"Justice triumphs again!"
"I thought you were the bad guy."
"Look who's talking."
-Vashyron, Zephyr & Leanne
|I love this poster.|
I'm playing through BioShock Infinite lately on 1999 mode, which I'd hoped would prove to be something akin to the Survivor mode the PS3 version of BioShock had. It's... sorta' like that. Your guns and such do less damage, enemies do more, et cetera - standard stuff - but in BioShock's Survivor mode, the Vita-chambers were turned off.
In Infinite's 1999 mode, you still get resurrected when you die - minus about $100 in cash - and it's killing the game, for me. Sorta'.
Not because it makes it too easy. Just the opposite. Infinite's vigors - throwing a flock of pecking crows at folks, electrocuting them, levitating them - are all great, but they don't really come into their own without purchasing the necessary upgrades for them. My personal favorites are Murder of Crows and Bucking Bronco, but if you want to buy the first upgrade for Murder of Crows, you'll need to lay about $1,500 on the barrel head.
And I keep dying because enemies do more damage and I do less (well, duh), and I keep getting resurrected, and my bank account perennially hovers around the five hundred dollar mark - so not only is the game way more hard than it should be, as I'm not permitted to customize my Booker's abilities, it's less fun than it should be.
I had planned not to write the review until finishing 1999 mode, but it's recolored my perception of Infinite in a negative way. Last week I referred to the game as the most fun I'd had with a single-player campaign since Uncharted 2 - but last night, I discovered I really did not feel like playing it.
Occasionally - here and there, when I'm feeling deeply indulgent - I'll set aside the games I should be playing (Infinite, Ni No Kuni), and instead open up my library and consider what I'd like to play.
And if one were to ask me what my favorite game on the current gen is, I'd probably tell them inFamous 2. Maybe Dark Souls.
But when I just wanna' chill out and enjoy some time with a video game, I almost always end up reaching for Resonance of Fate.
Which is really bloody weird. I'm not much of a JRPG guy.
I mean, I'm more of a JRPG guy than I am a Madden guy - but I could probably count my current-gen JRPG collection on one hand - Eternal Sonata, Valkyria Chronicles, Final Fantasy XIII, Ni No Kuni and Resonance of Fate.
For reference my PS3 library is 100+ strong. JRPGs are not my thing, but instead of returning to Fallout: New Vegas to start up a new sneaky sniper or returning to Far Cry 3 or XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it's always Resonance of Fate that I end up throwing in to the PS3.
What the heck?
Perhaps it's just the style. RoF is a very stylish game, but if we're talking art direction the best way to describe it might be "steampunk beautiful." Gentle, comforting tunes dance in the background as you step out of your home base ("SWEET HOME" spelled out in huge letters hangs over the door), and huge clockwork cogs trundle about in the background.
You wander about an impossibly huge clockwork tower, with gears the size of cities keeping time as you zip up and down Basel's network of elevators, hunting targets and clearing out dungeons, perhaps - finally! - finding a fourth submachine gun to pimp out and place on your second scratcher. You fight monsters and tanks and gangsters with guns, behemoths and yetis and dapper German shepherds in fedoras, who grip daggers in their mouths.
|Home sweet home.|
The game is... almost lazily beautiful, as a general rule, presenting this fantastic, otherworldly setting as... almost dreary. Commonplace. The insanity of it is all but ignored by Basel's denizens, and their primary concerns are just keeping the old place working - not that they're quite sure who built it in the first place.
So they send you and your team out to get stuff done - it seems you're the only ones in their world who can power up abandoned sections of the tower - and you get into frickin' awesome fights.
|This is gameplay.|
Gorgeous, glorious displays of action, cut and customized through the lens of anime gunfights and The Matrix. I could show you countless screenshots (and I'll show you a few more), but to get a sense of it, click the play button below and skip to 0:54. Everything thereafter which features a gun being shot is gameplay.
And as hectic and crazy as that may look, once the player has a handle on RoF's mechanics, they are in total control. Our heroes here dash into ridiculous odds, and keep themselves alive through insane turn-based acrobatics and the thoughtful suppression of their enemies.
|This is gameplay.|
For example, you could run Zephyr (above) up the left flank. Zephyr and Leanne (or Reanbell) take turns as my primary scratcher, laying down copious amounts of machine gun fire to soften two of a dozen enemies up as they dash into position. Leanne mirrors him, flying, pirouetting and hand-standing as she zips by, skidding along the ground on her knees while holding out a pair of submachine guns and spinning, like a dancer, filling enemies up with temporary scratch damage.
Then you run Vash up the middle with his pistols, and he finishes the job.
|This is gameplay.|
A good eighty per cent of the game is combat, with the rest being made up of exploration (I wonder if there'll be a hot new pistol in this dungeon?) and tinkering with your weapons - attaching multiple barrels, scopes and grips until their stats go through the roof and the interface looks something like this:
|You may be wondering, "aren't fifteen barrels too many barrels?"|
The answer is no.
Time away from the game doesn't tarnish one's perception, upon returning to it. Its combat remains so finely-tuned, so savage and graceful at once that it's impossible for me not to fall straightaway back in love with it - and off I go for one or two or six hours, just moseying around a mind-bending clockwork tower, getting in awesome turn-based gunfights with bipedal elephant monsters.
And now, after spending half a day or so away from 1999 mode, I feel I'm prepared to return to it and give it another good try - but last night, when I turned my back on it, I found I was almost surprised by how much I realized I love Resonance of Fate.
|This is gameplay.|
I've been saying it's fantastic since I first started playing it, but lots of games are fantastic - that doesn't mean they are The Game we reach for, when given the opportunity to play anything and everything. The game we discover we'd rather be playing when the highly-anticipated five-years-coming BioShock Infinite drops.
Resonance of Fate actually is that game for me. Somehow, subconsciously - or in some strange way I am unaware of - it has taken up such deep root in my heart that I would rather spend a few hours with it than Mark of the Ninja or Bionic Commando or Max Payne 3 or inFamous 2.
I've always been aware that it was "one of" my favorite games of this gen, but it didn't occur to me until last night that it might be My Favorite Game of the Current Gen.
Frickin' JRPGs. They blindside ya'.