Phantasy Star Universe
So I played one night in the PSU beta on Live. I loved the character creation. I made a chick robot. I like the setting a lot – it’s so unpretentious: you have a dedicated shopping mall/lobby, you select a mission and get to it. The unplausible yet aesthetically pleasing mix of fantasy and science fiction appeals to me.
The graphics are lame. They do the job and the design is very good, but you really do expect more on a next-gen console. The visuals are basically Dreamcast era graphics moving smoothly and somewhat smoothed over with anti-aliasing. Textures are poor and the models have nothing going for them… but on the whole, it’s a pleasing sight.
Based on that one evening’s play, I’m not going to pay the separate online fee Sega is asking for the privilege. There isn’t enough variety of stuff to do and for me, the social elements wouldn’t be enough, since I definitely wouldn’t be hanging online every day.
Lumines finally came on Live. It caused an uproar. First there was the price of 1200 points (around 14€) and then it turned out that the so-called full game is anything but. There are mere samples of most game modes, with only the time attack and online versus modes completely unlocked for your 1200 points. I could stomach that, if the basic “challenge” mode featured more than seven skins (levels), which is really pushing it. They’re going to release a lot more skins for a further 600 points, with individual game mode packs coming later, too.
I can see what they’re trying to accomplish here (besides money), and I applaud it. However, the decision to ask for a record-breaking 1200 points for the demo version (“Base”) is an unwelcome move. I’d buy the bits and pieces happily if the base pack was a lot cheaper or indeed free.
The game does seem worth of 14€, I really like the demo, but they should never have called it a “full game”. Obviously Live Marketplace is a still evolving thing, but incidents like this don’t really help people’s willingness to indulge in micropayments. And, well, 14€ isn’t exactly “micro” in any fashion.