Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tales of the Abyss

Every Friday, several members of CAINE including myself get together and play Tales of the Abyss.  We just started a few weeks ago, and we only play on Fridays (except one failed attempt at trollage on a Saturday).

Tales of the Abyss (or really, the Tales series) is something that the world needs more of: Offline Cooperative Role Playing Games.  It's so fun to get together with friends and beat the shit out of some enemies.  The game is playable single player, but I can't imagine having to manage all that stuff by myself, there's just so much to manage.  In multiplayer everyone controls one of the characters and you just roll.  You can coordinate way better, there's laughs, WTF moments, and other fun.

I started out playing Luke, since I was subbing in for Citrus who missed a couple of weekends.  During this time I spammed the shit out of Fang Blade, which is easily Luke's most usable arte since you can combo into it from basic attacks.  However, I could never get the hang of the game's guarding mechanic (press X to guard, time it right for shorter guard stun).  I did the usual thing and blamed the party's healer whenever I died.

Then we got the bow-wielding character, Natalia.  I had been telling everyone the entire time that I was much better at ranged support than melee, and with Natalia's arrival I finally had a character to play.  I can sit back halfway across the battlefield and spam arrows to my heart's content.  She also has some healing spells and some buffs and debuffs, so I play her as more of a healer with a bow rather than a bow wielder that can also heal.  I pretty much always hover near full TP.

Also, when we got to Cheesedonia, which is what we've taken to calling Chesedonia, we gave a bunch of shit to Din.  After a while of giving shit to Din, we decided to get a bow (and some other stuff) and paid the best amount we could.  I got the best possible bow I could get at the time, the Hunter's Bow, which raised my physical attack by about 300.  So until everyone else catches up in weaponry I'm just pwning things from the backline.  I also manage to get the final killing blow a fair amount of the time, so a good portion of the battles end with Natalia in the middle of the screen saying "Oh my, is it over already?"

The only issue with Abyss is the, well, abysmal load times on the world map.  Seriously.  If we're in a dungeon or in a town, everything loads nice and quickly, but we have to wait forever if it's the world map.  To try and alleviate this I got there early last Friday and installed the game to my PS2's hard drive.  It worked, the world map load times were nonexistant, but we discovered that the game randomly freezes.  After getting home I did my resarch and enabled Mode 1 (and changed the HDD access speed in ToxicOS to MDMA0 as per a suggestion on a compatibility list).  I haven't yet tested this out, but I guess I should.

Also, playing a four player cooperative RPG on a PS2 means using a multitap, which was the entire reason why I got called in.  My multitap is basically living over at CAINE house until we beat the game.  I'm also bringing two controllers including my wireless controller.  For our room setup, three wired controllers and one wireless actually works pretty well.

The only other offline RPGs with coop that I can think of right now are Secret of Mana (even on Virtual Console!) and Final Fantasy 4 (select character slots can be changed to the second player, at least on the PSX version).  Champions of Norrath doesn't count quite as much since it's based off of an MMORPG as opposed to being originally designed for offline play, but it exists.