It's game diary time again already! Anyways, for about a week I've had "Zone of the Enders HD Collection review" listed in the Content Coming Soon sidebar widget, but I've now decided that I'm not going to review it. The main reason is I got bored part way through ZOE 2 and sent it back to the rental company I got it from. I have already completed both the games in their original PS2 incarnations though, and while I enjoyed playing through them the first time back then, replaying them was actually a bit of a chore. Despite both games only taking around five hours to complete, then can still feel pretty repetitive. I supposed if you were to play them on a higher difficulty setting where you couldn't win by simply meleeing every enemy to death then it may be a bit more enjoyable, but... meh, life's too short.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that they don't have anything to offer, and if you're a Kojima fan who for whatever reason has never played them before then I recommend checking them out. The soundtrack for both games is amazing and the design of the orbital frames is pretty damn good also. The Metal Gear Solid series could also learn a thing or two about pacing from this series - cut scenes do not ramble on for what seems like forever and the story moves at a decent pace. It's a shame that the first game takes place almost entirely in the one environment - just as you feel that the game is about to get going, it ends. The second game has a lot more variety and is just better all round - you may even start to like Leo Stenbuck! Putting him the Vic Viper complete with the Gradius music is also a very nice touch for Konami fans.
This past weekend was largely taken up by Tales of Xillia, despite my intention not to get into it until I'd finished one or two other games. I haven't even completed Tales of Graces f that came out last year yet! Oh well... It is by and large what you would expect from a Tales game - well written characters, extremely anime style graphics, and fast paced battles - but it does shake things up a little bit. The world feels a lot more open than previous instalments, and the line between the world map and dungeons is somewhat blurred, so everything feels like one world instead of a video game with discrete sections.
There is a nice amount of side quests to take on, both large and small, though some of these are basically simple fetch quests. Also, I don't really like the shop expansion system where you trade in materials dropped by monsters or found in the field, as you never really know if you've got the right equipment for where you are in the game. I haven't really found it particularly challenging so far though, so I guess I'm doing alright in that regard. Finally, Milla is one of the most interesting characters in the series to date, being the Lord of Spirits who has taken mortal form and then been stripped of her powers. She is very forthright and wise on certain topics, yet knows little of human customs or day to day life. As you can imagine this set up has plenty of comedic potential.
Finally, I picked up Gran Turismo and Untold Legends on the PSP for £5 - just the UMD's though. I played a little of both last night, and had a good time doing so. As it was a launch game, I was expecting Untold Legends to be showing its age, but it has held up fairly well. It basically follows the same hack and slash template as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath, so if you liked those games I would say definitely check it or its sequel out. Gran Turismo works surprisingly well on the PSP - the graphics are more or less on par with Gran Turismo 4 on the PS2, the great handling model is still present, and there are a ton of tracks to race on. The absence of a properly structured career mode is a bit of a shame, but if you can get past this then the game offers plenty of quality racing action on the go.
I'm hoping to get a review of Animal Crossing: New Leaf put together soon. I've already started writing it once and have given up, as it's a surprisingly hard game to review! My second rental game from my Boomerang free trial should also be here in a couple of days, and if their priority system does its job, it should be either Luigi's Mansion 2, Pikmin 3 or The Last of Us. All games I have wanted to play for a while, yet haven't picked up for cash flow reasons. I'll be back with another update once I've had a chance to play the game for a while, and I should have a review of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony in a few weeks time. I also need to bring back the Commodore Classics, PS2 Tuesdays and Random Retro Round Up series!