20 February, 2010

Infinite Undiscovery

When I first started playing Infinite Undiscovery I was devastated by the game. Even more shattered was my poor materia heart at the mere thought that tri-Ace could produce anything other than gold. I pressed on through about two hours of agonising game-play in the hope that somewhere there would be a hitch I could grab on to... then I turned it off & put it away for the better part of a year and a half. Earlier this month I was working on some Star Ocean: TLH achievements and decided Hey, why not give my old Infinite Undiscovery another go? Maybe I've matured as a gamer! Unfortunately, this was not the case. Not that I hadn't matured as a gamer, which I have, of course, but IU was still agonising and defeating me at every turn. Resolved to NOT play the game on Pansy mode, I ploughed through the prison. Fought my way up the endless staircase and braved the black forest of what-the-fuck-I-can't-see-fucking-shit. Finally, I emerged into a clearing facing none other than... myself? A little disappointed by the seemingly brick walled storyline, I put the game down for another week as I grabbed a few more achievements in Star Ocean: TLH. Then one foggy, snowy morning I glanced over at my game shelves & my eyes caught the glint of Infinite Undiscovery, sparkling in the dawn's light. Why not? I put it in again, left the camp with Aya in my arms, dodging the dragon at every turn, somehow managing not to get fucked by his fiery breath.

Upon reaching the village of Nolaan I set my obviously eventual girlfriend (seriously, three hours into the game, if you didn't realise this would happen in the next 40 hours of game play you're retarded) and was bombarded by the stupidest party members I would meet in the game. Oddly enough, my rage at the annoyingness of their personalities fuelled me on. I refused to be beaten by twin spell casting twat whores. Slowly, gaining a grip on the combat mechanics (after forty minutes of reading online advice about combat because the game does shit for explaining it), I moved through the caves, learning to use my connecting skills for useful events and hidden secrets. 
By the time I emerged from the Shrine, flute in hand, I knew that something had occurred at some point in the last sixty minutes. Something I couldn't explain. Something magical. I found myself only playing Infinite Undiscovery from that moment on. I forgot about Star Ocean: TLH. I let other games slip away. I would turn on the 360 before even my computer when I came into the room. It was as though some veil had been lifted from my eyes and I could truly appreciate the glory of this game. Now, normally I say that if it takes you some time to get into a game, it's a failure as a game because you should be hooked from the beginning. I will remove that statement from my data banks now & admit that I was wrong. Infinite Undiscovery took me completely by surprise & captured me firmly in it's grasp. At first, it's graphics were a little meh, but as the game pressed on, the cut scenes really impressed me, & the general graphics of the game playing portions were nice in themselves. They weren't the best ever made, but they were very nice.

The voice acting was good, I suppose, as far as Western voice actors can take it. I would have liked to have the option of Japanese voice actors (I loved that option in Enchanted Arms) with English subs, but alas, some things are not to be. As well as good voice acting, the soundtrack was very lovely as well. Beautiful pieces fit into storyline events in a perfect symbiosis which wrenched at my little black materia heart during some very dramatic scenes. The story, I began to find out, wasn't as transparent and convoluted as I had previously thought.  Close to the end of disc one, occurred an event which I had no idea would happen and, to be completely honest, took me by surprise in a way which brought a tear to my eye. Surprised as the emotional impact this game had on me, I considered setting it down for a few days, but I found I could not. I had to le press on.  I couldn't believe it when the end of the game rode along, the final cut scenes of immense drama, & the epilogue. I was stunned to feel tears running down my cheeks & I am not ashamed to say it. I'm not an easily emotionally reactive person to 'touching' moments & the like, so for this to occur was an event. The story grew on me like Watermelon Sours. You have a glass thinking how nice it is.

This tastes like Jolly Ranchers and hey, why not have a few more glasses? Oh man, this is like candy, I wonder why it's not having any effect on me? ~Stands up~  How did I get on a desert island? 

That's the best way to describe the subtle grasp the story entwined me with. Even now, I am pained to take time away from the game to write up this review, but I realised I had to do it now or I'd loose another five weeks to the Compulsive achievement. As I moved through the game, I found myself not really giving a shit about the achievements; I just wanted to get through the game, to see the next stage. I felt like a gamer again &; not like an achievement whore. It was such a nice feeling. When I beat the game & saw my 600+ round up of points, I was shocked, I must say. I hadn't even realised I was getting the achievements, I had been so wrapped up in the game. So I started another play through on Normal (even though I unlocked Hard) & got a lot of the optional achievements in that run through, as well as some missables. Hard mode is what I shall do the Compulsive, Treasure Chest, & Cherubic Gate achievements on. The rest I will finish up on my Normal Clear Data. Infinity mode looks so ghastly and you only end up getting ONE, yes ONE, point for it... and that comes from defeating the Ethereal Queen on Infinity Mode. It seems a little retarded, to be fair. I have seen videos of Infinity Mode and well... tri-Ace, you never change. I will do it one day, but after getting the other 999 points, I will set the game down and very, very slowly work on Infinity. Star Ocean: TLH still requires my attention and soon Final Fantasy XIII will be out and my life will vanish from existence at that time. I never thought I'd recommend a game so highly as I do with Infinite Undiscovery. Shocked and amazed, I bring it to a game sitting in my top 10 games of all time. Please give it a go, get past the first few hours. After Castle Prevent it all gets so much better. Oh yes... download the vouchers from the 360 store. They are free & will help you so much for crafting (which is awesome by the way! I know I didn't mention it a lot, but seriously the crafting rocks!)

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