Friday, August 19, 2011

Suffering Through Final Fantasy XIII: Part II

Lightning whips through foes like... an electrical storm.

I've managed to clock in seven hours now, and at this point, it feels as if the game is starting to open up a little more. I'm still tracking that same linear pathway as before, but at last the combat engine looks to finally be waking up a little.

The most significant reason for that has been the development of the Paradigm Shifts, which are starting to give me more freedom of choice beyond 'all attack' or 'all defend', as was the case at the beginning. My favourite of these has to be Thaumaturgy. Firstly because it is a great word, and secondly because it is enabling my team to assign to characters to attacking whilst one regularly heals all 3 party members, meaning that I can withstand just about anything that is thrown in my way. The trouble is, this paradigm is only available when I play with Sazh, Vanille, and Hope.

Sazh just isn't strong enough to carry a team alone.
That is just one possible party combination of 3 that I have recently been obliged to use, and the most bizarre thing is that, unless I'm missing something, the teams are hugely unbalanced. Any team led by Sazh seems to struggle through each and every encounter, and my ratings (which range between one and five stars) are consistently in the two/three range. On the other hand, teams led by Lightning cruise through battle with nary a scar to show for it. The time difference is around 2 or 3 minutes, with Lightning's battles often ending within the first 40 or so seconds, and my five-star ratings are reflecting that I'm doing something right in that respect. I just can't seem to crack what they want me to do with Sazh and his cohorts.

AoE Online is little more cartoon-y than I'm used to in an RTS.
I also spent a few hours back in the comfortable, familiar world of Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings this week. I haven't had the chance yet to lose a whole afternoon in the throes of a resource-collecting-induced mania, but it's been good to pass some time in a game I haven't seen in a long time. Bizarrely, this coincided with the release of Age of Empires Online, a new free-to-play MMO RTS hybrid from Microsoft and Gas Powered Games, creators of the successful Supreme Commander series. I haven't had a chance to sink my teeth into it, but I think we'll be looking at it this evening. Free-to-play games have been on the up and up recently, and so I'm really interested to see how they work.

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