Anime and Manga — Reviews and Previews
Thanks to a busy work schedule this week, I haven’t had the opportunity to write out my usual three-page diatribe on a single game or series. Instead, I’ll be delivering a few bite sized reviews of titles that have occupied my attention these past few weeks. Some may get the full treatment at a future date, but that will all depend on how many new distractions come my way in the meantime!
Also this week, I get to premiere the Armchair Madcap’s first official blog artwork, provided by the lovely [Tsuminasama]!
Starting next week, one of these three chibis will precede every Armchair Madcap post, in order that readers might more easily determine whether I’m talking about anime, books, or video games without having to decipher my sometimes less-than-helpful titles!
But enough about blog business! Let’s look at what’s on the plate for this week!
Assassin’s Creed II
After skewering the original Assassin’s Creed a couple weeks ago, I was told by a number of people that its sequel was a vast improvement, and that I should give it a go before condemning the series entirely. Having suspected that myself (and having already purchased the game anyway), I launched into AC2 the day after finishing the first.
And let me tell you this: not only did I enjoy the game immensely, I actually managed to play through it enough to get 100% completion. Every achievement, every side quest, every item was unlocked, completed, and found, respectively. The story was more fleshed out, the main character was far more likable, and the supplementary material in the game (the codex pages, the character conversations, etc.) shed a new light on the events of AC1 in such a way that many of my complaints about that story arc have been tempered.
Also, the gameplay agreed with my temperament much more than it had previously. The free-running elements were more forgiving, though not entirely so – I still spent a good portion of my time cursing out Ezio as he tried to climb the same chest high wall time and time again. Combat was made both easier and more strategic with the inclusion of smoke bombs and the like. I found that I didn’t have to murder every guard in order to get to my target – unless, of course, I wanted to.
Tales of Vesperia
This is the game that has occupied most of my time since completing Assassin’s Creed 2. I’m on my second play-through, and enjoying it just as much as I enjoyed the first. I’m using a walkthrough this time, having played blind on my original run, and I am continually amazed by how many side stories and quests the game had hidden away. It clearly aims to reward those who explore the world and revisit old locations, rather than trying to usher the player through the storyline as quickly as possible; which, I suppose, is what I did, though having taken 60+ hours to finish, it certainly didn’t feel that way.
I intend to give the game a full review at a later date, but the short of it is this: if you like J-RPGs, you’ll like this game. If you don’t, this isn’t the game that’s going to change your mind. But if you’re someone who feels that achievements shouldn’t be handed out just for working through this story, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Despite having played through the game one and a half times, and despite 70+ hours invested in it, I’ve unlocked only 20 out of 50 achievements. And I’m actively trying to unlock them.
The Chronicles of Inotia 2: the Wanderer of Luone
When the iPhone was still relatively new, the only games you could get for it were simple (but certainly fun) time-wasters, like the now-famous Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. Lately, however, there has been an influx of hardcore RPGs to the system, like the ports of the Final Fantasies and Infinity Blade, full length projects with stories to rival any console release. When it comes to iPhone apps, though, I’m fond of finding the gems that cost absolutely nothing and still offer up rewarding gameplay. That’s where Inotia 2 comes in.
I’ve been playing this free handheld RPG for weeks now, usually in downtime between appointments or on breaks from work, and it has a surprisingly deep story for an iPhone title. There’s no shortage of side quests or missions, and your three-character team is relatively easy to control for a touch screen game. Having not completed it yet, I can’t speak to the overall experience of the title, but I’d definitely recommend the game to anyone looking to kill some boredom. Be aware, however, that this game drains battery like no other, and you can go from a full charge to a dead screen in record time.
Well, that’s the end of my meandering post this week. Look for a return to the usual format either next week or the week after, depending on my work schedule and how quickly I’m able to settle into my new routine. Thanks for the patience, everyone, while I get situated once again!