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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Fire Emblem: Awakening – A Hunt between Marriage, War and Strategy

fire-emblem-awakening-2Fire Emblem Awakening (I will shorten it with FE) is a strategy game, which is fairly popular there as well. It’s the 13th game of the Fire Emblem franchise. Yes, the 13th, just like Final Fantasy and without the Onlinegames and this odd numbering like 13-2 or something like that. Althought I only played the 11th FE: Shadow Dragon and 12th FE: New Mystery of the Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow (with an english fan patch) and only caught a glimpse of FE:Sacred Stones, I was quite looking forward to it.

But back to FE: Like in every installment of this series, all Units you recruit are unique with own voice, portrait and character and most importantly, if you go too much ahead of yourself, they can get killed. Not unconscious, no just temporary gone, they really kick the bucket. Even with sometimes heartfelt unique last words like “How could this happen?” (Yeah, player, how could this happen?) “Or forgive me xy. *insert other information/confession here* Only if the main character dies, it is a Game Over (most of the time, sometimes winning conditions change), the others are disposable for the plot.

There are also difficulty levels like normal and lunatic and you can choose between Casual Mode (people don’t die, they return after the mission is finished and you can save in the middle of the battle) and Classic Mode (what is says on the tin. Classic FE. People die permanently,)

Our main character in this case is the Prince of Ylisse named Chrom, who leads a group namend “The Shepherds” (lovely, just the word that I need after the mindscrew with Bioshock Infinite) to protect the surrounding villages and the borders from bandits. You, yes, you take the role of the unit you have created before (male or female, voice, hair/haircolor, statur, strength and weakness point. In the japanese original there was an option where you can decide to not have a voice at all in which case you answer only with “…”. It’s a pity…would have like to see, how that works) I will go with the Name Avatar for that one. The Avatar is just the Deuteroganist. Important, since if s/he dies it, it’s also a Game Over, but the story revolves more around Chrom, his kingdom and, you have guessed it, the whole deal with the Fire Emblem.

It begins with, what I and some call, a spoiler opening. First, you see a nice cinematic cutscene with you/Avatar and Chrom fighting some really dark looking sorcerer (this must be an evil one. slender, dark skinned, red eyes. Yes, sorcerers are almost always evil), then a short tutorial how to fight and then next cutscene. The Sorcerer is dead, Chrom congratulates you and is happy about this victory

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… and then Avatar kills him. (What was it with the red eyed dark sorcerer?)

Yes, this is, for starters, some sort of What the hell hero?! moment. Even I rose an eyebrow at this, although I knew, that something bad would happen. Five minutes into the game and you kill the Protagonist. Wow that…escalated quickly. But back to the story,  another cinematic cutscene (they are really well made, I will give the game that.) You wake up on a field, you see a girl (which is Chrom’s younger sister.) and you get pulled up by Chrom (due close face up of the character) In this moment, all I thought was:

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“Hello, guy I just killed a moment ago.”

Of course Avatar doesn’t remember a thing about killing him, just his name. With that follows the classic exchange “Who did you know my name?” “I don’t know…I can’t remember anything”. After you have helped to fight off some bandits and later some Undead (the Risen, who came through some sort or portal like Math), you have proven your worth and you are made the tactican of the group.  (It’s even your starting class, and no bad one at that)

After a fist glimpse at the story, let’s talk about the combat-system. It’s pretty understandable and easy (easy in terms of  weapons: spears>swords>axe>spears. Magic is good against heavy amoured units and wind magic is especially good against flying units and bows are very effective against flying units)

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The field is like a chess board. You move your units so close up as they need to be to attack, the game gives you a battle prognosis and you decide if you risk it or not. Not everytime it is advisable to follow the attack -attack strategy.  Sometimes you have wait and see, how the AI moves and use this to your advantage as well the field you are in (obstacles, your flying units, sand where units with armour and horses are  slower.) When they fight you gain Exp for a lvl-up and their weapon stats will get better, so they can carry better weapons (note that weapons can break after being used a certain amount of times, besides a few execptions)

There are also Seals (Master Seal and Second Seal) which either upgrades your class to an elite class or reclass your character to another class.You can also pair units up, which raises the support-lvl and grands you a bonus regaring how high the support-lvl between those two are. (Avatar can support anyone,  the other units are restricted.)

Speaking of support level, the characters can marry each other (only those  of the opposite gender and again anyone besides Avatar is restricted.) As soon the Support-Level hits S, they will confess and marry (So watch out for this in the conversation section. We don’t want to marry them to someone you don’t want too.) This has an impact on the game, especially on the children they will have.

And now it get’s more complicated. The parents influence the growth stats and ground stats of the children. First I thought, I would marry people off which I see fit and pair them up as they come.  Then I looked in the internet and saw the whole discussion about who should marry whom, because the stats of the child are better this way. I was somehow reminded of a breeding ground. Some partners push magic, some push defense-growth …so what you chose depends on how you want to play the game.

The Avatar becomes a CG picture of the people they confess to (complete with pink glittering background and some cheesy lines)

To the characters, besides being used as breeding material, I find them quite enjoyable, of course because of the funny support conversations. A thief which you can buy with sweets,  a butler/knight who takes his service to the extremes,  a mage who analyses everything and has no sense of social interaction, another knight who is tall but always goes unnoticed by everyone, a smiling dark mage who has a weakness for animals and blood-spilling, another darkmage who stalkes your  Avatar and likes to curse other people…..and so on.  Everyone has a unique character (if you like them or not is up to you and of course there are a few cliches in there)

The story is quite good as well with the whole war, provocation, dramatic turns going on with the kingdom and main characters. With this spoiler opening and the Avatar being amnesiac…the story is not suprising, but still well executed.

Such an opening is a double-edged sword. First, it makes a bombastic, climatic, epic intro, but at the same time spoils something important about the plot, which could have been used as dramatic “I didn’t see that coming”-moment within the game. Of course it is interesting why what happened, but when the plot gets too predictable, then, well for me, it gets harder to enjoy. But, like I said, even with that, the story remains good.

Conclusion is,  FE: Awakening is a very good game. I really enjoyed it from the characters to the gameplay, to the cinematics to the conversations, although the plot is nothing really new (but then again, with plot is?), it is stilll well made.

Was it worth the hunt? Definitely. A strategy with enjoyable characters and the frustation about my own incompetence because I didn’t think it through properly through (yeah, missions with AI controlled allies are still annoying) I had my eyes set on it as I knew of its existence (which was a year before it was released in the West) and I don’t regret this prey one tiny bit.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in 3ds

 

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Bioshock Infinite – A hunt for clues through Rifts

Bioshock_Infinite_LogoNormally, I wouldn’t touch First Person Shooters at all, but I make exceptions. And one of these is Bioshock Infinite. There are so many reviews out there about this game and especially about its ending. That is why I don’t really want to focus on this alone.

Let’s say, besides my impression on the game, I try to interpret special parts of the story (which I noticed) and even the whole thing here and there. (Yes, It will be philospical, know-it-all and spoiler-ish, but I try not to retell the whole story)

So, if you haven’t played it till the end, I would recommend that you not read this.

The player controls a man named Booker DeWitt and accompanies him on his quest to kidnap a young woman named Elizabeth to clear his debt. Nothing to difficult at the first glance, if it weren’t for the fact that this girl is in Columbia. A city which flies in the sky and is inhabitated by followers of a self-proclaimed prophet.

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…I have a bad feeling about this…

Have I mentioned that this game has religious undertones? Of course, before you can enter the city, you will be baptized or rather “cleansed from your sins and be reborn as a new person.” This is a reoccuring theme in the game along with the “Bring the girl, wipe away your debt.” See the pattern?

Sin and Salvation. “Without a sinner there can’t be a reedemer.”

With that pointed out, let’s continue with the plot. Now DeWitt is newly baptized, enters the city and everything seems peaceful, almost utopic. People are friendly and polite, there is a nice festival going on and you can enjoy yourself in shooting galeries. We all know, this might turn into the living hell soon enough. 

Thirsty already? How about a drink?

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I’m always surpised that characters in Bioshock don’t even consider the option that such things could be dangerous for your health. “Ah, a bottle with an unknown, omnious glowing substance in it….Let’s drink it!” Cheers.

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Cheers, indeed…

But all is fine and good, you survive it, you get new powers, meet all kinds of strange people, until you get a note with the warning to avoid the number 77 to not blow up your cover. But hold on there. The number alone is an interesting one. If we pick up the religious motive, the number 77 is associated with sins and forgiving them as well it it a reoccuring throughout the book. Notable is as well, that the number is in certain numerology  systems associated with Jesus Christ. Again this whole sinner and reedemer theme. And there was a thing with the whole “False Shepherd”, wasn’t there?

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Jesus Christ, fate hates me so much.

This is the point of the game which marks the beginning of the end for the peaceful utopia. You have the choice to throw the baseball either at the couple or at the man with the mustache. Either way, your cover is blown and you have to fight, which brings us to the battle system:

My opinion on it is kind of mixed. On the one hand, its not bad, you can vary between powers and weapons and of course use the skyline of the city to assassinate people from above (…this sounds awfully familiar…) There are also different accessories to enhance your abilities and do nasty little tricks like vaporize your enemies when you do enough damage with your sky-hook. Nice effects, but I didn’t really need them.

What I absolutely don’t like, is the fact, that you can carry only two weapons at a time or rather two guns. That’s all nice and good, but you often don’t know when you need which weapon and since you can’t buy them and have to find them…

Let’s say, good luck against this guy if you have only a pistol and a sniper riffle. (not to mention the endbattle)

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But all in all, it’s quite solid, I would say. So, you fight your way through Columbia and begin to wonder how much police force they have, you finally reach your goal and find the girl in a tower. (I’m the only one who is reminded of a certain fairytale?) She is a normal young woman, playing, painting, reading through the day…besides the fact she likes to rip holes into the time/space continuum.

Goodbye, pausible explanations, Hello, mindscrew.

Elizabeth has an all around good character (although she reminds again of a Disney princess) and is really useful. I dare to say the most useful person with no fighting skill who you have to escort. I won’t go deeper into that matter, since other reviews wrote enough about her.

And again, I could point out a maybe interesting fact about her. Elizabeth is hebrew for “My God is an oath” or “My God is abundance” and the hebrew word for “vow” is associated with the number 7. Furthermore, she shares the name with two persons in the bible: The wife of Aaron (often called Aaron the Priest in the Old Testament) and the wife of Zechariah and mother of John the Baptist. (Yeah, that word again)…Wait, the prophet is named Zachary Hale Comstock…isn’t he? (…oh god, my brain…)

Now I will add some spoilerish flavor to it. Her other name “Anna” means “favor”, “grace” and also “mercy”. You have guessed it. Mercy equals reedemer theme. Maybe they have thought about that, maybe it is coincidence, who knows.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss the whole idea of choices and the ending. Let’s start the mindscrew marathon.

The whole theory about constants and variables is often commented and I support it by some degree. Remember the scene with the coin at the beginning? The two strange people?

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You can see at the board, it is always heads. So it means that it is a constants, since it always be Heads and never Tails. Later on you are given a choice between what Elizabeth should choose as medallion. Either the bird or the cage. It is a variable since it changes something, but then again it doesn’t change the outcome of the ending. So, it is a little variable with little outcome. Or is the ending a constant that cannot be changed?

It can also be interpreted as the illusion of choice. Such as, there exists the illusion that we can change fate through choices, but in reality it doesn’t change your fate, since it is already set in stone,

Another problem is Booker. Or maybe, my mind is already so screwed that I think it is a problem. Again spoiler. Booker is Comstock. So, correct me, if I’m wrong. There are two Bookers in the same dimension at the same time? (Booker didn’t choose to become the prophet and Booker who did) When this is possible that two people out of two different dimensions exist in the same dimension (which can be proven by Elizabeth’s case, since you see her more than one time in the same scene)…Where was the other Booker (the one who accepted to be baptized and the one who came with Elizabeth to this point) in the final Baptist scene?

Futhermore in the alternative universe, there is a Booker who is Comstock, a Booker who helped Vox Populi (and convinentely died) and Booker who travelled with Elizabeth. So why does Comstock still exist, although the other Bookers died. And if all the Bookers are from alternative dimensions, born out of different choices of action…Why do they exist at the same time? Did the scientists spawn them? But then again, in some timelines there are Bookers missing and the course of his history would change. Why not just “teleport” a Booker through the Rift, who is about to be baptized? (Oh god damnit…I swear my brain smokes)

And if we consider, the ending is a constant…Then Comstock would still exist, after Booker was “baptized” one final time, since it doesn’t change anything. The only explanation at that point is, that Elizabeth can change constants by will. Or the PlayerBooker is the Booker of this scene. (Booker here, Booker there, Booker everywhere…) teleported back to face his judgement. But then again, in an alternative Dimension, another Booker would have chosen to be baptized, since he didn’t travel with Elizabeth…

The only choice would be to kill every Booker in every timeline (which is infinite by the way – oh hey titledrop) to kill Comstock. Or this Booker is the only one with a Variable and thus the power to the change story. Talking about Spanner in the Works…that does mean there are more Comstocks…which results in Comstocks who succeed in their plans and could utilize Elizabeth’s Rift-Abilities to change…

Is that another illusion of choice or Elizabeth can change constants…or…whatever…I’m out. My brain can’t go on anymore.

Hopefully you enjoyed my little thought about this.

I for my part enjoyed the story very much, since it is so complicated and so frustrating and yet somehow beautiful executed. (It is hard to do that with Dimension-Jumping-Stories) I’m really a masochist at heart, it seems. Also the whole thing with there is no good and evil (okay, Vox Populi and Comstock could be more in the evil vs. other kind of evil- department, but I settle with gray and gray morality). I love the details, the atmosphere, the music…it is all around good, although the battle system is not the best I have ever experienced. ..

And now…

Would you kindly pass me some painkillers for my head?

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Ps3

 

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Welcome to the World of Game Hunter

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I’m your host for this blog, your casual normal (albeit mostly nocturnal) gamer who hunts down all types of games and presents them to the community with his opinion and if the prey was worth the hunt.

Feel free to come into my lair and look at my trophies, may they nostalgic or new. Maybe I could interest you to get a taste of my personal opinion on different matters in games and around games. If you like my humor that tends to be sometimes as dark as the night and my sarcastic remarks, that is.

Of course, for now, there is not much to read as for now, but I promise that it will be filled with different games soon enough. Additionally, the About page provides more information about this blog such as main points why I consider a game good or bad or general information.

Here is what I’m doing right now:

Trophy in work: Bioshock Infinite (Ps3; possibly an extra post considering the Ending)
Actual hunt: Fire Emblem Awakening (3Ds), Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen DLC (Ps3)
Upcoming prey: Soul Sacrifice (Ps Vita)

I hope you will enjoy your stay and come back for more.

A good hunt for you all until next time

– TheNocturnalHunter

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Just Updates