I played a little bit of the free open beta of Phantasy Star Universe this weekend. I was not impressed.

The music was great, but the graphics looked pretty blocky and dated. For a ‘next-gen’ title this was pretty bland. The entire user interface was convoluted and awkward… I think any console game with its own monthly subscription fee – separate from the regular Xbox Gold fee – is doomed to failure. Anyway I won’t be buying it.

Later I dusted off the ol’ PS2 and started playing the highly-rated everywhere-I-looked Okami.

After spending nearly an hour in the tutorial sandbox I said “HEY WHAT IS GOING ON HERE. I’m tired of learning how to play. I want to ACTUALLY play.” Long non-skippable cut-scenes with inane dialog and annoying ‘talking’ sound effects didn’t help either! I finally just stopped playing and decided to save Okami for a day when I have more patience. It certainly looked like a great game…maybe someday I’ll know for sure!

I had almost given up hope on playing anything new that was actually fun when I fired up Final Fantasy XII.

Final Fantasy XII is a great game. An excellent game. And this is coming from someone who really didn’t like most of the recent Final Fantasies. A new active battle system keeps things fresh, and high-quality character models and environments really blur the line between CGI cut-scenes and in-game play. Eye-rolling random battles are gone!

FFXII also has good voice-acting, which I think is a first for the series! Less reading = more playing!

All in all Final Fantasy XII is an amazing highly-polished late-generation game that really shows off the power of the PS2. It looks and sounds wonderful, the story’s not completely retarded, and it’s fun to play! I’d recommend you check it out, suckas!

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