My Sims Game Collection

MAY ISSUE: POST #36

Hello everyone, and welcome to another collection post, where I showcase a random selection of my gaming collection. This post, in particular, is all about my Sims collection. Of course, The Sims series is huge, with a few spin-offs too to keep you going. This time last year, I actually only really had The Sims 3 games on PC, but my interest in the series grew and I scoured charity shops and car boot sales and this is what I’ve managed to pick up (so apologies for any ugly stickers. I know, I’m a mess). I think, surprisingly, the console editions were the first games I ever played from the series, and then I played The Sims 3 on PC through my teen years after that. I remember coming home sometimes and being obsessed all night. As a lot of people were. Ah, good times.

I still have a long way to go (miraculously) and unluckily, I’m currently in a bit of a pickle with The Sims 4 game I purchased (I hate how it’s the only one in the series where you can only register the code once) so I won’t be including that in this post (since it makes me sad- especially with the recent announcement of The Sims 4: Seasons).

But enough of my wallowing, I still have enough Sims games to last me a lifetime (actually, you can never have enough). So, let’s take a look at what I own.

First up, is, of course, the first Sims. I actually really enjoy this game a lot and I was playing it on my Windows XP computer not so long ago (as in, half an hour ago). It really was an absolutely great start to the series, and actually, some of the items that are available are better than the items in the games that follow (in my opinion). I feel like this Sims was the most mature in the series too since the more recent releases definitely have taken a more family-friendly turn. I’m missing only two more main expansion packs for The Sims, and I can’t wait to grab them and finish off this particular part of the collection.

Then we have The Sims 2. What interests me the most is the giant leap between the games, since it’s pretty incredible how far they’ve come. I actually only have one main expansion pack missing (I have The Sims 2: Fun with Pets Collection but forgot to include it in the photo) but it seems to be a tad more expensive and a little hard to find. This is a really great set of expansion packs though, and overall, you get a game full of lots of content. I personally really like Seasons, because I like seeing my Sims trying to work out what on earth to do with all that snow (and slipping over. I think I’m a sadist).

The Sims 3 definitely has my favourite cover art from the series, and I also remember explicitly when I first tried to play the game on my PC and it ran terribly. But then I came home from school one day and my Dad had installed more RAM or something like that, and it ran smoothly from that day forth. I had never been more excited, and that’s when my addiction began. So thanks for that, Dad.

Now moving onto a series that I want to get more into. I’ve hardly played any games from the Sim City series, but I know I love city building games, so I can’t wait to dig into these. The whole idea of the games is great, and it seems like another set of games that has developed a lot over the years.

Let me just say, I LOVE the MySims series. Well, the two games on Wii anyway. I played them so much when I was a kid, and I beat them both earlier this year for nostalgia reasons (and because I genuinely think they’re great). I don’t know what it is about them, especially MySims, but I find them so relaxing and the feeling I get while playing them makes me feel pleasant and happy. You really have to give the Wii ones a try if you love cute and laidback games. I really need to get Agents, Skyheroes, and Racing.

And, lastly, we have the console editions of The Sims series. I only recently got The Sims: Bustin’ Out, but I can’t wait to try it. I also haven’t really played Urbz much yet either, but from what I have played, I know I’d love it. As for The Sims 1 and on PS2, I played those quite a bit when I was younger, and they were so cool to me. To be honest, they still are. The fact that they had story modes and that I actually found the first game difficult was shocking to me, and I had so much fun with it. The Sims 3: Pets to me was a lot to be desired, but it’s still cool that there are console releases like that, and I never say no to adding them to my collection.

And there we have it! Those are all my Sims games so far! I think I have a pretty neat collection built up (and they definitely take up quite a bit of space on my shelf). Maybe one day I’ll have a full collection, but until then, I really should focus on playing them more. 

Oh, and of course, with rumours spreading about EA being an apparent bitch recently, we probably won’t be getting any more Sims games apart from the mobile ones. Which is pretty sad, but, maybe it has run it’s course. The older ones will always be my favourites anyway.

What is your favourite Sims title? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

The Beaten Diaries #14a: Evolution of SpongeBob Video Games

MAY ISSUE: POST #37

I’m sure that you, the same as me, love SpongeBob. Whether that be the old SpongeBob, the new SpongeBob, or any SpongeBob. Well, to be honest, I can also understand if you don’t like SpongeBob, but I think a lot of people my age and older, and even people like my Dad, can watch episodes and have a laugh.

Of cousre though, this is primarily a gaming blog, and luckily for us, there is a range of video games we can play that put us into the SpongeBob SquarePants world. Some are, of course, better than others. I for one, back in early 2017, managed to get SpongeBob HeroPants on the PS VITA for really cheap in America when I was over there for a while. The game is lighthearted and fun, but graphics and gameplay are a lot to be desired. Also, there are a handful of glitches. However, it is a short game, so you’re not really pulling your hair out for 20 hours (unlike some other games).

I 100% the game, since it was fairly easy to do so. I got all 15 Memorabilia, which are little neat trophies that you can view in the game. Overall it’s not too bad, but of course, since SpongeBob SquarePants began airing in 1999, there have been quite a few video games since then. Even though I did a post on video games based on cartoons last week, I think I want to do one on SpongeBob in particular anyway, and dive into the games more and showcase them. I would love to do the same for The Simpsons and other widely known shows, but that’s all in due time.

SpongeBob actually first appeared in Nicktoons Racing on Arcades, the PS1, Windows, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance in the good ol’ year of 1999. So let’s have a quick look at his first video game appearance.

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Aw, there he is. Looking as dapper as ever.

But anyway, let’s take a look at the first SpongeBob game ever released.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Legend of the Lost Spatula

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The name of the game pretty much says it all.

In the game, you help SpongeBob find the Flying Dutchman’s golden spatula, which I guess is lost in some way. SpongeBob believes that if he finds this spatula, then he’ll become the greatest fry-cook. Whether that’s the best in the world or just in Bikini bottom, we’ll never know, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind where, he just wants to be a great fry cook.

This game was on the Game Boy Colour, and was  developed by Vicarious Visions and published by THQ in 2001. The game was pretty mediocre apparently, which is understandable. It is said that the gameplay is too simple, but the game still appeals to fans and younger audiences. The graphics look decent though, and I think personally, I would get quite a bit of fun out of this.

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SpongeBob SquarePants: Operation Krabby Patty

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Surprisingly, the next game to come out was a Windows only release from 2001, and to be honest, I would love to own it. I have an old Windows XP machine beside me, and I would love to throw some more games onto it. And you can’t go wrong with some SpongeBob fun.

This game, in particular, focuses on two different stories. One story is sbout Plankton, and how he is creating a robot to, naturally, try and steal the Krabby Patty recipe, and SpongeBob has to try and stop him. The other story you can play, is one where SpongeBob’s pet snail, Gary, has been taken by Plankton and you have to rescue him.

SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge!

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The next game makes me happy because saying SuperSponge! is pretty fun. It was released in 2001 and sold on the PS1, Windows and Game Boy Colour. The game is all about Patrick’s birthday, and SpongeBob wanting to get him the best present ever, which is apparently a signed picture from superheroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. Of course, you have to complete numerous tasks in order to get the signed photographs, and that’s basically what the game is about.

This title also received pretty mixed reviews, but hey-ho, it’s another SpongeBob game so I wouldn’t complain.

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SpongeBob SquarePants: Employee of the Month

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I don’t want to make this post too long, but I don’t really want to skip over SpongeBob SquarePants: Employee of the Month, which was a point and click PC only title back in 2002.

Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob two tickets to Neptune’s Paradise, an amusement park, as a reward for being employee of the month for the billionth time. You basically have to figure out how to get there with Patrick. I like how it also notes on this one website that SpongeBob cannot die, so that’s nice to know.

But yeah, I love point and clicks and to be honest, this game looks awesome to me. Especially for nostalgia reasons. I hope I can find it cheap (then I can report back to you all on how it truly is).

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SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman

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Finally, onto one of my favourite consoles, the PlayStation 2! The first SpongeBob video game to make an appearance on the console (and GameCube)  was Revenge of the Flying Dutchman, which had pretty good reviews if you ask me. The story of the game follows SpongeBob (who else?) whom accidentally releases the Flying Dutchman. He threatens to take Gary away,so SpongeBob travels across the world to search for treasure in order to defeat evil spirits (such as THe Flying Dutchman).

It sounds pretty fun to me, although I believe that the Game Boy Advance version is slightly different.

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SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom

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Here’s to more and more PS2 releases (and GameCube of course, and Xbox, and Game Boy Advance, and PC).

This particular one is from 2003, and you control each of the characters in order to save Bikini Bottom from the robot that Plankton created, and that’s kind of it. There isn’t too much to say about this one in particular. But I mean, who doesn’t want to battle for Bikini Bottom? I know I do.

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Oh look,a hidden Atari 2600 controller made out of sand!

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: The Video Game

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Of course you need a game based on the movie, and this is it! I mean, you can already see that from the title, I’m sure, but anyway, this is the game based on the first SpongeBob movie. It plays very similarly to Battle for Bikini Bottom, and you have to save everything and everyone from another one of Planktons doings.

There are again plenty of different ways to play this game, such as on the PS2, Game Boy Advance and you can even buy it on the PlayStation store! So how about that kids.

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And so, this concludes the first part of the history of SpongeBob and his video games.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I showcase the games from 2005 to present day!

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

The Beaten Diaries #13: Dishonored and Why Stealth is Fun for Some People (and not me)

MAY ISSUE: POST #35

So, I’m really bad at stealth. I mean really bad. First of all, it makes me paranoid, and who enjoys feeling paranoid? Well, some people, maybe, but I don’t get thrill out of it at all (I don’t even like the tension in games shows). With that being said, I have enjoyed some stealth aspects in video games. Recently, I played Beyond Good & Evil, and it became one of my favourite PS2 games. But with that being said, I think there’s a difference between stealth on the PS2 and stealth in more modern gaming. I for one think it’s more difficult nowadays, but then again, maybe I haven’t tried enough sneaky games to really have a proper opinion (so don’t trust what I say, basically).

With that being said, I was really excited to try Dishonored back at the beginning of 2017. However, I had no idea that it was technically a stealth game, and I went in weapons ablazing, and then got miraculously stuck when it came to having to sneak past some guards.

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I don’t know whether it’s because I get really nervous, or because I rush things when I’m nervous, but I was terrible at those parts of the game. I did beat the game though (I know, it’s shocking)… on high chaos that is (meaning that I shot a lot of people and kept stealth attacks to a minimum. Oops. Well, at least I got a trophy for it). Overall  I beat the game on normal difficulty, but it felt harder than normal and I didn’t even get more than 25% trophy percentage. I felt pretty ashamed.

But anyway, before I delve into the world of stealth, let’s look into the game Dishonored a little bit because it is a well-loved franchise after all, and a lot of people enjoy it and I understand why. Dishonored is a stealth (well, it’s meant to be stealth. I changed it into the least stealthiest game in the world) action-adventure video game, published by Bethesda Softworks (also known for the Fallout series, of course, among other titles) and developed by Arkane Studios.

The game throws you into the word of an assassin, who seeks revenge! Set in Dunwall, you begin as the bodyguard for the Empress, but then she gets killed and her daughter is kidnapped, so that’s not very good. Your character, Corvo, escapes just before his execution (lucky for him), and with the help of some loyalists, you become an assassin to help restore the Empress’s daughter, Emily, to the throne. It’s all very exciting, I must say. I really wonder what being an assassin must be like. I’d be too nervous to be one, to be honest. I’d constantly ask if it’s okay to assassinate people and then apologize for killing them for weeks afterward.

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So what about stealth games? And why do some people like stealth more than others? This is the question I’m raising for this post today.

I’ve been browsing some forum posts revolving around this type of question, and these are the thoughts that I’ve decided to note. Someone said that they’re a fan of stealth because it requires a lot more thought and planning, and they say it’s a lot more satisfying when you complete a mission without setting off alarms or killing anyone. But somebody has also commented, that if a game gives them guns, they’re going to use them, and they find it boring to sneak past enemies rather than straight-up shoot them. I personally side with this second comment to an extent. I definitely find it way more fun to run around and shoot everything and laugh manically, but really, should it be fun? Why is killing in games fun in the first place? Maybe it’s because doing bad things is stimulating, but of course,, in games you don’t experience the consequences like you would in real life.

So maybe that’s why stealth is fun for some people. Maybe the thrill of almost getting caught but then managing to quietly kill your enemy is way more satisfying than getting noticed and then shooting everyone around you in a frenzy. Especially since you can’t really do that sort of thing in real life. I for one actually have definitely enjoyed killing some enemies in games by sneaking around a corner and grabbing them and smashing their head against a wall and strangling them (it’s hard not to sound like a psycho, but seriously, I’m not). But playing a whole game stealth? It gets a tad boring for me. So I guess, all in all, I enjoy games that let you choose and strategise. I like having control and choosing what to do in the situation, rather than being limited to one particular tactic.

Some people really enjoy strategizing in games and spending the time to think about what they’re doing. I suppose these are also the same people who like puzzles and are very patient, perhaps, But then again, I love puzzle games and have patience but hate stealth, so I guess it just depends on the person (and how they like to kill people). But again, I hate tension a lot. So crawling around a room for a while trying not to get caught just makes me feel on edge a bit too much. But I guess playing a game stealth changes the whole experience entirely too, and it gives you more options. Some stealth games actually give you the choice not to kill anything, and I understand the satisfaction with that, especially if you finished playing a game like Killing Floor or something beforehand. It definitely makes a nice change.

The main thought I have here is about tension. I suppose stealth is seen a lot in horror games too because of this reason. Which is why I absolutely screamed my head off when my husband was playing Alien Isolation and I accidentally watched at the wrong moment and he was stealthing and something was behind him and he didn’t notice and- shudder. Stealth definitely makes horror games more intense, and I guess, more fun and scary for certain people.

Another point is that I also think that stealth can make you feel cleverer in the long run, especially if you outsmart enemies or aliens or whatever you’re up against, and your actions really do matter. So really, it’s up to you to decide what sort of gameplay you enjoy, and whether you can handle the anxiety of nearly getting caught.

Thus, even though this was a mishmash of thoughts regarding stealth, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic. Do you enjoy stealth games? Or do they make you too nervous like me? Let me know in the comments!

Examples of games where you can stealth-it-up include:  

♦Metal Gear Solid (another series I was absolutely terrible at, but 
I think I just need practice)
♦The Evil Within
♦Batman: Arkham Asylum
♦Splinter Cell
♦Deus Ex
♦Hitman
♦Thief

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

Minimalistic Games on Steam

MAY ISSUE: POST #34

Much to my excitement, there’s actually a ‘Minimalist‘ tag on Steam, which means you can browse games with a minimalistic style, and that’s pretty awesome. Some days you just wanna throw away all that chaos and be a minimalist (at least I do anyway).

For this post, I’m going to be choosing ten of the interesting-looking titles, and showcasing them to you. Keep in mind that these are games I haven’t played yet, but I will probably play them pretty soon since I’m choosing them to share with you guys.

Flower Design

If you like Viridi, then you’ll probably like the game Flower Design. It looks like a simple flower arrangement game, where you, well, arrange flowers and change colours of flower pots and stuff like that. Frankly, it looks very relaxing. Even the style of the game puts me at ease. All in all, if you want a game which provides you with a cheaper alternative to real flower arranging, then this is for you.

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Mini Metro

Mini Metro is a strategy simulation game which involves designing a subway map for a growing city. The goal is to keep the trains, routes, and lines efficient, without running out of resources. I’ve only ever gone on a subway about two or three times in my life, but this game seems like it would make you never see maps the same way again. Even though it seems like a puzzling game, it’s also apparently relaxing, and definitely minimalistic, so you should give it a try.

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Maciej Targoni’s Games

Do you want really cheap puzzle games with lovely aesthetics? Then klocki is one the games you should be looking into. The maker of this game is called Maciej Targoni, and his other games Hook and PUSH are minimalistic puzzle games, as well. So do yourself a favour and look into all three. They’re all simplistic of course, but klocki i, in particular, has a very bright and heartwarming style, and I think the guy who designed these titles is a genius.

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Absolute Drift

I actually really like minimalistic driving games (not that I’ve tried that many), and now I really want to try this one. Oh, and I also really like drifting, so why wouldn’t I add this to my wishlist instantly? (And that’s exactly what I did). There are plenty of events and tracks to try out, and I think you could especially have fun with this game whilst listening to music or listening to a podcast or something zen like that. Because, after all, the game is also the ‘zen edition’ too. It would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

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Warcube

This game made me audibly say ‘aww’ when I saw it because I love games that feature cube characters (reminds me of Unbox, which is another great game). This game states that you can ‘crush your enemies, siege castles, and bring glory to your six-sided self!’ which sounds extremely exciting to me. And did I mention that you play as cubes? In medieval times. Yes, cubes. Adorable little cubes. Cubes cubes cubes. They should just take my money now.

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Seek Etyliv

I think it’s time we brought even more RPGs to the list. Seek Etyliv is a very recent minimalistic experimental puzzle game where every move counts. It combines poem storytelling and dungeon crawling, and the style and interactions that you face are all very unique to the game. I bet it’s a great experience. The whole game also takes place on a 3×3 grid, so you have to be careful. I for one would love to try this out.

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NO THING

Now, you can’t have a list of minimalistic games without something weird and surreal, because honestly, if you want to make a minimalistic game, then that’s a perfect opportunity to make it weird too. This game is set in 1994, but strangely, it’s the future. It tells the story of an office clerk who is sent to the Queen of Ice with an important message, whatever that may be. There’s simple controls, full-voiceovers, bright, colourful graphics and wave music. So, if you enjoy a simple yet really intriguing, difficult, out-of-this-world game, then this is for you.

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Ballz: Farm

You have to admit that the graphics look cute in this game, and I’m a sucker for cute graphics. Plus, I like the title. Apparently, you control a paddle, and you attempt to make it bounce against a number of objects, causing them to disappear. So, you have to keep hitting objects until every single one of them is gone. Simple! And definitely minimalistic (and apparently it has fun farm music too, which means I’m instantly sold).

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Burly Men at Sea

Finally, it’s time for a visual novel/point-and-click game, and this one looks like it has absolutely great visuals which represents minimalism really well. The game follows a folktale about a trio of bearded fisherman, who seek adventure. I for one love games which involve folklore, especially Scandinavian folklore. It’s so fascinating to me, and I’m really happy that I stumbled upon this. Also, I like the fact that it’s the second game made by a husband and wife duo (called Brain&Brain). It seems absolutely great.

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So there we have it! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post, and all these games have those particular atmospheres to them that just draws me in. I can’t want to try them all one day. Games games games. I love games.

So yeah! Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

Music Spotlight #7: Benny Oschmann

MAY ISSUE: POST #33

I always struggle with these posts, not because they’re difficult to write, but because it’s hard to choose a composer in the first place. I look at the games on my shelves and I think to myself ‘who’s going to be the lucky sod this time?’ But today, miraculously, I thought, why don’t I do a post on one of my favourite game series? I haven’t done one on the series really, so this is a perfect opportunity to at least feature some of the music.

That series is The Book of Unwritten Tales. It makes me sad that the series, from what I know, isn’t really well known when it should be. It’s one of the wittiest, unique-looking point and click series I’ve ever played. I had tons of fun with it, and I’d play it all over again.

But this post, in particular, is about the award-winning musician who made the music for this series, and of course, plenty of other titles too. He’s taken part in projects such as Kinectimals, Toy Story 3 – The Video Game, Hitman Absolution, Angry Birds Toons and The Raven – Legacy of a Master Thief. This composer I speak of is none other than Benny Oschmann (which is a great name if you ask me).

Name: Benny Oschmann
Country: Germany
Links: Website  

Thank you to the YouTube channels for providing us with the music!

Of course, first of all, I want to remind myself of the great music from The Book of Unwritten Tales. The game follows the story of four characters, whom you play as, named Wilbur, Nate, Ivo, and Critter. They exist in a world torn by war, and a particular artifact in the world is about to determine everybody’s fate. There are great puzzles joined by amazing voice-acting, and of course, music. So let’s have a listen.

I don’t know about you, but this gets me pumped up for the game, especially the beginning.

This one actually feels really nostalgic. It’s really rememberable, and even after a second (or a millisecond) I could tell you which game this piece comes from (if I’m just hearing it that is. Looking at the video would be cheating).

These two tacks, in particular, fit the game perfectly. When you’re playing, they really set the mood and the atmosphere. It’s perfect.

Unfortunately, the soundtracks for the other two games aren’t really uploaded well onto YouTube, but here’s the full soundtrack for The Book of Unwritten Tales: The Critter Chronicles, which from the get-go, you can hear it’s brilliant. It’s a light-hearted and fun game, and you can feel that through the music, which is so important, in my opinion. The music of a game can leave big impressions.

I really want to play The Raven: Legacy of A Master Thief, and the music gives me a pretty good first impression (and reminds me of The Book of Unwritten Tales as well. It’s strange how you can recognise someone’s style across different projects). If anyone has played this game, please let me know what you think of it!

He also composed the music for a game called Black Mirror which released late last year. It currently has mixed reviews on Steam but I think it looks pretty interesting, however, it is a re-imagining of a gothic-horror adventure series, so I think I would want to try those first. But yes! Since this post is about Benny Oschmann, I thought I’d finish off with this beautiful piece for Black Mirror. Please do enjoy.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

Artist Spotlight #7: Sebastian G Hyde

MAY ISSUE: POST #32

Since I’ve been on a Sims kick recently, I thought I would look into some of the artists for at least one of the games in the series (and it wasn’t easy to choose). I’ve seen a few pieces of art for The Sims series before and it’s actually really awesome. I don’t know about you, but when I think of concept art, the first thing that comes to mind is like, adventure and giant landscapes and protagonists and heroines, but no, of course, there’s also the art for chill games like The Sims, and that’s exactly why I’m showcasing Sebastian G Hyde with you today.

I personally love The Sims, and that goes for both the PC and console releases. The first game on PC was released in the year 2000, and of course, has been very popular and still holds up today. The style of the series has definitely gone through a lot of changes though. I personally like the earlier eras, but that’s probably because I like retro and nostalgic things.

So, who is this artist I’m showcasing anyway? Let’s have a look.

Name: Sebastian G Hyde 
Links: Webiste Fine Art Website 
All artwork owned by Sebastian G Hyde. Images are gathered are from
his websites.

Sebastian G Hyde was probably born drawing or at least started at a very young age. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised just north of Seattle, Washington. He graduated with a BA in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 1989. What’s awesome is that he holds (or did hold) a weekly drawing session at his home studio, which many local artists attended. I really really wish I could’ve attended too. Woah, is that motivation I feel? 

But anyway, first off, let’s take a look at some of his concept art, and then move onto some of his more personal work. He has created a range of art pieces and really awesome ones at that.

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He produced artwork for games in The Sims series such as Pets, Castaway and Urbz, and honestly, there’s so much work on his website(s) that you can’t go wrong with having a browse. I don’t think you can blame me for including so many either. I love his pencil work and the shading that he does, and also the few pictures that do have colour are coloured so nicely. It really captures the fun and light-heartedness of The Sims series in general.

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He has of course also produced concept art for other games and game concepts, including Motor Derby, Crystal Castle, Mutants,  and Master of Magic II. Even his artwork alone makes me want to try out these games, even though Mutants was only a concept.These images in particular have a pretty unique style to them.

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There are also illustration and 2D and 3D art pieces on his website, but I want to move onto his other website, which is a compilation of his fine art pieces. I don’t think I’ve yet really talked about fine art when it comes to concept artists, and it’s nice to finally feature some. There are lots of drawing to browse through, so I recommend you take a look for yourself. But first, here are some of his figure drawings. I took some figure drawing classes for a while, and I can tell you that it’s not easy at all. Although, Sebastian sure makes it look easy. But these pieces are really beautiful, and the colours are really nice too. He’s definitely a talented dude.

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Finally, I think we should finish off by looking at some wonderful landscapes. I know I say this a lot, but you really can’t go wrong. He really has experimented a lot, and that is definitely what makes him a great artist.

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And he clearly has a sense of humour too.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

The Beaten Diaries #12: The Voices Behind Uncharted 4

MAY ISSUE: POST #29

The second game that I beat in 2017 was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. In my opinion, it was a good addition to the series, but not my absolute favourite. The graphics were stunning and, of course, the voice acting was still as great as ever.

A few posts ago I wrote about the first Uncharted game as I beat that near the end of 2016 in preparation for the fourth (and don’t worry, I’ve beaten the second and third before too). The charm of Nate and all the other characters (especially Nate) has stuck with me for a long time. Those characters are hardly forgettable, and any game from the Uncharted series is a joy to play (if you enjoy the genre that is. And gaming in general. But who doesn’t love gaming?)

Uncharted 4 follows the events of Uncharted 3, and Drake has finally managed to settle down with his wife Elena (yes, I squealed when I realised that they had gotten married). However, while Drake is missing the life of adventure, excitement and nearly getting killed, his ‘supposed to be deceased brother’ shows up at the door, explaining that he needs to find some treasure and so off they trot to do that. I must mention that the game has a lot of cool parts in it though, like playing Crash Bandicoot in-game with Elena and being able to play as Drake and his brother, Sam, as kids. The game took me nearly 20 hours to beat because I like to take risks and I was playing on hard mode.

This post, however, is going to be about the voice actors (who were the motion capture actors too, which is exciting). I haven’t written a post about voice actors yet, and it’s about time I did. So let’s get to it.

Nolan North

Born: October 31st, 1970 (oooh, spooky!)
Links: Twitter

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Nolan North is one of my favourite voice actors ever, and not just because he voices Nathan Drake (and does an exquisite job of it), no, it’s because he voices so many great characters and has an awesome history of voice acting.

First, he majored in journalism and then worked as a reporter for almost a year before moving on to pursue comedy and acting, although, obviously, in the end, he stuck with voice-acting. His voice has appeared in animated shows such as The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Ben 10, Regular Show, DreamWorks Dragons, Clarence, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Rick and Morty. Even if it’s just additional voices, he has quite the resume.

The main work I want o to talk about his is voice performance work in video games. He has provided his voice and talent for games such as EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Gun, Saints Row, Yakuza, Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy XIII and XIV and, of course, the Uncharted series. To be honest, it has gotten to the point where I’m playing a game and I’m like ‘is that Nolan North?’ because I hear him all the time. Even when it isn’t him. His voice is just something I remember (I’m getting creepier by the day).

Emily Rose

Born: February 2nd, 1981

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Now moving onto my next favourite character (although a lot of them are my favourites). Emly Rose voices Elena Fisher in the Uncharted series, but also has taken part in other notable works too, but mainly in television.

She graduated with a degree in Acting from UCLA, and then graduated again, but with a degree in Theater Arts, so she’s already worked harder than I ever have.. She’s appeared in many television series including ER, Two and a Half Men, Ghost Whisperer, Graceland, and Haven (as the main role).

I personally really think that she fits the voice of Elena perfectly. Elena is strong yet gentle, and you can tell that she and Nate fit together like two peas in a pod.

Richard McGonagle

Born: October 22nd, 1946

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Richard McGonagle has one of those filmography lists on Wikipedia that makes it almost impossible to choose what to showcase. He has been in so much stuff that it’s ridiculous (or, more so, a blessing). In the Uncharted series, he voices Victor Sullivan, one of Drake’s closest friends and the guy who also acts as his father figure. I’m so happy that he appeared in all of the games, I honestly love him to bits (along with Drake. I love everyone, okay.)

He has appeared in TV shows and cartoons such as Animaniacs, Chowder, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Regular Show, Pinky and the Brain and also in an episode of Seinfeld.

Again, he captures the role of Sully perfectly and I can imagine the way he acts and talks in my head pretty easily. And also, he looks adorable. Yes, I just called an old man adorable.

Troy Baker

Born: April 1st, 1976 (what a joke)
Links: Twitter

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I’m actually pretty excited to write about Troy Baker too since he voiced a few of my favourite characters from other games (Booker DeWitt) as well as Drake’s brother, Sam, in Uncharted. He’s also done a lot of voices for anime so a lot of you anime loving readers will be happy as well.

Speaking of anime though, he has provided voices in Fullmetal Alchemist, Peach Girl, Naruto, One Peace, BLeach, Code Geass, Soul Eater and one of my favourites, Eden of the East. So, you know, not many popular anime shows at all.

In terms of other animation, he has taken part in Regular Show (which keep popping up, if you haven’t noticed), Generator Rex, Monster High, and Clarence, and as for video games, well, there’s a long list here, and I mean a long ass list. I mean, even his twitter bio says “don’t worry, I think I’m in too many games, too.” Why yes, Troy Baker, yes you are. I don’t even know what to mention really, but I’ll try my best. He’s been in Tales of Vesperia, Persona 4, Prototype, Darksiers, Final Fantasy XIIIXIII-2  and Lightning Returns (wait, he voiced Snow?! Well,blow me down.)Fable III, Catherine (he did Vincent too?! Wow, I really need to observe better), Saints Row: The Third and IV, Binary Domain, Diablo III, Skylanders, Tales from the Borderlands, The Last of Us and finally, God of War, which I’m sure you’re all very exted to hear me mention.

But my word, seriously, who wouldn’t hire him after all of that? It’s inhumane.

Warren Kole

Born: September 23rd, 1977

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Warren Kole studied acting at Boston University which lead to his start in performing in local theater productions. His film debut was A Love Song for Bobby Long, next to some pretty highly acclaimed actors and actresses.

Now, his list isn’t as long as Troy Baker’s (in fact, I don’t think anyone’s is) but he has been in a few films and television shows, including The Avengers, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, Rizzoli & Isles and Stalker. He clearly likes to act in crime dramas.

He voiced Rafe in Uncharted 4 and for that being his only voice-acting role, I think he did a great job. Considering that Rafe is a bitter and mean guy, I think it would be very hard to provide a voice for him, and Warren Kole provides it for us really well.

Laura Bailey

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Laura Bailey felt inspired early on in her life, making her attend a theatre program in Texas, where she participated in many productions. Someone spotted her during one of these performances and invited her to audition for Dragon Ball Z, where she got the role as KidTrunks. Afer working at Funimation for a while, she moved onto some other shows and has built up a pretty decent resume.

Since Dragon Ball Z, she has provided voices for other anime, such as Fruits Basket, Fullmetal Alchemist, Gunslinger Girl, School Rumble, Naruto, Shin-Chan, K-On! and Soul Eater. She’s also taken part in a few more animated shows such as Monster High, Winx Club, Ultimate Spider-Man and, of course, Regular Show. Why is Regular Show so popular among the Uncharted crew? Well, it is a great show so I can’t blame them for taking part.

In terms of video games, she’s had a great time with those too, voicing for creations such as BloodRayne, Klonoa, League of Legends, Nier, Valkyria Chronicles, Street Fighter IV, and Tales of Vesperia and Persona 4, much like Troy Baker. And, also, much to my surprise, she voiced Serah Faron, the partner of Snow in Final Fantasy XIII etc. AND Catherine in CatherineAND Lady Comstock in Bioshock InfiniteHonestly, the list goes on (just take a look back to Troy Baker for a moment. Small world). 

And finally, even though she only appeared in the multiplayer mode in Uncharted 4, I thought I’d include her anyway since she’s definitely a main role in the series.

Claudia Black

Born: 11th October 1972

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One of the main things I read about Claudia Black is that she has lived for extensive periods in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, the UK (woo!), Canada and the USA- and that’s really darn awesome.

OF course, the work she has done over her life is awesome too, as she has been in films, television and, of course, video games, which are the best. She has been in TV shows such as A Country Practice, City Life, Farscape, Stargate SG-1 and Rick and Morty.

Apart from voicing the badass Chloe Frazer in the Uncharted series, she has also taken part in Crysis, Dragon Age: Origins and Inquisition (Morrigan, yay!), Mass Effect 2 and 3Destiny, Rage, and Gears of War 3 and 4.

I actually really like her voice and even though I didn’t like the character Chloe too much, to begin with, I warmed up to her. I really can’t way to try out Uncharted: The Lost Legacy one day, because who doesn’t want to play as two badass females from Naughty Dog? I know I want to.

And there we have it! Those are some of the main voice actors in the Uncharted series, and I was very happy to finally write a post about the people who talk in video games, because they’re really important too.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

 

The Beaten Diaries #11: The Evolution of Lara Croft

MAY ISSUE: POST #28

I am so excited to be writing a post on Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider games. I love her so much and, of course, the games as well. As a character though, she is definitely the one that has inspired me the most. I always wanted to be strong and badass like her (and that is still my goal, to be honest. At the moment, I’m as weak and wimpy as you can get).

On Christmas day 2016, I received a PS4, and along with it Uncharted 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. I personally started up Rise of the Tomb Raider first, and I was absolutely blown away by the graphics. I have no idea how long the game took me to beat (darn the games that don’t have a time counter) but I did get around 67% done overall, obtaining 30% trophies in the process (which actually, isn’t that great. I must go back and get more).

Rise of the Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game which was developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix. Released in 2015, it follows the story of Lara (naturally) who uncovers an ancient mystery (unsurprisingly) which places her against the Trinity, a mean mean organisation. She knows that she must reach the secrets in the Lost City before her rivals, and sets out instantaneously to Siberia. I really wish I was her most of the time. I want to pack up my stuff and go uncover some secrets and explore some tombs in a random place in the world, but alas, it’s not meant to be for 22-year-old me (but I can still hope and do some push-ups in the meantime.)

So, who exactly is Lara Croft and what was she like when it all started? 

Lara Croft is the main protagonist for the whole series of Tomb Raider (lucky for us) and she is presented as a very intelligent, athletic woman who specialises in archaeology. She’s also British, and she makes me proud to be British too.

Lara in Tomb Raider (1996)

The first game saw Lara as, well, an intelligent and athletic woman, but also as a woman with ginormous boobs. You just have to mention those, to be honest, and I apologise. The difference between the promotional art and the in-game model is quite amusingly different, as she only consisted of 540 polygons in-game (probably most of those went into her boobs too.) Actually, it’s said that she looked like that because she had a rather disproportionate body, which explains a lot. I’m kind of glad they sorted that out with recent releases. But, with that being said, I like the old look of Lara Croft, and she had quite the impact (I mean, have you seen those old magazine spreads?)

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Lara in Tomb Raider II-Tomb Raider Chronicles (1997-2000)

Of course, there wasn’t too much change over the next couple of years (Tomb Raider II and Tomb Raider III), apart from some tiny fashion changes (which was inevitable since she had to wash her original clothes at some point). She definitely still had a lot of sex appeal during this time, however, I for one just love those retro sunglasses. Can I please have a pair and not look like a lunatic?

Then, the next two games came along, and by golly, they made her curvy. If you think a figure-eight is curvy, then think again. She was even curvier than before somehow. And well, she looked a tad strange in my opinion, but I still love her no matter what they do to her body. She still is the same powerful woman who I grew up loving.

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Lara in Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness-Tomb Raider Anniversary (2003-2007)

And then came the PS2 era, where they actually made her look remotely human. This is definitely my favourite era in terms of my favourite games (as for style, I’m a sucker for those retro boobs and sunglasses). Although, in Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness she did in fact, look dark, with some gloomy lipstick and eyeliner. She looked fairly like her promotional image too, which was a ‘finally, thank goodness for that‘ moment.

Once Tomb Raider Legend came, Lara definitely looked more natural but thankfully, still as robust as ever. And the same goes for Anniversary, with another slight wardrobe change, she came back to us wielding her guns and her ponytail flying about nonchalantly.

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Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)

If you thought that the original 500 polygons was impressive, how about I tell you that she had 32,816 polygons in this game? Oh yeah. I’m not joking. That’s actually quite amazing in terms of video game development over the years. But anyway, she, therefore, looked pretty darn detailed in this title. The only complaint I have is that I wish I didn’t get so lost during the first chapters of the game.

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Tomb Raider-Rise of the Tomb Raider (2013-2015)

And here we go, the most realistic and the most human that Lara Croft has ever been. She is looking, to be honest, impressive looking now. I almost feel as if I’m in the same room with her (I can dream). The reboot in 2013 began the use of motion capture with the games, which explains all of the feelings I just mentioned. Then we have Rise of the Tomb Raider, where, obviously, the graphics exceed them all. I’m not just talking about Lara Croft herself though, because the whole game looks spectacular.

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Of course I missed out a couple of games, such as Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, and also the comics and the Tomb Raider movies. But I’ll write about those at a later date. This post was a simple timeline of the progression of Lara Croft, and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store for her in the future, and what weird and wonderful expeditions she’s going to take part in.

Finally, I will ask the demanding question, what is your favourite Tomb Raider game? Are you excited for Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

5 Indie Developers You Need to Check Out!

MAY ISSUE: POST #25

I always want to give independent game companies all the respect that I have. Indie projects are usually made by a small team or group of people, without much financial support from an outside source (like robbing a bank). This means that a game can take many, many years and can be extremely challenging to complete. Of course, during recent years, there has been the ‘indie movement’, which means that a lot more indie titles are being released on systems such as PlayStation and Xbox and, of course, Steam.

This post is an insight to some indie developers that I know of. Some of their games are pretty popular already, while others, maybe not so much. It really must be a ‘trial and error’ and ‘hit and miss’ sort of thing with these sorts of teams and games. They could put so much work into a game and then not really get much recognition for it. Which is really sad, in my opinion. These teams probably need all the feedback they can get, so they can grow larger and flourish and release more of their creativity into the harsh world.

So, without any further ado, I’m going to share with you some indie developers. I hope you’ve got socks on because I’m about to attempt to blow them off.

Amanita Design

Website | Twitter

You may have heard of the little point and click adventure game called Machinarium or the game series Samorost, or even Botanicula. All of these games were released by the company Amanita Designwhich is a small studio based in the Czech Republic. The company was founded in 2003 by Jakub Dvorsky and has won many awards for its releases (which is highly deserved, to be honest).

Machinarium was the first full-length game released by the company, and I think that the beautiful and dark style of the game is unique and total a must-see. You can’t miss out on following the story of a little robot who wants to save his girlfriend who has, unfortunately (I mean, very, unfortunately) been kidnapped.

Recently they have released a title called Chuchel which is a comedy adventure game and needs lots of love. I can’t wait to try this game out sometime soon. Plus, the special edition on Steam is called the ‘Cherry Edition’ and I don’t think I would want to skip the opportunity to own an edition with that sort of adorable title.

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Fishing Cactus Games

Website | Twitter

The company Fishing Cactus Games (which is by far the most awesome company name) is a Belgian independent video game company created back in 2009. They have more than 15 years experience developing games, as the team was first working inside a big AAA studio at first, but after working there for a while and experiencing a series of unfortunate events, they decided to build up their own studio, and I’m very thankful that they did.

This is definitely one of my favourite indie developers, mainly because I played the crap out of their current only released title, a typing action adventure game called Epistory: Typing ChroniclesIt’s absolutely beautiful, and I find it such a joy to play. Fortunately, there is another game due to be released this year called Shift Quantum, which appears to be a cyber-noir puzzle platformer where you do a lot of, you guessed it, shifting. I really can’t wait, and I really can’t wait for what else is in store for the future.

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Ink Stains Games

Website | Instagram

This particular company, founded in 2015, is a Russian indie development team that successfully kickstarted and launched their first project, a top-down shooter called 12 is Better Than 6 back in 2015. They also have a turn-based RPG coming up called Stoneshard, which looks promising, in my opinion.

12 is Better Than 6 revolves around the story of an escaped slave making his way from Mexico to Texas in the year 1873, and you have to kill lots and lots of people (because killing is fun. In video games that is). The gameplay is challenging and the style is extremely distinctive and cool. The gameplay is what made the game addicting to me personally, as it’s one of those titles that makes you say ‘just one more try!’ after you die, and trust me, you die a lot (or I did anyway, you’ll probably be more skilled than myself).

I’m really looking forward to what else this game company has for us in the future, and I think keeping up with them and supporting them on Kickstarter is the right thing to do.

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Texel Raptor

I’m not just mentioning this team because of my love for theme park simulators. I promise. Although, that is the only kind of game they’re working on at the moment, but ssshh, I’d support them no matter what they’d do.

Texel Raptor is a development team based in Canada and Germany (how they communicate across seas is beyond me) founded back in 2014. Their current only release is none other than ParkitectOh man, I want it so badly, it’s insane. I feel like my childhood obsession with theme park simulation games would come back with a vengeance, but a good vengeance.

I actually find it surprising that a game of this quality is not only the first game of an indie development team but also, a game of an independent development team. Granted, it seems like it’s been in early access for a long time, but that’s what’s great about it, I think. Because they’re actually listening to our feedback and criticisms, and that’s what’s going to make the game brilliant when it’s out of early access. To be honest, if they keep working hard like this, they can take all my money for all I care.

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SMAC Games

Website | Twitter

I like indie teams that are made of only a couple of people, and this is one of them. SMAC Games is an indie team which consists of two brothers originally from Cape Town and now based in North London. I do wonder if there is any sibling rivalry, but even so, their first game Tokyo 42 looks incredible. The style especially. It’s been on my wishlist for a long time, and the fact that it’s also come to PS4 and Xbox One is awesome.

Tokyo 42 is a hyper-stylish isometric open-world shooter, and you really don’t see those every day. You dive into the world of assassins in the beautiful world of micro Tokyo, and as someone who loves Japan to pieces, this went on my wishlist straightaway.

With a game with a style such as this, I can’t wait to see what else they’re thinking of creating in the future. I recommend you keep an eye out too! Also, is it possible to live in this sort of world? Please tell me it’s possible.

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Please comment down below some indie games that you enjoy! I’d love to try out lots more. 

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

-LDG

The Beaten Diaries #10: Roles in Final Fantasy

MAY ISSUE: POST #21

I hope you were all anticipating my next post because I’m hoping that all the effort I’m putting into typing this up on a Sunday pays off (I can dream). I’m joking though, I enjoy writing these posts no matter what day of the week it is. It brings me joy to know that one or two people could read this and think, ‘that was a decent piece of writing’, and I thank you.

So anyway, I hope you all had a good weekend and are ready to read my next Beaten Diaries entry! This post, in particular, is showcasing a game from an incredibly popular series, because yes, I do beat mainstream games as well as the weird ones that no one knows about.

The series I am talking about today is, of course, Final Fantasy, and the game, in particular, is Final Fantasy XIII-2 (or 13-2, for those of you who aren’t Romans).

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Now I’m not a human who is able to put hours and hours into many games. I’d say a game is fairly lucky if I interact with it for more than 30 hours. But I was so determined to beat a Final Fantasy game (because I hadn’t yet and that was a true criminal offense) that I cleared this title in almost 50 hours. That’s a lot for lil ol’ me. I beat it on normal difficulty, and I have no idea what trophy percentage I finished with because my husband, coincidentally, within the last week, platinumed the game for us (as we share a PSN account). I’m glad that he did the rest of the work. I would’ve needed at least another three years before being able to pick the game back up again. I burn out easily, okay. 

But anyway, I’m one of those people who really likes Final Fantasy XIII, and XIII-2 wasn’t quite as fun for me. There was something about it that didn’t make me feel as intrigued by the characters and the story, and the lack of those cutscenes with beautiful graphics disappointed me. Also, the roles confused me, and I didn’t know what paradigms were best and what roles were good to level up with. So, for you right now, I’m going to write an insight to each role, and perhaps it’ll help you if you want to actually progress in the game successfully (unlike me, for the most part).

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Commando

In general, the commando is a soldier who has been specially trained to carry out strong, surprise attacks. This role mainly lets you perform strong and powerful attacks to deal heavy damage to a target. This is especially useful when the opponent is staggered. The main characters in the game, Noel Kreiss and Serah Farron both start out with the Commando role, but only Noel specialises in it in the end so you can use him to bash enemies whenever you so wish.

Synergist

The term synergist and synergy involves enhancing the effectiveness of an active agent, whatever that means. The main function of the synergist is to cast positive statuses onto allies, and curing the negative ones, basically saving you and buffing you up, which I wish could be a thing in real life. During Final Fantasy XIII-2 Serah and Noel only learn the defensive enhancements, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other means of boosting your offensive capabilities later in the game.

Saboteur

According to an online dictionary I’m perusing, the definition of saboteur is ‘one that practices sabotage’, so this is clearly my favourite role already. As a saboteur, you inflict a range of harmful statuses onto your targets, such as poison, deshell, curse, pain, fog, and chaos, so it all sounds marvelous to me. So much damage to do, so little time.

Ravager

For some reason, I always misread this as ‘savage’, or ‘scavenger’. But anyway, the term ravaging means to be violently destructive or to have a harming effect, probably whilst shouting and screaming. When you take on this role, you mainly build up the enemies gauge whilst using elemental attacks. The idea is to use a range of different elemental, physical and magical attacks until a weakness is found, and then once a weakness is found, you spam that over and over.

Sentinel

A sentinel is a soldier whose job is to stand, guard and keep watch, so already this appeals to me a lot. I like the idea of observing rather than fighting and not getting hurt and putting up shields. But anyway, the sentinel role is to protect team members from oncoming attacks whilst also increasing defense. They can also perform counterattacks, which is handy as well.

Medic

This role is kind of self-explanatory. Healing, and healing and lots of healing and feeling better and ready to go. The role of the medic is to help the team to recover, whether that be HP or negative status effects. It’s pretty nice to have a medic instead of going through thousands of potions, although it gives you a heart attack when you’re suddenly down to 1HP and you really don’t want to die. The medic needs a strong heart.

But yes! That’s it. So that’s just an insight into the roles you play as in Final Fantasty 13-2. To be honest, I understand them a lot better now than when I was playing the game, so that’s useful. But I do like the game and would play it again in the future, so I recommend that you check it out.

Thank you for reading and Happy Gaming!

LDG