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King's Field: The Ancient City
  opened by paleface at 04:57:23 06/25/04  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Adventure; loc=NA]
After the first 40 minutes I was planning to return it. I gathered up the receipt and put it by the door. The game was slow and sluggish with relatively featureless environments and weak looking monsters who still kicked my butt whenever I tried to tackle them with my club, so I did a lot of running away but you can't really run because you get tired after about three steps. And you can't turn around to check behind you because you turn slow. I'd just eaten a huge chili steak dinner and felt bloated and tired and a little woozy and this wasn't helping.
So I was going to go to bed and return the game at the first opportunity. For some reason though I couldn't leave it at that. Or maybe my subconscious just won't let me go to sleep before 3:00am on a Friday night. Anyway, I turned the console back on, loaded the game up and decided to hell with it, I'm gonna take down a couple of these walking venus fly-trap things or my name isn't err whatever the main character's name is.
Well, I had to beat on the first one for about five minutes (seriously) but you can imagine it was pretty satisfying when he died, even though all that happened was he sort of burped and slumped over and faded out. Turns out that this game takes some actual technique: you can't just mosey up to a monster and slug it out with them, because you just can't take very many hits. So you gotta dodge in, hit, and dodge back out. Or for instance against these big giant armored mollusk things you've got to get in behind them and stay there while they try to turn around, and womp on 'em. But you can't just swing wildly because a swing made too quickly after the last one will just clank off the target (even if it's a plant creature hehe), so you have to get a bit of a rhythm going with your strikes.
So I killed a couple venus fly traps but it took forever, so I pawned in some items I'd picked up (herbs and things) and upgraded my club to a short sword. Incidentally, how does a guy run a profitable business in a dungeon basement in a cave next to a ruined fort? Good word of mouth I suppose. Surprising too because you actually get good money for items you sell in this game, rather than the usual 50% you get in most RPGs. For instance short swords go for 180 new but you can sell him a used one for 120. Quality worksmanship pays off, let me tell you.
Now things started to pick up. After a couple more fights I was learning to time my attacks and the plant creatures started going down faster. I also got better at moving, especially using the strafe buttons as well as pumping the "run" button fast enough so that I didn't get tired. It's really more of a "speed burst" button than a run button, because it only lasts for a few steps before you have to let it charge back up, but it charges up in about a half-second. So moving (relatively) quickly is a timed pattern of bursts rather than a sustained run. Once you figure this out, and that strafing around corners while turning is faster than just turning around the corner, the game starts to feel less sluggish and a lot more involving.
After the plants I tackled some giant mollusks. As mentioned they took a different strategy to defeat since they'll charge you if you try dodging straight in and out--you gotta weave around behind them and stay in close where they can't turn on you. You also have to watch your back because there are usually a couple in the vicinity.
After them I got really ambitious and took on some slimes. Another new strategy needed, because if you try to run up on them you'll step on them and get poisoned. Getting poisoned *hurts.* I ran out of antidotes before realizing that you have to creep up on these guys slow, get right up next to them (I mean toe to err slime with them because otherwise they're too low to the floor to hit) and hit them while standing perfectly still. Watch for any other slimes because sometimes they slide up next to you.
So after a second 40 minutes or so I actually like the game now. It's pretty fun once you figure out how to time your attacks and movements. You get into a good rhythm and start to gain money, levels and items a lot more quickly. I'm level 4 now and I have some beat up old leather armor, woohoo! The music is a little jarring for ambient sound but I guess it's supposed to make you feel a little on edge, which it does.
A very different game. You really do have to give it an hour or two and make a geniune effort to learn the system before it becomes enjoyable. And don't eat a big chili steak beforehand.

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