[ad] The service leader for Cloud is now in Australia. Secure, reliable cloud and managed hosting all backed by 24x7x365 Fanatical Support. Create your free account now.
Buy an Seagate Business Storage NAS for your chance to win a holiday
[ad] Purchase a selected Seagate Business Storage NAS to receive a $20 cash-back AND go into the draw to win a $1,000 Flight Centre voucher so you can holiday in the destination of your choice. T&Cs apply.
How mobile and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy
[ad] How will the adoption of mobile devices and social media affect your Customer Experience strategy? Are you reaching your organisation's customers through these touch points? Click here to download a whitepaper by Fifth Quadrant examining consumer and business attitudes to these new contact channels.
Great articles on other sites
- Canberra blitzes states with NBN take-up rates
- War on whistleblowers from Abbott, Turnbull as ICJ case arrives
- Stockland tech revamp at centre of growth plans
- Clare warns of Gonski-like backflips on the NBN
- Victoria seeks early buy-in to avoid past disasters
- Vtalk bucks the China trend with plan for Aussie build
- Booksellers bristle at Amazon's arrival
- Australian customers upbeat on Dell going private
- FTTP NBN supporters lobby Turnbull
- Telstra staff to return to NBN pits after asbestos scare
50 things top IT pros need to know
[ad] This 18 page TechRepublic whitepaper explores 10 things you should know to become an epic IT manager, 40 other essential tips to advance your IT career and practical guidance for starting an IT consulting business. Click here to access the whitepaper.
The new IT manager: Trends affecting IT in business
[ad] The tables have turned for IT managers. IT used to be able to dictate which computing assets would be used by employees and how they would be used. No longer. This free GigaOM Pro research paper (click here to download it) gives a solid, fact-based perspective on how IT consumerisation, mobile computing and cloud delivery trends are changing the paradigm.
Gaming, Reviews - Written by Matt Sainsbury, Digitally Downloaded on Tuesday, May 14, 2013 15:29 - 0 Comments
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch: Review
This review comes from Digitally Downloaded.
review Last year, I was deeply disappointed by Kingdoms of Amalur. It was a good game, even a great one, but it fell short on the potential that a game developed by the minds of game developer Ken Rolston, storyteller R.A Salvatore, and artist Todd McFarlane.
Bringing those three nerd-cool hero artists together should have resulted in the best thing ever, but all we got was a game that showed potential as a franchise, only to have that dream crushed by the ruination of its development studio.
What does this have to do with Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch? Well, Ni No Kuni is another “dream team” collaboration. This time it brings together the JRPG development talents of the excellent Level-5, the artistic brilliance of Studio Ghibli (yes, the ones that made Spirited Away and Totoro), and a soundtrack written by Mamoru Fujisawa (otherwise known as Joe Hisaishi, and responsible for some of the greatest Studio Ghibli film music scores) and performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Unlike Kingdoms of Amalur, this dream team did more than hit its mark, and Ni No Kuni really is the best thing ever.
From the moment this game starts it is a game that is impossible to forget. The first half hour – which is almost entirely non-interactive cut scenes – has the same emotional impact that Final Fantasy VII spent almost its entire run-time building up to. I don’t want to ruin anything in this game because this is one that players should play without knowing what happens first, but yes, it had me in tears. As with most of Ghibli’s work, the innocence of youth combines with some very heavy-hitting adult themes to create a contrast that just demands to be taken seriously. And yet, there’s a genuine sense of humour about it, too. That contrast allows the developers to surprise and delight at every turn, and I class this game up there with the finest Disney and Studio Ghibli films in terms of the sheer quality of the narrative.
What makes the game so powerful as a game, though? It is a combination of things. The characters are so beautifully designed and animated that it’s so easy to sympathise with them – anyone who has seen a Studio Ghibli film will understand just how subtle and believable the behaviours of the characters can be with this style of animation. The dialogue is expertly written and paced just perfectly – there’s not a word of wasted dialogue to keep the story moving onwards, but by the same token the story is confident enough in itself that it knows players will want to engage with it, and it’s not so snappy that players might miss anything. That’s the skill of Level-5 in action. Studio Ghibli films are over in a couple of hours, so it was always going to require some incredible development talents to maintain interest in similar material over dozens of hours. But they pulled it off and from start to finish I was hanging on every word and moment in the game.
And then there’s the soundtrack. So many people will overlook this element of the game because it’s less obvious than the gorgeous art or the gameplay itself, but Ni No Kuni’s music putters along in the background creating the real emotional weight behind the game. It’s one of those soundtracks that you might not be able to whistle to once the game’s turned off, but is immediately recognisable the moment the game starts back up again. It’s the sign of a master music composer who understands his role in the game – players don’t want to be noticing the music while they’re playing the game, but they do want to feel the emotion of the game’s story, and the music’s highs and lows are there to enable them to do it.
Of course, Ni No Kuni is a game, and if it wasn’t entertaining once the dialogue and cut scenes finished up, then it wouldn’t be worth putting dozens of hours into the game. It is, of course, a very compelling gameplay system backing up the story and characters. It’s a little like Level-5′s previous games, such as Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo 3DS or White Knight Chronicles on the PlayStation 3, in that it’s a very slow-paced, tactical system. It’s not turn-based like Dragon Quest IX was, but the skills work in much the same way and there’s plenty of time to think about what you’re doing. There’s also a Pokemon-style system thrown in there where players collect a range of familiars and control them in battle.
Frankly the familiars are more charming than any of the newer Pokemon character designs. Each has vastly different statistics and skills sets, and can be further customised by feeding them treats and equipping them with weapons. The hero himself, Oliver, is quite weak in combat, but is the only one who can use items and cast powerful magic. The trick here is that players can only have one familiar or Oliver in battle at any single time – the success to winning lies in swapping characters in and out to adjust to the flow of the battle (having a high-defense familiar in as the enemy unleashes a powerful attack, then swapping to a powerful attacker when the enemy is temporarily slowed after that attack). It’s a system that is relentlessly traditional, but feels new enough to be engaging even for JRPG veterans.
And later on the depth of the system hits all-new levels as new heroes join the party, each with their own roles to play out on the battlefield. Keeping on top of everything this system has to offer is surprisingly heavy work, but it’s rewarding at the same time – if for no other reason than in this game more than most you’re going to care about the characters.
Outside of battle the game is also as traditional as JRPGs come. It’s a linear story with some optional side quests for bounties or helping out townsfolk with their day-to-day problems. Each town has more powerful equipment to buy than the last, and players will use each town as a base to attack a handful of story dungeons from, before being directed to the next town. There’s some nice puzzles scattered throughout the towns and dungeons to break up the combat, too, which helps keep environments interesting and encourages players to explore.
Because each new town has a radically different personality to it, and because the game’s world itself is so massive, Ni No Kuni feels like that sequel to Final Fantasy V or VI – or the Super Nintendo Dragon Quest games – that genre fans have been waiting for literally over a decade for.
What is most impressive about the game world, however, is how alive it feels. Early on in the game Oliver will pick up a magic book. Inside that book is a couple of hundred pages that need to be tracked down over the course of the adventure. Some of these pages are directly related to the game – descriptions of spells or the familiars that you can pick up, for instance. But other pages are simply stories from the world or descriptions of important locations across the world. These seemingly useless pages act like those books that you’ll find scattered across an Elder Scrolls game – they turn the world from a simple virtual environment into fantasy world with a sense of history and meaning. Taking the effort to build a backstory for the game’s world is a rarity for the JRPG genre – even the finest Final Fantasy games only hint at things happening outside of the player’s vision – and it’s something I hope comes into the genre more regularly move forwards.
Of course, on the Nintendo DS version of Ni No Kuni, this book was an actual physical book that came with the game. It’s a pity that it’s essentially a .pdf in the PS3 game, but I suspect bundling the physical book into the game would have made it prohibitively expensive for a global release.
And that’s the only fault I can find with the game; it doesn’t come with a book. Ni No Kuni is a genuine masterpiece and all-but guaranteed to be the best game released this year. That’s a big call since it’s still January, but that’s how great this game is.
Image credit: Level 5/Studio Ghibli
Latest Delimiter 2.0 articles (subscriber content)
|Politicians from Australia’s major parties need to stop issuing ludicrous blanket pardons for the intelligence community’s ongoing misdemeanours and start applying a basic modicum of transparency and accountability to this important national security function.|
|The independent pro-fibre National Broadband Network movement is doing a far better job of promoting Labor’s Fibre to the Premises-based NBN policy than Labor itself. When is Labor going to wake from its slumber and start supporting this scrappy but energetic grassroots network of activists?|
|Ziggy Switkowski's first substantial public appearance since being appointed NBN Co chief executive has starkly demonstrated just how different he is from his predecessor, Mike Quigley, and just how strictly he will adhere to the guidelines which his patron, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has set for him.|
|Australian technology companies have been virtually absent from the the nation’s public stockmarket over the past decade as the stigma of the dot com bust took its toll on investor confidence. But a clutch of new listings planned for the closing months of 2013 shows renewed interest in the sector and that local entrepreneurs are smelling money in the air once again.|
|NBN Co’s Strategic Review process gives the company an unmissable opportunity to re-evaluate the early decision to deploy its FTTP network primarily through Telstra’s underground ducts. The company and its new Coalition masters must now seriously consider deploying more fibre aerially on power poles in an effort to speed up its rollout substantially.|
|That moment which many Australian technologists fervently hoped for but never expected to see has come to pass: Simon Hackett has been appointed to the board of the National Broadband Network Company. But what questions should the Internode founder be asking NBN Co’s executive management team? Here’s five ideas to start with.|
|The rapid replacement of respected NBN Co chief operating officer Ralph Steffens with a Telstra executive who appears less experienced with fibre rollouts but better politically connected represents a key signal that NBN Co’s senior executive hiring process has now become completely politicised and is no longer independent from the Federal Government.|
Blog, Enterprise IT, Featured - Dec 6, 2013 11:24 - 0 Comments
More In Enterprise IT
- End of an era: Oracle Australia’s ‘safe hands’ leaves
- Qld launches whole of government IaaS panel
- Defence finally allows staff iPhones, iPads
- NSW Govt refreshes ICT Advisory Panel
- Coles is yet another complex cloud case study
News, Telecommunications - Dec 6, 2013 11:54 - 0 Comments
More In Telecommunications
- NBN Co internal FTTN analysis: Turnbull refuses to retract inaccurate claim
- Defying the Senate: Turnbull to release NBN Review by end of 2013
- Senate to force Turnbull to publish NBN Review
- Get on with FTTN job, Quigley tells NBN Co
- Senate circus shows politics has no place in NBN
More In Industry
- Xbox One goes off with a bang … but will the PS4 launch eclipse it?
- It’s not just Freelancer: Aussie tech IPOs are back in general
- Freelancer’s IPO: A billion reasons to care
- Australian retailers online: Late to the party and much to do
- DesignCrowd picks up another $3m
Digital Rights, News - Dec 5, 2013 14:08 - 19 Comments
More In Digital Rights
- Global privacy group files formal ASD complaint
- Labor open to surveillance discussion
- Snowden an “American traitor”, says Australia’s Attorney-General
- ASD goes rogue with Aussie metadata
- It’s live: Delimiter publishes AGD FoI mirror