Posts Tagged ‘review’

Jeanne d’Arc for PSP ~ Game Review

April 27, 2011 2 comments

Hi guys! It’s been a little while, and a lot of my most recent posts have been video game related, but I can’t help it — that’s just what I do in my free time. Obviously, I’ve been playing more than I’ve been posting here, anyway 🙂

One of the games that has really caught my attention isn’t new, it’s from 2007, and it’s called Jeanne d’Arc. The new thing about it for me is that we just recently added a PSP to our gaming platform collection, making it pretty dang complete now. (Xbox 360, PS3, DS, DSi, Wii and PSP, what else do I really need to buy?…) Anyway. Jeanne d'Arc for PSP is well worth exploring for RPG and strategy fans.

So everyone in the household has been trying out various new and old games on the PSP, and Jeanne d’Arc is among the most awesome I’ve come across so far. It’s a hybrid of a strategy and RPG game, and I probably don’t need to tell you who the heroine & main character is. In case you for some reason have not heard of Joan of Arc (as we Americans usually say), well. I can’t think of a good reason why you wouldn’t have.

Moving on. After an English attack on Jeanne’s French village, she rallies together a group of would-be warriors against the English (who are ruled by a demonic-child King Henry VI, and his evil sorcerer adviser). You lead the party as Jeanne, and it’s pretty typical party-style play, with an interesting element of strategy when it comes to who to position where during an attack. Some party members’ motions are limited, as are some actions, like healing, where you have to be within a square of the person you’re healing. One team member, armed with a lance, can throw it ahead farther than a sword fighter can attack, which reminded me just a little of a chess game.

So what could have turned out to be a standard RPG gets that extra layer of battle strategy and just drives the game forward with continued challenges. The fighting would have been too easy without the strategic elements, and too boring without the RPG interactions. Together, it’s a great little game that can easily keep you up too late as you forge ahead to the next encounter with demons led by English officers.

Jeanne d’Arc was made by Level-5 Games (better known for their Professor Layton games for the DS) and apparently was their first RPG as well as their first PSP game, which is downright impressive. The only thing I don’t quite get about the game is the useless chirping frog that tags along with the party in between battles. Still, I am holding out hope it has some purpose, since I haven’t finished the game yet.


Dragon Age 2 review

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

We don’t play through games as fast as we used to — the demands of work and family make it hard to devote a ton of time to the latest game. But last night, we finally made it through Dragon Age 2, using a warrior character and importing decisions made in one of Sam’s Dragon Age Origins playthroughs.

I should take a minute to explain: I’m saying “we” because with games that we both like, such as Dragon Age, Fable, Mass Effect, Oblivion, etc., Sam & I have our own tag-team method of getting through a playthrough. He does the majority of the fighting, while I do the majority of the conversations, treasure spotting, upgrading characters and comparing equipment, and running around to all the stores. Works for us.

Anyway, we made it to the end, and it feels oddly incomplete. There have been two previous Dragon Age games, Origins and Awakening. The first was pretty stand-alone, while the second was a continuation along the same timeline from the first, and could almost be considered an expansion. The decisions you made in Origins mattered in Awakening, and you could use the same character in both, if you didn’t die as part of the plot.

In this one, you have an entirely different character and setting, although you start out involved in the same events that shaped Origins. Instead of hanging around Ferelden, you cross the seas to the city of Kirkwall as a refugee, and climb your way up to the status of champion of the city. As the game goes on, years pass, and the events of Origins in Ferelden (if you played it and choose to include that information in the DA2 story) indirectly influence Kirkwall. Some of the characters from Origins and Awakening also can be found along the way.

The fighting seemed less challenging this time, although in some ways, more fun. The ability to use various items across classes was really helpful, as that was no fun in Origins. The facial and detail rendering on the characters also was vastly improved and quite realistic. I don’t think I saw a single graphics glitch, as opposed to Origins and Awakening, which sometimes had weapons sticking through hair strangely, or rough edges showing in cutscenes. On the other hand, they changed some faces of familiar characters so much they didn’t even look the same, like the mage Anders and the Qunari people.

Most of the world in DA2 was good, with interesting new settings and plenty of cultural depth to explore in the optional codex entries. The gameplay was really similar to the other two, so hardly bears mentioning. One change I wasn’t sure about, however, was armor for companions. The outfits they played in were unchangeable except for upgrades you can acquire that give specific abilities, like rune slots or defense bonuses. All the armor you find in the game is strictly for the main character, Hawke, so you end up not using most of it. But, for all I know, that was the key to the awesome graphics, since they didn’t have to be drawn out in a hundred different armor sets.

The strange thing about Dragon Age 2, when you’re done, is that it leaves the story ending so wide open. It feels a lot like the middle book in a trilogy; nothing major is resolved, and the future possibilities for the characters, even whole countries, are left with more questions than answers.

The champion of Kirkwall turns out to be a major instigator of social upheaval, at least with the decisions we made while playing, and maybe that’s why it feels so unfinished. We went from one chaotic setting to another. I guess there’s one thing for certain to be said: We’ll be looking forward to playing Dragon Age 3 when it arrives, and carries the story onward.

For now, I’m planning to replay DA2 with my favorite class, the rogue, and trying out a few different story decisions to see how the game changes.

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