Monday, December 17, 2007

Blue Dragon: Will I complete it?

I'm enjoying Blue Dragon. It has several annoyances that I've detailed separately, but it has enough going for it that it keeps me plugging away.

That said, I will probably stop playing the game well before I reach the 3rd DVD of content (I'm still on DVD #1). Here are some of the key reasons why:

  • I've been thinking more about the wandering monster minigame and while it showed initial promise that orchestrating complex monster fights would be cool, the game is not delivering on that promise. What I'm finding is that the interaction between camera behavior/controls and level design is conspiring against me.
    • Dungeon environments, where a majority of combat occurs, require constant camera manipulations because the lower camera angle (over the shoulder) makes it harder to judge enemy bounding boxes and the cramped quarters mean that you're more likely to bump into things by mistake. This would be manageable to an action-adventure gamer who was comfortable using either of the 2 supported camera control schemes. However, if you are more of a casual gamer, are used to turn based games where no camera adjustment is required, or (like me) require a camera control setting that is not supported by the game (please, please allow me to adjust X and Y axis inversion orthogonally) this task becomes very frustrating.
    • Note that this issue mostly goes away when I'm wandering around the world map. This is because the camera is zoomed out (it's like a 3d isometric view instead of an over the shoulder view) and I'm really only required to control the X axis of the camera. Also, the environments are larger and less cluttered, meaning less frequent bumping into enemies by mistake.
  • The game is too long. I've been playing close to 20 hours and I'm still not finished with the first DVD (there are 3). This just doesn't support my play habits whereby I need to complete a story based game in a week (e.g., a typical single player RPG or action adventure game) or the game needs to have a core mechanic that you can put down and then pick up and play at some later date without being penalized due to lack of practice or forgetting where you are and what you need to do next (e.g., puzzle games).
  • The Achievement curve is way too shallow. After 20 hours of gameplay I only have 10 gamer points. Moreover, scrolling the Achievements list leaves me no reason to believe that I'm destined for any more in the near future.
When I stack all of these concerns against the accumulating list of games in my queue, I'm not sure whether the next disc I insert will be Blue Dragon DVD #2 or another game like Mass Effect, Call of Duty 4, or Beautiful Katamari. It's really too bad because I am enjoying the game.

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