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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Guide to Next-Gen RPGs (Part 1)

The other day, I posted a number of trailers for current and upcoming RPGs on the Xbox 360. Trailers do little in the way of informing you, the paying customer, what you're getting yourself into when you slap down your hard-earned cash and take a game home.

This post is the first in a series covering everything from current Xbox 360 RPGs, future Xbox 360 RPGs, and RPGs that I'd like to play on the Playstation 3. Hopefully this series will provide any readers out there with a good starting point in choosing their next great RPG experience.

Where possible, I'll be looking to ascertain the appeal and quality of each RPG listed by referring to its trailers, reviews, previews, Metacritic score, and Game Rankings score.

In today's post, I'll be looking at the current Xbox 360 RPGs that I've had the pleasure of playing.

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: March 2006
Metacritic: 94%
Game Rankings: 94%



My thoughts:

I bought my Xbox 360 for this game. I remember walking into Wal-Mart, slapping down $700 to pick up my Xbox 360 and my $70 copy of Oblivion, and then surprising my wife with my little impulse purchase. Two days later, my wife was in the hospital as we prepared for the arrival of our very first baby. I think this game will always mean a little more to me than most other games because I associate it with my son. I still remember playing this game months later with my son sleeping or sitting beside me on the couch. If you haven't played Oblivion, clear up 100 hours of your time (or more if you get the expansion pack) and get playing!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Developer: Raven Software
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: October 2006
Metacritic: 82%
Game Rankings: 82%



My thoughts:

Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a cross between a comic book and Diablo. Lots of hack n' slash gameplay, a good story, solid voice acting, and tons of fan service throughout. If you like super heroes or action-RPGs, this is a must-play!

If you're looking for a little more insight into the game, check out this post and this post.

Enchanted Arms
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: August 2006
Metacritic: 69%
Game Rankings: 72%



My thoughts:

Although Enchanted Arms was received with little fanfare or critical acclaim, it is a solid and fun J-RPG. The story is grandiose, the characters are likeable, and the combat is good mix of strategy and over-the-top attack animations. If you like J-RPGs or if you're looking for something a little different, give Enchanted Arms a try. Watching the trailer and review for this game brings back some great memories from this game; it was pretty damned solid and cheap to boot!

You can also read more of my thoughts on Enchanted Arms here.

Mass Effect
Developer: BioWare
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: November 2007
Metacritic: 91%
Game Rankings: 91%



My thoughts:

Whereas J-RPGs are charming and quirky, Mass Effect shows us what a Sci-Fi RPG should be: serious, dark, and awesome! Mass Effect is a game that everyone should try. The story is remarkable, the graphics are unbelievable, the characters are memorable, and the combat is exciting. And I have to say that there are few games out there that end on quite as high a note as Mass Effect. I'll definitely be giving Mass Effect a second playthrough in the future.

You can read more of my thoughts on Mass Effect here.

Eternal Sonata

Developer: Tri-Crescendo
Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
Release Date: September 2007
Metacritic: 79%
Game Rankings: 80%



My thoughts:

I haven't finished Eternal Sonata yet. But I can safely say that this game is a must-play for J-RPG fans. Quirky and memorable characters, engrossing story, cheesy dialogue, addictive combat, and beautiful graphics and cutscenes all make up this excellent game. Although I find the various lessons in morality to be a little too obvious and little too forceful at times, I can't help but love every aspect of this game.

You can read everything that I have to say about Eternal Sonata here.

And in case you were wondering, "didactic" means "Intended to instruct. Morally instructive. Inclined to teach or moralize excessively".


Part 2 of my guide to next-gen RPGs will cover the Xbox 360 RPGs that are currently in stores that I'd like to play.


Nehalem75 said...

I own Oblivion, but currently haven't got too far into it. I'm interested to know your thoughts regarding what I felt was a real disappointing aspect to the game.

I think I am correct in saying that the game auto-adjusts enemies you encounter so that they are suited to your rank and abilities. While this can add a certain appeal from a sandbox-style game point of view - i.e. you can go anywhere and do things in the order you choose - I felt it completely defeated any purpose or need to level your character. I know a lot of people don't like the grinding aspect that can sometimes be present in RPG's but I felt Oblivion would have benefitted from having areas that you couldn't dream of going near until you were a far stronger character.

I recognise that I could be wrong here, having had a limited amount of gameplay so far, but this was the impression I took and I found it made me lose interest in a game that I had heard so much hype about. Would be good to know what you think.

Klopzi said...

Nehalem75 -

While you are correct that the game auto-adjusts certain enemies in the game, I did not find that that detracted from the game in any way. Nor did it make the game harder, easier, or unrealistic. You can read the details here.

There are plenty of areas that are deadly to your character if you go too early or unprepared. Some areas simply don't have creatures available for low-level characters to kill. Wander around too much and your character may wind up dead.

I will say that at the end of the game, you are pretty damned powerful. Even so, the endgame is quite difficult even for the mightiest of characters.

I should also mention that there was never a point where I found the game unbalanced. And the story, missions, graphics, and sound are all so well done that any brief annoyances are easily overlooked and forgotten.

If you like RPGs, Oblivion is a must-play game. There will always be people who'll go overboard with good and bad things to say. Just play the game and forget about everything that you might have read. Simply sit back and enjoy the experience. There is a lot to like in that game. You'll just have to trust me on this.