Monday, November 2, 2015

Something old and something old

I played more of Forza 6 than I had planned. Not because it was good, which it was, but because the game provided an arbitrary end point at which I could call it 'complete.' Forza 5 didn't really do this so I played it until I got bored. This didn't take long because there was precious little track variety. Forza 6 has much more and it also has an 'end' to career mode. Good enough for me, I have other things to play.

The main Forza series is falling behind other racing games in the parts of the game that have nothing to do with racing. The act of driving cars is still hitting the arcade side of the arcade/sim continuum, that is to say it is just as good as it has ever been, but everything around it is getting boring. Forza 6 is a car porn museum and what fun is that.

Forza Horizon, the superior off shoot, offers up both an open world and just enough narrative to keep me interested. Other racing titles like the DiRT series and WRC (which is not available to rent from GameFly for some reason) do this as well and it covers a multitude of other sins. Racing games are, by their very nature, repetitive. Adding a touch of story for progression makes running more laps on the same track a little less boring. Forza 6 has more then enough cars and tracks but that is all it is and that limits how much time I will spend with it. Racing online would extend my interest if people weren't such douchebags.

If you are going to pass me, pass me, don't spin me out in the process. Take you tea bagging to games that I don't care about. Trackmania solved this years ago by turning off collision detection when racing online allowing people who don't want to use the breaks to do so without affecting anyone else.

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Describing a game as a linear epic JRPG will either cause someone to drop like its hot or snuggle into it like a mug of hot chocolate that never cools. There is no more subdued reaction. For me, the almost regular Tales releases have superseded any lingering affection I have had for Final Fantasy games. Square's offering are too few and far between and of unreliable quality so I just don't look forward to them the way I anticipate a Tales game. Zestiria was the sole reason I was holding on to my PS3. I happen to be playing it on the PS4, which is good, but it is still a PS3 game, which is not so good.

To be less polite, the game doesn't look bad, is just looks boring.

Tales game all have a similar active battle system, tweaked each time with some new mechanic or wrinkle. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Zestiria relies heavily on the protagonist melding with different companions to change the element of his attacks. This works until you realize that not ever meld has healing available and that the other NPCs cannot be trusted to keep you alive. I have not run into a battle in which this has been a real issue yet, but i know that I will. Dropping the difficulty down when the jump occurs is always an option.

The near miss changes do not end there. Combat takes place in the world itself, not an instance based on the current environment. This means that areas feel bigger than they need to be and the camera still struggles to keep up with the action while not getting hung up in a wall or up the main character's ass. When I can't see what is going on I start to mash which is a good way to get killed.

Equipment has skills attached it to that can be moved from item to item by fusing them. The skills themselves are laid out in to a grid that conveys bonuses when skills align or are doubled up. It is just another layer of complexity, one too many if you ask me. Which item is better is not always clear. This may be the point but if I wanted to worry that much about what to equip I would play a game that actually modified the character models when their armor was upgraded.

It's still a Tales game so I will forgive quite a bit. The game tries to not feel too old by layering on new mechanics, not all of which work. There is nothing wrong with feeling old. If a person is still playing the game after the first three hours of tutorials then they expect it to feel old. Zestiria is trying to compete with modern, western style RPGs like Dragon Age and that is the last thing it should be doing. Nostalgia is fine. I like my hot chocolate plain, thank you very much.

1 comment:

  1. Ah. I was wondering why it didn't look so hot.

    Heck, it doesn't even look as good as that first Tales games that was on the 360.

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