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Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Guide to Next-Gen RPGs (Part 2)

In Part 1 of my Guide to Next-Gen RPGs, I covered the RPGs that I've played on the Xbox 360 in the past couple years. Today I'll be taking a look at released Xbox 360 RPGs that I'd like to play.

There are three important factors that come to mind when I'm deciding whether or not to buy a game:


  1. Does the subject matter interest me?
    This is the single most important question I ask myself. I don't care if a game's been well received or critically acclaimed if the game's genre or subject matter don't appeal to me. For example, Starcraft 2 could be called the single best game ever created and I still wouldn't buy it because I hate RTS games.

  2. How much does the game cost?
    If a game is in a genre that I like, there is usually a specific price point that will see me pull out my wallet. For a game in a genre that I like, a price of $20 is usually good enough for me. Poorly reviewed games may need to be priced in the $10 - $15 range before I'll fork over any cash. And of course, there are some games that I would never purchase unless I felt that there was a good possibility of profit via re-sale.

  3. How good or bad were the game's reviews?
    If I'm still on the fence about a game despite its somewhat-interesting subject matter and good price point, I'll look to professional and user reviews to guide my hand. I typically consult GameSpot (I still believe), IGN, 1UP, the Xbox Forums, Metacritic, and Game Rankings before coming to a final decision. In this day and age where loyalty and review scores can be bought, it's good to get as many opinions as possible.

    For what its' worth, I had a discussion about game reviews with Mike earlier today. I can say that my reviews are completely unaffected by anything other than my own personal bias and experience. However, if any publishers or marketing companies decide to send some free stuff or advertising revenue my way, I'd inform my readers of the situation where feasibly possible. Of course, I've always rated cheap games (or free games) a little higher. I can't help it: a free game doesn't have to be great to be great, y'know?
It's with these three questions in mind that I'll now tackle the currently released Xbox 360 RPGs that I plan on buying and playing soon.

Lost Odyssey
Developer: Mistwalker
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: February 2008
Metacritic: 78%
Game Rankings: 79%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

I like J-RPGs. I like games where I get to play as an Immortal (e.g. Planescape: Torment was awesome). And graphics and story are just as important as gameplay when presented properly in the right context. I was planning on playing Lost Odyssey after playing Blue Dragon but I've changed my mind: Lost Odyssey comes first. The deeper story, mature characters, and the whole "Immortal" thing have me quite excited. Bottom line: Lost Odyssey looks way too good to put off much longer!



Blue Dragon
Developer: Mistwalker
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: August 2007
Metacritic: 79%
Game Rankings: 77%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

I know what you're thinking and you're quite right: I've already purchased and played Blue Dragon. In my defense, I've only played 8 hours of the game and have barely scratched the surface of Blue Dragon's story. So I see nothing wrong with saying that Blue Dragon is one of the currently available RPGs that I most look forward to playing. In fact, I plan on playing Blue Dragon after I've finished Lost Odyssey...if I have the time before Star Wars: Force Unleashed comes out this Fall.

If you'd like to read my about my early impressions of Blue Dragon, click here.



Two Worlds
Developer: Reality Pump
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Release Date: August 2007
Metacritic: 50%
Game Rankings: 50%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

According to most professional game reviewers, Two Worlds is a broken and horrid train wreck of a game. So why would I want to play it? The user reviews and comments have made me reconsider my previous stance on this game.

I hear that Two Worlds looks quite pretty, the dialog is quite funny (intentional or otherwise), and many of the game's quests are described as being quite good. Game updates over Xbox Live have fixed many of the "broken" gameplay elements that helped garner Two Worlds a universal "meh" from reviewers. And though I don't believe reviews that claim that Two Worlds soundly beats Oblivion in the "fun" department, I think Two Worlds' current price point of $20 - $30 for a used copy is reasonable given the amount of play offered by the game.

Then again, is it wise to pay for a potentially crappy game that will suck up 80 hours of my time? I guess we'll find out.



Phantasy Star Universe
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: October 2006
Metacritic: 64%
Game Rankings: 64%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

Phantasy Star Universe is an old-school J-RPG; I like old-school J-RPGs. I also found a copy of this game for $15 at my local Rogers Video store. At that price, I'll definitely buy the game. I'll be avoiding the online play for a couple reasons: I don't like online play and I'd really hate having to pay to play online. But the single player experience is included in the cost of the game which is reason enough for me to buy Phantasy Star Universe.

I'm interested to see how well this game measures up to Enchanted Arms. I'm guessing Enchanted Arms is a lot better but who knows? Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.



Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
Developer: Blueside
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: January 2008
Metacritic: 55%
Game Rankings: 56%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

For the right price ($20 or less), I'd play this hack n' slash RPG. It may not be Diablo II but it's about as close as we're going to get until Too Human comes out later this year. Although Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom seems a little weak in the story and graphics department, I'd only be playing it for the killing and loot collecting. What's wrong with wanting to play a game where you walk around and chop up anything that gets in your way? Man, I wish Blizzard would announce Diablo III for the Xbox 360...



Look for Part 3 of my guide to next-gen RPGs next week.

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