Monday, March 24, 2008

Sharp Knives

So, I had a crazy dream the other night. In it I was forcibly put under by some crazy doctor. While I was unconscious the doctor amputated my legs at the knee and attached large knives to them. He then somehow put my feet at the bottom of the knives and connected all the nerves to what of my legs was left.

When I woke up from my drug induced slumber (which had apparently been prolonged enough for my wounds to heal) I jumped up from bed. Of course this caused the large knives where my calves should be to sever my feet, much to my dismay.

I then went about my dream trying to convince people what had happened to me, but no one would believe it.


Crisis Core

I got my hands on a copy of Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core a few days early and haven’t put it down except to sleep and bathe.

I know many people had reservations about a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, but I have to say not only was this game done remarkably well, but I think it really does enhance the story and characters in Final Fantasy VII. In other words, it’s not just a money cow for Square-enix to suckle dry. They actually put effort and time into the game, and it’s good.

How good? Really good.

First of all you play as the obscure Zack, Cloud’s mysterious friend from the Shinra Mansion in Final Fantasy VII.

The story is engaging right from the get go. I know some Final Fantasy games can have pretty slow "tutorial-feeling" starts, but this really isn’t the case in Crisis Core. From the moment I hit New Game I felt compelled to continue playing.

The story is not only engaging, but it’s also deep, intricate, complex... all the reasons people loved the plot in Final Fantasy VII. Character’s have pasts, involving pasts. You may mistake them for real people if it weren’t for magic, summons, and the fact that they’re living in a world controlled by a power mongering electric company.

When you run into well known main characters from Final Fantasy VII, it doesn’t feel like a cheap thrill. You actually interact with them and with their help parts of Final Fantasy VII which left you wondering "wtf?" become clear. I for one thought figure heads like Sephiroth for example would just be quick glimpses to keep you playing, but that really isn’t the case at all.

The voice acting is actually top notch. On par with Heavenly Sword, dare I say it. Also the musical score introduces not only many new immersing pieces but also higher quality remakes of some Final Fantasy VII favorites -- but I won’t spoil them for you. You’ll hear them.

Combat isn’t traditional RPG, which I thought was going to bother me. It’s something like Final Fantasy XII but better. Like they finally worked out all th kinks that made you not want to deal with a new battle system. It’s also real time, which makes fights pretty exciting.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my professional unbiased demeanor! The game has it’s flaws, there just aren’t many.

The combat system, while fun can be a little tiring at times. I play on a fat PSP with my girly woman-hands so sometimes the fast paced battles can leave my hands sore. This would probably be less of an issue if I played on a PSP Slim, so take that how you will.

The combat involves a neat slots type system which randomly grants you bonuses and benefits during a fight, such as no MP cost (all spells are free to cast), or invincibility (immune to damage, obviously). Problem is, as I mentioned it’s random. So you may continuously wind up with useless bonuses, or totally over powered ones depending on the type of things you’re fighting against.

Also there seems to be little rhyme or reason to leveling up. If you get a 777 in the slots, you level up. If you don’t get a 777 in the slots, you don’t. This means sometimes I might level twice or more in a fight then go an hour or more at the same level despite fighting nonstop. Which can be a little annoying if you’d like to level up and breeze through a mission or something.

On the same note, I guess it prevents power levels such as myself from exploiting the system and leveling to 99 before getting to the second boss.

I’ll keep you posted as I continue playing. There’s supposedly over 100 hours worth of game play and I’m only 10 hours in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


My Very Dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we will move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – or it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. "Not my will, but thine, O God, be done." If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death – and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved, and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and the principles I have often advocated before the people and "the name of honor that I love more than I fear death" have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on, with all these chains, to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God, and to you, that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard for me it is to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar - that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, oh Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night – amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours - always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell our mothers I call God’s blessing upon them.

O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

- Sullivan
July 14, 1861
Camp Clark, Washington

(This was Sullivan’s last letter before his death, it was never mailed.)