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The Grind – April 25, 2013

final-fantasy-xiii-2-chocoboSometimes, for reasons unknown even to me, a game I have a strong interest in will get pushed to the backburner after I pick it up.  I always try to make my way back around to these, and I’d say usually I’m successful.  After more than a year now, I’ve finally gotten back around to Final Fantasy XIII-2.  But now that I have, I can say I am completely hooked.  If I had to use one word to describe what sets this game apart from the first it would be this:  freedom.  In the original game, you felt as if you were going down one very, very long tunnel that lead to the final boss.  There were very few opportunities to go off the beaten path, and most of those don’t come until after you’ve beaten the game.

XIII-2, on the other hand, opens up very quickly to give you tons of options for what to do next.  Exploration is a main focus of the game, and that combined with the already excellent battle system from the first game creates something really special.  Addictive is probably the word I’m looking for.  Tons of missions to complete, creatures to capture & level up, new destinations to find.  It has its hooks in me but good, and I’m very much enjoying playing it right now.

soul_sacrificeOn the portable side, there’s a demo I had been actively avoiding.  It seemed like one of those games that would either right up my alley or something I couldn’t stand – I didn’t see any middle ground in it.  So I decided just to avoid it for now, and that way if it WAS something I loved I wouldn’t know it and could therefore avoid the temptation.  Sadly, a good friend of mine decided that was not to be and insisted that I play the demo.  And I have been playing it for three days now.  The game I’m referring to is Soul Sacrifice for the Vita.  The best way I can describe it is Silent Hill meets Monster Hunter.  The game is divided into missions, which are presented as chapters in a journal your character is reading.  As you read the book, you are living through the memories of the author.

The game has a ton of depth, way more than I can get into here today.  You gain spells by completing missions, and you can combine these spells with like spells to increase their uses.  Oh yes, each spell has a limited number of uses during a mission, but these uses can be refilled by sacrificing creatures you’ve killed or at certain points in the levels.  If you use a spell past its limit, it breaks and cannot be refilled until you restore it outside of a mission.  Missions can be replayed to earn more spells and xp.  The xp you gain either adds to leveling up your life or magic depending on if you save or sacrifice the creatures you kill.  And there is much, much more.  Everything is extremely polished – graphics, controls and voices are all top notch.  There’s also an online component, which I haven’t tried out yet.  But again, I’ve played this DEMO for 3 days straight now – that should tell you something.  Fortunately I have enough store credit to cover this one next week, because its definitely a must-have for me.

Speaking of Monster Hunter, I’m still clicking along in that as well.  We’re still playing at least once a week, tho we are slacking off some on our game sessions outside of that.  I still don’t see us completely stopping anytime soon tho.

Outside of gaming, I’m really looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3 next week.  I’m rewatching the first 2 movies + The Avengers in preparation.  I should also have a review up the first half of next week for Injustice: Gods Among Us.  Until then, happy gaming!

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