Game: Heroes of Ruin
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix/n-Space
Describe This Game in Three Words: MMORPG in miniature
Plot Synopsis: The city of Nexus has always been under the protection of a powerful sphinx. One day, an evil curse lays the sphinx low, and now a brave band of mercenaries must venture out in search of the cause.
Up Up: Confession time...I have not to this point played any RPG that involved interacting with other people. No, not even Final Fantasy XI. My brother didn't finish high school; he got so addicted to Everquest that I've treated the online play RPG genre as if it were crack rock...with a lot more people calling you "gaylord" involved. I assume, I've never associated with crack dealers.
Still, the connectivity features of the 3DS have really served to draw me out of my shell with the occasional game of Tekken or Mario Tennis. This is the first time that I've dared to actually talk to others, though, and Heroes of Ruin was the perfect introduction for those who might have been avoiding the scene like I was.
You start off with four class choices, Vindicator (Paladin), Gunslinger (Rogue/Archer), Alchitect (Mage) and Savage (Berserker). The characters are fairly customizable, but not overwhelmingly so, enabling you to get right into the action. I chose a Gunslinger named Mr. Shooty myself.
The gameplay is similar to Diablo III, an action RPG where you control the attacks directly. Having recently lamented the way that modern console RPGs force you through an impenetrable web of instructions, it was nice to have a game that turns you loose almost immediately.
And turn you loose it does. Within moments you're shooting down barriers, rescuing kidnapped townsfolk and otherwise doing due worship to Inconsequencia, the Goddess of Sidequests. Other players join you seamlessly, and I couldn't believe how natural it became to speak into the microphone with simple instructions such as, "Dead end this way" and "Okay, this thing is drinking my milkshake. Help!"
Down, Down: The DS screen is not very big, and if you're going to try to use the sniper abilities of the gunslinger, you're going to have a rough time putting space between you and the monster. This is yet another game where the 3D feature is more or less pointless, and I've come to hate the return of finite inventories I've noticed in modern games.
Be prepared to really explore the player trade option as you burden yourself with other classes' treasures. You'll run out of room long before you get back to a place you can save or sell. At least you actually earn money killing things in this game as opposed to loading you down with a thousand little trinkets to sell instead.
Left, Right, Left, Right: It's another game that for some reason won't let you use the 3DS d-pad to move around, but maybe my hand is finally getting used to the awkwardly placed control stick. Your thumbs are more than adequate for the touch screen features, so there isn't any annoying switching between stylus and buttons.
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It's a little bothersome that the left shoulder button is your interact with command as well as your mike activator. You get used to it, but it seems very out of character for a Square Enix game.
B, A: So, I did discover another reason that I don't particularly like cooperative online play. When you've got a fussy three-year-old who won't stop calling you to come into the room to pinky swear she's getting a tricycle for her birthday, you feel like a jackass to the nice people waiting on you.
It was good to finally enter the interactive world with the rest of the gamer community. I kept it at arm's length, but I started to feel maybe it all wasn't so bad after all.
Start?: If you're already a pro at games like Diablo, then you might not get much out of Heroes of Ruin besides a chance to play something similar on another system. That being said, the 3DS and DS are systems that work incredibly well with RPGs, and Heroes of Ruin is a worthy entry in the catalog. For longtime Square fans it's definitely new and exciting, and the 3DS continues to do what it's always promised, bring players together a little more.