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Malik (2/28/11)

I have moved on from Fallout: New Vegas. In other words, I beat the game in one of the half dozen possible ways. However, having done so, I still feel a calling to go back and try a different approach. I mean the game gives enough incentive to make multiple saves, like any Bethesda game does, that I have some previous saves where I can easily change course and try for an alternate ending. While Fallout 3 didn't leave many options for how you end (it all came down to one or two decisions at the very end), New Vegas has some unique final missions to wrap up your game.

Despite that, I am a little annoyed with how New Vegas still has the same problem at the end as Fallout 3 did; once you finish, it's the same as if you die since the game ends with no chance to see how your actions changed the world or to finish up any loose strings. I would have loved to have had a chance to continue to find new companions, solve some minor quests, or explore any of the areas that I kept thinking I'd get back to later on.

Anyway, for the record, I went with the NCR ending. Considering I like to play a good natured mischief maker, the NCR seemed about right in how to finish the game. Plus, if you do things right, you get to see a nice epic battle with you fighting alongside NCR troops, Brotherhood of Steel paladins, and some nice explosions and bombing runs performed by the Boomers. It makes for something that feels absolutely epic in scope. It was also fun seeing how speech can be a powerful enough factor to end the game without a final boss fight. Of course, after talking my way out of the final conflict, I still had to reload to end thing correctly (with the Legion leader facing my All-American and a bunch of armor piercing rounds). Still, I'd love to see either the Yes Man ending (which seems like the most personal ending) or the Mr. House ending. I initially skipped the Mr. House way due to his demand to terminate the Brotherhood. Of course, Yes Man has no such requirement involved. Maybe in the future I'll see how they both go...and maybe even use a really old save to try the Legion way.

I've now moved on to Dragon Quest VI. Amazon did eventually ship my order, and now I'm about 12 hours into this game. It's a pretty good Dragon Quest game, which makes it sad to see how it was never given a US release in the SNES days. I'm sure I would have loved this game in the darker days when RPGs were not nearly as plentiful.

With DQ6, I have only one real complaint, so far. DQ6 has the same job system you find in DQ7. You can change jobs, retain previously learned skills, and unlock advanced classes as you progress. However, you get experience for jobs based on the number of "hard" fights you win while equipped with a given class. Unfortunately, I had some grinding I had to do, since new party members arrive at low levels (like how you can be around level 20, but a new person is level 3), so I'd grind a bit to get new people enough HP to stand up in the obviously forthcoming boss battles. In the process, I'd get a ton of levels for my older party members.

The complaint? Well, a "hard" battle is determined by where you are and what level you are. Trying to gain class levels is a pain in the ass when you are too strong for the area you are at when you first unlock classes, due to being a few levels too high. At least the level requirements or level caps for each area has been outlined in several FAQs online. Sadly, I see no where to gain job levels as I stand with my main three (or first three) party members. Hopefully I'll get to areas soon where I can advance my jobs. For now, however, this is nothing short of frustrating since DQ games are hard enough to require occasional grinding, and the boss fight before the job system is unlocked does require some grinding if you want to escape a quite possible death...and numerous attempts to return to the fight for another probably defeat.


Malik (3/2/11)

After playing some more Dragon Quest VI, I am feeling that one little complaint from Monday more and more. To advance a job level, you have to beat enemies. It should be simple. However, the battles needed to advance in a job are determined to be quality or useless based on the area you fight the enemies and what level your characters currently are. This is just goofy in a few ways.

In one way, two of my characters are constantly on the line between being overly leveled or of right standing to get job advancement. Unfortunately, since you cannot half leveling of your character levels (being out of the active party still nets a character full experience) unless you actually kill a party member and keep them dead, it means one character is constantly above the level cap for an area, and my main hero is right on the line. My hero will get a few battles that count towards his job level, and then he gains a level and is out of luck until I clear a dungeon or two and make more progress in the which time he is almost ready to level and once again falls above the level cap for the new area.

The part that is really silly on this issue is that enemies don't stay only in a given area. Right now, if I go back a few areas, I can fight some of the same enemies I currently face, but the level cap is lower and this eliminates even more party members from job advancement...despite the enemies being the same. The game says you need to slay "hard" enemies, but it is more of a matter of "you better rush through the game some so you will not go above the level cap."

It's one thing if I had a choice and could go to a "hard" area right now. However, I'm stuck where the plot allows me to go, so I currently have four party members with about five ranks in their job, a hero with three ranks, and a fighter type who has yet to gain a single job level (you always get one for free, I should add, when you beat any battle at all after selecting a new job).

This has me feeling like I'm trying to, in the game, flee a burning building, but two characters just are not going fast enough to escape the flames since they are too busy helping the other four exit safely. The most aggravating factor in this is that these two characters are not gaining new skills, and you stop gaining skills from character level gains around the point the game intends you to reach the job system for the first time. At the very least, it feels like the game should base the level cap on an area either in a different way (raise the caps) or that the cap should factor average character level and not each character separately. If I had the choice, I'd choose to lose a level or two on some characters in order to make the job system work correctly...but that is just not an option without a cheat device (which I have none of for the DS).


Malik (3/4/11)

Dragon Quest VI is a constant race, it feels like. I rush to a new area as quickly as possible, since I don't want to gain extra character levels, then grind with the lowest experience giving enemies I can find in a new area, and then quit when I gain a level on my most advanced characters. Each new area has a level cap increase of, at the most, 1 level. All of this to try to keep getting job level growth on my characters.

The problem with this is that some characters really need to advance in level, like my newly acquired slime knight, but I cannot afford to let him grind any in order to make sure my more leveled of characters never become truly unable to advance in their jobs.

Seriously, this is not how a game should be played. I mean I am facing DQ6 more like some game with a time limit than a game which is more slow paced as you take time to enjoy exploring. In fact, exploring is not an option since it means extra battles...which equal extra experience...which equals Carver never gaining a job level again. True, I imagine there will be some areas with an unlimited level cap for job growth, but I don't want to wait until the very end of the game to start getting job advancement for Carver, who has a bad habit of gaining levels too damned quickly.

In all seriousness, DQ6 is a really fun game. However, the job system is definitely a headache. I've played, now, all nine regular DQ games, and have finished all of them except DQ3 (which saw my save file vanish near the final dungeon...I just cannot bring myself to playing all of that again after such sadness of seeing my progress destroyed) and DQ6 (which I'm obviously playing now). I've also played Final Fantasy 1-10, and a good set of other RPGs with various job based systems, weird character advancement rules, or with standard non-job systems. Without a doubt, DQ6 takes the prize for having the most aggravating job system I've found. If only the game would have been good enough to tell me, from the start, that grinding for money, exploring for fun, or anything of the sort would be bad since it would push character levels too damned high, I would have appreciated the warning. I cannot think of any other time I've played a game where the motto should be "go for a low level run to enjoy the game more!"

It would probably help if there was a way to limit the experience a party member gains, but even characters out of the current party still get full experience. The only way to stop gaining levels would be to kill a character and leave them for dead while progressing the plot. This, however, just doesn't work when your main tank and your main hero are the two with excessive experience. To remove both of them, while trying to continue the game, is likely to be the only thing that could make the game more aggravating than this job system is making it to be.


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