Copyright Adam Schlosser

Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser

Posted by Pip

F307- I Want You To Show Me

The Sins are getting to be celebrities around this island! I mean, if you can't get the people to actually like you, a bit of infamy is the next best thing. A few sassy photos for the paparazzi and the Sins will rule these simple country bumpkins!

Lust looks good as a succubus. She looks good as anything, but some fancy wings suit her.

Quick Critique: Disgaea 4 (Vita)

Disgaea 4 represents some rather nice steps forward in the series's gameplay but continues D3's huge leaps back in terms of characters and the quality of the writing. Almost the entire cast is completely unlikable, and not in the Disgaea 1 they're likable because they're jerks kind of way. The D4 cast is almost completely made up of one-note characters that shove their singular personalities in your face in every single cutscene. They're dumb even compared to Disgaea's normal cast's lack of intelligence and even the characters that have fun gimmicks have them driven into the ground by the awful writing. Lines that could have been a single sentence turn into paragraphs or are repeated until any lingering glimmer of humor is squeezed out of them. A character will make a joke that's worth a chuckle but then another one will then explain the joke, followed by a third character repeating both the joke and the explanation. It's a shame because the underlying hints of the story are interesting. The previous games have been about Netherworlds with tyrant overlords, but D4 has an actual government so it's a Disgaea take on elections, the media, and campaigning, so that could have been really fun and then it introduces a character that could have been a threat in a way none of the Overlords have been, but squanders the character and scenario completely.
In terms of gameplay, D4 comes to a weird middle ground in its systems. The old systems are smoother and much nicer than in the early games but the new systems are messes of bad UI and menus. You can divide your crew into groups to bring into battle but if somebody new joins you can only add them to the bottom of the list, so you have to remove everybody from the group, put the new character where you want them, and then add everybody back in. You can rearrange skills or hide them, but only for skills you've bought not naturally learned, so my character has a bunch of useless skills I'll never use at the top of her menu and everything I want is at the bottom. When you do the post-game content, it makes some characters unavailable, which messes up your order and layouts even when you go back to the normal game. The base has a base within a base so you have to hop between them to speak to the specific person that control each feature's UI rather than just doing it all from a single menu. The mini-base is a mess of UI that's far too big for the Vita's screen and it's a pain to move things around, so I ignored it for the majority of the game.
There's a much appreciated lesser reliance on grinding in the story mode. It's still 90% of the game's run time, but the story mode is balanced much better and focuses more on strategy than pure levels through its use of the Geo Panels and stage layouts. It would be nice if stages had more objectives than just "kill everything", though. Holding a position, running away, protecting another character, or something else that would make the game about more than just stats. There don't have to be a lot of them, just one per chapter to break up the flow. Outside of the Geo Panels, there's nothing to encourage you to try new tactics and my method of playing the game by just picking two characters and over-leveling them got me through the story, the bonus missions, and all the post-game content that wouldn't have required hours of grinding to get the item drops for some bonus maps. Also, putting a large chunk of post-game content behind a wall that requires hours of grinding to get the item drops for some bonus maps is a really poor decision and became the point where I dropped out. The new systems are all about grinding too. You now purchase most of your skills with Mana, so you can pick and choose where you want to focus. It's not a big change compared to just leveling but it's enough of a change to be interesting. However, the costs quickly become super expensive so it's just another thing to grind for. The cheat shop shows up as well, but it's severely limited so it's mainly just good for raising enemy levels and choosing where you want your rewards focused without having to go through the Senate.
D4 is better than most Disgaea games, but just as with every one of them, it could be great if they gutted the vast majority of the features and stopped confusing a long running time due to grinding for fun or interesting gameplay. Unfortunately, the improvements to the systems are overshadowed by the awful characters, story, and writing so it's hard to recommend this one.

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