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Found 31 results

  1. Square Enix's Just Cause series is getting the Hollywood treatment. According to Deadline, a screenplay has already been completed by John Collee, the writer behind Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Brad Peyton is slated to direct. Peyton has become known in recent years for his directorial work following the financial success of the Dwayne Johnson vehicle San Andreas. The Just Cause series could put those destructive chops to good use given the game franchise's penchant for exploding... well, pretty much everything. Interestingly, Peyton is also set to direct The Rock's pet video game movie project, Rampage. Jason Momoa, the actor set to portray Aquaman later this year in Warner Bros. Justice League, has reportedly signed on to star in the Just Cause film as Rico Rodriguez. Rico has been the protagonist of the last three Just Cause titles and the film follows his adventures, reportedly taking cues from Just Cause 3. The focus of the film's story centers on a moment during one of his missions that finds Rico beginning to have doubts about whether his cause truly is just. While video game movies tend to get a bad rap, there seems to be a surprising amount of effort and talent behind this attempt that could lead to an enjoyable (and profitable) theatrical release. There's no release window for the film as of yet.
  2. Square Enix's Just Cause series is getting the Hollywood treatment. According to Deadline, a screenplay has already been completed by John Collee, the writer behind Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Brad Peyton is slated to direct. Peyton has become known in recent years for his directorial work following the financial success of the Dwayne Johnson vehicle San Andreas. The Just Cause series could put those destructive chops to good use given the game franchise's penchant for exploding... well, pretty much everything. Interestingly, Peyton is also set to direct The Rock's pet video game movie project, Rampage. Jason Momoa, the actor set to portray Aquaman later this year in Warner Bros. Justice League, has reportedly signed on to star in the Just Cause film as Rico Rodriguez. Rico has been the protagonist of the last three Just Cause titles and the film follows his adventures, reportedly taking cues from Just Cause 3. The focus of the film's story centers on a moment during one of his missions that finds Rico beginning to have doubts about whether his cause truly is just. While video game movies tend to get a bad rap, there seems to be a surprising amount of effort and talent behind this attempt that could lead to an enjoyable (and profitable) theatrical release. There's no release window for the film as of yet. View full article
  3. A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV was initially offered as a pre-order exclusive for those who chose to pre-purchase Final Fantasy XV from Gamestop. Since then, players have been unable to obtain and play the retro brawler based on the Final Fantasy XV universe. Square Enix announced that they would be releasing A King's Tale to all players for free on March 1. Like much of the extended universe around Final Fantasy XV, A King's Tale offers an opportunity to deepen the backstory of Square Enix's main title. Players take on the role of Regis, the father of Final Fantasy XV's protagonist Noctis, as he tells his young son a bedtime story about events that took place 30 years before Final Fantasy XV begins. Players must defend the kingdom of Insomnia from attacking monsters alongside long-time allies like Cid, Weskham, and Clarus. Rather than being another RPG, A King's Tale plays more like a brawling Streets of Rage than a typical Final Fantasy game. Players must make good use of combos, blocking, magic, and summons to make progress. It's not a terribly long experience, clocking in at an average of two to three hours, but it's certainly not too shabby for a free game with a charming aesthetic. Players will be able to download A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV on March 1.
  4. A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV was initially offered as a pre-order exclusive for those who chose to pre-purchase Final Fantasy XV from Gamestop. Since then, players have been unable to obtain and play the retro brawler based on the Final Fantasy XV universe. Square Enix announced that they would be releasing A King's Tale to all players for free on March 1. Like much of the extended universe around Final Fantasy XV, A King's Tale offers an opportunity to deepen the backstory of Square Enix's main title. Players take on the role of Regis, the father of Final Fantasy XV's protagonist Noctis, as he tells his young son a bedtime story about events that took place 30 years before Final Fantasy XV begins. Players must defend the kingdom of Insomnia from attacking monsters alongside long-time allies like Cid, Weskham, and Clarus. Rather than being another RPG, A King's Tale plays more like a brawling Streets of Rage than a typical Final Fantasy game. Players must make good use of combos, blocking, magic, and summons to make progress. It's not a terribly long experience, clocking in at an average of two to three hours, but it's certainly not too shabby for a free game with a charming aesthetic. Players will be able to download A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV on March 1. View full article
  5. Yesterday, Square Enix teased their followers on social media, asking people to look for a big reveal sometime today. Since Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD released earlier this week, many assumed that this might be some lead up to long awaited details on Kingdom Hearts 3. This view gained traction when Marvel's social media team put out a similar message to their followers. We didn't get more Kingdom Hearts 3 details, but something entirely new. Marvel has partnered with Square Enix to create... something. Shockingly, Square Enix has put two of its biggest, most highly acclaimed developers on The Avengers Project, Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider) and Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided). While the teaser certainly captures the excitement generated by Marvel's superhero juggernaut, additional details have not been forthcoming. The basics like genre, release date, and platforms are still unknown. The Avengers Project might even be a working title as far as we know.
  6. Yesterday, Square Enix teased their followers on social media, asking people to look for a big reveal sometime today. Since Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD released earlier this week, many assumed that this might be some lead up to long awaited details on Kingdom Hearts 3. This view gained traction when Marvel's social media team put out a similar message to their followers. We didn't get more Kingdom Hearts 3 details, but something entirely new. Marvel has partnered with Square Enix to create... something. Shockingly, Square Enix has put two of its biggest, most highly acclaimed developers on The Avengers Project, Crystal Dynamics (Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider) and Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided). While the teaser certainly captures the excitement generated by Marvel's superhero juggernaut, additional details have not been forthcoming. The basics like genre, release date, and platforms are still unknown. The Avengers Project might even be a working title as far as we know. View full article
  7. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, the high-definition remake of the highly acclaimed PSP exclusive original, will be making its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next year along with the demo for the first newly numbered Final Fantasy title in nearly four years. Currently slated for a March 17, 2015 release in North America, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD follows the adventures of a group of elite military cadets known as Class Zero as they become embroiled in a massive war. It is generally regarded as one of the best Final Fantasy titles in years, so it is great to see it being released on more platforms. However, for many Final Fantasy fans the remake of Type-0 is just an added bonus to the Final Fantasy XV demo with which it will be packaged.
  8. Square Enix is gearing up to re-release the definitive RPGs of the PlayStation 2 era in glorious high-definition and they have a trailer to prove it. Both titles in the HD Remaster will be updated version of the international Final Fantasy X and X-2, which contain content that was never seen in the North American releases. Square Enix has set the release to be March 18, 2014. As of this time, it is unknown when the Vita versions of both titles will release, as the given North American date only applies to the PS3 releases. Anybody else gearing up to replay this or play it for the first time?
  9. One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat. The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation. Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture. Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan. As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life. It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game. As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice. Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014.
  10. Massive cuts were felt around the industry recently, as multiple, high-profile developers had employees cut from projects or saw their entire studio closed. Kotaku broke the first story, declaring that 40 members of Activision’s High Moon Studios had been laid off following the completion of their programming duties for the upcoming Deadpool video game. Activision released a statement to them reading: "Activision Publishing consistently works to align its costs with its revenues – this is an ongoing process. With the completion of development on Deadpool, we are taking a reduction in staff at High Moon Studios to better align our development talent against our slate. Approximately, 40 full-time employees will be impacted globally. We are offering those employees who are impacted outplacement counseling services." Meanwhile, major developer and publisher Square Enix has announced that it will be undergoing “corporate restructuring” in response to lower than expected sales of Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and Sleeping Dogs. Game Informer obtained a document indicating the unrealistic expectations the dev/publisher had for those three titles and the sales numbers to date. This corporate shifting has resulted in numerous layoffs in the Los Angeles Square Enix offices, and is expected to affect both the European and Japanese offices as well. While the exact amount of layoffs are unknown in Square Enix’s case, Joystiq has had several inside sources placing the number anywhere between 40 to 50 so far. Finally, in what might be the most shocking news of the day, Disney announced that the acclaimed LucasArts would be closing its doors as a developer. In an official statement made to Game Informer, Disney stated: "After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles." What does this mean for projects like the highly anticipated Star Wars 1313 that was seen at E3 last year? Given how much polish the game demonstrated at the press event, it is unlikely that the project is 100% dead, though Kotaku did publish a story that indicated the game had been put on hold indefinitely. It could still be outsourced to external development studios as per the new “licensing model” that Disney’s statement seems to indicate. This also means we will still be seeing Star Wars and Indiana Jones branded games, they will just not be made by LucasArts anymore. While the move to close LucasArts came as a surprise to many, there were plenty of warning signs in retrospect. Many of the big Star Wars titles in recent years had either been cancelled a la Battlefront III, been disasters like Kinect Star Wars, or been average as in the case of The Force Unleashed II. Our condolences go out to everyone displaced by these cuts and closures. We hope you guys find new employment soon.
  11. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  12. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a movie that parallels the Final Fantasy XV game, promised to bring photorealistic visuals and an understandable Final Fantasy story to fans of the games and newcomers alike. In the film, the kingdom of Lucis has waged war with the enemy empire Niflheim for many years. Regis, King of Lucis, possesses the Divine Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii, powerful magical objects that Niflheim wants. To protect them, Lucis raised an impenetrable wall around the crown city of Insomnia, using the power of the crystal. Despite Lucis’ great magic and the king’s mighty warriors known as the Kingsglaive, Niflheim seems poised to win the war with its unsurpassed military force. Unexpectedly, Niflheim proposes a peace treaty that specifies Regis relinquish all territories outside Insomnia and marry his son Prince Noctis to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Twelve years previously, Tenebrae, a former ally of Lucis, fell under Niflheim rule when Regis abandoned it to save himself and Noctis. Regis decides to accept Niflheim’s treaty, but sends his son away to a safe location outside Insomnia, creating enemies among his own people and the Kingsglaive. Despite its superficially sufficient story, beautiful visuals, and action-packed fight scenes, many critics describe Kingsglaive as a gorgeous mess. Many complain about the difficulty of following its convoluted and political plot. Others point out its weak characters: helpless and useless females, a throwaway protagonist, and stereotypical kings attempting to outmaneuver one another. Still others equate it to a long video game cut scene or trailer. Criticisms about its weird lip syncing, mixed voice acting, and poorly written dialog abound. As for me, I feel a sense of déjà vu. The description sounds awfully familiar: a Final Fantasy movie promising to bring photorealistic graphics and an accessible story to a new audience only to produce a lukewarm story disguised with impressive visuals. It bears a striking resemblance to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I even recognize the complaints critics have in that I don’t think they reveal the source of Kingsglaive’s problems. I’ve argued before that Spirits Within contains a fatal flaw in the obstacles that the protagonist faces in the pursuit of her goal to save her life and the world. Kingsglaive similarly has a flaw with its conflicts. This time, however, the problem is that conflicts are almost non-existent. In most stories, characters have problems to solve. Simple stories often have one major, overarching conflict that the characters must resolve and many smaller obstacles that hinder them along the way. Conflicts not only add excitement and purpose, but also help define the world and its characters. Of course, obstacles work best when the characters have a good reason to overcome them no matter what. For example, a major conflict could be that a hero must free her village from a king’s tyrannical rule. In order to do this, she decides to kill the king and take his throne. The obstacles in her way include traveling to the king’s crown city, sneaking in through his walls, breaking into his castle, and fighting through his guards. She also has a clumsy, obnoxious wizard for a sidekick, who she tolerates because of his useful magical powers. Failure means her death and the destruction of her village. High stakes, big obstacles, and a variety of conflicts usually make stories exciting and engaging. The heroes of Kingsglaive seem to fight for “the future” against characters who fight for “their homes.” These vague ideals rarely conflict with one another though nor do significant obstacles arise from other sources. Most of the main characters can’t fail to achieve their goals, and the consequences for failure are never defined and logically don’t seem that bad. Consequently, pointless violence, duty, and death fills the film, but one person could have given meaning to everything. Prince Noctis produces everyone’s problems and gives everyone purpose, but alas, he doesn’t appear in the film to bring this to light. No amount of action-packed fight scenes fill the void of meaninglessness that Noctis’ absence creates. As is, Kingsglaive suggests that the conflict between King Regis and his people comes from differences in beliefs as to what the kingdom should protect: the people’s “homelands” or the “future.” The film doesn’t define what these terms mean, but in general, “fighting for home” seems to refer to a desire for a just king who keeps his people safe. “Fighting for the future” seems equivalent to protecting Noctis so he can fulfill his destiny as the future king and world’s savior. While many of the characters fall into one camp or the other, each character seems to define what they fight for and how they will fight for it in a different way. King Regis fights for the future, which involves protecting both Lunafreya and Noctis. To make up for the fall of Tenebrae, he wants to free Luna from Niflheim’s grasp and reunite her with her beloved Noctis. Luna also protects the future, but she believes that she must stay away from Noctis to keep him safe and that her survival doesn’t matter. The protagonist, a member of the Kingsglaive named Nyx, fights for the future by serving King Regis. After Regis gives away his hometown Galahd to Niflheim, Nyx’s friend and former Kingsglaive Libertus fights to overthrow Regis. The antagonist General Glauca appears to fight for both empires to keep his hometown safe. Ultimately, he sides with Niflheim to overthrow Regis in exchange for his home’s freedom. On closer inspection, however, little stands in the way of the characters and their goals. Sometimes comically weak obstacles stumble them, sometimes the consequences of catastrophic events go unnoticed, and sometimes nothing can stop the characters from succeeding. Luna and Regis’ goals appear to be in conflict with one another, but really, nothing can stop Luna from keeping Noctis safe by staying away from him. In the beginning of the movie, she briefly goes along with Regis’ plan to escort her to a safe location to rendezvous with Noctis, but when his plan fails almost immediately, she staunchly refuses to indulge in Regis’ next plot to bring them together. Regis agrees easily, and because Noctis is already safely outside Insomnia, Luna can literally do nothing and still succeed. Regis can’t reach his goal to protect Noctis and Luna so easily. Many superficial obstacles keep Luna in constant peril, but the horrific sacrifices that Regis makes to save her go entirely unnoticed when they really should produce significant moral dilemmas. Soon after Luna arrives at Regis’ castle, General Glauca kidnaps her and locks her on an airship with a surprise octopus monster on board. Nyx, the first to discover her absence, rushes through easily-parted guards and verbal threats to warn Regis. Regis permits him to deploy the Glaives to save her. Without the Kingsglaive’s captain, also mysteriously absent, Nyx commands his teammates himself. While on their mission, the peace treaty signing ceremony proceeds in Insomnia, but ends with Niflheim attacking the castle and the city. At the same time, Nyx discovers that he led his team into a trap. Amid all the excitement of Nyx fighting a giant octopus, killing traitorous Kingsglaive members, and maneuvering Luna out of two crashing airships while she threatens to kill herself by jumping out of them, the movie fails to emphasize the responsibility Nyx, Regis, and Luna bare for killing the Kingsglaive and destroying Insomnia. With Regis’ permission, Nyx led the Kingsglaive into a trap that killed almost all of them and left the king and the crystal open to attack to a save a woman with questionable importance. As a result, Regis dies, Insomnia’s wall falls, and Niflheim steals the crystal. This leads to the destruction of Insomnia and hundreds of thousands of its civilians. Nyx has little reason to believe that Luna is more important than any of this or that Insomnia’s destruction was inevitable, but he feels no remorse for the role he played and barely questions his loyalty to Regis. By sending the Kingsglaive to save Luna, Regis sacrificed his citizens to save a woman who seems content to remain a prisoner. His internal struggle, if he even has one, never shows. Luna doesn’t value her own life, and yet Regis sacrificing his most powerful warriors, himself, and his citizens for her doesn’t horrify her. These terrible acts of violence don’t make anyone examine their steadfast beliefs when they really should. Nyx, already a nearly unstoppable super protagonist, has such a fluid definition of “the future” and how he protects it that nothing can stand in his way. When King Regis gives Galahd, Nyx’s hometown, away as part of the peace treaty, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis and Insomnia are safe. When Insomnia’s magical wall falls, Nyx doesn’t care because at least Regis lives. When Niflheim steals the crystal, King Regis dies, Insomnia falls, and Nyx faces certain death, he still doesn’t care because at least Luna lives and she possesses the Ring of the Lucii. Even if General Glauca took the ring or killed Luna, Nyx probably still wouldn’t care because at least Noctis lives and doesn’t seem to be in danger. Like Luna, Nyx doesn’t have to do anything to save an already safe future. Not even Nyx’s friend Libertus can give him a significant personal or physical conflict. Libertus betrays Lucis to join the rebellion, presumably an organization that wishes to overthrow Regis and replace him with a more people-oriented government. The rebellion doesn’t do anything though. In one scene, Libertus gives them some unspecified information. The next scene related to the rebellion features their leader getting shot in the streets by Niflheim’s army. The film suggests that the rebellion and Libertus help the empire somehow, but Niflheim conquers Insomnia by themselves. Plus, General Glauca, who doubles as captain of the Kingsglaive, already works for Niflheim and likely knows all the information possessed by Libertus and the rebellion. Not even the radio broadcast that Nyx listens to while driving Luna out of the city says what the rebellion did. Nyx pounds the steering wheel angrily at the discovery of Libertus’ betrayal, but when they meet next, Nyx forgives him immediately. Kingsglaive also never defines what makes its obstacles problematic or why the characters must overcome them. Regis, Luna, and Nyx all seem to want to keep Noctis, the future, safe, but he’s outside Insomnia where Regis says it’s safe. Technically, nothing is stopping Niflheim from hunting Noctis down and killing him, but no one threatens to do this. Niflheim doesn’t even seem to care that he’s not in the city even though they specified in the treaty that he marry Luna. We also don’t know Noctis. If he’s anything like his father or ancestors though, he has super powers and doesn’t care about anyone except his next of kin. Why should we want another tyrant to rule the people of Lucis? The film implies that Niflheim is so evil that they can’t be allowed to rule, but honestly, Lucis seems pretty horrible, too. It’s not automatically bad when one kingdom loses power against the military might of another. Would it really be much different or worse if Niflheim ruled? The Kings of Lucis, as revealed by wearing the Ring of the Lucii, seem even more uncaring about their own people than Regis does. The old magic that defends Insomnia even includes destroying the city and killing its citizens. Unlike Lucis, which forces its people to fight a losing war to protect a crystal, a ring, and the next heir to the throne, Niflheim gives people territories in exchange for their help and treats the survivors of Tenebrae decently. A lot of people seem to agree that Niflheim coming into power wouldn’t be so bad. Speaking of the ring, why is it important? Part of the conflict in the final fight scene deals with Nyx and Luna trying to keep the Ring of the Lucii safe from General Glauca. Surrendering it seems to symbolize Lucis’ defeat, but Regis himself doesn’t seem to place much importance in it. Before he dies, he begs Nyx to keep Luna safe. Then, he gives her the ring almost as an afterthought. It doesn’t seem that powerful either. Regis and Nyx use the ring to fight General Glauca. Regis dies, and Nyx barely defeats Glauca before he dies himself. In fact, everyone who uses the ring besides Regis either dies or receives a grievous injury from its power. In death, Regis determines who the ring serves with his fellow prior kings, so of course, a Niflheim ruler will never wield it. Really. Why is it important? Another conflict in the final fight scene as well as most of the conflict throughout the movie deals with keeping Luna safe for equally unspecified reasons. Why is Luna important? Luna suggests that she has some dutiful destiny related to Noctis, but she also says that her life doesn’t matter. Saving Luna just seems like Regis’ vain attempt to make up for letting her home burn while he ran away with his son. Regis kills thousands of people to save Luna and Noctis though, which seems less like making up for the past and more like making an even bigger mistake. This isn’t flattering, considering that Luna’s mother died last time he did this. Luna clearly loves Noctis, and under different circumstances that’d be reason enough for them to be together, but again, we don’t know Noctis. All signs indicate that he’s terrible. Many conflicts in the movie seem like an attempt to create problems that don’t exist and make characters do things when they have nothing to do. The future that half the characters seem so desperate to save, Noctis, seems safe already. Simply placing Noctis in the film, and thus in danger, creates a big problem that can color the characters and the story. For example, Kingsglaive could tell the following tale with Noctis in it, ignoring the events that occur in the game and other media: On his way out of the city, Noctis hears from a traitorous Glaive that Luna didn’t safely escape Tenebrae to meet him and is on her way to Insomnia. Noctis doesn’t understand his father’s blind faith in his destiny nor does he agree with his decision to abandon Luna and Tenebrae twelve years ago. He decides to stay in the city to see Luna to safety himself and meet Niflheim’s terms for peace despite his father’s wishes. He reasons that surely his life doesn’t matter to Niflheim. If they want anything else, it would be the ring and the Crystal, and they can have them as long as the war ends. Unable to convince Noctis that he doesn’t understand and needs to leave, Regis assigns Nyx to be Noctis’ bodyguard. Noctis continues to defy his father by picking Luna up from her Niflheim escort himself (in a sports car of course) with Nyx. The rebellion within Insomnia makes a minor attempt on Noctis’ and Luna’s lives, but they make it back to the castle safely. Unimpressed with Noctis’ show of bravery, Luna reprimands him for remaining in the city and endangering himself. She refuses his affection when Noctis reiterates that he won’t leave and abandon her or his people. On the day of the signing ceremony, traitorous Kingsglaive serving Niflheim kidnap Luna and blame the rebellion, making sure that Noctis and Nyx know about it first. Noctis demands that his father send the Kingsglaive to rescue her, but Regis refuses, wanting to keep the Glaives close to protect his son. In frustration, Noctis runs off to save Luna himself, leaving Regis no choice but to send the Glaives after him. In turn, he leaves himself, the crystal, and the ring vulnerable to attack. He proceeds with the signing ceremony as planned, prepared to sacrifice everything for his son’s safety. Meanwhile, Noctis, Nyx, and the Glaives fight a giant octopus that they find on a ship that looks suspiciously like a Niflheim aircraft to rescue Luna. Members of the Kingsglaive turn on Noctis, and when he and Nyx reach Luna, she warns them of a trap. Noctis realizes that Niflheim tricked him specifically to try to kill him. His father was right, and his hope for peace is naive. The situation gets even worse when Luna, Noctis, and Nyx see Insomnia’s wall falling, enemy ships closing in on the city, and the crystal stolen. They rush back to the castle in time to witness Regis’ death. General Glauca pursues them next to finish the job of crushing Lucis’ last hope. Nyx distracts him while Luna and Noctis escape. Along the way, they are separated. Looking over the ruins of Insomnia, Noctis vows to avenge his father and his people, reclaim his throne, and find Luna. While he still doesn’t understand his own importance, he must ensure that his father’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The events of Final Fantasy XV begin. This retelling basically follows Kingsglaive’s existing story, but creates more conflict by adding Prince Noctis. The presence of the prince heightens the potential costs of failure, and the characters’ actions have a greater sense of purpose. Niflheim can destroy or capture every hope that Lucis has, the ring, the crystal, Luna, and Noctis. Lucis could lose all hope for the future instead of some unspecified amount of it. Nyx’s actions and extravagant battles directly relate to protecting Noctis, a character that we can see and understand as opposed to an abstract concept. For fun, the rebellion adds more obstacles and distracts Noctis from his true enemies. To create even more conflicts that help define the characters and the world, Noctis has differing beliefs from his father and Luna. He’s also easier to relate to because he doesn’t fully understand his destiny and all these magical objects either. The greatest losses and violent acts show Noctis his mistakes and motivate him to correct them, which gives them more meaning. They also highlight Niflheim’s cruelty. On Noctis’ insistence, Lucis acts in accordance with Niflheim’s treaty and still the empire destroys Insomnia and attempts to kill Noctis and Luna. The existing story highlights Regis’ cruelty when he defies the peace treaty from the start, sacrifices his people, and doesn’t seem to care. Fifteen years after The Spirits Within, Final Fantasy looks better than ever, but the quality of its storytelling remains about the same. It could have been different though, if only Noctis had stayed. Even if he only plays a minor role, Noctis’ very presence creates a problem that the characters must solve at all costs. He’s the object of his people’s hatred, the son that his father protected over his allies and kingdom. He’s the hope that Niflheim wants to destroy and Regis, Nyx, and Luna must protect. Without him, the characters can only fight over objects and people that may or may not be important and make horrendous sacrifices in pursuit of a nebulous future that may or may not already be safe and may or may not be good. For all of Kingsglaive’s action-packed fight scenes, no one has a battle worth fighting. --- Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  13. The new Final Fantasy title, dubbed Final Fantasy Legends II, will be helmed by veteran game director Takashi Tokita. If that name rings a bell, you might recognize him for his prominent work designing and directing games like Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve, and Final Fantasy IV. You might be scratching your head trying to remember what happened to Final Fantasy Legends I. Rightfully so, as the first game in the Legends series of Final Fantasy games underwent a name change on its Western release, as Final Fantasy games sometimes do Legends I released under the name Final Fantasy Dimensions in the US. Final Fantasy Legends II has only been announced for Japanese audiences, but the likelihood of it becoming a worldwide release, similar to Final Fantasy Dimensions seems to be rather high at this point. In a somewhat strange move for a mobile game, fans in Japan can actually pre-order Legends II on the Square Enix website. Those who pre-order get two in-game items: the Tidus Phantom Stone and the Fraternity weapon. However, at this point no release date has been given or any gameplay shown. If you happen to be traveling to Japan, you might want to wait on pre-ordering until more information on the game comes out.
  14. The new Final Fantasy title, dubbed Final Fantasy Legends II, will be helmed by veteran game director Takashi Tokita. If that name rings a bell, you might recognize him for his prominent work designing and directing games like Chrono Trigger, Parasite Eve, and Final Fantasy IV. You might be scratching your head trying to remember what happened to Final Fantasy Legends I. Rightfully so, as the first game in the Legends series of Final Fantasy games underwent a name change on its Western release, as Final Fantasy games sometimes do Legends I released under the name Final Fantasy Dimensions in the US. Final Fantasy Legends II has only been announced for Japanese audiences, but the likelihood of it becoming a worldwide release, similar to Final Fantasy Dimensions seems to be rather high at this point. In a somewhat strange move for a mobile game, fans in Japan can actually pre-order Legends II on the Square Enix website. Those who pre-order get two in-game items: the Tidus Phantom Stone and the Fraternity weapon. However, at this point no release date has been given or any gameplay shown. If you happen to be traveling to Japan, you might want to wait on pre-ordering until more information on the game comes out. View full article
  15. The world can be cruel and unfair. If left unchecked, injustices pile up with discontent and anger at systemic failures not far behind. Sometimes these frustrations fester and become redirected at entire groups of people who have nothing to do with the root problem, creating cycles of irrational discrimination. Those perpetuating cycles can be seen in societies struggling with change across the globe today. It’s a relevant, powerful force in our world. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided attempts to tap into that power to fuel a narrative that focuses squarely on discrimination, allowing players to navigate tricky social situations through the eyes of Adam Jensen, a near-future special agent with an impressive array of mechanical augmentations. Set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the far-flung year of 2029, Jensen finds himself miraculously fine after the catastrophic conclusion of the previous game that saw our protagonist buried in the middle of the ocean amid the ruins of the gigantic superstructure Panchaea as mechanically augmented people around the world were sent into murderous frenzies by a nefarious signal sent from the structure. Non-augmented humans have developed a deep fear and distrust for their augmented friends and family following the “Aug Incident” and governments around the world have begun segregating their people. One powerful corporation has even built towering ghettos to isolate and restrain augmented citizens. Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Eidos Montreal clearly intended to draw parallels between the unrest and tensions between their fictional "augs vs. naturals” storyline and recent racial tensions in the United States and abroad with the refugee crisis in Europe. There were numerous advertisements prior to release that made use of altered slogans, notably an image with a protester holding a banner that said “Aug Lives Matter.” There’s a part of me that wants to commend Eidos for having the courage to tackle real, controversial, and possibly incendiary topics. I think we need more of that in video games – at the very least because it leads to more meaningful and interesting stories. Unfortunately, the parallels Mankind Divided wants to draw are just very flawed. The fundamental differences between someone limited by their natural abilities and someone who goes beyond those limitations using technology might lead to resentment, sure, or fear after a worldwide incident. However, who would discriminate against someone who needed a pacemaker to live? Who would hold it against someone to have a fully functional leg after a freak accident? Or begrudge a soldier returning from war a brand new hand? The world of Deus Ex isn’t that different from our own, but the people living there seem more than willing to send people to concentration camps for having life-saving technology in their bodies. It strikes me as the equivalent of having worldwide discrimination against people who use antibiotics – it just doesn’t make any sense. The connection Eidos Montreal wants to draw between the injustices of a police state and discrimination against groups of people falls apart once you think about it in terms of brain implants that help with mental disorders or eyes to help the blind see or cochlear implants to help the deaf hear. All of that being said, the breathtaking environments Eidos Montreal created visually tell the story of oppression and discrimination (even if the themes themselves don’t quite work as intended). Walking the streets of Prague yields sights of random police stops, armored checkpoints, roving surveillance drones, and hurried graffiti both criticizing the deplorable conditions and calling for the deportation of augmented citizens. The near-future version of Prague constantly reminds the player that they aren’t one of the “natural” humans. Police frequently stop Jensen to check his papers (several side-missions revolve around panicked augmented citizens being unable to obtain the correct, ever changing papers for their synthetic limbs or organs) or take him aside to yell at him if he used one of the “non-aug” trains to travel around the city. Even though the environments are incredibly designed, the technical aspects of the visuals are a bit harder to pin down. Eidos Montreal created Mankind Divided for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 before ported it over to PC. The results are less than stellar. Despite a wide array of visual options, it ran horribly even on an incredibly beefy PC. I experienced numerous crashes, graphical glitches, and stark differences between how characters looked from moment to moment, even on maximum settings. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the technical achievements of last year’s Witcher 3, but in particular almost every characters' hair looked jarringly wrong. Not only that, but while the core characters all have well realized faces and animations, some of the background characters look far less refined. Again, Eidos Montreal passionately created the environments on display in Mankind Divided. Numerous scenes pop with style or have an interesting flair that keeps things novel, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to forgive the technical sins present in the PC port. If you are playing on console or can overcome an hour of fiddling to get the settings just right on PC, the core gameplay feels fantastic. Players can tackle the scenarios throughout Mankind Divided with stealth, guns-blazing, or some mix of the two that uses an array of lethal and non-lethal weapons and skills - at least in theory. There exists a definite satisfaction to sneaking through missions undetected, taking out enemies silently while playing cat-and-mouse with unaware guards on patrol. Mankind Divided wants players to adopt the stealthy playstyle – mechanics that are undeniably fun and fleshed out. Unfortunately, very few augmentations support different playstyles, even the straight forward assault that always seems to be the hypothetical alternative is only bolstered with some redundant weapons, an armored plating option, and standard health upgrades. A bull-headed rush into danger only nets a hailstorm of bullets, forcing players into traditional cover-based shooting they've seen countless times. While Mankind Divided pays lip service to “play however you want” gameplay, the reality is that stealth or straightforward assault are the only two real options for the vast majority of the game. Compare that with the original Deus Ex where players were presented with a sweeping variety of solutions for each problem. Early on, players have access to a full complement of Adam Jensen’s abilities, but the game quickly strips those powers and allows the player to reallocate a limited number of praxis points into their augments to suit their playstyle. It becomes apparent at that moment that there are a limited number of useful upgrades. There are some which feel essential that allow for easier infiltration or open up hidden areas, like the ability to lift heavy objects or punch through weak walls. Aside from those necessities, a number of augmentations are highly situational to the point where they can only usefully be deployed once in the entire game. Did you think it would be useful to tag 50 enemies on your HUD? Because only one mission would actually even come close to making that useful. Did you take invisibility? That’s neat, but there are so many hiding places and ventilation ducts that being invisible seems pointless. Have a cool tesla augment? Putting points into shooting electricity seems redundant when stun gun ammo that instantly incapacitates enemies just as effectively litters nearly every level. The presence of an in-game store to sell items and upgrade points to players for real money makes me uneasy. Thankfully, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was almost certainly balanced without the store in mind. Some players might not even notice that it exists in the menus. On the one hand, I can see how some players might just want the convenience of dropping a wad of cash and playing through the game as an overpowered cyber-god. On the other, including that option takes away from the work that goes into balancing the difficulty and progression. It both devalues what the developers have put into Mankind Divided and cheapens the experience of the player. Not only that, but balancing issues could lead to abuses in game design that subtly compel players to make micro-purchases in future implementations of similar in-game RPG stores. Oh, and guess what? If you make a purchase through the store for in-game items they are only given to that single save file. If you start a new game or go back to a save that was before the purchase, you will not have those items. RPGs live and die on the strength of their stories. Mankind Divided might have a lot of issues, but the narrative can hold its head high. Adam Jensen, despite being a charisma black hole, manages to entangle himself in a number of mysteries that are genuinely interesting. True, a shockingly large number of the side missions don’t go anywhere or end ambiguously, but they’re undeniably thought-provoking. One side-quest puts players on the case of an accused murderer (who may or may not be a serial killer) and how players manage to piece together the evidence determines the outcome of the investigation. The main storyline deals with tensions between the pro-augmented protesters and the anti-augmented government of the Czech Republic. Over the course of Mankind Divided, the player is asked to empathize and understand both sides while trying to uncover the plot that set off an explosion in a Prague train station early in the game. The narrative demands a lot from players in a way that feels important and applicable to current world affairs. The narrative has interesting mechanical aspects, too, leading to missions that have different outcomes depending on how players approach the game. This manifests in some instances like an invisible morality system that watches to determine if the player kills enemies, uses non-lethal takedowns, or even if an enemy raises an alert. I was chewed out after one mission that involved police because I had been spotted while trying to infiltrate a crime scene. The finale of Mankind Divided in particular uses storytelling mechanics very effectively. Depending on what players decide at certain points throughout the game, certain elements of the finale will be different and new opportunities will present themselves. The game presents a choice between saving people and confronting the main villain, but if players can complete their initial choice quickly enough or with the right gear, they can actually accomplish both objectives. Not only that, but it rewards players who are thorough. As an example, while investigating a base earlier in the game, I had actually found a device capable of instantly killing the main villain. Players can pull it out during the final encounter to either use it as leverage during a negotiation or to simply neutralize the bad guy. I’m not even going into all the permutations of the finale, those are just indicative of Eidos Montreal’s commitment to creating a malleable, intriguing scenario. In conclusion: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a lot of problems. Putting aside the technical issues if you want to play it on the PC port, the core themes are muddled, though well-intentioned. The in-game store is a naked cash grab that does a disservice to the core game Eidos Montreal has made. The game itself, while surprisingly short and leaving a number of loose ends, presents an enjoyable, satisfying core gameplay experience, provided players aren’t looking for classic Deus Ex levels of freedom to play in more creative ways. If you can set aside Adam Jensen’s Dementor-like ability to suck emotion from a room, the narrative feels original and brave, if more than a little bumbling, in its willingness to tackle volatile topics. Give it a shot when the price comes down a bit, but don’t bother giving the in-game store a single cent after you’ve already paid for the game. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was reviewed on PC and is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC
  16. The world can be cruel and unfair. If left unchecked, injustices pile up with discontent and anger at systemic failures not far behind. Sometimes these frustrations fester and become redirected at entire groups of people who have nothing to do with the root problem, creating cycles of irrational discrimination. Those perpetuating cycles can be seen in societies struggling with change across the globe today. It’s a relevant, powerful force in our world. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided attempts to tap into that power to fuel a narrative that focuses squarely on discrimination, allowing players to navigate tricky social situations through the eyes of Adam Jensen, a near-future special agent with an impressive array of mechanical augmentations. Set two years after the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the far-flung year of 2029, Jensen finds himself miraculously fine after the catastrophic conclusion of the previous game that saw our protagonist buried in the middle of the ocean amid the ruins of the gigantic superstructure Panchaea as mechanically augmented people around the world were sent into murderous frenzies by a nefarious signal sent from the structure. Non-augmented humans have developed a deep fear and distrust for their augmented friends and family following the “Aug Incident” and governments around the world have begun segregating their people. One powerful corporation has even built towering ghettos to isolate and restrain augmented citizens. Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Eidos Montreal clearly intended to draw parallels between the unrest and tensions between their fictional "augs vs. naturals” storyline and recent racial tensions in the United States and abroad with the refugee crisis in Europe. There were numerous advertisements prior to release that made use of altered slogans, notably an image with a protester holding a banner that said “Aug Lives Matter.” There’s a part of me that wants to commend Eidos for having the courage to tackle real, controversial, and possibly incendiary topics. I think we need more of that in video games – at the very least because it leads to more meaningful and interesting stories. Unfortunately, the parallels Mankind Divided wants to draw are just very flawed. The fundamental differences between someone limited by their natural abilities and someone who goes beyond those limitations using technology might lead to resentment, sure, or fear after a worldwide incident. However, who would discriminate against someone who needed a pacemaker to live? Who would hold it against someone to have a fully functional leg after a freak accident? Or begrudge a soldier returning from war a brand new hand? The world of Deus Ex isn’t that different from our own, but the people living there seem more than willing to send people to concentration camps for having life-saving technology in their bodies. It strikes me as the equivalent of having worldwide discrimination against people who use antibiotics – it just doesn’t make any sense. The connection Eidos Montreal wants to draw between the injustices of a police state and discrimination against groups of people falls apart once you think about it in terms of brain implants that help with mental disorders or eyes to help the blind see or cochlear implants to help the deaf hear. All of that being said, the breathtaking environments Eidos Montreal created visually tell the story of oppression and discrimination (even if the themes themselves don’t quite work as intended). Walking the streets of Prague yields sights of random police stops, armored checkpoints, roving surveillance drones, and hurried graffiti both criticizing the deplorable conditions and calling for the deportation of augmented citizens. The near-future version of Prague constantly reminds the player that they aren’t one of the “natural” humans. Police frequently stop Jensen to check his papers (several side-missions revolve around panicked augmented citizens being unable to obtain the correct, ever changing papers for their synthetic limbs or organs) or take him aside to yell at him if he used one of the “non-aug” trains to travel around the city. Even though the environments are incredibly designed, the technical aspects of the visuals are a bit harder to pin down. Eidos Montreal created Mankind Divided for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 before ported it over to PC. The results are less than stellar. Despite a wide array of visual options, it ran horribly even on an incredibly beefy PC. I experienced numerous crashes, graphical glitches, and stark differences between how characters looked from moment to moment, even on maximum settings. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the technical achievements of last year’s Witcher 3, but in particular almost every characters' hair looked jarringly wrong. Not only that, but while the core characters all have well realized faces and animations, some of the background characters look far less refined. Again, Eidos Montreal passionately created the environments on display in Mankind Divided. Numerous scenes pop with style or have an interesting flair that keeps things novel, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to forgive the technical sins present in the PC port. If you are playing on console or can overcome an hour of fiddling to get the settings just right on PC, the core gameplay feels fantastic. Players can tackle the scenarios throughout Mankind Divided with stealth, guns-blazing, or some mix of the two that uses an array of lethal and non-lethal weapons and skills - at least in theory. There exists a definite satisfaction to sneaking through missions undetected, taking out enemies silently while playing cat-and-mouse with unaware guards on patrol. Mankind Divided wants players to adopt the stealthy playstyle – mechanics that are undeniably fun and fleshed out. Unfortunately, very few augmentations support different playstyles, even the straight forward assault that always seems to be the hypothetical alternative is only bolstered with some redundant weapons, an armored plating option, and standard health upgrades. A bull-headed rush into danger only nets a hailstorm of bullets, forcing players into traditional cover-based shooting they've seen countless times. While Mankind Divided pays lip service to “play however you want” gameplay, the reality is that stealth or straightforward assault are the only two real options for the vast majority of the game. Compare that with the original Deus Ex where players were presented with a sweeping variety of solutions for each problem. Early on, players have access to a full complement of Adam Jensen’s abilities, but the game quickly strips those powers and allows the player to reallocate a limited number of praxis points into their augments to suit their playstyle. It becomes apparent at that moment that there are a limited number of useful upgrades. There are some which feel essential that allow for easier infiltration or open up hidden areas, like the ability to lift heavy objects or punch through weak walls. Aside from those necessities, a number of augmentations are highly situational to the point where they can only usefully be deployed once in the entire game. Did you think it would be useful to tag 50 enemies on your HUD? Because only one mission would actually even come close to making that useful. Did you take invisibility? That’s neat, but there are so many hiding places and ventilation ducts that being invisible seems pointless. Have a cool tesla augment? Putting points into shooting electricity seems redundant when stun gun ammo that instantly incapacitates enemies just as effectively litters nearly every level. The presence of an in-game store to sell items and upgrade points to players for real money makes me uneasy. Thankfully, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was almost certainly balanced without the store in mind. Some players might not even notice that it exists in the menus. On the one hand, I can see how some players might just want the convenience of dropping a wad of cash and playing through the game as an overpowered cyber-god. On the other, including that option takes away from the work that goes into balancing the difficulty and progression. It both devalues what the developers have put into Mankind Divided and cheapens the experience of the player. Not only that, but balancing issues could lead to abuses in game design that subtly compel players to make micro-purchases in future implementations of similar in-game RPG stores. Oh, and guess what? If you make a purchase through the store for in-game items they are only given to that single save file. If you start a new game or go back to a save that was before the purchase, you will not have those items. RPGs live and die on the strength of their stories. Mankind Divided might have a lot of issues, but the narrative can hold its head high. Adam Jensen, despite being a charisma black hole, manages to entangle himself in a number of mysteries that are genuinely interesting. True, a shockingly large number of the side missions don’t go anywhere or end ambiguously, but they’re undeniably thought-provoking. One side-quest puts players on the case of an accused murderer (who may or may not be a serial killer) and how players manage to piece together the evidence determines the outcome of the investigation. The main storyline deals with tensions between the pro-augmented protesters and the anti-augmented government of the Czech Republic. Over the course of Mankind Divided, the player is asked to empathize and understand both sides while trying to uncover the plot that set off an explosion in a Prague train station early in the game. The narrative demands a lot from players in a way that feels important and applicable to current world affairs. The narrative has interesting mechanical aspects, too, leading to missions that have different outcomes depending on how players approach the game. This manifests in some instances like an invisible morality system that watches to determine if the player kills enemies, uses non-lethal takedowns, or even if an enemy raises an alert. I was chewed out after one mission that involved police because I had been spotted while trying to infiltrate a crime scene. The finale of Mankind Divided in particular uses storytelling mechanics very effectively. Depending on what players decide at certain points throughout the game, certain elements of the finale will be different and new opportunities will present themselves. The game presents a choice between saving people and confronting the main villain, but if players can complete their initial choice quickly enough or with the right gear, they can actually accomplish both objectives. Not only that, but it rewards players who are thorough. As an example, while investigating a base earlier in the game, I had actually found a device capable of instantly killing the main villain. Players can pull it out during the final encounter to either use it as leverage during a negotiation or to simply neutralize the bad guy. I’m not even going into all the permutations of the finale, those are just indicative of Eidos Montreal’s commitment to creating a malleable, intriguing scenario. In conclusion: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a lot of problems. Putting aside the technical issues if you want to play it on the PC port, the core themes are muddled, though well-intentioned. The in-game store is a naked cash grab that does a disservice to the core game Eidos Montreal has made. The game itself, while surprisingly short and leaving a number of loose ends, presents an enjoyable, satisfying core gameplay experience, provided players aren’t looking for classic Deus Ex levels of freedom to play in more creative ways. If you can set aside Adam Jensen’s Dementor-like ability to suck emotion from a room, the narrative feels original and brave, if more than a little bumbling, in its willingness to tackle volatile topics. Give it a shot when the price comes down a bit, but don’t bother giving the in-game store a single cent after you’ve already paid for the game. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was reviewed on PC and is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC View full article
  17. Square Enix seems to be trying to pull off all the tie-ins it can manage with Final Fantasy XV. They prominently touted an ongoing anime mini-series composed of six episodes had a positive reception on the internet (or rather five episodes and a sixth exclusive to the Ultimate Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XV). Apps that connect to the in-game world of XV like the mobile pinball title Justice Monsters Five are slated for release alongside the full game. Plus, we've had a number of playable demos packaged with other titles. Now the feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is on the horizon. In the announcement accompanying the release of the global story trailer, director Takeshi Nozue explains that, "Kingsglaive stands on its own and can be enjoyed without knowledge of the previous games. But if you play Final Fantasy XV there are many references in the game that you wouldn’t necessarily understand without watching the film." He goes on to explain that the themes of Kingsglaive relate to leadership and what it means to be a just king. Whereas people working on Final Fantasy XV have stated that the game examines the bond between men and brotherhood, Kingsglaive delves into the bond between father and son. The plot to Kingsglaive follows the events leading up to the events of Final Fantasy XV. Noctis' father, King Regis, and his elite guard fight against the encroaching Empire to save his kingdom and family after a peace deal goes horribly wrong. A star-studded cast has been assembled to tell the animated tale of Kingsglaive. Sean Bean plays King Regis; Lena Headey portrays princess Luna; and Aaron Paul makes sure villains are breaking bad as Nyx, a member of the titular Kingsglaive knights. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV explodes into select theaters on August 19. Those who can't manage to make it to the theater to see it can watch the film on PlayStation Video beginning on August 30. Final Fantasy XV itself releases on September 30 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
  18. Square Enix seems to be trying to pull off all the tie-ins it can manage with Final Fantasy XV. They prominently touted an ongoing anime mini-series composed of six episodes had a positive reception on the internet (or rather five episodes and a sixth exclusive to the Ultimate Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XV). Apps that connect to the in-game world of XV like the mobile pinball title Justice Monsters Five are slated for release alongside the full game. Plus, we've had a number of playable demos packaged with other titles. Now the feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is on the horizon. In the announcement accompanying the release of the global story trailer, director Takeshi Nozue explains that, "Kingsglaive stands on its own and can be enjoyed without knowledge of the previous games. But if you play Final Fantasy XV there are many references in the game that you wouldn’t necessarily understand without watching the film." He goes on to explain that the themes of Kingsglaive relate to leadership and what it means to be a just king. Whereas people working on Final Fantasy XV have stated that the game examines the bond between men and brotherhood, Kingsglaive delves into the bond between father and son. The plot to Kingsglaive follows the events leading up to the events of Final Fantasy XV. Noctis' father, King Regis, and his elite guard fight against the encroaching Empire to save his kingdom and family after a peace deal goes horribly wrong. A star-studded cast has been assembled to tell the animated tale of Kingsglaive. Sean Bean plays King Regis; Lena Headey portrays princess Luna; and Aaron Paul makes sure villains are breaking bad as Nyx, a member of the titular Kingsglaive knights. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV explodes into select theaters on August 19. Those who can't manage to make it to the theater to see it can watch the film on PlayStation Video beginning on August 30. Final Fantasy XV itself releases on September 30 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. View full article
  19. It's true, a full HD remaster of Final Fantasy XII is on the way under the title Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. The remaster will be based on the Japanese re-release, Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System that came out in Japan a year after its original 2006 release. Players should expect Zodiac Age to contain the revamped combat from the re-release, which featured twelve different job boards for players to level their characters into, rather than the single board that was available in the original release. Perhaps even more importantly, International Zodiac Job System came with the option to double running speed and a New Game + option (as well as a New Game -, in which players gained no experience). The international version also released with over 100 trial maps on which players could hunt monsters for money and items. All of this extra goodness layered on top of what some people consider to be one of, if not THE, best Final Fantasy titles to date. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is slated for release sometime in 2017.
  20. It's true, a full HD remaster of Final Fantasy XII is on the way under the title Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. The remaster will be based on the Japanese re-release, Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System that came out in Japan a year after its original 2006 release. Players should expect Zodiac Age to contain the revamped combat from the re-release, which featured twelve different job boards for players to level their characters into, rather than the single board that was available in the original release. Perhaps even more importantly, International Zodiac Job System came with the option to double running speed and a New Game + option (as well as a New Game -, in which players gained no experience). The international version also released with over 100 trial maps on which players could hunt monsters for money and items. All of this extra goodness layered on top of what some people consider to be one of, if not THE, best Final Fantasy titles to date. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is slated for release sometime in 2017. View full article
  21. Hey folks! Kingdom Hearts Unchained x[Chi] has been officially released in the US! Presented in a "fairy tale" style and telling the story of how the universe worked before the Keyblade War, Kingdom Hearts Unchained x[Chi] is a Free to Play mobile game for iOS and Android that allows you to create your own character in the Kingdom Hearts universe. By choosing one of 5 "Unions" at the beginning of the game (which can be changed at any time), you fight for control over the last remaining Light in the world. Gain powerful "Medals" to use the power of famous Disney and Square Enix characters, power them up and evolve them into more powerful forms, and equip various Keyblades to aid you on your quest. I've created a Lupines guild (wolves) for any interested Extra Life gamers. You can join the guild (Party in this game) by clicking on the water fountain on the main screen, and searching for "Extra Lifers" Remember, you must be part of the Lupines Union to join.
  22. Have you ever wanted to play a game that actually responded to voice commands? Well, RealmStudios has been accruing some experience making games that do just that over the past several months. The indie film channel hit upon a brilliant idea last year when it released the video Real Life First Person Shooter (Chatroulette Version), a piece of experimental filmmaking/game design that allowed random people on Chatroulette to give commands to a protagonist armed with a helmet cam. The results were really interesting, hilarious, and looked terribly fun. Following the massive popularity of RealmPictures' Chatroulette game/video, a certain game studio reached out to see if they would be interested in partnering for a similar, bigger budget project. That studio was IO-Interactive, the developers behind Hitman. RealmPictures was able to go all out, setting up a room where YouTubers from various parts of the internet could act as Agent 47's operator, giving him instructions through an ear piece and view his progress toward fulfilling his objectives around a fancy mansion. It's a pretty wild ride full of creative kills and goofs. The episodic Hitman season began on March 11 and the second episode will release on April 26 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
  23. Have you ever wanted to play a game that actually responded to voice commands? Well, RealmStudios has been accruing some experience making games that do just that over the past several months. The indie film channel hit upon a brilliant idea last year when it released the video Real Life First Person Shooter (Chatroulette Version), a piece of experimental filmmaking/game design that allowed random people on Chatroulette to give commands to a protagonist armed with a helmet cam. The results were really interesting, hilarious, and looked terribly fun. Following the massive popularity of RealmPictures' Chatroulette game/video, a certain game studio reached out to see if they would be interested in partnering for a similar, bigger budget project. That studio was IO-Interactive, the developers behind Hitman. RealmPictures was able to go all out, setting up a room where YouTubers from various parts of the internet could act as Agent 47's operator, giving him instructions through an ear piece and view his progress toward fulfilling his objectives around a fancy mansion. It's a pretty wild ride full of creative kills and goofs. The episodic Hitman season began on March 11 and the second episode will release on April 26 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. View full article
  24. Just a heads up for anyone interested. Square Enix is doing another surprise bundle for Easter. it's priced at 9.99 and includes 5 games with a value of over $80. The deal will run until March 20th with the games being revealed and delivered the following day. They did this around the holidays last year. That bundle included Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Thief, Final Fantasy XIII, Life is Strange Ep 1, and Final Fantasy XIV. It also included 20% off a SE game, 10% off Life is Strange ep 2-4, and 10% off Just Cause 3. If you like Square Enix games or are looking for some giveaway games, this is great deal. Go here to purchase.
  25. With the approval of Square Enix, a mod made for the original Deus Ex has made its way onto the Steam store for free. The mod, created by Caustic Creative, took several years of development, so we're glad that Square Enix didn't simply silence it with a cease and desist letter. Deus Ex: Revision overhauls nearly every aspect of the original, updating the environments, enemy models, and even the soundtrack. The mod requires a copy of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition on Steam in order to function properly. Fortunately for those who haven't purchased Deus Ex from Steam, it is currently on sale for $1.89, so the barrier to entry is about as low as possible. Deus Ex: Revision is available now through Steam.