Karaoke Revolution is pretty good. When you play it by yourself, it’s better than doing than dishes. Get a couple people over, and - like Mario Party or Super Smash - something alchemical occurs. Even singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” becomes a carnival of self-aware amusement.
We finally started playing Final Fantasy XI on Sunday, and let me tell you that it felt good. We took a break midday, and still consumed by enthusiasm I scraped message boards and the like for answers to my searing questions. This is the good part, the best part perhaps of the Massive experience. New game mechanisms spread out into the obscured distance, each time I log in struck by some peculiar newness. A man rides by the river on a Chocobo. Our party of three is eradicated by a creature we have dubbed The Omega Rabbit. A tall elf runs at top speed toward the city, pursued by two mushrooms.
Since I am usually a little more excited about a game than the people I’m playing it with, I appreciate a fairly involved crafting system to occupy me while they’re logged out. Unfortunately, the beta concluded before I had a chance to really get into that side of it. FFXI has a system that is similar to other games - take a look at Warcry’s recipe list, you combine items like you would in any other game of this type. The way it differentiates itself from the others is that in order to actually combine the proper items, you need something to catalyze it. You use a variety of crystals for that purpose.
You can buy crystals at the Auction house, where players put up items and the bidding begins. There’s typically people knelt down outside the auction house as well, and if you see a pouch near their name it means they have selected items from their inventory that are available for purchase. Sometimes they’re getting rid of crystals, but it’s mostly like a medieval garage sale where characters pawn off stuff they don’t need anymore. The most straightforward way to get crystals - and recall that there are several kinds, with a variety of effects - is to ask the gatekeeper for your nation’s “Signet.” When he casts it on you, along with regular treasure items you will sometimes receive crystals of different types. You can use these for your own projects, or you can bundle them up and sell them at auctions or whatever else. As near as I can tell, these catalyzing agents form the basis of the economy.
Wow, I’ll bet you’re glad I talked about that for so long. I’m kind of fucking fixated right now. I’m chewing my teeth with the anticipation of my next login.
It’s already to the point where you have to carefully meter each gaming moment, and that’s before this week’s releases - X2: The Threat, Contract J.A.C.K., and Uru on PC, Mario Party 5 and then Mario Kart coming up at the end of the week for the Cube, Links 2004 on Xbox, Ratchet and Clank II on PS2, and then the multiplatform stuff like the new Legacy Of Kain or Prince of Persia. Speaking of the Prince, there is a perfectly tolerable article about its completion over at Gamespot. And though it seems strange to think of it, Links 2004 may well supplant the action-oriented fare we’ve been dining on of late.
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