Archive for the ‘PSP’ Category

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

It still kind of amazes me that after over ten years Final Fantasy VII is not only still reasonably popular, but that it’s getting spinoffs, sequels, and prequels. I recently had the chance to sit down and play one of these prequels that kind of tries to flesh out some of the events that happened before Final Fantasy VII started.

If you probed all of the crannies in Final Fantasy VII you would have probably gotten a cutscene that showed this mysterious Zack character that Cloud ended up emulating for the majority of that game. And if you didn’t, well, here it is.

There’s a little more to it than that, and if you didn’t play Final Fantasy VII, most of that probably wouldn’t make any sense to you. Heck, even if you did play Final Fantasy VII that might not make that much sense. The game was full of crap that I didn’t really understand.

But that just makes Zack more mysterious, I guess. We never really learn that much about him or his motivations or anything. And that is probably why fans of the game are so ga-ga over him, because of his rugged good looks (hee!) and his mysterious past. And, keeping with the tradition of the tradition of Final Fantasy VII, he has a real big sword.

Zack Fair

And that’s where Crisis Core comes in. It takes place several years before the events in Final Fantasy VII take place, and throughout the game we learn a little bit about some of the principal players in that game.

You do this chiefly by running around and fighting things. In fact, I’d say that I spent upwards of 80% of my time in the game inside one battle or another. And it’s always you, as Zack, taking on throngs of enemies by yourself. You do this by directly controlling Zack as he runs around the field, jockeying for position and trying to KO whatever enemies pop up. This is actually quite the departure from other Final Fantasy games where you just kind of put commands into a menu-based system and let your guys just fight it out whle you take on the role of ‘team manager’.

Also in the battles is this thing called the DMW. It kind of looks like a slot machine in the corner and it constantly spins. Match up three portraits of the same character and you do a limit break (some kind of super-attack), further, match three sevens and you level up. Other combinations of portraits and numbers will make lots more stuff happen, but it’s not really anything that you can directly control, so what that means is that lots of random stuff will happen while you’re fighting.

As far as story goes, I won’t really go into it, since it’s pretty much all spoilers. But, it’s really kind of short. I was able to blow through the story in about a dozen hours. But there’s a ridiculous amount of ‘missions’, which are mostly just a set of scenarios that you’re presented with, and usually ends up with you killing a bunch of monsters, or a really powerful monster, or finding some item, or crap like that. I spent another half-dozen or so hours doing missions and barely made a dent in them. It kind of seemed odd to me that you can more than triple the length of the game by doing optional side missions, but there you go.

I enjoyed this game about as much as I did its progenitor. But I can’t help but thinking that I missed out on a lot of the story. I didn’t miss seeing it, I just don’t think I understood it all. There was just a little to obtuse and convoluted for my tastes. I’m sure there was a lot of subtext that I missed. But in spite of that, it was a pretty good time, so I suppose it balances out.

Dave Mirra BMX Challenge

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

During my stay at Left Field Productions the game that I was assigned to as my primary project was the PSP version of Dave Mirra BMX Challenge. I saw the game come together from blocky test courses with one generic rider to a 9 course circuit, a few different playmodes, and some ‘extreme’ tricking action.

BMX is a racing game and a tricking game. You race three other racers around a track, doing tricks to get boost power (and points, don’t forget about the points). The tracks change the course you have to follow after each lap, making them more than just simple loops. Finish high enough in the standings and you continue on to the next race. Eventually working your way to the Mirra compound for the final race.

Or you could do the trick attack mode. You go through the various stages that you raced on in single player mode, but with a strict time limit. You need to score a certain number of trick points to win. Get enough points and you go on to the next stage. Eventually working your way to the Mirra compound for… eh, you get the picture.

You can also get an ad-hoc game going where you do the above-mentioned modes or capture the crown mode. Capture the crown places a crown somewhere in the level and you have to get it and hold on to it. You grab it from other players by running into them. Hold it the longest and you win. This mode is probably my least favorite of the three. Most of the courses just don’t seem designed with this mode in mind.

Since this is a game that I personally worked on, I’m not going to comment on how good or bad I think it is. I’m intimately familiar with the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything else about this game. You’ll just have to decide for yourself if you think it’s worth playing. I played it nearly daily for several months, and am still alive to tell the tale… so far as I know.

World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions is one of the three games that I actually worked on during my brief stint in the video game industry. So, it almost goes without saying that I spent a lot of time with it. A LOT of time.

This game is a video version of poker’s poster child: Texas Hold ‘Em. It’s got other modes, too: Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and HORSE. Don’t know how to play poker? No problem! There are several tutorial videos that will take you through the basics, hosted by Chris Ferguson (and encoded by yours truly).

Since I did some work on this game, I won’t comment on whether or not I thought the game was good or not, but I will point out a few things that I thought were pretty neat:

  1. Not only can you play the XBox 360 version on Live, but it’s compatible with the Vision Camera, enabling you to actually see what your opponents are doing, and most interestingly, put your own face on your avatar. With a little creativity and patience, you can end up with results like this:

    WSOP Poker Face

    One of my jobs was to try and break the face creator. This face, however, I made in the completed version of the game. There are a few more ways to make… nonstandard faces in this game, but I can’t divulge all the secrets, can I?

  2. The PS2 and PSP versions of this game are interoperable. You can unlock pros in one game and then transfer them to the other game. Almost like Activision’s version of Pokémon, we’ll call it PokérMon. Heck, you can even play online with your PSP against folks on their PS2s. Swank.

Unfortunately, I’m not going to go into any kind of scandals that went down while we were making this game, mostly because there weren’t any. It was a fairly typical as far as development goes, so far as I know.

If you like your poker to be in video game form and fully licensed, then this might be the game for you. Or if you feel the need to purchase something with my name on it, then this also might be the game for you. But then again, I might be a bit biased.