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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Guide to Next-Gen RPGs (Part 5)

I bought my first ever gaming console back in January of 2002 as a birthday present to myself. I had the choice of picking up either an Xbox, a Playstation 2, or a Nintendo GameCube. As I looked over the titles available to each console, I noticed that the newly released Final Fantasy X was only available for the PS2. I immediately forked over somewhere in the neighborhood of $650 for the console and the game.

Truth be told, I was already a big Final Fantasy fan by that point in my life. I'd played Final Fantasy VI through VIII and was quite excited to take FF X home and try it out: I wasn't disappointed. In fact, the PS2 did a good job of providing me a constant string of great RPGs. In comparison, the Xbox's games seemed to focus more on action and less on story. It wasn't until Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic was released that the Xbox started making amends to its RPG fans. And for what it's worth, KOTOR made me jump ship from Sony to Microsoft (though I did switch back years later thanks to Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, and Jak & Daxter).

In the past, the Playstation was definitely the console to own if you liked RPGs. Lately, however, this has not been the case. I'm not the first to notice either as evidenced by this editorial. And yet, I have faith in Sony and the Playstation 3. I was always quite sure that the PS3 would win the next-gen console war. Things look bleak right now but I'm sure Sony has a few more tricks up its sleeves. Most important to me are the PS3's next-gen role-playing games. What are they? When are they coming out? How are they looking right now?

In Part 5 of my next-gen RPG guide, I'm going to take a look at the most promising PS3-exclusive RPGs either currently available or coming soon.

Final Fantasy XII
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: October 2006
Metacritic: 92%
Game Rankings: 91%

Trailer:




Review:



My thoughts:

Okay, okay - I'm cheating a little here. Final Fantasy XII is a PS2 game; however, you can play it on a backward-compatible PS3. Although I was excited about playing Final Fantasy XII, two things prevented me from playing this game:
  1. My first son was born 3 weeks before Final Fantasy was released.
  2. The ESRB rating mentions "Partial Nudity".
Why do I want to play Final Fantasy XII now? It looks great, it got great review scores, I have more free time with which to enjoy video games, and the "partial nudity" refers only to an exploit of the game's floating camera. This camera exploit allows users to peek up the skirts of some characters during some combat scenes. I didn't peek up any skirts in Resident Evil 4 nor do I plan to in Final Fantasy XII. I just want to play one of the highest rated RPGs of all time.



Folklore
Developer: Game Republic
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: October 2007
Metacritic: 75%
Game Rankings: 76%

Trailer:



Review:



My thoughts:

Folklore looks like a slightly above-average next-gen roleplaying game. The story seems interesting enough and the graphics look pretty good. The X-Play review speaks of a linear gameplay experience which is fine for someone like me who has limited game time on a daily basis. I wouldn't pay full price for this game but I'll definitely pay $20 - $30 to give Folklore a try once I have a Playstation 3.



Valkyria Chronicles
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: November 2008

Trailer:



My thoughts:

I'm really digging the "animation" look showing up in a lot of games nowadays. Eternal Sonata, Tales of Vesperia, and Valkyria Chronicles all look great. Valkyria Chronicles seems to have some mature themes in place (guns, tanks, etc.) - it should be an interesting game. I'll have to wait for the reviews on this one before I'd buy it. Regardless, it looks like Valkyria Chronicles will start filling the void of quality J-RPGs in the PS 3 lineup.



White Knight Chronicles
Developer: Level 5
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: 2008

Trailer:



My thoughts:

Although the trailer is a little light on details, I can tell you that White Knight Chronicles has something to do with a kid, a knife and a gauntlet. The knife and gauntlet somehow allow the kid to transform into a giant White Knight in order to battle other larger-than-life enemies. Sounds pretty cool, huh? I'll totally play this game once I've got my PS3.



Final Fantasy XIII
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 2008

Trailer:



My thoughts:

Awesome! Just plain awesome! Final Fantasy XIII is the game that will make me buy a Playstation 3. No one does RPGs better than Square Enix. And the Final Fantasy series is as good as RPGs get! This game is gonna be great!



Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: 2008/2009

Trailer:



My thoughts:

I wasn't too sure about Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The trailer has got me thinking that I may just play this game. I like playing a game where I have a shield of spinning knives that keep me safe from all harm; invicibility is always a bonus! I'll still wait for the reviews on this one before buying it. Square Enix's action-oriented titles seem to be a little weak at times (e.g. The Bouncer). I'd like to see what the professionals think before I start throwing my money around.



I'm sure we'll see more RPGs announced for the Playstation 3 in the coming months. I think Sony may wait and see how well the Xbox 360 does with its North American RPG line-up. I just hope that RPG sales are brisk and Sony is quick to get the ball rolling. Come on Sony: open the RPG flood gates already! Let's nerd this sucker up!



I'll be back either tomorrow or Monday to lay down my top 5 most anticipated RPGs. In the meantime, why not check out my previous next-gen RPG guide posts?

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