Monday, June 02, 2008

Gaming Curtain Call

It might not look it, but both of these games have something in common: 90% of their content comes directly from the original game on which they are based. The storylines are so thin and the artwork so stale that the only draw is the chance for players to revisit some of their favorite characters from those previous games as replaying the original is a hollow experience.

I guess I should feel taken when a game provides so little new content yet demands so much of my time, but I must admit that I enjoyed playing through both of these games for the exact reason for which they were made.

Final Fantasy X-2

This game includes two of the original player characters from Final Fantasy X along with visits (and 'visits by proxy') to the rest. There were even visits to all of the NPCs, most of whom I had forgotten (including one that would have died in the original game depending on your dialog choices). The story starts out interesting (to players of the first game), but devolves into a rather uninteresting mush. The combat system was much the same as it appeared completely overhauled from the original game, until I realized that it was just a different take of the system in a completely different Final Fantasy title. Probably the least attractive portion of the game is that it is divided into 'chapters' where it's all but expected that you'll walk from one end of the map each time and talk to EVERYONE. This wouldn't be so bad but for the fact that the nostalgia starts to wear thin for those of us who have already spent 100 hours or so in Spira.

Warriors Orochi

In lieu of the eventually released Dynasty Warriors 6, this game represented a last minute cash-in and the final Warriors game for the Playstation 2*. It's essentially a mash up of Dynasty Warriors 5 and Samurai Warriors 2 with some modest art changes and a handful of new character moves. The story finds a way to combine the 1800 year old 'Three Kingdoms' story from China and Japan's civil war from the 1500s** and is, to the say the least, groan inducing. However some redemption is found in the fact that everyone seems to be in on the joke and the game winds up being what it is: a last chance to see your favorite Warriors characters in their classic vestige before being overhauled for the next gen platform. This game is also saved for me personally by the fact that I never played Samurai Warriors 2 (after being disappointed by the first) so it was the first time I had seen half the maps and characters.

*Update: I had forgotten what a bunch of money grubbing trolls Koei is and they've continued to port Warriors games to the PS2. What horrific concessions they had to make to cram the game onto that system I know not.

**The cartoonish, over-the-top stylings of the Dynasty Warriors games was always forgivable since the actual people and events from so long ago are mostly given over to legend. There's simply not much to get worked up over when someone takes liberties with a story that is in all likelihood 90% fabricated in the first place.

With Samurai Warriors though, the history is a little more fresh and well documented. Japanese history is to Samurai Warriors as actual military life is to the old GI Joe cartoon. The characters and their interactions draw b-movie style eye rolls from anyone mildly familiar with the actual history. I should note though that Kid Sandmich took the opportunity to look up his favorite characters in order to find out what they were actually like.

The whole experience makes me ponder the idea of an 'American Civil Warriors' game. Sure to be an abomination to history, but it'd be pretty fun to see Abe Lincoln wandering the battlefield with a six barrel musket or something while mowing down hundreds of Johnny Rebs.

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