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ACE in the Hole: Will the Real Final Fantasy 13 Please Rise

.. AND SOON!!  You all know what Final Fantasy game I’m talking about.. I’m talking about Final Fantasy 13 Versus and not that other piece of s#!t (forgive my french).  The original Final Fantasy 13 was in development for 5 years, and the result Square-Enix gave us was lackluster to say the least.  I mean let’s look at the facts: it received non-stellar reviews for a Final Fantasy game (receive an 83 on metacritic), the host of characters weren’t well received (particularly Vanille and Hope), the new battle system was visually impressive yet a lot of people felt it made the game easier needing to only control one character, no puzzles and logic to get around, and the very-linear path of the game all lead to a failure for the franchise.  You can find the game in stores now as a used or discounted game only a few months after its release.. especially in Japan.  But no worries, the real Final Fantasy 13 is here.. at least we hope.

The Tokyo Game Show is on the approach and rumors are rolling around in talks of a Final Fantasy Versus gameplay trailer and release date.  Now I know it sounds like I’m putting faith in Square-Enix and that I’m getting my hopes up, but let us take a look at what we know so far.  First off, it is currently a PS3 exclusive and directed by Tetsuya Nomura (Nomura is to Final Fantasy what Kojima is to Metal Gear).  With other stellar and impressive exclusives like Uncharted 2 and God of War 3, Final Fantasy 13 Versus is almost forced to step up to the plate of excellence.  This also allows the FF13V team to focus on perfecting the game for only one console.  Secondly, by the looks of things, this game is going back to its roots.. the ones that Final Fantasy fans value such as open-world adventure, cars and airships, towns, and all the other necessities that the original Final Fantasy 13 forgot.  But the most important thing to me is the tone and cast of the game.  Final Fantasy 13 has a really light, goofy cast that did not connect to the audience, but FF13Versus seems to be a different animal entirely.  The cast seems to be pretty badass, similar to Final Fantasy 7.  The main character alone looks like he may be taking Cloud’s Place as favorite character simply because of his attitude, mystery, and badassness (i know that’s not a word, but there is none other to explain him).  Just watch him run around in this trailer.

All-in-all, FF13Versus looks like the real Final Fantasy 13.. the one that Square-Enix should of released first, and the one that could possibly save the Final Fantasy series’ name.  Unfortunately we can only wait, but I only hope they don’t make us wait for much longer.  But if the pain hurts so bad, I leave you this Final Fantasy 13 Versus clip to ease your suffering.  Until next time guys.

To the Next Level (TNL Fridays)

This week’s TNL is inspired by Tony Stark, one of my favorite fictional icons.  Do you remember when Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., was using his transparent phone in Iron Man 2?  I thought it would be awesome if we could have something like that in our time.  Not likely, right? But from the looks of things, we may start to see things like this in our lifetime.  Below are pictures of Mac laptops with a transparent screen!  I personally don’t understand the logic behind this technology, but its pretty damn cool.  Enjoy.

Best Buy, Target entering used-game market

If you didn’t know already, I am not a fan of used-games.  Gamers pay $60 for a game and later sell it back for less than half the game’s price just to see it back on the shelf at Gamestop for $5-10 below retail.  Gamestop seemed to own a ‘Monopoly’ on this used-games market, but it sounds like all that is about to change very soon.  They have serious, new challengers now.. Best Buy and Target.

This week, big-box retailers Best Buy and Target both announced their video game trade-in programs are now open for business. Target’s announcement signals its entrance into the used-game business, while Best Buy had indicated its renewed interest in the used-game market in June.

Target’s entrance into the used-game sector is part of a larger consumer electronics service program that also includes a new product-support helpline and mobile-phone business. As for trading in games, the in-store program is now available in select Northern California shops, and Target plans to roll out the program to more than 800 stores across the country by the end of the year.

Best Buy’s trade-in program lets gamers buy and sell used games in some 500+ stores nationwide beginning at the end of August. While some Best Buy stores will have dedicated trade-in desks, most locations will handle game buybacks at the customer service desk. Customers will receive their compensation in the form of a gift card good for anything in the store, and any used games purchased will be covered by the store’s return policy.

The only good thing about all of this is there is now more competition.  Competition allows for more affordable games and better service.  Hopefully the introduction of these two companies to the used-game market will spice things up a little bit.

Call of Duty Black Ops: Can Treyarch out-due Infinity Ward?

When the founders of game studio Infinity Ward were fired in March, fans wondered if they would ever see another installment of the successful and increasingly popular combat game franchise.  Luckily, parent company Activision is demonstrating that it has a pretty good backup plan with Treyarch.  Call of Duty: Black Ops is that game, and Treyarch is trying to step out of the dark and into the light that use to shine on Infinity Ward.  Treyarch has designed a genuine Call of Duty experience, with intense combat scenes and realistic animations, but it all seems too familiar.  Can Treyarch differentiate itself from Infinity Ward?  Can they out-due Infinity Ward?  Only time will tell.  Let us know what you think in the comments.

Call of Duty: Black Ops will arrive on consoles November 9th this year.

Cosplay Picture of the Week Aug. 27-Sept. 3

It’s Konan from Naruto (Shippuden)

ACE in the Hole: Recent Gaming Industry Mistakes Part I

Doesn’t it feel like the gaming industry is moving too fast now-n-days?  It seems like it was just yesterday when the PS3 and XBox360 launched, and now everyone is talking about and anticipating the rumored PS4 and XBox720 ‘next-gen’ consoles.  I know its in gamer’s nature to always look for the next thing to come out, but sometimes you have to take it a little slower and not rush into things.  In fact, rushing into things have created some of the biggest gaming industry mistakes thus far.

Price Point Confusion. When this ‘next-gen’ era began, developers and producers were extremely excited to see what they could do with all the new technology out there.  The problem is in all their excitement, they forgot how much it was going to cost consumers.  Sony is one of the biggest culprits.  They packed the PS3 with tons of impressive hardware, but forgot how expensive it was going to be for us, gamers.  The PS3 launched on the market with a $600 price point.  Now was a blu-ray player, SATA hard drive, graphics card, 7 CPU and a cell processor worth the price at the time? Yes!  But was it something that gamers can typically afford? No.  Microsoft was also a culprit, but not as much as Sony.  Sony pushed the limits of what gamers would pay for hardware.  Fortunately, these price points have began to normalize and are now more affordable for gamers.

A quick release = quick profit + problems. A lot of companies have been an offender to this issue, but the biggest and seemingly most detrimental one was Microsoft.  Why?  One phrase that I don’t even have to spell out for you to understand… RROD.  The Red Ring of Death was apparently due to Microsoft rushing their console to market.  Microsoft wanted to be the first to market, but this backfired.  They were sued for more than a billion dollars and had to extend all Xbox360 warranties to 3 years.  Now there are rumors that Sony wants to be the first to market for the next next-gen cycle.  Let’s hope they learn from Microsoft’s mistakes.

Downloadable content for everyone. This issue targets most developers in the gaming industry.  Am I the only one tired of buying a $60 game and then seeing downloadable content 2 weeks later?  Some of the biggest culprits are Microsoft, Activision and Capcom.  Microsoft is only guilty of buying downloadable content.  They made multiple deals to secure the DLC’s exclusivity, even it was just timed.  The problem is that Microsoft has showed the gaming world that DLC is not only ok, but possibly necessary and expected.  Activision also has a problem releasing DLC for Guitar Hero and Call of Duty weeks after a game’s release.  But none is bigger than Capcom.  Capcom has been abusing DLC. Resident Evil Versus is a great example.  They released Resident Evil for PS3 and XBox360 for $60 (the normal price for games this semester).  They later released Resident Evil Versus much later than the release date, which is fine.  But did you know that RE Versus DLC was already on the disk?!?  Yea, that’s right… you were tricked into paying $75 for the whole thing.  It’s alright for DLC to be made after a game has finished development.  But selling a game with DLC on the disk and asking gamers to pay for it is outrageous.  Selling Street Fighter costumes that are usually unlocked is also a DLC corruption.

The point I’m trying to make is that developers and producers need to stop rushing and take their time to produce a great product that will please games.  Polyphony Digital and Rockstar are great companies that do just that.  And as always, support your console(s) and the developers you value so we can keep seeing innovative games that blow our socks off.  Until next time guys enjoy gaming and make sure you “Pick up your Sticks!”  Also look for part 2 in the near future.