right.  Other times, the mouse refuses to cooperate with you.  You have no idea how many times I had to rewind time until I could get my mouse to cooperate.

As you play, Max will automatically fill her diary with character profiles and her version of what happened in the story.  You will also receive text messages from various characters that Max will automatically answer if you press the right button.  There will be a point where you get a text message from Chloe during Jefferson’s class and, if you try to look at it, he’ll scold you.  I mentioned a scene that’s very tragic.  However, you can prevent that tragedy if you say the right things.  You won’t be able to rewind time in that scene, so be very careful.  It’s frustrating but, I have to admit, I’m glad that they’re giving Max limits with her powers.  It makes her more human.

This game is tragic and yet addictive.  I give it 9 out of 10, it gave me a bit of an emotional reaction but not strong enough to get the full ten.

Life Is Strange Episode 1: Chrysalis (Playstation Store)

When Max Caulfield returned to Arcadia Bay, she thought it would be just another typical high school life.

Unfortunately, for her, she couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only does Max find herself at the center of typical teenage drama, she also discovers that she has the power to rewind time.  Can she use it to save Arcadia Bay from an oncoming tornado, or will the power corrupt her?

After playing several Episode stories back to back with the main character being an innocent virgin losing her love interest to the slutty mean girl, this is a breath of fresh air.  While Max is still the virgin and Victoria, the mean girl, might be sexually active, it’s not as black and white.  For starters, Victoria does have more than two brain cells to rub together as demonstrated in the game opening.  She answers the question correctly, though still secretly brags to Max about it.  Max is also not completely against sex, despite being a virgin.  While she is capable of slut shaming and derides herself for it afterward, Max will also remark, after seeing posters promoting abstinence, that looking at that makes people want to have sex.  Even if she’s friends with a religious girl who believes this stuff, but doesn’t try to push it on Max.  In addition, there is a male Victoria, Nathan, and, unlike in several Episode stories, this game does not give him a pass because he has a penis.  Nathan’s not right in the head and, while it’s implied that he has a troubled past, the game does not excuse him for this.  He is every bit as irredeemable as Victoria and he’s not a love interest for Max to cure.  Depending on how you play the game, he’s an obstacle for both Max and Kate, the religious girl who’s good friends with Max, to overcome.  There’s also a character, Chloe, who listens to punk music and smokes pot but, unlike in many episode stories, you don’t lecture her on the evils of pot.

That’s her step-dad’s job and, let me tell you, he’s a real a**hole.

That’s right; this is not your typical high school game.  While Victoria is the mean girl of the story and the most popular, not everyone’s impressed with her.  When you talk to the skater boys, they admit that they don’t like her.  A teacher Victoria has a crush on, Jefferson, does not find her so attractive that he’s willing to break school rules.  Even Max’s geeky friend, Warren, isn’t interested in Victoria, though there are several not so subtle hints that he’s interested in Max while his friend, Brooke, is interested in him.  Did I mention that all three of these characters have stereotypical geeky interests?  This is another breath of fresh air, considering shows, such as the Big Bang Theory, where the boys all have geeky interests.  The girls in that same show, even the scientists, don’t like comic books and video games.  Max admits to owning Battle Royale and watching Full Metal Alchemist, though she hasn’t seen every geek thing out there.  You can even have Max read a poster about geek girls forming their own club and approving.  Max has geeky interests and has a tendency to zone out, ignoring everyone around her.  Therefore, you can bet that she’s someone I can relate to very well.

Speaking of being able to relate to people, this game has several scenarios drawn from real life.  I’ve already mentioned some details, such as abstinence groups, pot smoking and girls with geeky interests.  However, I’ve also said that not everything is black and white and it shows.  For instance, Victoria is not your typical mean girl character.  She is smart, as I pointed out earlier, and, unbelievably, she does have a sense of honor.  When you choose to be nice to Victoria, she agrees to take a picture she posted of you without your permission off the internet and tells you that this doesn’t mean the two of you are friends.  Don’t get me wrong, Victoria’s still screwed up, as she manipulates a friend of hers into shaming her roommate for posting an article she doesn’t like.  Victoria also takes several missing person photos of Rachel Amber and shows no concern for a girl who, for all she knows, could be in a serial killer’s basement.  The only thing that makes her less screwed up than Nathan is that she hasn’t killed anyone.  That’s right, Nathan actually killed someone and it’s how Max first discovers her powers by using them to save the girl he shot.  You do have the option of reporting Nathan to the principal but, since he’s the son of one of Arcadia Bay’s richest families, the principal won’t do anything about it.

Even if you do the right thing, you still get in trouble.

While Telltale did not make this game, it has a similar style.  For starters, you do make dialogue choices for Max.  If you pick the wrong thing, you can make use of her power to rewind time.  You can also explore several scenes and take pictures using Max’s camera.  Throughout the game, you’ll have access to her diary and phone, which you can use to check your messages, read character profiles and the story from Max’s point of view.

This game is intriguing and unique.  I give it 8 out of 10; amazing but doesn’t get a strong emotional reaction out of me.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (Amazon.com)

After saving The Planet from Meteor, Cloud and the gang live out their mundane lives.  Unfortunately, three men claiming to be Jenova’s children are attempting to resurrect their mother.  To make matters worse, a disease called Geostigma is spreading throughout the population.  Can the gang stop these men and find a cure?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original DVD version but I do remember that they didn’t go into very much detail about Geostigma or the new character, Denzel.  In the Blu-ray edition, they showed the effects of the disease and gave us some clue as to who Denzel is.  Because of this, I was more emotionally invested in what was going on.  I even cried a bit when the children infected with Geostigma climbed in the back of Kadaj’s truck and were tricked into drinking mind-controlling water.  Yes, I am well aware of how bad that sounds but Kadaj had no pedophiliac intentions, at least I hope not.  Then they’re all forced to stand around a statue while Kadaj summons a monster.  There are also scenes that show the true heroism of the main characters, such as Tifa refusing to abandon Denzel in one scene and Marlene in another, despite the fact that she was putting her own life in danger.  Reno and Rude also showed heroism when the monster showed up.  True that they were running from it, but they at least tried to take some of the children around the statue with them.  One scene that I truly loved was when the rest of the characters joined Tifa to help her defeat the monster, showing true heroism on their parts.

Even with the new footage, this movie is not without its problems.  For starters, despite Cloud’s resolution that he had to get over his issues at the end of the game, he still acts incredibly depressed.  I actually think it’s realistic because many people in real life will make an outside declaration of change and fail to follow through, but that’s not the reason the writers did this.  They felt that audiences wouldn’t recognize Cloud if he felt an emotion other than depression.  He also had a tendency to leave without telling Tifa, Marlene and Denzel, who are his family, and go deal with his own issues.  I get that he was suffering from Geostigma and still dealing with his issues from the game but this doesn’t make him look like a badass loner.  It makes him look like a deadbeat dad, especially when you consider that Denzel also has Geostigma and Cloud could have helped him through this.  Maybe I’m being harsh, but when you have a family, it doesn’t matter what issues you have.  You need to always be there for them.  You can’t go running off on your own doing who knows what while your family’s at home worried sick about you.  Thankfully, Tifa and Marlene call him out on this.  Reno and Rude are also downgraded from the threatening enemies they were in the game to plucky comic relief.  In addition, during the climax, the rest of the characters that were playable in the game show up out of nowhere with no explanation of where they’ve been and how they all got back.  Oh, and they have no problem working with Shinra, not even Barrett who lost his original gang to them.  Kadaj is also way too easily forgiven and I would go into detail about it but I don’t want to give anything away.  My final problem with the movie was that the editing was still a little sloppy.  Sometimes it took me a while to figure out what was a flashback and what was the present.

Despite the movie’s problems, it does remember the game it was a spinoff of.  There are scenes where some of the characters use materia to give them power, though in the game it’s used by inserting it into your armor and weapons slots rather than into your body.  Like I said earlier, even though there’s no explanation as to why the rest of the cast show up in the movie, as a Final Fantasy VII fan it was great seeing them all reunite to take down the huge monster.  A few instances had them breaking the laws of physics, such as each character launching Cloud into the sky to deliver the final blow.  Sephiroth even returns for one last fight with Cloud with his theme song playing during the entire battle.

The Blu-ray comes with extra features, one of them being an anime about Denzel’s past.  I actually enjoyed that more than the movie because, while the film didn’t know whether it wanted to be a dark movie about a raging sickness or an action flick to please the Final Fantasy fans, the anime knew exactly what it wanted to do and stuck with it.  Denzel wants to join an organization called MRO and explains his reasons for doing so to the recruiter in the form of an origin story.  In other words, we get to see what made a happy privileged boy into an orphan that Cloud and Tifa take in.  We also see the effects that the war between Avalanche and Shinra had on ordinary citizens of Midgar.

Despite the movie’s flaws, I found it entertaining.  I give it 8 out of 10; two extra points for the included anime.

Final Fantasy VII (Amazon.com)

When Cloud Strife returns to Midgar, Avalanche pays him to help them destroy a MAKO reactor built by a company called Shinra.  Unfortunately, Cloud’s past is starting to catch up with him.  Can Avalanche save the Planet from Shinra and help Cloud face the demons from his past?

First things first, for those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in this review.  I finally beat this game and it only took me years, literally.  When I was younger, I had a short attention span and I had a tendency to start the game over when it became too difficult.  The only reason I returned to it is because I wanted to start the whole Kingdom Hearts series from scratch so I decided to watch the Disney movies and play the Final Fantasy games associated with each one.  At first, I was just going through the scenes I’ve watched over a hundred times when I was a kid and just completing it for the sake of Kingdom Hearts.  Then I got to one powerful scene and I was immediately hooked.

When we first play the game, we’re introduced to Cloud, the man who helps commit an act of terrorism for money.  At first, he seems like the kind of guy we imagine ourselves to be, an ex-member of an elite army and a no-nonsense type of guy who can wield a huge sword without breaking a sweat. 

Then we continue playing and we discover that Cloud can be summed up in one word, failure.  When he was a kid, he bragged about how he was going to be in SOLDIER and instead was turned down because his body didn’t react well to the process.  Not only that, but he’s also a clone that the scientists of Shinra labeled as a failure.  While this might make Cloud out to be a liar, he actually believed everything he said.  What happened was that the cloning process went wrong and his memories were fused with Zack’s, a man who is everything Cloud wanted to be.  Even when Cloud and Zack escape, the Shinra guards only kill the latter and leave the former alive because he’s not important.  To me, when Cloud started to question his views of reality, that was when I started playing the game not as research for Kingdom Hearts but just to see what would happen later on.  Cloud went from being the person we want to be to the one that we actually are.  That doesn’t mean that Cloud isn’t a heroic character because in the end he decides that none of that matters and continues to lead the group on the quest.

Two other characters are Tifa and Aeris, both possible love interests for Cloud.  Tifa is the bartender with a skill for martial arts and an optimistic attitude yet has trouble admitting her feelings for Cloud.  Aeris is the flirtatious flower girl with a strong spirit and the last surviving member of a race called The Ancients.  When I was a kid, I was constantly getting into fights with a friend on Quizilla about who was better between Aeris and Tifa.  She argued Aeris because she’s strong-willed and determined to beat Sephiroth.  I argued Tifa because she can kick the bad guys’ asses.  I also hated that the childhood friend was ignored while the new girl came out of nowhere.  Now that I play the game, I see that it wasn’t that Cloud didn’t notice Tifa, he just wasn’t sure she liked him while Aeris he was absolutely sure about.  Not to mention that while Tifa might know martial arts, she has a seriously co-dependent personality regarding Cloud.  She wants him to live up to a promise he made years ago and is more concerned about his well-being than she is about the group.  While Aeris does like Cloud, she puts the regard of The Planet above him and is willing to put her life on the line to save it.  Though her death wasn’t very powerful for me because I had a habit of looking ahead to see spoilers and I knew it was coming. 

Plus, I never really got past Disc 1 when I was a kid.

I’ve mentioned Avalanche destroying MAKO reactors that Shinra creates but I haven’t really explained why.  According to Barrett, their leader, MAKO is the energy used by Shinra and it’s killing The Planet.  So his group blows them up to save it.  This is an act of environmental terrorism and the game admits this in the form of Cait Sith, who calls Barrett out on this at the end of the game.  It turns out Barrett’s reasons were solely for revenge and saying that he’s saving The Planet was his way of justifying all the innocent lives he’s taken.

Speaking of Cait Sith, when he first appeared I’ll admit that I didn’t really like him.  I thought the whole concept of a robotic cat on a stuffed moogle while the owner is safely at Shinra Headquarters was absolutely ridiculous.  They even got to the scene where he has to recite the spell to turn the Ancient’s Temple into Black Materia and everyone acts like it’s some heroic sacrifice while all that’s getting crushed is a glorified cell phone that could easily be replaced.  It wasn’t until he calls Barrett out on his terrorism that I actually started to see Cait Sith as part of the cast.

Another character I thought was ridiculous at first was Red XIII, though he didn’t take as long to grow on me.  When we’re introduced to him, he’s a big four-legged cat and one of the Shinra scientist’s, Hojo’s, project.  At first, he seems like something to show how sick Hojo is by trying to force Red XIII and Aeris to mate on the grounds that they are both endangered species.  At first, they only show Aeris’s disgust but when Red XIII knocks Hojo out, he’s just as much of a victim because he doesn’t like humanoid species, well not in that way.  Then we go to his hometown and discover the origin of his species.  So I didn’t really think of him as a talking animal as much as I did an alien race.

Just like in every Final Fantasy game since the second one, this one also has an appearance by the famous Cid.  Only in this one, he’s a playable character with his own hopes and dreams.  He wants to go into space and his dream was destroyed by Shinra.  He blames a worker of his for destroying his dream due to the fact that she stayed behind to continue the repairs.  It’s not until near the end that he has to acknowledge that she was right.

In addition to these characters, you can also unlock two secret ones named Yuffie and Vincent.  The former being a materia hunting ninja and the latter being a former member of Shinra.  Both of them come with side quests that help you discover more about their pasts.

Of course, no story is complete without a great villain and this one is no exception. 

The main one is not Shinra but a former member of SOLDIER named Sephiroth.  At first, he seems like the standard villain but as you get deeper and deeper into the game you realize that he is another experiment of Hojo’s gone wrong.  When he learned the truth behind his origins, he hates Shinra and the rest of The Planet.  Some of Sephiroth’s appeal is that he has a long black cape and comes with his own theme song.

The game play is every bit as amazing as the story.  You travel throughout the world going to various locations in order to complete the game.  During this, you unlock random battles with a system where you can attack when the bar for each character fills up. 

You can equip your characters with the best weapons and armor available for them and can also fill the slots on your equipment with materia.  Materia is an item that gives you special abilities for each character, such as magic and summoning spells.  As you complete each battle, you can level up your characters.  There is another bar for each character that fills up depending on how much damage you take.  When the bar’s full, you can use a special attack that allows you to make your battles easier.  You can also visit towns in order to buy items, equipment and materia to suit your needs.  Oh, and you can also rest up at an inn and save your game at the world map and at a save point.  Also, the game is so long that they had to separate it into three discs.

As I said earlier, this game does come with side quests.  Some help you delve further into the story, others allow you to obtain the most powerful limit breaks for your characters and the rest are just there for bragging rights.  Two of my favorite side quests are the chocobo breeding and the battle square.  At first, I wasn’t going to participate in the latter but I decided to get Cloud’s final limit break, which I’m glad I did. 

The chocobo one I just like because of my fondness for animals and having something that could travel anywhere with no limits whatsoever seemed pretty cool.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10; an oldie but goodie.

Post Navigation