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Haven Review: Final Fantasy IX

First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

final_fantasy_ix_logo_glowing_version_by_snowlady4ever-d4f7uvlFinal Fantasy IX: one of my all-time favorite and enjoyable Final Fantasy titles. I was paying off my first Sony PlayStation (that my father secretly paid off for me) He also bought me a copy of Final Fantasy IX so I could play a new game. Now to me that meant an awful lot, considering he was the only person working. ss_a677dfadb3da854598b766705490da6c93a39c2d.600x338My mother was in the hospital again for various issues and died yet again (She’s good at coming back from the dead, like Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood).  So I remember this game quite fondly. I remember starting it up naming the Zidane character “Daniel”. It was then that I played my first ever quick-time event (QTE). I had to fight with one of Zidane‘s allies in a mock play, which lead up to a series of fortunate events. I got chased by a knight, a princess jumped off a tower and we all somehow met up with a little black mage; after which we went on an incredible journey that I will never forget.FFIX_Virtue

From visiting little villages on our way to see Cid (who just happened to be transformed into a bug at the time), to watching an entire city be eaten by Atomos as he kills hundreds of thousands of people, as you look on in horror. One of my all time favorite scenes is where Zidane is walking away from the airship with the love-stricken princess looking onward, as the knight holds her back as you walk gallantly forth to stop the villain.

The game for me packed a huge emotional punch, with varying degrees of characters, stories and of course a lot of really cool airships. These were some of the best designs I’ve seen, and that’s including the Ragnarock from Final Fantasy VIII. For me the game really shined on its own, final fantasy 9 pcbut there has also been much speculation that it’s one of the first Final Fantasy games to directly tie into another Final Fantasy title…specifically Final Fantasy V…but that’s something for Matpat to handle on game theory.

In terms of character design, Final Fantasy IX was the first (with one exception) to start including non-human characters in its rosters, which have ultimately led to the creation of Mithras, as well as others. The exception was of course Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII. In the game as well, we have possibly one of the greatest ending songs of all time: “Melodies of Life”, which helped console me during everything that was happening in my life. It brought me some degree of peace.

Honestly, this is one of the best Final Fantasy titles to date and a great improvement on the Final Fantasy franchise that helped create a standard for most of Square Enix‘s Final Fantasy RPGs. It was also the last in the franchise to relay how characters feel using cut scenes without vocals; only expressions to show off their attention to detail.maxresdefaultdfg

Conclusion? It’s simply one of the best RPGs of all time in style, design, artwork, musical composition and story. It’s also available now on Steam and other platforms. So if you like, go pick yourself up a copy. Even if you don’t share my emotional investment in the game, it still remains one of the best. If you guys liked our review here is the first 40 minutes of Final Fantasy IX!
Let us know what you think in the comments of the game!

-Daniel Clatworthy-
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Rocksmith 2014

First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Rocksmith 2014

Do you find clacking away at a piece of plastic to be boring and lame?

Ever considered learning how to play guitar like an actual rock star?

Want to be the chick-magnet at the party?

With Rocksmith 2014 you can.

It only requires the game, a specific audio cable and a working electric guitar. Who said that education was not fun? A most noteworthy side effect of learning how to play a guitar is the ability to preform on an open street (in order to pay off the electric bill and cost of new strings). After all, they will eventually snap and lose their sound.

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Flashy minigames.

However if you are serious about learning to play, then this is a small price to pay. With the good comes the bad. It requires Uplay and cold hard cash to get more songs to expand the selection, and for some reason there is no search function in the store. There is only a sorting option and several hundred songs. These can be bought alone or in packs of songs from the same band. The store page could really be improved a lot.Untitled-1

I recall my first six strings.

Each guitar string has its own color. As the the notes come sliding towards the screen, you’ll have to press where the squares indicate and strum the string. This builds up your combo score, unless you miss a note. After all, it is a guitar.

It’s easy to play, but you will have to deal with a short tutorial and a tuning session, where the narration keeps saying “make sure you don’t hit the other strings”. This happens due to the lower string vibrating a little.2016-02-15_00004

Due to the lack of exiting screenshots, here is one from the heist minigame.

Within the main menu there are a lot of options and a wholesome archive of guides and lessons. You can learn virtually everything there is to know about playing different guitars. After all, there exist several guitar roles such as lead, the one who shreds most of the fancy riffs . The bass on the other hand keeps the rhythm going, and the rhythm guitar is the one that keeps the melody going. Since picking, sliding and finger positioning are hard to handle, any part of the song can be slowed down and put on repeat. This is a very welcoming feature, as songs start off deceptively easy, until you start noticing that the best guitarists play like mad. There is a reason why those solos sound so amazing.

Session mode is a funky multiplayer mode where one can assemble a band and team up with a friend. The computer handles the drum beats, while the tone editor is a way to make custom music and notes. Arcade mode is probably the most amusing and random of the menu options. On a list there is a varied selection of skill-improving mini-games, with fancy retro style graphics and a high score system. There is also an online multiplayer mode where you can compete or cooperate against others, or just stat a jamming session. It’s great fun. Should you be really hardcore and press yourself to the limit, there is a “nonstop” mode as well, where the player sets a time limit.

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Another mini game.

It should be noted that the menus are not always stable and sometimes the game will lock up. However I’ve yet to experience this during normal game play. Keep in mind the graphics are decent, the music quality is awesome and that to master a song requires a lot of practice. The best are the best for a reason. Even if the list is most impressive, I’ve yet to see bands such as Metallica in there, and there should really be some more Guns N Roses. However I have a sneaking suspicion that those bands have insane royalty fees.

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Although anyone and their mother can play this game, fewer will succeed, and a guitar does cost money. However the software is very user-friendly. All you do is to jack in the USB and then the guitar, and your all set. All the audio output from the instrument will come though the PC/ TV speakers. However it will use all of the audio channels and disable the microphone temporarily. This means that most chat programs have to be restarted in order to pick up voice again.rocksmith

 

The Rocksmith homepage

http://rocksmith.ubi.com/rocksmith/en-us/home/

Njål Sand

Haven Review: Final Fantasy Explorers

First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

final-fantasy-explorers-cover-600px-600x300Final Fantasy is one of the greatest Role-Playing Game (RPG) series of all time. For me, I started with Final Fantasy III on a ROM emulator, got a PlayStation and bought Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. It’s a series I have loved since my first encounter. Here we are years later and I am playing Final Fantasy Explorers on the Nintendo 3DS.097_thumb

Now the game starts out like most modern multiplayer titles. Create your character, give them a voice, maybe a different hair color and choose your gender. Nothing major about that. Then you start playing. Your airship crashes and right from the get go you are thrown into a fight with Bahamut, King of Dragons who wants to end you. Now I noticed in this tutorial-like mission that they are teaching you very little in terms of game mechanics, but luckily they do teach you those later on. But a fun fact though, is that you can indeed fight Bahamut and not die; your life will only go down to 1HP. However after a hour of grinding away I learned, thanks to Reddit, that even if I did get his health low enough he has a heal later. So it’s not worth trying to slay him.81GsnuIC75L._SX385_

After that brief, but short-lived battle you find yourself in a town and you are instructed to accept missions, get stronger and explore areas around the Island where you are. The story progresses at the players pace from that point, and it’s mainly about exploring (hence the title). The game takes a very non-linear approach to handling the story line, so it’s best to pay attention if you want to grasp it.

Now upon its announcement they said that Cloud, Yuna, and almost all the Final Fantasy protagonists would be in this game. Since I don’t read Japanese websites I learned that they are optional summons in the game and you get them by unlocking or meeting certain conditions. This includes acquiring 10,000 crystal points (CP) or finding more Eidolons. Another item you unlock as you play is the “monster companion”. If you are playing alone and you want to have a party you can raise monsters you have slain (assuming you got their item drop to be your party member).1430727544-6130-capture-d-ecran

Now moving right along, a thing that confused me for a good while are the crystal points (CP). It is a type of currency you get after missions or from completing sub-quests to unlock abilities or to upgrade your equipment. I failed to realize just how useful it is early on, and was constantly running out. Luckily there is a bug right now to give yourself 99,999,999 CP, assuming you need it and care not for the challenge of honest acquisition.

Another aspect of the game that is somewhat frustrating is the “crystal surge” mutation. Now if you’re familiar with the older Final Fantasy titles, they had what was called a Limit Break or in Final Fantasy IX it was called Trace. What they did for this title is they essentially called the limit break Crystal Surge and when you use it you get up to four random specials to use. Now this is where things get a bit confusing. The special moves affect certain abilities you may have equipped and if you use them while under the effect of a crystal surge your abilities can mutate and gain new abilities on top of what they may already have.

From there you could go to town and learn the new mutated ability and keep crystal surging to increase the current mutation, or mutate it further for unique combinations. Of course there are people like me who put critical strike onto deflect so you constantly can spam a higher chance of doing critical, but there are a lot of unique combinations you can preform. So experiment with it if you decide to pick up the game.

It’s now about time I summarize my thoughts on this title. Do I recommend it? Is it good? If you are a fan of Final Fantasy, I recommend buying and playing this. At times it feels like a cash grab from Square-Enix. But with the amount of effort and detail put into it and how fun it is to play, I still recommend it. Even big Square-Enix knows that a game can be a cash grab and still be good.208703_screenshot_09_l

The game also reminds me deeply of Phantasy Star Online. Being able to play missions with friends and adventure around stages. Even in the level design, Final Fantasy Explorers feels like it has a close connection with it, despite Phantasy Star Online being made by SEGA, and therefore having no tie whatsoever with Square-Enix. I also must say that this title came at a good time for me because not a hugely known fact is that I suffer with clinical depression and for the last four days I have been really down. But playing this game gave me the nostalgia trip I needed. It’s so much fun that I just kind of shut the world out for a bit as I grinded away to get Sephiroth‘s outfit.

My recommendation is to buy it, go play with some friends, go stalk the Reddit threads and make your own explorer with your own unique style. You honestly won’t regret it.

TLDR; It’s really good, I loved everything about it, and I wish they would launch it on the PC
and consoles as a home game because of how much I really enjoyed it.

-Daniel Clatworthy-
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