This Month In Gaming (April 2016)


A slightly surprising month of gaming this one, as I played two games I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy and yet was pleasantly surprised on both occasions.

The first one was Final Fantasy VII. I’ve played a few Final Fantasy games over the years, but wouldn’t consider myself a fan. I don’t mean that in a negative way either, I simply mean I find them to be good games, but not ones that make me jump up and down whenever somebody mentions them.

Somehow – possibly down to the N64 – I kinda missed out on playing Final Fantasy VII back when it was released. Now it’s not like I’ve played all the others – I couldn’t even tell you how many there are – but Final Fantasy VII seems to be the one that people go on about. Final Fantasy VII is the Final Fantasy game. Seeing as nobody is making any fucking games on the Vita these days (and because it was on sale) I decided it was high time I gave this game a try and the handheld seemed like a good fit for it. For some reason I refuse to play retro crap on my home console. I don’t think it demeans the machine or anything – I just have better shit to play when I pick up the controller.

Unless fuelled by dangerous levels of nostalgia, many shitty retro games are….shitty retro games. Actually, I find that statement to be true for quite a lot of old shite. I’ve lost count of the number of “classic” movies I’ve had to endure – but anyway, I digress. As I was going into Final Fantasy VII for the first time, I feared it was going to be little more than an archaic RPG, the likes of which have been superseded many times over since the time of its release. Now this isn’t actually far from the truth – however, the nature of turn-based RPG mechanics mean that time has been fairly forgiving. It’s also a genre where graphical prowess holds limited authority. Where as many ageing games can look bad now in comparison (think Goldeneye), Final Fantasy just looks different. I’ve played modern releases that have opted for similar aesthetics to this as a style choice, rather than limitation – so it’s not really detrimental at all.

The game did start a little slow for me, or at least getting my head round the mechanics did. Things also get a bit choppy at times, with certain characters forced into or out of your party. Once I got to grips with materia though (magic/ability granting stuff), everything started to click and found the whole thing much more enjoyable. At the time of writing this I’ve not actually completed the game, however I’ve certainly gone from struggling through the first ten hours, to blasting through the following forty. Although I think I’ve missed the bus on this one becoming a personal nostalgic great, there are occasional moments where I feel like I can glimpse back in time and see why it is for others.

The other game that I was pleasantly surprised by was Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. I’ve written before about my feelings towards this cash cow franchise, but long story short; used to love it, now I can’t be arsed with it.

It’s probably down to the “used to love it” part that makes me feel that, on some level, I really need to play each one at some point; so that’s what I did with this one, now that it is dirt cheap.

Once I started playing, I was surprised by how seamlessly entertained I was. It’s great, top-drawer stuff, and for all the cynical comments it gets, it’s hard to find fault with it. The familiarity from all the previous Call of Duty sessions just stops if from feeling particularly special, even though it’s one of best produced games on the market. It’s kind of like why I think all these celeb’s get caught cheating on their partners. Despite having Call of Duty at home, they still get caught balls deep in Kane and Lynch 2; because variety is the spice of life.

One thing that does make it stand out is Kevin Spacey, because Kevin Spacey is awesome. Add Kevin Spacey to anything and you’re basically onto a winner. Every time he shows his face in the game a little “Kevin Spacey” alarm triggers in your head, instantly making that situation better than a situation devoid of Kevin Spacey. I can’t think of a better person to put in the game…apart from maybe Kevin Bacon.

Multiplayer has arguably been the bigger focus of Call of Duty since Modern Warfare dropped. Advanced warfare’s double jump may not sound like much on paper, but in practice it has quite a significant impact on the gameplay. Or, to put it another way; it adds chaos. Despite getting my arse kicked as gun totting manics bounced around the levels like bunnies, I actually found I was really enjoying myself. Experience of the maps themselves seemed a little irrelevant with this new ability, leaving it all about fastest finger first as everyone throws themselves headfirst into the fray. In all in all, very good fun.