Sunday, August 25, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn First Impressions

A few weeks ago, while browsing for new games to play, I came across an article explaining the beta phases of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I quickly jumped into it to see what the craze is about. I didn't play the original Final Fantasy XIV. I've only read about how horrendous the game was, and how everyone is having high expectations for A Realm Reborn to be a lot better than its previous version.

I'm a huge fan of Square Enix. I've been playing their console RPGs since I was a kid. I've admired Square's storytelling ability in their games. Their creativity extends to their amazing graphics and their original soundtrack. It only made sense for me to at least try out their MMO to see what they can do in a multi-player capacity.

Once I got the beta client downloaded and installed, I hopped right in to create a character. I was fascinated by how detailed it is. From the hair style and color all the way down to how your character growls in pain. It could have used more facial variety since I was spoiled by the character customization from Skyrim, but it was still very impressive.

After playing for a couple of hours exploring the world of Eorzea during the beta, I decided that I had to purchase the game. Everything stayed true to the Final Fantasy universe with feaMMO. Quests are straightforward and easy to navigate through. The local and world maps will take some getting used to, but they certainly help out with the completion of quests by pointing you towards the right direction. The Full Active Time Events (FATE) also spawn randomly across your local map, giving you more variety throughout your journey. They are similar to the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2 and the random rifts found in Rift.
tures that you can find from their other games. It also looked like a great

The one thing that did bother me just a little bit was the lack of voice acting during cutscenes quest explanations. I know it's traditional for dialogue for unimportant events are usually in text in the original RPGs, but with how much storytelling that this MMO is doing, voice acting would have been a great addition. At least we have it for most of the main quests.

May I log in now?
I'm currently in the early access phase since I pre-ordered my digital copy of the game. There have been quite a few improvements to the game. There are still a few bugs here in there with logging in and with instances. I haven't been able to log in for the past hour now due to issues with the servers and stuff. I'm sure everything will get sorted out before the actual launch. If not, we're all gonna have a lot of problems this coming Tuesday.

I guess I'll keep spamming the login screen for a bit. I'll provide more updates pretty soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013

See You Later, Azeroth

After several long years playing World of Warcraft almost nonstop, I think it's time to call it quits, at least temporarily. The game has become less enjoyable each week. The game's content seems drab. There is also the very famous topic of WoW's population decrease, which turned what used to be a very lively and social video game to a ghost town. Every time I manage to get my guild together to do a weekly raid, or after sitting around for over an hour trying to fill up a raid group, I immediately want to log off and do something else. I tried to stick with it, but it's just not fun anymore.

I actually have not played in over a month. Partly due to the busy summer season at work, but mostly because I've found better games to play during my free time. I've been playing League of Legends with my wifey a lot lately, and I found that hundred times more fun than doing daily quests. Even my friends and guild mates have ventured off to find other games for us to play in order to break free from the boredom associated with WoW. I even revisited console gaming to tackle my huge backlog of games that I need to beat.

A guild mate recently texted me asking if we could get the guild together to try out a new MMO. I immediately wished him good luck, since I'm sure most of us are pretty much done with MMOs. There really wasn't much out there for us. We tried Guild Wars 2, and that was enjoyable to a little bit. We even had a quick stint with The Old Republic.

We even gave Ragnarok Online 2 a shot. We leveled up twice, then uninstalled. I do have to rant about this since I was a huge fan of the original Ragnarok Online, but that'll be for a future blog post.

I didn't end my WoW subscription yet. I still feel very loyal to the Blizzard brand, and I have complete faith that they will eventually do something about the drop in population and their dull content. I just have to take a little break from it all while they get that sorted out.

See you later, Azeroth.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sorry Bandwidth, I've Free Games To Download

I'm pretty new to the Playstation Network Plus thing. I only remember subscribing to it because I was given a month for free. It did ask me for my credit card number when activating the free one-month subscription, and I guess I forgot to unsubscribe before my free month was up. I didn't do my research on it, and I didn't really care for it since I was an Xbox 360 fanboy. When I read that I'd be given free games with my PSN+ subscription, I automatically assumed that the offer would include some lame stuff that I would never want to play, and for the first couple of months that's exactly what I saw.

I first subscribed to PSN+ a few months ago, and when I checked out what was free to download, I was pretty disappointed.  The only PS3 title that I found worth mentioning was Dark Souls, and of course that game was free because the game is so goddamn difficult that no one wanted to purchase it. I still haven't beat the game.

The other titles that were free on a monthly basis were different Playstation Vita games. I don't own a PS Vita, which made my PSN+ subscription even more useless. I kind of gave up on the whole thing.

It's been a couple of months since I last turned on my PS3. The last game I played was Ni No Kuni. It wasn't until I saw a credit card charge for a three-month subscription renewal for PSN+. Crap, I forgot to unsubscribe again.

On a whim, I decided to check out what's there to download since I'm stuck with it for another three months. To my surprise, there was actually things I would actually find myself playing. Battlefield 3 and Uncharted 3 were available and I quickly confirmed both downloads.

While waiting for those two to download, I turned on my 360 to play a couple of rounds of Black Ops 2. Before I could get the game started, I get a text from a friend saying that Assassin's Creed 2 is free in Xbox Live. More free stuff? Heck yeah!

Now all I need to do is find some spare time so I can actually play these games.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Geeking Out - Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

The original Pikachu card.
Nothing is more nerdy about me than my love for trading card games. I've always been a fan of them. It started way back when Pokemon was all we talked about during recess in elementary school. No one really knew how to play the Pokemon card game. We just collected them, and we had fun doing it. We would bug our parents every day, asking them to pick up a pack of cards from their way home from work. Everyone brought in their collection to school to show off their holographic cards. We even counted all our Pikachus to see who had the most. I had more binders of Pokemon cards in my backpack than actual school books. Don't kid yourself, you know you did it too. It was such a big distraction that my elementary school made attempts to ban Pokemon cards from school property. No big deal, we just brought our Game Boys instead.

The iconic Dark Magician Card from Yu-Gi-Oh.
A few years later, we stuffed our collection of Pokemon cards underneath our beds and started using our earnings from chores to buy Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Now this is a card game we actually played. We were all addicted to the anime, and we bought starter packs to match our favorite characters from the show. The anime taught us all the basics to get us started as duelists. Yes, duelists. We weren't playing a game. No, no. We were dueling. It was serious business.
The famous Magic: The Gathering

As we began to understand the game a bit more, we ventured away from the starter packs and threw in cards from booster packs. I can remember how much fun I had assembling decks and playing practice duels with friends.

When I reached high school literacy, I slowly got into Magic: The Gathering. Now THIS was a very elaborate trading card game. Unfortunately for me, I was a teen with no job, so I couldn't afford to collect Magic cards. So I had to settle by freeloading off the cards that my friends didn't want to use and trying to piece together a decent deck with the hand-me-downs. Regardless, it was still a very fun experience. In 2009, Magic: The Gathering became available on Xbox Live under the title Duels of the Planeswalkers. I've been playing the hell out of that game, and its subsequent updates for 2012 and 2013.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The upcoming trading card game from Blizzard.

Now comes Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The announcement of this game was a bit of a surprise for me since they had just released Heart of the Swarm, and they've been releasing new content for Mists of Pandaria like a machine. I didn't think they'd be able to find time to work on a side project like this. I'm glad they decided to work on a TCG video game. It's another thing to be excited about in an already great year for gaming.

If only they'd implement the trading card game INTO World of Warcraft, so we'd have something to do in the numerous inns and pubs around Azeroth. That would be pretty awesome.

Also, I'd like to have this for my iPhone, Blizzard. I don't have enough money for an iPad. Kthx.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Are Live!

I've decided to start a side project that'll compliment this blog quite nicely. I'm going to start streaming my gameplay live through This platform has provided gamers across the globe with a fast and easy way to share their gaming experiences and talk about the games they love. I've been watching a few streams, and I noticed that community is great, and I just wanted to be a part of it.

While my gameplay won't be amaze-balls, I'm sure it'll be entertaining to watch for those casual gamers out there. I'll mostly concentrate on WoW gameplay with the guild, and some other games that I'll play cooperatively with friends like League of Legends and Starcraft 2.

I'm very excited to do this, and the guild is all on board to stream some casual raids for the community of Twitch.

Check it out every once in a while.

See you live!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Impulsive Purchasing: God of War

My PS3 is the latest addition to my home entertainment, and the only real game I've played on it was Ni no Kuni. I thought the console would collect dust for quite a while, but that's not the case anymore since GameStop came out with a great deal with God of War: Ascension at their online store. The new game comes with a copy of the God of War Saga Collection for free, which includes every single game in the series that released for the PS2, PSP, and the PS3.

I'm new to the God of War series, but I've read nothing but good things about it. The wifey was actually the first one to bring the game to my attention with its SuperBowl commercial.

Thankfully, the game will be arriving tomorrow. Right in time for my only day off from the work week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

We can all agree that the launch of SimCity 2013 was a big disappointment for us. Now Electronic Arts is apologizing for the trouble that was caused by giving us one of their games to download for free. We get to choose from Battlefield 3, Bejeweled 3, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Need For Speed Most Wanted, Plants vs. Zombies, and SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition (wtf?).

I haven't played any of these titles before, and I've been debating on which of these I should get. I'm definitely not going to waste this freebie on Plants vs. Zombies or Bejeweled since I can get those on my iPhone. And who would take SimCity 4, the 10 year-old brother of the current game?

I'm not much of an FPS player on the PC, I do all that on my Xbox. I'm terrified of zombies, so Dead Space 3 is out of the question. I don't think I would enjoy a racing game either. So I went for Mass Effect 3.

And with that, EA was able to grab more money from me because I will most likely want to download the first two games of the series before playing my free game.

You win again, EA.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Playing Video Games With Star Athletes

I have never encountered anyone famous through online gaming. I'm sure it's a rare thing for all of us gamers. It would be pretty cool to say that you've played a video game with a celeb though. A recent blog from Hunter Hillenmeyer reveals that we'll soon have the opportunity to actually face up against star athletes in an online video game of their choice. That's pretty awesome.

Right now, there's only a few athletes featured in this KickStarter project, but it's still an impressive list. I wouldn't mind playing with these people at all. The project will use Xbox Live and Playstation Network as a platform for their online gaming, and would feature mostly sports games and shooting games. Fun stuff.

I do hope this launches, and is successful enough to expand to PC gaming. It would be fun to play player-versus-player against NFL's Ryan Matthews of the Chargers, or NBA's Andre Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz. Or maybe scouting against Andre's teammate Gordon Hayward in the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft 2.

Unfortunately, it looks to have a subscription fee in order to be eligible to play with these athletes, and I'm not sure how to feel about that. I will definitely pledge a few bucks to the KickStarter, but I'll only subscribe to the finalized product if the list of athletes continues to grow. I would LOVE to play some 2K with Kobe Bryant.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Patch 5.2: Tap to Faction

I love it. No longer having to group up and stress about finding tanks or healers. All is needed is a /yell to get everyone to a world boss. Result? Happy players.

Mal'Ganis' Horde downing Galleon
This is probably my favorite update from this patch. Now it's time to see if I can get to those new world bosses!

Oh, EA Games

I was excited to play SimCity tonight since it had launched. After hitting up the gym, I quickly downloaded the game through EA's website and stared at my monitor while it installed and patched the game. It was a major downer when the game failed to launch every time I double click the .exe file. I've been reading through the SimCity forums, and it seems that a lot of other people are experiencing problems that are keeping them from playing the game.

Good job, EA.

This is a bit similar to the problem that Blizzard had with the launch of Diablo 3. The major difference here is that I was at least able to create a character on Diablo during launch night. Nothing even pops up for SimCity.

SimCity would have been a perfect game for tonight. WoW servers went down just half an hour ago, and I was hoping to spend some time building my perfect virtual city during the downtime. I'm sure other WoW players would have liked to take some time playing SimCity as well. But now we can't.

Hopefully the problem is fixed sometime tonight. I know a lot of SimCity fans are very disappointed with tonight's launch, and would like nothing more than to play the game they have waited 10 years for.

Friday, March 1, 2013

We're Moving

Mal'Ganis has been treating me and my guild well so far. So well that we're going to be moving in permanently. I had already seen this move coming from the start. We hardly logged on to Cenarius with our main characters, but when we did we would quickly log back over to Mal'Ganis. This realm just has so much activity. It feels like a whole new game. We're just having a lot of fun. Our Ventrilo lobbies are more active, guild members are helping each other out, and our guild has already gotten to level 8 in just a few days.

A few guild members even transferred their secondary 90's to the realm in order to quickly handle any one who attempts to gank us while leveling our new characters. It's refreshing getting the guild together just to level and hang out, without the pressures of having scheduled raids and whatnot.

We are going to raid eventually, though. We've taken on more of a casual approach to the game for now, and it's working out for us. When the time comes, we will start raiding again. A lot of us are close to level 90, while others started working on gearing their secondary 90's, so that time will come pretty soon. I'm sure the rest of the guild are appreciative of the little time off from raiding, especially following our setbacks over at Cenarius. Things will turn around. The closer we get ourselves to 90, the more eager we will be to raid.

I was pressured into joining everyone in transferring a secondary 90, so I decided to bring over my Rogue and renamed him Ashweather. He is horribly equipped, but I'm steadily getting him up there. I'll add his Armory profile over to the side so you may check out his slow progress. I'll be making Ashweather the character I use to be guild master, and I'll be raiding with him as well when the time comes. I've never raided with my Rogue, since he was a late addition to my small collection of 90's. I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the Combat spec, and it's pretty fun so far.

That's it for now. There are a few things that I'm not particularly fond of in Mal'Ganis, but I'll post that up later.

See ya.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Starting Anew

Upon finding that my home realm has become less populated with active players, members of my guild suggested that we pack our bags and check out a high-population server. We all thought about it for a little bit before making a move. A lot of ideas were being discussed, and we were even doing research on certain realms that we would like to try out. We also talked about whether or not we want to transfer any of our level 90's.

After some time, it was finally decided that we are gonna have a temporary run on Mal'Ganis. Fresh new characters, no level 90's, and that we would create a guild for our new characters. We are also going to be playing as the Horde.

Wait. The Horde?

Sure, why not?

I started my World of Warcraft tenure as a member of the Horde. My first character was a Blood Elf Rogue (I had joined after Burning Crusade released). It should be familiar territory. So I went ahead and created another Paladin, since there's no way I'm going to transfer Tensoon over. Thus, Torquentine was created. A few other guildmates made Tauren, and we quickly ran through the first few quests in Mulgore to get ourselves some levels. After that, we decided to skip head over to Thunderbluff and catch a zeppelin to Orgrimmar.

The city has changed a lot from what I remember. I haven't visited Orgimmar in years. I couldn't recall where everything was, so it took me some time and a few clicks with the town guards to get familiar with the area. The place is so spacious and full of life. And I'm not exaggerating when I say full of life. I've never seen so many people in the middle of a city, or grouped around at the auction house. They weren't kidding when they listed Mal'Ganis as a high-population realm. It's nuts. People everywhere!

Now my friends and I just need to get ourselves to level 90 so we can start raiding, and see what this realm can do for my guild.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Officer Chat: My Dying Realm

My main character is Tensoon, a Draenei Retribution Paladin on Cenarius. I lead Legends of Lightside, a casual raiding guild with two dedicated 10-man raid teams. I've been leading this guild since December of 2009, when everyone was pushing for a Lich King kill. As a guild, we've come across numerous obstacles that prevented us from reaching certain goals. They range from attendance issues for raids, to guild drama caused by a disgruntled guild veteran. But nothing quite like this.

We lost a couple of members due to real life, whatever that means. That's fine, I don't care. People are free to do what they want. I'm sure there are other players I can recruit into Legends of Lightside. I just have to dedicate half an hour seeking people out in the Looking For Group channel.

Okay, maybe another half hour, and I'll find someone.

Good thing I had a lot of Ghost Iron Ore to smelt, because no one is replying.

I'll give it another hour, maybe?

Still no replies.

After hitting my guild recruitment macro for what felt like the one-millionth time, I panned through the chat window and found that I was the only one in the chat. The last few lines of chat were from me, actively recruiting for my guild. I'm no spammer, I made sure I gave my macro key a five-minute rest between each hit. This was during prime time, too. It's 6pm server time, and no one else is chatting. No pug groups recruiting, no other guilds recruiting, no one wanting to buy or sell something. It was just me.

Then came raid time. I wasn't able to find any new guild members, but maybe I'll have more luck pugging the last two spots for the raid group. What better way to recruit for a guild than to show off how good we are in a raid?

What? No replies? But it's Terrace of the Endless Springs. Who would be crazy enough to pass that up? Surely, it must be a holiday for it to be so empty online. But Valentine's Day was a couple of weeks ago. There must be another explanation.

There is: It's because my realm is dying.

Cenarius is a realm that favors the Alliance, and is listed as a medium-population server. Unfortunately, it's feeling like a low-population realm. It never occurred to me that I would have to figure out what to do with my guild in a dying realm. I always thought recruitment would be no problem, but no one is playing anymore. I understand that people are a little bored of the current content. It seems that people ran LFR a few times at the beginning, then decided to unsubscribe until new content is released. My guild members are starting to worry as well. The auction house is empty, and no one can turn a profit from the items in our guild bank. They are growing sick and tired from not being able to raid on a weekly basis due to the lack of pugs or new guild members. Our second raid team is facing the same problem, but merging our two groups would be a mess.

What to do?

JRPGs With My Wifey (Part 2)

After popping in Ni no Kuni into the PS3, Grace and I were immediately drawn to the animation and the voice acting. It definitely felt like something from Studio Ghibli. After several cutscenes and tutorials, we finally got to start the real journey of Ni no Kuni.

While watching Grace at the sticks controlling little Oliver, I began to realize that our styles of gameplay are very different. She's in it for the story, and wants to reach the next objective as soon as possible. She would serpentine her way through trash mobs in order to get to the next boss, the next city, the next waypoint. That's not my style. I couldn't bear to see all the leveling opportunities and treasure that she would pass up.

Then I would get my chance on the controller. I'm a perfectionist, a completionist. I'm maybe a little obsessive. No matter. I would backtrack to whatever Grace had missed. I will explore every far-away corner of a dungeon, open every possible treasure chest, and run the little tedious errands the little people of Ni no Kuni would have for me. I would look over and see Grace napping or looking something up on her phone, obviously bored of what I was doing in the game. I kept telling here that I was almost done with what I'm doing, and that I'll get to the next boss fight or objective for her.

Several hours later, I would still be on the sticks, and Grace would be fast asleep right next to me.

She'll get her next turn the following day.

JRPGs With My Wifey (Part 1)

Ni no Kuni for the PS3
Just over a week ago, I bought Ni no Kuni for me and my wifey to enjoy. I haven't played a decent Japanese RPG in a long time, and I needed a good exclusive to go along with my PS3 purchase. After doing research, it seemed that Ni no Kuni was the game everyone is raving about. So, why not? I had to pick it up.

The game's heartwarming story features a young boy named Oliver whose mother had recently died. While he secludes himself in his room days after his mother's death, his favorite stuffed animal named Mr. Drippy comes to life. Mr. Drippy then convinces Oliver to help him rescue an alternate reality that is plagued with "broken-heartedness" by telling him that he can probably bring back his mother. In this alternate reality is where the game begins.

The gameplay is fun, and will satisfy even the more hardcore gamers. The combat system does require a bit of micromanaging, since you are controlling three characters and their "familiars". You could choose to control just one character during combat, as the AI for your teammates can be depended on to deal some heavy damage or to run away from incoming attacks.

Oliver, the main protagonist, meets his first familiar
The "familiars" are the creatures you can capture and tame to fight alongside you. It is not a Pokemon rip-off, since the gameplay mechanics are complete completely different. Seeking out familiars and leveling them up would be a fun experience for everyone. Grace enjoyed it when we encountered familiars that looked cute, and giving them funny nicknames when we capture them.

The game was created by Studio Ghibli. They're famous for some popular animated films like Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totora, and Princess Mononoke. Ghibli did an amazing job creating a game that shares similarities to their films. Making Ni no Kuni feel like an interactive movie is the true experience of the game.

That's it for now. I'll be putting up posts about Grace and I actually playing the game. It was an interesting journey.

See ya.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Impulsive Purchasing

I'll admit that I spend way too much money for technology. But, who can blame me? The marketing departments for both Sony and Microsoft have been getting me good these past couple of weeks. Recently, Sony released the Classic White PS3, bundled with a free year of Playstation Plus and 500GB hard drive capacity. I just had to. I can't let that kind of deal slip away. Damn you Sony.

Now, I'm eyeing the current Xbox 360 deal that comes bundled up with Skyrim and Forza 4. I do currently own Skyrim and a 1st Generation Xbox 360 (ugh), but what's making me want to make this purchase is its 250GB hard drive space. I'm a content fanatic. DLCs, map packs, games-on-demand, etc etc. My measly 20GB hard drive can barely handle the Rock Band songs I've accumulated since 2008. I even had to delete some songs in order to install the multiplayer content for Halo 4, which was a massive 3.5GB. I'm currenly sitting on 56MB of free space. Microsoft stopped manufacturing larger hard drives for the older 360s, and I'm definitely not going near the ones that were refurbished by GameStop. These dark days must end.

So, yeah, I'm gonna get that bundle.

Enough about consoles. Let's move on to my more favorable gaming platform. My PC is going to get lots of love when I finally get my hands on the new Titan graphics card from Nvidia GeForce. While this card might hit retail with a pretty hefty price tag of close to $1000, I might have to wait a bit for the cost to go down. Besides, the card might be overkill for the current games I have installed for my PC. It would be interesting to see this thing put into action with Watch DogsDestiny, or any of the upcoming games with high graphics.

That's it for now. Soon I'll be posting up a series of blog posts about my recent attempts at playing JRPGs with the wifey. I will throw in a few posts about WoW and my thoughts on the upcoming console generation.

See ya.