Monday, December 29, 2008

Persona 4 Concludes, and MetaCritic Musings  

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Games: I just put the wraps on Persona 4, achieving the “True Ending” that comes after you push past what appears to be the final boss. I have to admit, I don't think I would have ever found the extra area if not for GameFAQs… it was pretty well-hidden, and there wasn't really any indication that there was more to do. My hat is off to whoever found that on their own and started spreading the word.
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Anyway, it's clear to that P4 is one of the best games of the year, and easily the finest JRPG I've played in quite some time. It's very rare that I spend more than fifteen or twenty hours on a game for a few reasons; primarily, because most games rely on filler to jack up their completion times after they've run out of legitimate content, and secondly, simply because so few games are worth it. With Persona 4, I invested somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty-five hours, and I've got to say that it is one game that really can justify the play time. I honestly don't feel like much of my total was unnecessary-- and although I don't want every game I play to last this long, my time in Inaba with the townsfolk and my fellow students at Yasogami High was well worth it.

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(Random commentary: P4’s “True” ending was not quite as impactful and as necessary as the final scenes of “The Answer” from Persona 3: FES, but I'm still glad that I went for it. )
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Incidentally, on Metacritic’s “Best of the Year” games breakdown, Persona 4 is the PS2’s top game, and Persona 3: FES is right behind it at #2. This is indeed one case where the critics got absolutely right.
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And while I'm on the subject… looking over the rest of the “Bests” (or at least in this case, the top five on each platform) and there are a few interesting things to note. For example, by this account, the Wii has had an atrociously bad year for software.
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The Wii:
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1>Super Smash Bros. Melee (93%)
Anyone that knows me knows that I can't stand anything to do with the SSB series. The concept is just fine, but the gameplay feels like the equivalent of listening to a person scratch their fingernails down a chalkboard.
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2>World of Goo (94%)
This is one I can definitely agree with. IMO, this was the best game released in 2008, overall.
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3>MaBoShi: the Three Shape Arcade (90%)
What the hell is this? I've never even heard of this, and every review seems to be from Europe.
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4>Okami (90%)
Started as a GameCube game, became a PS2 game, then went to the Wii. Sloppy seconds.
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5>Tetris Party (86%)
Tetris? Yeah yeah, great game and all that, but come on. It’s older than dirt.
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If this is the best the Wii had to offer, then I'm not at all impressed. By comparison, the 360 had a much more solid year.
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The 360:
1>GTA IV (98%... give me a break)
Can’t say I'm surprised, but I will say that this game didn't deserve it. Personally, I think there were just too many people ready to jump on the bandwagon and proclaim this the second coming of Christ, but it felt way too sloppy and just flat-out boring to me. In fact, I didn't even bother finishing it, that's how into the “immersive atmosphere of the living, breathing city” I was.
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2>Gears of War 2 (93%)
Haven't played it yet so I can't comment, but based on what I've heard, it's got a fair amount of problems. Obviously, the multiplayer is what drives the scores.
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3>Fallout 3 (93%)
My pick for #2 GOTY, so I'm glad to see it up here. If I had my way, it would've been #1 for the 360.
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4>Braid (93%)
Eh, I dunno. I like the artistic factor it sported and I definitely liked how out-of-left-field it was, but the story didn't come together for me in a way that was satisfying and I felt like the actual mechanics weren't completely nailed down and as polished as they could've been. Original as all hell, but still, it's sort of hard for me to back this one completely.
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5>Rock Band 2 (92%)
I've only played it a couple times, but each time it was a ton of fun. This feels right to me.
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Bringing up the rear (because it's late right now, and I don't feel like typing out the rest of the listings) is the PS3.
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The PS3:
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1>GTA IV (98%)
See above.
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2>LittleBigPlanet (95%)
Haven’t touched it yet. I'm kind of tired of seeing Sackboy all over the damn place, and the idea of making my own levels isn't something that really plucks my strings. I plan to get to it pretty soon, though… who knows.
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3>BioShock (94%)
Eh. It was pretty good, but definitely overrated from where I'm standing. It originally came out in ’07, anyway.
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4>MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots (94%)
Bah, even more overrated than practically anything else I can think of this year, this game was a lopsided wreck that squandered every bit of potential and was a pale shadow of what was achieved in the prior MGS games. Major, major disappointment and in no way GOTY material, IMO.
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5>Rock Band 2 (91%)
Ditto what I said before.
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(I'm kind of wondering how it's even possible that Fallout 3 didn’t make the top 5 for the PS3.)
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…Anyway, I think it's great that we saw a few DL games make the top of the charts. Also, I'm wondering how both Sony and Nintendo plan on ramping up the strength of their software offerings for ’09. MetaCritic’s rankings aside, my own anecdotal experience in 2008 was that Microsoft was the leader in straight-up software by a large margin, and everybody knows that the real key to success in the games business and software, skyrocketing Wii sales be damned. Between Live Arcade, Achievements, and exclusives, the 360 was the place to be… what do you think?
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4 comments: to “ Persona 4 Concludes, and MetaCritic Musings

  • Hargrada

     

    Take bioshock (overrated) off the PS3 list and replace it with Valkyria Chronicles. The story may read as one big anime cliche checklist, but it's a great strategy rpg and one of my favorite games of the year. It's such a shame that the game is among the new ip's whose sales are suffering this holiday season.


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    I've still got VC still really high up on my list, but I haven't got to it yet... i've heard very little gripes about it, so it seems as though it's going to end up another victim of Q4 shelf-flooding despite generally postitive vibes. = /

  • Hargrada

     

    The game has its fair share of problems: the AI can act stupid (i've seen it kill its own troops before), the battle interface can be a little slow and clunky, and the CP orders you get during the game are pretty broken (defense boost and caution makes any scout nearly bullet proof). Despite these (and other) minor problems, i'm really enjoying the way it melds SRPG's and tabletop miniature gaming in one nice package.


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    thanks for the info... looking forward to getting my hands on it.