Archive for the ‘Busy Gamer 3’ Category

Grand Theft Auto IV

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

GTA IV - Busy Gamer Rating 3

GTA IV - Busy Gamer Rating 3

First Glance:
It’s a Grand Theft Auto title so there’s going to be over the top violence, sex, and car chases. Sounds like the new Fall TV programming schedule. I can’t wait.

The Short Story:
Top notch voice acting, beautiful graphics, and a story in the single player campaign that belongs on the big screen all make this one of the best games on the market. But the campaign is long, saves aren’t available during missions meaning you finish it the first time or start completely over. Fortunately, multiplayer matches can be set up quickly and enjoyed with very little time to invest. Buying this game for just the multiplayer, however, would be like giving your friend the cash to go see the summer’s big blockbuster and then have him tell you about it rather than seeing it for yourself. It’s just not the same thing.

The Score:
GTA IV is a wonderful game but the lengthy single player campaign makes it hard for the Busy Gamer to fully enjoy the story that’s being told here. Addictive gameplay means you might lose hours of your life without meaning to do so. If it weren’t for the various multiplayer modes, this game would score a one on the Busy Gamer scale. Fortunately, quick and enjoyable matches are easy enough to find at any time of the day or night so the latest installment of Grand Theft rates a 3 on our chart.

Body of review:
It would be very easy for the story in GTA IV to make the jump from video game to the big screen. There’s a deeply involved plotline here that should make some of the best screenwriters jealous. The characters develop as you play, the story unfolds, pushing you to play through that “one last mission??? before quitting for the day. And when it’s all over, you feel like you’ve been on the ride of your life.

And that’s part of the problem for the Busy Gamer. There’s so much to do here in the single player campaign that you’ll have to make some sacrifices to fully enjoy the story. Whether it be foregoing time with the family or spending some long weekends just playing the game, to get the most for your money, you have to have the time. You could use cheats or pick up the guide or even skip through the side missions and only focus on the main story to cut down on how much time you’d need. But honestly, why bother playing it? That would be the same as renting a movie and fast forwarding through the whole thing just to see the ending. You’re going to miss out on a lot of the good stuff.

As a shooter, GTA IV does a lot of things right. You can take cover from your enemies and lay down a hail of fire from behind a protective surface but just like you, your enemies can do the same. You’re often heavily outnumbered in single player and have to carefully choose your shots to make sure you don’t get flanked or outmaneuvered by the AI. The AI is flaky at times, choosing to forego cover to rush blindly at you from time to time while at others remaining in a position even when it doesn’t have a shot at you. Sometimes this can make tracking down that last enemy a bit difficult.

The driving portion of the game is what we’ve come to expect from the series with a wide variety of vehicles to choose from. Each vehicle has its strengths and weaknesses when involved in combat situations and you’ll find yourself looking for particular cars depending on what it is you want to accomplish. Shooting and driving at the same time can be tricky at first but it becomes a necessary skill as the game plays out and you’ll find yourself becoming adept at shooting out tires on enemy vehicles if you want to get things done quickly.

Police chases have always been a staple of the GTA franchise and so it’s no surprise to see that the law enforcement of Liberty City takes a dim view of violence against civilians in their city. Firing a weapon with a patrolman anywhere nearby results in an instant wanted level and you’ll find very quickly that the majority of civilians in Liberty City are more than willing to call in the 5-0 on their cell phones if you’re shooting up their neighborhood. An arrest leads to you losing all of your collected weapons when you’re put in lock up while being gunned down by the cops, or anyone for that matter, means a trip to the hospital where you’ll lose a portion of your bankroll.

The citizens of Liberty City provide a constant background of noise and various conversations. You’ll find yourself just walking around listening in on some of the conversations simply because they’re hilarious. And they react much like people do in the real world to violence. Most will run away if you pull out a gun but some will pull out guns of their own. Shouldering your way down the street can lead to fist fights with the populace and in some cases, a gun fight.

Of course no GTA would be complete without sex. Between the woman you can date, the strip clubs where you can buy lap dances, and the hookers you can buy various “services??? from, you’re sure to blow through your bankroll if you decide on a night out on the town. There’s no Hot Coffee mod here, it’s all right out in the open if you’re looking for it.

The multiplayer is where a lot of Busy Gamers will end up spending the majority of their time. Free for alls, cops and robbers, races… There’s a multiplayer mode for everyone. Competitive, team play, and even some co-operative play are available. And matches are easy to find, day or night. Simply enter the staging area alone or with your friends and set up what type of match you’re looking for and you’ll generally have one in a matter of minutes.

Free play will be a draw for the Busy Gamers who just want to team up with their friends and wreck things in Liberty City. There are no objectives, no time limits, and no point to it other than to have fun. Stealing cars, getting the cops mad at you, trying to see how long you and your friends can hold a Burger Shot while the cops try to get inside… It’s a lot of fun.

The single player mode should be the main draw here, though. It’s the best part of the game. The inability to save in the middle of a mission and the addictive gameplay make for a dangerous combination for the Busy Gamer. The various multiplayer modes make up for some of what you’ll be losing out on not playing through the single player story but without the story, you’re missing out on the best game this year.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

FF Tactics A2 - Busy Gamer Rating 3

FF Tactics A2 - Busy Gamer Rating 3

First Glance:
It’s Final Fantasy, it’s portable, and it’s turn based combat. What’s not to like?

The Short Story:
If you’re not a fan of turn based combat, keep walking. There’s a good story being told here, something we’ve come to expect from the Final Fantasy games, and the fact that it’s on the DS will make it even more appealing to some Busy Gamers out there. The game is long but they’ve made some improvements over previous Tactics entries to help out; quick saving in the middle of combat being a huge one and a more comprehensive quest log being another.

The Score:
The quest log’s easy to read, the save function is easy to use, and the game play makes it easy to pick up for short play sessions. But the number of characters you have to manage, level, and gear, not to mention a lengthy story line make this a bad choice for the Busy Gamer. Long absences from the game result in trying to figure out what you had in mind during your last play session. All of these considerations earn Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift a 3 on the Busy Gamer scale.

Body of review:
We’ve come to expect certain things from the Final Fantasy franchise. There will be a hero, a young lad who aspires to be more than he currently is, and there will be an adventurous girl who he will eventually fall in love with. This will take place in an exotic land where chocobos roam wild on the plains and moogles give cries of “Kupo??? as they go about their daily lives. And at some point, we get to fight a bunch of stuff. With lucky number thirteen in the main series on the horizon, they must be doing something right.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift definitely falls into the doing something right category. Fans of the Tactics series will be familiar with the different classes and races but those who are newcomers to the series won’t have any troubles picking it up thanks to modifications to the help screens. Help screens can now be accessed to tell you what skills from which classes are necessary to change to the advanced classes later in the game, something distinctly lacking in earlier versions. This change helps you plot out a characters evolution as you play through the game and takes the guess work out of leveling.

Characters not involved in combat still learn skills, allowing you to build up lower level characters into the classes you need or want, another welcome change. Skills are learned by equipping different gear and then merely keeping it equipped until the desired skill is learned. Switching a piece of gear off of a character before a skill is fully learned merely halts the process meaning you can always re-equip the piece of gear and pick up where you left off at a later date if need be.

Equipment is handled completely different in FFTA2 than in previous versions of this title. You’ll gather components as you travel and then take the various components to the shops in the various towns you visit. Placing combinations of the components on the bazaar allows the shops to sell you new, more powerful gear. You’ll still come across equipment in fights and quests but being able to “build??? the new gear is a welcome addition to the series.

Combat is turn based and is resided over by “Judges???. Laws are in effect each and every time you fight and may restrict you from doing things like using elemental attacks or restrict certain races from doing anything but move and basic attacks. In most cases, the laws can be ignored but following them garners extra rewards at the end of combat and grants a bonus of your choice during the combat. Disobeying the laws result in the loss of the combat bonus, the ability to resurrect defeated allies, and the bonus items awarded at the end of the battle. There are quests, however, that require you to follow the laws for that battle resulting in some very interesting restrictions. You’ll find very quickly, though, that you’re the only one who has to follow the laws. Your opponents are free to do as they wish.

As I mentioned earlier, the game is lengthy. Forty hours in I began to feel as if I had barely scratched the surface. This is the trap you’ll fall into as a Busy Gamer. You can ignore the additional quests in favor of pursuing the main quest but you’ll find yourself overwhelmed in some situations if you don’t take the time to level up some of your other characters. The laws you’ll face may find you having to remove one of your most used characters from your lineup which will force you to rely on a lesser used, considerably lower level character as a backup. Relying to heavily on a certain group of characters will hinder you in the long run.

You can do a quick save in the middle of combat, a long overdue feature from previous iterations. The quick save allows you to essentially halt combat, set the game down and pick up at a later date. It’s very nice to have in situations where you might not be able to finish out that hour long battle. Yes, you’ll definitely come across a fight or two that will take much longer than you’d hoped.

The quest log allows you to quickly see where you’re headed, what you need to do, and any necessary items or characters you’ll need to complete the quest. This is nice for those long absences away from the game. It doesn’t, however, help if you had a particular profession in mind for one of your characters. Tracking character development can be done from the Unit Info screen but if you had something planned for one character, you’ll probably need to write a note if you plan on being away from the game for too long.

All in all, this is a great portable title and one I’d recommend if you have some extra time on your hands coming up. But as with most Final Fantasy titles, the Busy Gamer is better off looking elsewhere for an entertainment fix.

Gritskrieg – End of Line