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It's been a while, hasn't it? As per usual.

This time, I'm going back to a fandom that I actually participated in over a decade ago. So be warned, you're going to see a lot of older writing on here, mostly. And I'm also going to try to go into these fics with a more open mind rather than a 'omg, grate story, writmoarplz!' phase. So you may see 'unpopular opinion' type of thing depending on the author. And I'm also going to try to post 'fic that I liked, fic that's bad fic' type of thing, aka, I try to find a good fic in my opinion and not rant/rave on just badfics.

As a warning, I'm a Tsuzuki/Hisoka shipper, so the majority of these fics are going to be on that pairing.

Let's start on a positive note! I found this fic totally by accident, and I am so glad of that accident too! And how can I resist a seme!Hisoka piece?

Series: Yami no Matsuei
Title: Worker's Compensation
Author: ladysisyphus
Genre: PwP (Is that it's own genre!?)/angst
Rating: AO
Warnings: Very PwPish, though technically has a case, some angst, seme!Hisoka
Couple (if applicable): Hisoka/Tsuzuki

Plot: 9/10 - Um, there's kind of no plot to this, so I'm not going to score here on plot, but more the idea. Why the fuck out of the many YnM fics I've read, barely ANY of them involve demons (Save the one from the Devil's Trill Arc), more so, in this case, an incubus!? It's like the perfect set up for some perfect PwP fic! This not only tickled my 'holy shit, why didn't anyone think of this till now!?' side, but it also tickled my Shin Megami Tensei/Persona side, as those games involve demons and yes, you can get a incubus as a demon in both series. This author also did write for Persona so... >.>

Basically, this story has the perfect setup for this series that you can write a PwP fic on it easily. And you'd think you wouldn't find any character building or angst and just get porn? Think again. Well, not so much character building, but angst... There's quite a bit of understated angst in this fic along with a ton of sexual tension. And it all basically boils to a head due to the case.

Writing: 10/10 - The writing to this piece? Brilliant. That's all I could say. You can feel the sexual tension from the beginning of this fic right to the very end. There's a lot of telling in this fic, which would probably be the only nitpick I have about it. But you can still feel the emotions and the angst behind it through the character's actions.

Characterization: 8/10 - This fic manages to keep Tsuzuki and Hisoka in character fairly well. Now granted, there's not a lot of character building here, and the story doesn't cover the typical 'fandom' heavy issues, like Muraki, the 'famous night', etc etc. It... really doesn't need to, in the case of the story. It does have angst in it that you typically find, but it meshes so damn well with this fic, and it's just the right amount of angst you'll be satisfied with. It also leaves on a 'yeah, we have to talk' note, but in a positive kind of light.

Negativities: None, unless you don't care much for PwP fics in general

Summary: A case goes... in a completely unexpected direction. And brings hidden supressed tensions to a boil.

Overall: 9/10 - Perfect fic to read if you want a one shot with sweet porn with a dash of angst.
starzafandomblog: (Sailor Saturn!)
Yay! And I bring fic! Yami no Matsuei fic! Like what the flipping hell!?

Title: Waiting
Rating: T and E
Paring: Hisoka/Tsuzuki
Genre: Angst/romance
Warnings: Flangst (fluff/angst), spoilers up to the Kyoto Arc, minor references to Tsuzuki's Shikigami
Summary: There are times where just saying 'I love you' isn't enough...
Comments: This fic is dedicated to both [ profile] katsue_fox and [ profile] rinoared.

You can read the comments in the links, though the Ao3 version is the 'real' version for this story. Why did I write this? Because I made a lot of promises way back before WoW sucked my life away from fandom.

As always, thanks to [ profile] katsue_fox for the quick beta read and for being so encouraging. It's only due to her encouragement that this fic is even being posted.

Also, I strongly advise reading the Ao3 fic over the one, because the flow is better and the lemon is really important to the overall tone of the story. And because the story is so long, I'm just going to leave links up to go to them!

Waiting T rated version

Waiting E rated version
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I really wish I had involved myself in the Persona 4 fandom really, because this fandom produces a lot of good fics, even to this day. Granted, I haven't gotten to the section of P4, but most fanfics I read on badbadbathhouse, and Ao3 have all been for the most part good. I can't really find my prefered pairing, but I can settle with fandoms preferred pairing.

This next story not only explores the possibility of a female protagonist, but also a protagonist who actually is really a blank slate.

Series: Persona 4: Golden
Title: Still Waters
Author: futuresoon
Genre: General/angst
Rating: AO
Warnings: Teenage sex, genderswapped MC, Yuri implications, based on P4G
Couple (if applicable): F!Souji/Yousuke, multiple one sided pairings with F!Souji

Plot: 9/10 - While the plot is basically the same with a gender swapped MC, it explores something new that the game kinda doesn't do, which is the MC is a blank state, in a literal sense. Meaning all those times she was doing the social links? It wasn't because she wanted to make friends, but because of the 'mission' she was sent to do. In fact, she herself doesn't even know what she wants and doesn't want. It was an interesting concept to add in along with the gender bending.

Just be warned, this is based on P4G, so there will be spoilers for the new characters and some new social links.

Writing: 9/10 - Nothing wrong here, though be warned, it is written in second person and I know that's not everyone's cup of tea when it comes to PoVs. But it works extremely well in this story.

Characterization: 9/10 - Pretty much everyone is in character here. It was interesting to see the different reactions from the characters. I only wish we had seen more of the other social links, we only really see Kou and Ai's social links along with the main cast.

Negativities: None unless you don't like genderswapped MC fic

Summary: Yui Narukami isn't exactly your normal teenage girl. But she discovers a role that she is well suited for.

Overall: 9/10 Definitely worth a read if you wanted to see the P4 story from a female blank slate perspective.
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And I realized I haven't reviewed a single Persona 4 fanfic yet! This fandom can produce a lot of twisted shit, lemme tell you. A lot of it is, thank god, good. I'm pretty open minded with pairings in general, even though I still really like the bromance of the main character and Yosuke rather than being for each other. But I guess the game throws too much hintings (You have to purposely go for it, they're still there though, mostly for the lulz) that I caved in and read for them. Didn't regret it, thankfully.

But then I saw the main pairing for this fic and I said 'fuck it, let's read it anyways!' Now, I've been reading fanfiction for close to two decades. I've never been disturbed by anything I've read, even the worst fanfiction I've gotten through fine. That ended when I read this monster fic.

Please be warned, I do spoil the game here, so if you haven't played the game yet, go do so right now, because Persona 4 is probably one of the best RPGs you'll ever play.

Series: Persona 4
Title: Sympathy Crime
Edit: For some reason the fic disappeared on Ao3. Hum, not a good sign. But you can still find the fic here.

Author: Sodomquake
Genre: Darkfic, drama/angst
Rating: AO
Warnings: Boarderlining non-con, graphic violence, mindfuckage, underage sex with a minor
Couple (if applicable): Adachi/Yosuke (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!), Souji(MC)/Yosuke

Plot: 10/10 - This is... probably one of the most disturbing fanfics I've ever read. But in the good way. I... really cannot say what goes on without spoiling the fuck out of it, but basically, Adachi and Yosuke end up in a relationship that is beyond unhealthy and even boarderline consenual, not to mention, an underage minor sleeping with an adult. There is tons of mindfuck moments, moments where you laugh, moments where you cry, moments where you feel so hurt that you have to take a break because of it all. I mean, the fic starts off pretty normal, with Yosuke feeling a little down because Souji is juggling social links up the bumhole, Adachi being a sick-fuck, wants to mess with the team, and a plan forms. It then... just spirals out of control from there.

The thing of it is that it does so so naturally and if you didn't already hate Adachi after you find out about him, you will hate him a hell of a lot more here. What's worse, is when you start to feel sympathy for Adachi at some parts later on and you feel like your mind is about to explode because you're supposed to be angry as fuck at him and... Jesus...

This fic is sort of AU to the game, but it could actually fit very well in the game and it doesn't derive too much from the game's general plot in general.

Writing: 10/10 - Nothing wrong with this fic here. I love how the fic changes to first person and we get to see what Adachi is thinking, because holy shit, I wanted to stab him many times with a meat cleaver. But it also feels natural, and the reader needs to know what Adachi is thinking and plotting. And then after you find out what he's plotting... I think I had my stomach twist in knots a few times because of it.

Overall, there's like nothing wrong with it at all.

Characterization: 10/10 - The characters feel like themselves from the game. I know Adachi was mentally disturbed after finding out he's the 'real' culprit of the murder case, but this story takes it to another level. And it feels like something Adachi would do, considering how bitter he is at life in general, and he probably hates the Investigation Team a hell of a lot because they were "spoiling his fun". What better way to get back at him than this?

Yosuke here... man, he is thrown through the angst wagon and beyond here. The way he falls, and how everything just spirals out of control for him... Jesus. And then we have Souji trying to play the adult, only to have that break down eventually, and it's just... so heartbreaking. Especially seeing his best friend rapidly change and how he just can't handle it...

I really can't say anymore without spoiling it, so I'll leave it at that.

Negativities: LOTS OF MINDFUCK!, non-con with a minor, dumptrucks full of angst
Summary: Yosuke starts feeling depressed, it's also not helping that his best friend keeps blowing him off. Adachi notices, plots, and takes complete advantage of it...
Overall: 10/10 - If you can stomach the mindfuckery and handle the warnings, this is a MUST READ fic. Just.... don't read this story in one sitting.
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Okay, we're back with a full review of this game. Now take this with a grain of salt. I leveled a CON/WHM with THM/BLM secondary, because I played THM in 1.0, so it was starting out fairly high level.

Title: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Rating: T, rating changes in game

Graphics: 7/10 - I'm just gonna repeat what I said under beta impressions: Probably the most beautiful game I've ever played. There's really nothing else to say about this, because it's the god to honest truth. It's also a number on graphic cards, because it basically means you need a high end graphic card to play this game.

Also, I discovered, this game doesn't have very good optionization. Meaning when you turn down something, you experience no increase or decrease in FPS and you barely notice the difference in game on top of it. This basically forces you to have a high end computer.

Plot: 7/10 - This gets a little bit of a lower score because while it does feel like Final Fantasy, it's really predictable. And granted, while the other jobs have their own little subplot, the two I did were.... okay. I wasn't really 'wowed' at the end of the story, because it basically continues into your relic weapon quest, and at that point I stopped. Why? Because the part I stopped at, to me, was where the credits rolled and that's it for me.

Music/sound: 9/10 - Again, just gonna repat what I said before: Familiar themes and new themes. I liked the original soundtrack to the game, and I like the newer music, especially the battle theme. And of course, epic fucking Chocobo music when you ride one. You're just riding a chocobo, but they manage to make it sound epic. :D

The one flaw is that the music sometimes doesn't play in certain zones, but I'm guessing that's a bug.

Gameplay: This is divided into 6 sub-categories since MMOs are different.

Combat 5/10 - The combat is slow, period. When you play a game with mechanics that require you to get out of crap fast, the last thing you want is slow combat. It doesn't help the global cooldown is 2.5 seconds. Also, instant spells/skills aren't exactly instant. Basically, you'll be mashing buttons, praying that your skill fires off.

There is some lag between special attacks firing off and movement too. I'm gonna leave this here, because this thread demostrates the problem far better than I can.

Dungeons start out easy and then start to get harder. On top of the combat and it's problems, it really makes the game stressful on tanks and healers. Which is a big no-no. Mechanics are basic if you raided in WoW, but due to the slow combat and the problems highlighted in the thread, it makes the game a lot more difficult than it should be.

Crafting 6/10 - Crafting is beyond boring and tedious, it feels like a class all on it's own, but not very fun, time consuming, and not very rewarding in the end. Granted, I did only get 28 of alchemy up, but it felt like a chore and it didn't help I was always having to stop and go gathering. Not to mention, a lot of mats you need are cross class. For example, you'll be leveling weaving and opps, you now need leather for something. So it's either level up leatherworking or go buy stuff.

Did I mention money is a problem in the game? Yes, money is easy to come by while leveling, but when you have a 50 and those repair bills and teleport bills start to pile up, you'll find your money going down the drain.

PvE (Questing, exploring) 5/10 - Again, your options for leveling are as follows:

1. Killing monsters. Tedious, I don't advice doing it unless you're farming for something.
2. Killing monsters via your class 'hunt' quest. You get bonus exp for killing a certain amount and the game will put something over a monster's head if you need to kill it if you're the right class.
3. Story quest. You need to progress through the 'main' story regardless, so always keep up to date on this. It unlocks different things in the game as well, so you have to do it.
4. Class Quests. EVERY class has class quests, which all have their own story. While they can be tedious at times, the story makes up for it.
5. Regular Quests. There's NPCs all over the place that offer quests. You can also skip them and come back to them with another class later, which I think is good.
6. Leves. This was the main method of leveling in 1.0, but now, it's basically optional. I only really did them when I felt myself getting behind. A good method of catch up if you run out of regular quests!
7. Fate. This is like Guild Wars 2 random events. Basically, random events happen around the world and the objective is different for every one, like collect items and give to a NPC, kill a boss mob, kill an army of invading mobs, etc etc. Nice way to pick up some quick exp while going to different places.
8. Duty Finder/Dungeon Finder. I have to say I'm not impressed with this so far, but it makes for really easy and quick exp. They don't even have to be dungeons, it could be a quick monster survival type of deal or just killing. Hoping the later Dungeons get harder or a 'heroic' mode for those of us who like challenges.
9. Exploration. Like WoW and most games, you find a new area, you get some exp. It's minor, but it does encourage to look and explore the entire map.

So why did I lower this? Because after you hit 50 on your main and want to level another class, your choices suddenly become very limited. Heck, you'll start to see that in your 40's, when your story requires you to be a certain level and you suddenly are out of quests and leve allowances. Your only options are doing dungeons, Fates, or grinding on mobs. And lemme say, the dungeons in this game are very unforgiving. Unforgiving dungeons + PuGs = terrible combination

The game has a duty finder, or basically a system that will auto sort you into a group automatically. The main dungeons consist of 4 people. Later, you'll see 8 man groups too. The queue times for dps are awful, ranging from 30 minutes to well over a hour. And later on down the line, especially the level 50 dungeons, Square decided to make limits on how many instanced dungeons can be open. So that means you can have a group of 4 actual people queueing up, but waiting over a hour because there's too many people queueing for this place. Did I also mention this is the best dungeon to farm end game tomes?

The bosses in this game are very unforgiving, and like I said with the combat system, you really don't want to mix unforgiving mechanics with pick-up groups. Story dungeons should be easier and there needs to be less trash in them, especially since you're on a time limit. Yep, dungeons in this game have a time limit, and while I've never failed to meet a time limit (I did come close in Cutter's, had a minute left), it's beyond stupid to have one. Raids even have one, which blows my mind!

PvP NA - No pvp yet, but if the combat doesn't improve, I don't see pvp happening in this game.

End game (50 only content) N/A - I'm not going to score end game because I didn't try hardmodes or the raids, but I will say farming tomes is not what I want to do. I did enough of that crap in wow, I really don't want to do it again on top of people being nasty in the duty finder, which I'll get to below.

Misc (Latency. bugs, configuration, community) 2/10 - Let me say this game had one of the worst launches I've ever seen. This includes vanilla WoW. The servers were so boggled down, that it fucked with the duty finder the first few days, mostly because everyone was trying to do the story quest and it required you to use the duty finder (Which is a VERY BIG NO NO! Lesson: Don't do a single player story mode alongside something like a Looking for Dungeon type feature). Then we had limited log ins and the dreaded 1017 issues. Basically, for a time, Square limited how many people could get onto a server. The only problem is there was no active working queue finder (Some people say the queue could only support 250 people at a time, who knows). So the only way to get into the game was spamming the 0 key on your number pad. What freaking game does NOT have a queue system in place!?

Now this was cleared up after 2-3 weeks, but it's still unacceptable. Not to mention Fates like Odin and Behemut would crash servers because everyone and their mom would go to them.

The community in this game is probably the worst I've ever seen it, coming close to how people are in LFR in WoW. From people yelling and screaming at each other and calling people newbs (Don't people realize that most people playing this freaking game are new at it!?) from racist and disgusting remarks in shout chat to people screaming and yelling at people to skip the cutscenes in a story dungeon... Not to mention gold spammers on top of it. And if you say one negative thing about the game, people will call for your head to be chopped off on top of it...

This does not bode well for this game.

Final Score 4.5/10 - Not off to a very smooth start at all.

Overall: 6.8/10 - An average MMO that's in a very rocky place and greatly hindered by it's slow combat and bad community. If you like pretty MMOs and your machine can handle it, try it out. Though imo, there's better options out there that won't cost you 15 bucks a month.
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Beta impressions. It is much improved compared to 1.0. But to be quite honest, that's not saying much, since 1.0 was a huge pile of poop.

For those who don't know the story, a couple of years ago, FFXIV was released, and it was one of the worst MMOs I've played at the time, and the biggest flop in the MMO genre ever. The game was unplayable, the combat was delayed, you had a system that basically forces you at a certain point that you cannot gain exp because you played too much, as a PAY TO PLAY game. But the game was pretty!

Needless to say, the entire team of the original game was fired and taken off. Square/Enix basically came out and said 'We done fucked up!' and bam, a rerelease of the game. The good news? It feels like a FF game now, and the gameplay is much improved. The bad news? There's so many games out there now that are just, well, better, and some are F2P.

I might as well go through it since I can't even log onto the beta atm, so... Also, there's no spoilers for the plot. Most of this info can be found on other websites too.

Title: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Rating: T, rating changes in game

Graphics: 9/10 - Probably the most beautiful game I've ever played. There's really nothing else to say about this, because it's the god to honest truth. It's also a number on graphic cards, because it basically means you need a high end graphic card to play this game. Which means you need a high end computer to play.

Plot: 8/10 - Now this feels like Final Fantasy. From the opening to where you finally have control of your character, you feel like you're in a Final Fantasy world. This is what the game should've been at the start.

You can start in the three familiar towns (Which you can choose to start where) and while some of them got a bit of a facelift, if you played in 1.0, they're easily regonizable.

I won't spoil the story (And tbh, I think the story so far is more interesting than the story in SW: TOR), but even then, I think the story is different depending on where you start. In 1.0, I started in Ul'dah, and I chose to start there again. I can say I'm glad I made that choice.

You'll also see the staples of the FF series along the way, like chocobos and Moggles deliver your mail. And for older fans... you'll see! So it does have a Final Fantasy theme to it.

Music/sound: 9/10 - Familiar themes and new themes. I liked the original soundtrack to the game, and I like the newer music, especially the battle theme. And of course, epic fucking Chocobo music when you ride one. You're just riding a chocobo, but they manage to make it sound epic. :D

The one flaw is that the music sometimes doesn't play in certain zones, but I'm guessing that's a bug.

Gameplay: This is divided into 6 sub-categories since MMOs are different.

Combat 7/10 - The combat... is something to be desired. It's boring, to put it mildly. It doesn't feel as fluid and responsive as WoW's combat system, and again, like some other games, it looks like I've dodged something, and I still get hit with it regardless. It's not as terrible as SW: TOR (Which felt I was fighting with the controls 90% of the damn time!), but... it's just not as good as WoW's.

Like 1.0, you can switch to a different class, which makes having alts pointless. I think this is a good thing, cause if you're in need of something and someone in your group leveled it up, bam, switch, and the group can go!

I haven't played all the classes, but the 2 classes (Thaumaturge and Conjurer) I really played much of were about the same when I played them deep into 1.0. So thankfully, I didn't have to relearn a whole class. If you were a really early 1.0 player, Thaum might be a bit different, it plays more like a Black Mage.

I heard later on, the starter classes branch out into more Final Fantasy-ish classes like Black Mage, White Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, etc etc. I haven't gotten that far, my highest level was 31 back in 1.0.

Crafting 7/10 - Crafting is still crap, but much more improved than 1.0. You basically gather the mats or buy them, change your 'class' to your desired crafter, and go for it. You also have the chance to make the item much better than if you made it the normal way, but I have no idea about it, since I didn't play with the crafting system too much.

You can also level crafting the normal way or through leves, which most people recommend anyways. I'll talk about leves in the pve section.

I didn't work on any gathering professions this time around, so no comment on that yet.

PvE (Questing, exploring) 9/10 - I have to say, this is greatly improved from the original. To break it down, you can gain exp by:

1. Killing monsters. Tedious, I don't advice doing it unless you're farming for something.
2. Killing monsters via your class 'hunt' quest. You get bonus exp for killing a certain amount and the game will put something over a monster's head if you need to kill it if you're the right class.
3. Story quest. You need to progress through the 'main' story regardless, so always keep up to date on this. It unlocks different things in the game as well, so you have to do it.
4. Class Quests. EVERY class has class quests, which all have their own story. While they can be tedious at times, the story makes up for it.
5. Regular Quests. There's NPCs all over the place that offer quests. You can also skip them and come back to them with another class later, which I think is good.
6. Leves. This was the main method of leveling in 1.0, but now, it's basically optional. I only really did them when I felt myself getting behind. A good method of catch up if you run out of regular quests!
7. Fate. This is like Guild Wars 2 random events. Basically, random events happen around the world and the objective is different for every one, like collect items and give to a NPC, kill a boss mob, kill an army of invading mobs, etc etc. Nice way to pick up some quick exp while going to different places.
8. Duty Finder/Dungeon Finder. I have to say I'm not impressed with this so far, but it makes for really easy and quick exp. They don't even have to be dungeons, it could be a quick monster survival type of deal or just killing. Hoping the later Dungeons get harder or a 'heroic' mode for those of us who like challenges.
9. Exploration. Like WoW and most games, you find a new area, you get some exp. It's minor, but it does encourage to look and explore the entire map.

So there's a LOT of ways to get exp in this game, and you don't run out of things to do. There are a few annoying things like having to hand in items to the NPCs, and if it's more than 1, it's really annoying.

You also have an inventory for gear and inventory for your items and crafting crap, which is nice and gives you plenty of space. Of course, hoarders like me will most likely run out of room regardless. >.>

The 'flight path' is chocobos, and yes, you do ride on an airship too at some point, which are staples to FF games. However, I don't see a need for the chocobo paths if you own a mount. Currently, I could not ride my Goodbue mount due to an error/bug, so I can't really say.

Overall, the PvE is fun and you'll always have something to do.

PvP NA - I haven't played any PvP games and am not sure if PvP will be put in the game!

End game (50 only content) N/A - The beta only went up to level 20, so no clue on end game.

Misc (Latency. bugs, configuration, community) N/A - I'm not giving a score since it's still a beta, but I'm greatly disappointed at Square/Enix. Mostly for their lack of communication. There's a serious bug going out on some characters, who are stuck in the game, and when a player tries to log that character, they cannot log in. And there's no word from Square/Enix about it at all. Even a 'We're working on the issue' would be better than nothing.

Also, who thought that having very few NA servers and an overabudance of Japanese servers was good? Believe it or not, Final Fantasy is popular in the US and Canada. The fact that EVERY SINGLE NA server was locked for new characters is not a good sign. So people who want to play with their friends? Nope, not happening! This wouldn't be an issue if beta stuff wasn't going over to live play, but it is. I think it's a mistake to do, but it's not my choice, so meh... I think this was a stupid move and if the servers couldn't handle the load, you should have queues. I think queues would be better than not being able to play at all!

Also, who thought that not having any sort of fucking queue system was a good idea? Because IT IS NOT! Hence why I'm not playing, my server is full and there's no queue system. And I'm not about to sit around and keep hitting refresh.

The UI seems kind of sloppy with a lot of buttons on one side. Granted, this game is designed around to accomadate the PS3 console, but still. I didn't fiddle with the UI too much, so hopefully you can change it to how you want it to be.

Hopefully, things get figured out within the week.

Final Score 7.6/10 - Above average, but if I had to factor in the last part, this score would be much lower!

Overall: 8.4/10 - A game you should try, especially if you're a Final Fantasy fan. A good re-impression that has some problems here and there. Hopefully, Square/Enix will fix them before launch. If you're a Final Fantasy fan and don't get plagued by the game-breaking bugs currently in this build, give it a try. I'd recommend trying it out for the first month and seeing if it's for you.
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Now we bring the pain! Also, High School AUs, more so in a fandom where all the characters are above the age of 18, is even worse. This is no exception.

Also, I think this fic physically hurt me, to the point where I can't even spell right anymore. I think this fanfic outtops that Watari/Tatsumi fic I read so long ago.

Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: Some Where I Belong
Author: Ballerama-Beauty
Genre: Melodrama Angst/Romance
Rating: T, though it should get a M rating for language
Warnings: High School AU (This has it's own warning now!), verbal abuse, WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE ADULTS!?, violence, suicide, rape, WHERE ARE THE FUCKING ADULTS!?, this town needs to be wiped off the face of the earth
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud, Zack/Aerith, Sephiroth/Angeal/Genesis, Vincent/Yazoo

Plot: 1/10 - Uh, what plot? A bunch of overdramatic angst in a teeny bop world. But it's to the point where it isn't even realistic!

Again, I cannot stress this enough: WHERE. THE. FUCK. ARE. THE. ADULTS!? No seriously, we got people being beat to a BLOODY mess, and not one teacher around!? And none of the teachers THINK about calling the parents of the kids involved OR calling the police!? And the people fighting aren't even suspended!? You know, back when I went to school, if kids fought like this, they'd be lucky to not only be expelled, but put in Juvinile Detention! This doesn't happen until much later in the story, and it only happens to ONE person instead of everyone involved!

Also, apparently, NO ONE calls the houses of any of the families in these things, because they would find out that an 18 year old is basically acting like the care-giver of 4 younger siblings. And the excuse? 'Well, the neighbors are afraid Sephiroth will kill them!' Maybe Sephiroth killed the police long before, because at least that would make sense why they are absent in this story!

Basically, Cloud angsts like a monkey and it's Zack's job to play hero. Oh, and everyone apparent drank the 'asshole' koolaid, because everyone acts like a total fucking prick, even people who are supposed to be friends. There's suicide attempts, which are always lovely. Oh, and there's violence and rape, ain't that nice to add to the blender of fuckness?

Look, I know people can be prejudice assholes, but 90% of everyone!? I don't think so. Even worse is that Zack's supposed 'friends' turn against him in a heartbeat. And the suicide attempts? Urgh...

Also, if you played a drinking game, where every time someone says 'Bitch' in this story, you take one shot, you'd probably be dead of acholol poisoning before getting to chapter 3. ~_~;;;;;

Also, the so called doctor that comes in and talks to Cloud. Holy fucking shit, you DO NOT tell someone who is suicidal that it is their own fucking fault. I'm not a fucking doctor and even I know that! I don't care if you were being "more analytical", you do NOT tell someone who wants to kill themselves to suck it up, you're creating all these problems! WHY did they let him out of the hospital??? HOW could they let him out!? He's a fucking minor and nobody has a clue that something serious is going on here!?

And then we got the 'child protection' coming in and playing the 'religion' card. ~_~;;;; Also, instead of taking everyone into their care, they only take ONE of them away. Are you for fucking real!? You couldn't see the kid with the scars RIGHT ON HIS FACE needs the help!?

This is just... really bad. Bad doesn't even begin to describe this turd of a fic.

Writing: 4/10 - Believe it or not, the writing itself isn't too terribly bad. There's a few big paragraphs that should've been chopped up and some dialogue that should've been divided up into other paragraphs, but other than that, the writing isn't half bad.

The flashbacks can be really annoying since it's basically copy/pasted from where it originally happened most of the time.

So it's not terrible, it's readable. But I wouldn't recommend anyone reading it, even if it was all in chicken scratch!

Characterization: 0/10 - Probably the first fanfic where I give NO points to characterization. NONE of the characters are in character at freaking all. You can change EVERY name in this story to something else and not have any idea that this was a FF7 fic at one point.

Cloud is annoying, period. He started out as a loner in the beginning and then became an emo whiny clingy idiot. If adults actually existed in this universe, he would've gotten the help he needed a while ago, and maybe Zack and Cloud could've had a more normal relationship. But nope, and it doesn't help that Zack is really confused and Cloud basically guilt trips/threatens Zack into liking him and giving him a chance. It also doesn't help that he has an obsessive bully following Cloud and his 'brothers' around and beating the shit out of them. Oh, and a stalker rapist, cause this story didn't have enough angst as it is with the bullying and wanting to kill himself!

Like I said above, Cloud eventually goes into a hospital, but instead of getting help, he's even MORE verbally abused. I mean, is the 'prick koolaid' in the water that these assholes drink!?

Also, Zack acts like a real asshole too. I mean, Cloud is in the hospital, and he doesn't visit because 'I'm busy with school and sports'. Are you fucking shitting me!? Even if it was a friend of mine who was in the hospital, I'd drop all my shit in a heartbeat and go to the fucking hospital and see them! Hell, I think Canon!Zack would have a spaz attack and go see Cloud, even if all he had gotten was a fucking paper cut, cause that's who Zack is!

And of course, what bad yaoi fanfic would it be without indirect female bashing? I mean, really? Aerith isn't the type of girl to be mean, period. I don't even think she has a mean bone in her body. If she knew Zack and Cloud hooked up, she'd ask for Zack for pictures and probably be their official fangirl. This is the SAME girl who convinced Cloud to cross-dress, for christ's sake!

In fact, NONE of the original cast members are even remotely friendly to Cloud. Which again, WHY write Final Fantasy 7 fanfiction when you can't even adher to even having these characters acting like their canon parts!? Even in AUs, most of the time, the characters retain their core personalities to some degree. WHY is Rufus stalking Vincent, I don't even get it!

AND STOP INCLUDING SQUALL NOT FUCKING LEON IN YOUR FANFICS! God, every fucking time I see Squall being called 'Leon' in fanfics, I want to take my copy of Kingdom Hearts and shove it up Square's ass.

Negativities: Bad fanfic, rape, violence, bullying, no sane adults, fanfic will make your brain leak out your ears.
Summary: Cloud's life sucks. Can Zack help him out? Not in this story!
Overall: 1.6/10 - One of the worst fanfics I've read in my entire life. I mean, this takes the cake, folks. I can deal with Mary Sues, I can deal with bad grammar and spelling, I can deal with OOC to a point. What I can't deal with is all the worst kind of angst plot devices, with a dash of yaoi, thrown all together into a blender alongside a mountain's worth of cow chips. If you want your dose of stupid forever, read this fic. Otherwise, do your brain a favor and stay FAR away from it.
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Thanks to my butthead friends for getting me back on this craz train again! I bring good fic, but.... It's a mixed bag, at least for me.

Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: Shards of Glass
Author: Soranokumo
Genre: General/Drama/Psychological
Rating: MA
Warnings: Violence, Dark, Psychological mindfuck, lemon and lime content, fanpoodle japanese (Seriously wtf), walking the fine line of non-con, game canon only
Couple (if applicable): Sephiroth/Cloud, Zack/Cloud, Vincent/Cloud, Rufus/Cloud, one sided Cloud/Tifa, faint Cloud/Aerith references (Yeah, Cloud kinda gets around in this fic. X_x)

Plot: 8/10 - The summary managed to get my attention, mostly because I love Zack fics. Also note, this goes by game canon only, since this was started in 2001 and finished in 2004, pre-dating even Advent Children. So yeah, his last name is the name that was popular in fandom before it officially became 'Fair'.

So basically, Zack wakes up in a hospital post-game. Of course, the first thing he does is to go search for our little chocobo-head (Really fandom?) ray of sunshine. Only... things are not good. Like at all.

Seriously, this story deals with some really dark issues and a lot of psychological issues. The first thing you find out is that Cloud was in a Mental Institution for a year after attacking some of his friends from Avalanche. Yikes... Not to mention, Cloud's behavior is very odd and sometimes downright disturbing in the story. As the story goes on, you discover the reason behind this behavior and it's... not good.

Not to mention, we have Sephiroth in the mix, but... it's not in the way you normally expect it. And you can kinda guess from the pairing listed above. This story can get boarderline squick between consensual and non-con too, so if you have issues with that, I wouldn't recommend reading this. I don't know if I would consider this under-age either, so be warned about skimming that line too.

I also don't really see the Cloud/Vincent pairing, like at all. They never struck me close in canon, and it seems Vincent takes a liking to Cloud in a more than friends way not too long after the game ends, which bugs me. It would make more sense if it was later down the line, and even then, I don't really see the pairing still. I think that partly tainted my view on it. I can let Sephiroth/Cloud slide to some degree, but not Vincent/Cloud.

The only problem I have with the story is the last few chapters are REALLY confusing and I got a little lost. It is kinda predictable what Cloud was hiding, it kinda boarderlines canon itself, in my opinion, but it doesn't destroy the story.

I do NOT want to spoil the end, but the story does end with a satisfying conclusion.

Writing: 6/10 - This got docked BIG points from me because of one thing: Fangirl Japanese. There is NO FUCKING REASON to have fangirl Japanese in a fanfic that does not take place in Japan, PERIOD. I let it slide with animes that take place in Japan, or have a setting like Japan (Which I was almost ready to give the benefit of the doubt with Yuffie, since Wutai has very heavy Japan influences), but it's really unacceptable here. And it's annoying, especially when you don't understand what she's saying sometimes.

This will continue to piss me off. There is NO NEED to have your fanfic with fangirl Japanese when you can translate it into perfect English and not lose the meaning of it.

Other than that, the writing is done well, and if the fangirl Japanese was gone, it'd probably would've gotten a 9/10.

Characterization: 7/10 - Meh, again, this is a mixed bag, especially how you view the pairings. I really only think Cloud looked up to Sephiroth as a 'hero' figure, and I don't think Sephiroth was really interested in any kind of relationship with anyone. If only going by game canon, I do see maybe Sephiroth and Zack being close (Even if you count CC, they do seem friendly to each other and get along fairly well), but I certainly don't see Sephiroth abusing his powers the way he did on Cloud in this story.

Zack is pretty much how I expected him to be, and the others of Avalanche are how I expected them to be. Except for Vincent and Yuffie to some degree.

I covered the Vincent/Cloud thing above, so I'm not going to go into much detail. Other than that, Vincent is for the most part in character. Yuffie is kinda clingly to Cloud and it kinda skims the boarderline of her being OOC, but I think given the story flow, she remains IC for the most part.

Cloud is how I expected him to be as well, given what he's going through. Though I do wonder why he isn't more screwed up than is.

Reno and Rude are funny as always. The Rufus/Cloud moments are more 'mindfuckery' than anything, so I can let that pairing slide. But again, what's with everyone wanting in Cloud's pants? It works in the guidelines of the story, but I did actually sit back and say 'Why does everyone want into Cloud's pants!?'

For the most part, the characters retain themselves and the little OOC you may see can be made up for it because of the story itself. The only problem I see people having is the pairing issue.

Negativities: Dark issues, squick, Fangirl Japanese (STOP FANDOM!), Cloud needing to start his own Harem (~_~)
Summary: Zack's been asleep for a very long time and finally wakes up... to a very different world. Regardless, he searches for the one he tried so hard to protect... Only to find things are never easy.
Overall: 7/10 - A fic that has some problems, but still definitely readable. Please note the warnings and the pairings, cause this fic is definitely not for everyone. I'd still recommend it, more for the issues the story handles, but if you have a hard time accepting the first 3 pairings, you might want to stay away from it.
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Okay, time to do another Visual Novel. I will say, while I don't care much for the artwork on this one, the story blew me away. And for a freeware visual novel, I can actually let the so-so artwork fly by because the story is awesome.

Title: Frozen Essence
Company: Unbroken Hours
Rating: PG-13/13+
Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Graphics: 6/10 - Like I said, the artwork is very hit and miss. Some of the CGs are really nice, and at other times, the bodies don't really look right. For the most part, it's okay (And the artist has gotten better obviously with the new VN), but it could be a bit more polished.

Plot: 10/10 - This is where the VN shines, and is probably more important than the story. Basically, the world is balanced by 'essence', or you can think of it as elements to some degree. Mina, a young girl, is awakened from a long slumber inside a crystal, with no memories of her past. A strange character by the name of Oracle, guides her away and promises to protect her along with 3 other mysterous bodyguards.

The story also changes based on who's path you go down. We have 4 eligible guys and 1 'mystery' character, along with an 'alone' path as well. Depending on what path you go down will change the story, learning about that particular character's past or even Mina's own past.

It's really well down and it shocks me that this kind of story is FREE, because it's better than most commerical games. And the story itself is pretty long on top of it.

Music/sound: 9/10 - The music fits to the scenes perfectly from light-hearted music to battle-esque like music. The only thing distracting is the constant 'slapping' noise that happens a lot in the game, but that can be turned off from the menu scene.

Gameplay: N/A - It's a pure visual novel here.

Overall: 8.3/10 - A must-read visual novel. Despite the so-so artwork, the story well makes up for it. And it's FREE, you cannot beat that, period.
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Fucking FINALLY found a really GOOD fic. And it's an AU. So this story is not only an example of good fic, but it's also an excellent example of how to write a real AU.

Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: Blood of the Innocents
Author: Kumoashi
Genre: General/Drama
Rating: MA
Warnings: Violence, Character deaths, squick-ish moments, lime, AU, game canon only
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud, one sided Sephiroth/Zack, hints of other various canon and non-canon pairings

Plot: 10/10 - Granted, this is an AU fic, but unlike 90% of AU fics out there, the characters retain their personalities and the story feels like it takes place in the FF7 universe.

Basically, this is a what-if fic. Cloud never went to Midgar, instead, he was captured by Hojo for the last 2 years. In that time, Hojo 'wakes' Vincent up, and basically, rocks fall from there. The first half of the fic takes place between the Nibelhiem incident and maybe a few days after that. The second part takes place during the game.

While some stuff that happens in the game is pretty copy/pasta, a lot of the story deters from the main game, but manages to stay within the bounds of the FF7 universe. This story also does a good job to Sephiroth and manages to incooperate the main characters as well as the minor characters.

Also, be warned. Some nasty things happen to the characters in this story that might not settle too well with people. I mean, you think Hojo was bad in the game, this story makes him 100 times worse. Some of the things that happen to the characters may not set well with people, just as a warning.

The ONLY problem I really have with this story is the spelling of Zack's name, I don't know why people back in the day called Zack 'Zax', when anyone whose played FF7 know it's spelt 'Zack' in the english version.

Writing: 9/10 - Nothing wrong with the writing here. One of the better fics that I've read. It does get wordy, and I wouldn't recommend reading it in one sitting. It's a really long fic.

Characterization: 9/10 - I don't think there's a trace of OOCness cept in Cloud's case, but it doesn't hurt the story given what happens to Cloud in this fic. I really loved Sephiroth in this story and I felt so freaking bad for him overall. I don't think I could've hated Hojo anymore than I could in game, but this story made me hate him a hell of a lot more and shows how creepy and sick this guy is.

All the canon cast makes an appearance, and while it kinda lacks the Cloud and Tifa relationship to some degree, it's understandable given the AU's plotline. The Zack and Cloud relationship is bitter sweet along with Zack and Sephiroth. I loved all the characters here and they all retained their personalities from the original game.

Negativities: Boarderline squick material
Summary: A 'What-if' story. Cloud never made it to Midgar, instead becoming a new specimen to a mad scientist...
Overall: 9.3/10 - If you want an AU fic done right, this would be the fic I'd recommend as long as you're not anti-yaoi and okay with boarderline squick material.
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I am never going to find a fic that tops the first FF7 fic I put up, le QQ. I did find a few, but almost none of them are finished. It makes me QQ tears of blood.

This story is another crossover AU fic, and it's actually worse than the last one. I don't even know why I read it, especially since the ending just... comes out of nowhere and I feel bad, because the author admited that her irl issues were an influence on the fic. This was probably not the right way to go, in the characterization and the way the story flowed either.

Series: Final Fantasy 7 crossover (Kingdom Hearts)
Title: Sunday Afternoons
Author: lemon-sprinkles
Genre: Fluff/sap/humor/angst
Rating: MA
Warnings: Lemon, angst coming out of nowhere, too many characters
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud and various other pairings

Plot: 5/10 - Like the fanfiction before it, it's another 'High School' AU fics. At first though, I was confused till I realized this game sort of takes place in the Kingdom Hearts universe, mostly, the town names from Kingdom Hearts are brought up. And Roxas is Cloud's little brother, don't ask me about that.

Basically, Cloud and his family move away and live in another neighborhood. Here, he meets Zack and things procede from there. The story is humorous in a lot of cases and it seemed to stay that way. Some of the humor is a bit over the top, but then again, it's not too bad.

Until the last 3 chapters where you find out that Zack randomly has Cancer and has like maybe a month to live. Seriously, I picked on a few hints, but for the story to go from having a lot of fluffy laughter moments into a serious angst issue does NOT fit the story at ALL.

Writing: 6/10 - The writing is okay for the most part. No real problems there. The only problem is the angst that comes out of nowhere.

Seriously, I do not mind angst at all. Lord knows how much angst I've written. But it has to be WELL WRITTEN angst that doesn't interrupt the flow of the story. This... isn't well written, it seems like it was added in at the last moment, and it disrupts what could've been a light-hearted humor fic.

Also, you do not have to kill characters to create angst. Some of the best written angst is the non-character death kind!

The real problem here though is the story starts off on a humor note and very light. And suddenly takes a 180 into angstland, which is never a real good thing to do unless the angst flows with the story. The angst here just interrupted the flow big time. I understand the intentions from the author's notes, but I don't think this was the best fanfic to do it with.

Characterization: 6/10 - Zack is, of course, in character. So is Aerith for the most part and luckly there's no real character bashing. Again, Cloud could use some work, he's too girly, as usual. The other few cast characters that make an appearance seem to be off a bit too. I can't comment on the KH characters and they don't really play a big role, but the ones I vaguely know are boarderline OOC.

I also don't think Zack would hide the fact that he has a serious Cancer that would definitely kill him from Cloud either. I know he's very cheerful, but to hide something serious from Cloud like that. There's also no real indication that he's sick either. I've had family members of mine die from Cancer, and a poor lady from my job developed cancer after she was transferred. She came back a few months later and I could tell her sickness got to her badly. A serious cancer that Zack has in this fic would NOT go unnoticed.

Negativities: OOCness, random drive-by angst
Summary: Cloud is upset after he moves away from the only town that he called home. But Fate can be a mysterious mistress...
Overall: 5.6/10 - The story would've been better if the drive-by angst was discluded from it. Even without the angst, it's not really a fic I'd recommend.
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Taking a break from my power leveling in WoW. You know how some stories start out good or just all right and then just descend into badness? Well, this fic doesn't descend into badness. Mediorcity is more the word I'm thinking of, I think, here.

Also, I normally HATE AUs with the FF characters in high school, but I still read this fic regardless. It's not really a FF7 fanfic, but since the two main characters are from FF7, I consider it FF7 fic for the most part.

Series: Final Fantasy 7 crossover (Final Fantasy 8, 10, 12)
Title: Behind Blue Eyes
Author: zacks.little.puppy
Genre: Fluff/sap/sometimes melodrama/slice of life?
Rating: MA
Warnings: Lemon, story dragging it's feet (?), OOC Cloud, author has not played FF7 (!?!?!?!?!?!)
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud and various other pairings

Plot: 6/10 - I'm not going to lie, the summary attracted me to the story and perked my curosity. Thought it didn't help that there were spelling AND grammar errors in the summary. However, I decided to give it a chance.

Basically, it's a AU High School fic. Cloud is apparently in a high 'level' class and gets assigned to tutor a student in the same grade that's having problems and is in the 'deliquent' class. I have no idea why the author worded it this way, because the students in the 'lower' level classes aren't really deliquents. It reminded me how my high school was divided, the 'smarter' students were in 'higher levels' while the students who were average or below average were in the 'lower levels'.

So the premise is basically these two, Cloud and Zack obviously, hooking up. And it happens about 15-20 chapters in. But you'll notice that the total count for chapters is 39. Why is that? Because of the warning I gave. This story drags it's feet REALLY badly after they hook up. I mean, we have a perfect premise to do conflict with, Zack's past, his parents, and how it would affect his current relationship, and it's TOTALLY IGNORED. Not to mention, his mom is in a mental hosiptal and his dad is in jail, and yet, at one time, they were a picture perfect family. WHY IS THIS IGNORED!? This would've made a great conflict to deal with when the two finally get together, and how Zack doesn't want his relationship to turn out like his parents. And it seems Zack cares for his mom, so why doesn't he go see her??

I don't understand why the author didn't end the story around chapter 20 or why she had almost no conflict (Though you could argue 'slice of life!' genre for this) after they hooked up, even though there were plenty of chances. And when conflict did come up (Penelo, Zell's crush on Cloud, talk about kids/marriange, Cloud's feelings on his father getting remarried), it's briefly brushed on and nothing comes of it.

And some of the conflict is silly, like the parents bringing up kids. d00d, they're 16 and 17 years old, let them date a few years before you even consider marriage/kids. Also, Zell's crush comes out of nowhere, and what happened to the Squall plot in previous chapters. That ended... very oddly.

There's also a subplot with his dad and Zack's... you know, it's NEVER said what his relationship is with Rick. And it's never said WHY he's living with his aunt too. Normally, guys don't live with a woman unless they're related or dating. Even a hint, like his aunt is a good friend or childhood friend of Rick's would've been better than nothing. This subplot is rushed too and comes to no conclusion since the story just... ends. It can't really come to a conclusion when the main plot had concluded like 20 chapters ago though.

Writing: 7/10 - The writing is okay. A few errors here and there, but nothing really wrong about it.

Characterization: 5/10 - It wasn't until like the last 2-3 chapters that I found, to my horror, the author never played the original FF7 game. BUT this author did play Crisis Core. Uh, you DO know you can buy FF7 on your PSP and play it on the memory card, right?

Besides that, there's no excuse NOT to play this game anymore. It's available on the PC again, there's a PSN version of it that you can buy for your PS3 or PSP. There's probably 'Let's Plays' out there if you're desperate enough. And don't give me the time issue, if you have the time to write a fanfic about something you like, you better damn well have time to research the origins of your fandom.

Moving away from my bitch rant, Cloud is seriously OOC here and I blame it on the story being WAY too sappy for it's own good after Cloud and Zack get together. Even then, the conflict was kinda melodramatic to begin with.

Cloud is also very very girly in this and there were some parts I really thought he was a girl (And even he admits acting too 'girly' in the story too!). YES, Cloud does dress up like a female in the original game, and yes, it's the 'lawlzorbeam' part of the game. But beyond that one thing, there's no indication that Cloud is a weepy wuss. He's emo, that's for sure, but not someone who would be clingy and want to wear jewelary beyond maybe a pierced earring.

Zack is mostly IC in this, though I think both could've toned down the 'I love yous' a LOT. I mean, sometimes in one chapter, they'd say it to each other about ten different times and Cloud would STILL blush at it. Or at just about anything Zack calls him.

The other characters are either IC or really OOC and some of the other FF characters serve little to no purpose. Penelo is one, why even include her at all. What happened to Seifer too? He just kinda... vanished. Tidus isn't even a scene, just mentioned briefly. Tifa gets dumped for the most part. Barret and Cid aren't even in the story at all and neither is Reeve.

I think the big problem for the OCC is that this story is just way too sappy and because of a lack of conflict, it doesn't go anywhere. So there's nothing for the characters to really 'hold on' to, and they come and go as they please. I mean, I could eat an entire bag of sugar and this story would still be sweeter than that beyond chapter 20.

Negativities: OOCness, WAY too sappy, little to no conflict in the second half of the story
Summary: It's hard to be one of the smartest kids in the school. For Cloud, his world gets turned upside down when he's assigned to tutor a student in the 'juvenile' classes...
Overall: 6/10 - Again, a perfect example of a story that should've ended 20 chapters before it did. I wouldn't really recommend reading this fic past chapter 20. If you desperate for an AU fic that's light on conflict, this story would fit the bill.
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Remember what I said about the last post? Yeah, I spoke too soon. :(

I had a choice between two of this author's stories. I picked this one cause the other one was so horribly bad, my brain threatened to leak out my ears again. :( No really, the other story written by this author is one of the worse ones I've read, on par with that Tatsumi/Watari story I read so long ago. This one... isn't too bad, but it's far from one of the 'best AUs' I've ever read.

Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: The Last Goodnight
Author: DamagedWorth
Genre: WaahAngst/Drama
Rating: MA
Warnings: Language, drug use (!?), lemon, AU
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud

Plot: 6/10 - Obviously this is an AU, so it's not canon at all to the game plot. But the characters are there or make an appearance from game canon.

But the plot itself... It's a real mixed bag.

So apparently, Cloud is a lead singer for a band. Supposedly this story is based on a real band and the story uses real songs (From said band?), but lord knows if I know about them. Aerith, Vincent, and Yuffie play alongside Cloud while Cid and Barret are like the 'bodyguards' to the band. Cloud's dream was sing to the whole world and he finally obtained his wish. But at a heavy cost. Along the way, he bumps into his childhood friend, Zack. And so begins the angst ridden train to hell.

Seriously, if you read this fic, you will think this is a 'Gravitation' AU, cept instead, after a 'certain incident', the main character goes down on a spiral to angst land. And yes, the drug use is a real warning, because Cloud becomes addicted to it. The others can't get to him, but maybe a childhood friend from his past can. Oh, of course he does, it's Zack. >.>

The story is believable enough, but does it fit with the FF7 characters? Not really. And we'll get to that later.

Writing: 7/10 - The writing isn't too bad. It's a godsent compared to the other fic this author wrote. There's some whacky scene changes that aren't seperated, so you may get confused. And sometimes the story goes to first person as well. But the flow of the writing is there and it looks like it's been beta-ed.

Characterization: 4/10 - This is where the fic fails though. There's Tifa bashing and it's such a shame, because the last fic dealt with the Tifa situation so freaking well. Here, you can tell the author doesn't really care much for the 'canon' pairing and just basically skips it. It would've been better if Tifa was another childhood friend of his instead of the way the author wrote her, and they tried romance, but Tifa couldn't stand how Cloud was, so she broke up with him, but on a good note. Or even give her a minor role like being the woman who owns the bar. Instead, she's made into a greedy money loving whore, which is NOT her character at all. ~_~

Reno isn't exactly in character. I know he doesn't care too much for the characters in game, but to stoop this low? I don't see that at all. I know the story needed a villian, but really shouldn't that go to Sephiroth? Though I don't think it would fit given the plot. And Sephiroth does appear, but in the oddest role. Also, we know Reno had something to do in the murder of Cloud's parents. I was expecting maybe Zack to play PI or something and Reno getting his just desserts and have HIS career ruined that way, but instead, it turns into 'Beat the shit out of him' instead.

Cloud suffers the worst from this. I mean, I thought he was emo in Advent Children, but he's downright angst ridden in this story. I see where the author was going with this, but it doesn't work for Cloud's character. Cloud is a stronger person than how he is here, and using drugs to avoid his problems isn't something his character would do. And it drags the story down, which is a shame, because Zack is perfectly in character and the others are as well.

Plotwise, if these weren't FF7 characters, it makes sense for this to happen, but given the personalities of the FF7 crew, in Cloud's case, it doesn't work, it'd be better if it was original work.

Negativities: Heavily angst ridden, character bashing, OOC Cloud
Summary: Cloud's dream has finally become a reality. But reality never matches up with dreams...
Overall: 5.6/10 - AUs can be good. But the characters have to retain their core personalities in order for an AU to work. While the writing is there, and the plot is a bit clever, the OOCness drags it down. A decent AU, but not really recommended.
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Yeah, this is very unusual for me. I've stopped reading FF7 fanfic before all these prequels and sequels for the game came out, which was maybe around 2001. And this story really defies ALL my FF7 preferences, because at one time, I told myself I wouldn't read any sort of yaoi pairings and I would only read fics that support my OTP.

If I wasn't already okay with the pairing featured in this fic because of a friend, after reading this would've gotten me into the pairing.

Series: Final Fantasy 7
Title: Too Good To Be True
Author: Miko No Da
Genre: Angst/Sap/Drama
Rating: MA
Warnings: Spoilers for the entire game and Advent Children. NOT canon to Crisis Core, lemon
Couple (if applicable): Zack/Cloud, one sided Cloud/Tifa, past mentions of Zack/Aerith, hinted Sephiroth/Cloud and Sephiroth/Zack

Plot: 8/10 - Okay, so the plot isn't really original. Basically, Cloud comes upon a lab run by Hojo and lo and behold, finds Zack inside of the mako testing tubes. So friendship is rekindled, unresolved feelings come back, with some drama in between and all that, but sadly, Sephiroth is trying to muddle in affairs again.

It's a simple plot with a twist here and there, but it's not bad and it suits the story well enough. Though I find it funny that the game and the movie canon is followed to some degree while Crisis Core isn't. I personally don't have a problem with that, and Zack is pretty much in character regardless.

The only thing this story lacks is an epilogue. Most of the main plot is resolved near the end, but there are a few lose strings. There's no resolution about the files that Cloud found, even if it was nothing, it would've been nice to see this. There's no real resolution to the Tifa thing either, though you can kinda guess that a resolution between Cloud and Tifa is peaceful since it's strongly hinted on near the end.

Writing: 9/10 - Just enough descriptions and enough dialogue to keep a person happy. The only problem I have is the characters using the summons' names as cursing. It's just odd and I don't know if it's a fandom thing or maybe a prequel/sequel came along and started using them and it became some sort of trend in fandom. It doesn't distract from the main story though, and the flow of the writing is near perfect. Though I will admit to laughing out loud when Zack said, 'Ifrit's Balls!' >.>

Characterization: 10/10 - There is one thing I must give this author compared to any other authors out there. The author managed to write a Yaoi pairing and still being respectful to canon, aka, Cloud/Tifa and Zack/Aerith. SO many fanfics when it comes to yaoi pairings will resort to bashing of the females, but not in this story. This story, Tifa is as strong as she always is, and stepping aside to make the person she loves happy. Kudos to the author on this.

Even though this doesn't follow Crisis Core canon, Zack is perfectly in character from how I remember him in CC. A very cheerful guy who can be serious at times and cares deeply for the people he's close to, in this case, Cloud. Cloud's character is actually done fairly well too, and the relationship between Zack and Cloud is more on equal terms rather than your typical Seme/Uke pairing. Which I adore. I also love the banter between the two, it flows very naturally. The way they both interact with each other and the way Zack notices little things that Tifa didn't or even misunderstood shows how deep a friendship they had.

In fact, I think every character that's in this story is true to their characters from the original game. I mean, to be honest, I'm shocked at how the author pulled off the characters so well.

Negativities: Unless you're a canon whore to Crisis Core...
Summary: When Zack comes back into Cloud's life, things couldn't be better. Too bad that's not how life works sometimes, especially when it involves Sephiroth....
Overall: 9/10 - If you're not a Zack/Cloud shipper, this story could very well convert you to be. If you're on the fence about this pairing like I was, this story will get you over that fence. In fact, I would just recommend this fic on the basis on this is how you write a slash pairing for a fandom that has canon hintings of hetero pairings. Very well done.
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Yeah, another one from Key. :D

Title: Little Busters! (All Ages version)
Company: Visual Arts/Key
Translation done by: TLWiki
Genre: Romance/comedy/angst

Graphics: 10/10 - I thought Clannad had some nice visuals, but Little Busters! is even better. Seriously, the Main Character, Riki, is freaking ADORABLE, in the 'I want to glomp him!' type of way. The girls are all pretty as well and the guys are drawn very well too. I really wish there were more CGs with Riki in it, but what we got was nice.

Plot: 9.5/10 - Man, the plot starts out really simple, but then throws a curveball at you. The story starts out like this: Our main character, named Riki, lost his parents when he was very young. He became very depressed until one day, he meets Kyousuke, his sister Rin, Masto, and Kengo. They end up forming a very powerful bond and, together, they form the Little Busters!

The game takes place in their second year in High School. Kyousuke decides on his usual whim to form a baseball team. Why!? Well, why not?

The game basically revolves around you forming a baseball team and on the way, you form bonds with certain girls.

Seems like a very simple plot? Yeah right... SPOILERS! )

Also, the translation is top notch, now with the word wrap patch. Kudos for the translation team and good luck to them translating the three routes for the EX version.

Music/sound: 10/10 - I loved all the music in the game. I didn't play with the VAing on, so I won't comment about the VAing, but the music and sound standard is up to par.

Gameplay: 9.5/10 - It's unusual for me to give a VN a score here, but I did, because there's actual game play here. In your quest to making your baseball team, you have to, well, practice! This mini-game, shockingly enough, is really fun too, and the reactions from the characters if you hit the ball in their direction, or if you have the misfortune to hit too many of Rin's cats on the field, is funny as well.

There's also a 'pokemon' like mini game where characters will fight each other in a duel with some... odd choices of weapons, which are funny. Even more amusing is the titles they give to everyone else. :D

The mini games fit very well with the story, and are actually fun. And if you're not into mini-games in your VNs, you have the option to turn them off completely.

Overall: 9.75/10 - If I had to pick a perfect VN, Little Busters! would be it. As of now, I'm writing this for the all Ages version. There is a EX version that features 3 different paths and hentai scenes, which I have no idea would add or take away from the novel. The one I read had a couple of panty/booby shots, but nothing beyond that. This VN is really long, it took me twice as long as to get through it as Clannad. Seriously, why aren't you reading this NOW!? :D
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Cause I did nothing but talk about it on my regular journal, here's a review for it! One warning, once you read this Visual Novel, others just don't really measure up to this one.

Title: Clannad
Company: Visual Arts/Key
Translation done by: Drama club (?)
Rating: PG/10+
Genre: Romance/comedy

Graphics: 9/10 - This is actually a really old game that had multiple releases. I'm going by the full voiced version which was released around 2008.

The art style in this game is really pretty. The school looks like a typical school and it's funny to see the differences in the room, like Sunohara's room being clean or when he puts the TV in there. There's also some really pretty looking CGI's and the Illusionary World gives the feel of being really sad as well.

Plot: 9/10 - The plots range from being happy to sometimes downright angsty and some plots which seem really light-hearted suddenly take a dark twist and go down the route of angst. So if angst isn't your cup of tea, you may not like this.

The basic of the game is this: This is about a young man named Tomoya Okazaki . He lost his mother at a young age and his father drown himself in alcohol and gambling. One night before him going to HS, Tomoya and his father get into a physical fight, and Tomoya ends up hurting his right shoulder. This results in a gulf between Tomoya and his father, thus causing him to become resentful and a 'troubled student', aka delinquent. While on his way to school in his senior year, he comes across a young girl looking up the path to school...

Basically, the game is kinda like a 'dating sim' where you follow a path and in the end, most of the time, results in the main character, aka Tomoya, getting hooked up with one of the girls. Sometimes, though, this isn't the case.

On the other hand, there's a 'side story' being told of a young girl living in a apocolypic world by herself. One day, she makes something out of the junk she collects while a being of some kind watches this. The being inhabits the body made out of junk. Throughout the story, you see the hardships the girl has to go through through the eyes of the being.

Basically, depending on your choices, you can go down the young girl's, who is Nagisa, path or you can meet someone else within the school and go down their path. Like the two Fujibayashi sisters or the strange girl in the library named Kotomi. Or maybe the strange little girl carving weird stars made out of wood named Fuuko. Or maybe you'll help the mysterious underclassman named Tomoyo. Or maybe you'll want to help your best friend, Youhei, out instead. Or maybe that strange young man you bumped into on your way to school. All have their individual stories, though some intertwine.

The only nitpick I have here is the main character is referred to as Tomoya a lot, while there's another character named Tomoyo. Yeah, this could get really confusing at times, especially in her path. The only way around it really is to name the main character something else, but still...

After you meet certain conditions, another part called 'After Story' is unlocked, which follows the aftermath of Nagisa's storyline, so it's recommended if you read this VN to do her path last, mostly so it's fresh in your mind when you continue After Story. Not going to say what happens in this one, read it for yourself, it's heartbreaking.

Also, the underlining theme in this VN is family. Clannad actually translates into 'family' I believe, and that's what the entire VN revolves around.

While there is some kissing and cuddling here and there, there's no hentai and actually, if the game did have hentai, it would feel so incrediably out of place. This is one of those games where hentai would derail from the story a lot more than anything.

You'll see Tomoya in different lights too. In some paths, you want to smack him while in others you want to give him a hug, more so in After Story. It's interesting to see how different he acts in one path compared to another.

Music/sound: 10/10 - Nothing wrong with the music or sound. Music fits perfectly from the angsty moments to the Illusionary world moments to it's light-hearted and goofy moments. And the VAing is spot on, as always.

Gameplay: N/A - It's a visual novel, so there is no real gameplay. There are some easter eggs, as in there's a dating sim you can play, and I guess if you want to count Tomoyo's combo as a mini-game, you can too.

There is a goal to the game, which will unlock the 'After story' and the 'True Ending' to the game too.

Spoiler alert! )

Overall: 9.3/10 - A near perfect VN. If you like romance with some comedy and a dash of angst on the side, you will love this game. Even if you don't like that combo, I would still recommend it.
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And now since the game is out of beta, it's time for a full review! Also, my guild is composed of a lot of Star Wars fanboys and Bioware fanboys, so if they ever saw this review... I am much harsher beyond impressions because the game is officially launched and I really can't believe how unpolished it is.

Also, I played a Sith Inquistor that leans toward the Light side, so this is based on that.

Title: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Rating: T, rating changes in game

Graphics: 6/10 - Like I said before, the same problems exist, every race is a humanoid, the UI is still crappy (And if you tweak the settings, you can get a UI that looks similiar to WoW), not too many customazations, etc etc.

The big problem is the settings now. I can barely run this game with 20 fps on low, which is WORSE than in the beta, and after some research, I found the game doesn't really like AMD/ATI cards, so I had to tweak something outside the game. Besides, putting everything on low/medium/high didn't seem to do much, if anything at all. I could put textures on high and get the same fps than if I put them on low, even though it says in game lowering this option will improve preformance. If I lower settings in WoW and Rift, I get better performance. Try it in Star Wars, nothing happens. The only thing that matters is shadows and 'bloom'. Also, no AA for those who were waiting for it.

It's funny, because Rift's graphics are so much better than both SW and WoW, and yet, I can get better framerate in Rift on high resolution than on SW with the lowest possible settings.

No excuse for this.

The graphics themselves outside of cutscenes, which is what we will see 75% of the time, are kinda crappy. The environment is lifeless and dull, it lacks a real spark of life in some areas. It's also too dark in a lot of the places. Half the time when I want to take a picture of my character, I can barely see her cause it's too dark. I was more impressed with Rift's graphics than Star War's. Some areas lighten up, like Nar Shaddaa, but the world itself is lifeless and npcs just walk around and... nothing.

Also, no day and night cycles and no weather. Come on, it's 2012 now....

Plot: 6/10 - Not gonna lie, I was falling asleep when it came to quests and character quest. Character quest is just me running around fetching artifacts for my master who is obviously going to betray me sometime down the line. Oh, and I'm a desendant of a powerful sith. And what eventually happens... is exactly how I was warned about. And now, I apparently am one of those 'rare' souls that can communicate with ghosts well and I'm so 'talented', that I can absorb those ghost's power as my own. So in essence, my character is now a Mary Sue. /facepalm It does get interesting as time moves on, but the conclusion is pretty cliche and furthers me being a Mary Sue. Also that Sith Inquistor standing next to me? Same conclusion to his story.

Every other quest is basically the same you can find in any genric MMORPG nowadays. If you've done questing in one, you've done it in all. But this time, the quests just seem... boring, even with the VAing. Too many times I just found myself hitting spacebar when I was done reading the subs instead of watching it play out. Most of the characters save my own companions I could really care less about.

Most of the plotlines to the planets is that Republic is trying to get a foothold or already has a foothold, and you have to prevent it or increase the gain for the Empire on the foothold. Or there's a war going on and you have to stop it. That's the basic plotline of every planet I visited, and it's... really boring. You'll sometimes get a side plot and sometimes you'll get a reaccuring character appearing (Thana on Taris appears in many of the quests), but other than that, it's just stop the Republic from getting strength.

Not to mention, most of your decisions have no real impact on the world around you. There's a choice to keep Thana alive or kill her, and no matter what you choose, you NEVER see her again. So what's the point of keeping her alive now? Oh yeah, I want those light points...

Also, when you finally complete your story line, you're basically done with the plot. You can do like the 'final battle' on Ilum, but after that, it's basically 'The End' till Bioware adds in more content.

The only interesting things are your companions. I really love companions, even though their AI is questionable. Companions will give you quests if their affection is high enough. And so far out of the 5 minus the droid (*stabs it to death*), all of them are likable, even Khem, the poor bastard. :D Xalek sadly does not get enough development, but he's such a badass, it doesn't matter.

You can also romance certain companions, which is very similiar to DA. If they like you enough, it unlocks more quests. Of course, you have to progress into your character questline in order to get certain options.

Music/sound: 9/10 - Music is still awesome, but not played enough or repeats in areas when it shouldn't. Like it's kinda weird on the ears to hear the shooter rail music in a combat situation. We need some music in cities and the main hangout (Imperial Fleet). The tunes you do hear are really good and give an epic feeling to whatever you're fighting. You'll also hear some familiar themes if you watched the movies so many years ago. Also, the Voice Acting is very good for the most part, very rarely I cringed when I heard someone speak, and that one time, it was a pig-like creature making weird oinking noises at me. Also, fuck the droid.

Gameplay: This is divided into 6 sub-categories since MMOs are different.

Combat 5/10 - Combat is still clunky and clumsy here, but what pisses me off the most is healing delays. I will cast my heal, the bar hitting 2.5/2.5 and then... nothing, 1-2 seconds pass, and my character finally gets her heal off. This means I have to basically predict when damage will happen and cast spells early, which could cost me much needed force power that I would later need in the fight. It's really annoying, and it only happens in combat, outside of combat, there is no delay. Instant heals have no delays either from what I've seen.

From what I've read on forums, this is an animation problem. Star Wars favors realistic animation over smooth combat. Games like WoW sacrifice realistic animation in favor of a smoother combat system, which is why you sometimes find yourself running forward after mounting up but no mount on for a second or two. And really, I'd rather have a smooth combat than 'realistic animations' fucking up my rotations.

I've also had a few problems laying down my AoE spell a few times, from where the circle disappears to where it says I'm moving when I lay it when I clearly am not.

There's also WAY too many abilities to keep track of. This goes back to old style WoW, but the problem is setting up a good rotation to use them. Healing wise, it's disappointing, because over 50% of those abilities are useless, which surprises me as I thought I would've had more heals to work with. A knockback could be useful, but it also could be a double edge sword, as a guildmate and I were doing quests, and he would constantly use overload just as I laid my AoE down.

Also, companion AI isn't too well done. I'll CC a pat that came to me, and stupidly, my companion will shoot it and break it. Too bad my only CC is on a freaking 1 minute cooldown. That's going to be a big problem come later, when it's pretty common in flashpoints for people to break CC.

Crafting 7/10 - Same old here, cept there seems to be one profession that really ranks in money over others (Slicing). This will probably be changed in the future.

One big problem will be the fact that your companions make the stuff. At first, it's not too bad, but when you're waiting close to a hour for one of your characters to make you stuff when in normal games, you can do it instantly, it could piss you off. And not to mention, this is most likely going to be your credit and time sink. I guess the sacrifice to this was you don't have to do a damn thing when it comes to crafting if you don't want to farm nodes. But you still need to send companions out, because they can get things you cannot, like cloth and metals for blue/epic recipes.

Also, in order to learn blue and epic patterns, you have to craft the green or blue below it and pray that you get lucky when you reverse engineer it and get the pattern. I must've blown a lot of mats already on trying to discover epic patterns. You could conversely get recipes through 'gathering' professions as well. I've receieved a few recipes through Underground trading.

Other than that, there's no problems with crafting.

PvE (Questing, exploring, dungeons) 6/10 - Questing is boring. I'm sorry, but even with the story, I can't seem to get into the game like I did when WoW came out. Maybe it's because I've been playing MMOs with this formula for so long, but Star Wars has really failed to engage me. The quests are the same quests you've always done, get these items, loot these items from these mobs, kill x enemies. It also doesn't help that bad plot-twists could ruin quests, aka Sith Inquistor storyplot.

The biggest problem though is that you don't feel like you're playing a MMO at all. Save for flashpoints and heroics I did with my guildmates, I feel like I'm playing a single player RPG with coop rather than a MMO. Maybe it's because I leveled way too fast, but I rarely see anyone on the planet I'm on, and I'm on a full server. Sometimes I forget until I see someone in chat speak and I'm like 'Oh yeah...' You know a game isn't worth a sub fee if it takes general/guild chat to wake you up out of it.

People can argue about they don't see people in WoW, but the majority of people in WoW are at the level cap. Very few are at the level cap in SW when I was leveling, isn't it like impossible not to come across several players while on one planet???

There are phased quests and phased parts of the map too, so if you're doing certain quests, you don't have to worry about someone stealing your kills. Too bad I rarely, if ever, see people where I'm questing...

Flashpoints are basically the same, except for one problem. Remember how I said how epic Black Talon is? Well, the next flashpoints are really dull with little to no story. You do the flashpoint, there's one light/dark side choice, and that's it. The Black Talon sets it up like that's how the other instances are. I was sadly mistaken. Highly disappointed. I've done most of the flashpoints (Skipped foundry and Directive 7 though), and have yet to be impressed by any of the flashpoints like I was with Black Talon. False Emperor was somewhat interesting, but the time to complete it reminded me of doing BlackRock Depths back in vanilla wow. It took us 2 hours, no joke.

Hardmode flashpoints are composed of bosses doing the SAME things except they have very tight enrage timers. Like 1-2 minutes into the fight, the boss will enrage. Otherwise, bosses don't do anything different. It's boring and once you outgear the hardmode, the enrage timers don't become a problem. Tight enrage timers =! hard boss. I did Black Talon on Heroic and beyond the tight enrage timers, it's pathetically easy.

Companions also give their own quests much like Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2, and besides them, they are really the only characters I care about. That random NPC on Taris? Don't know, don't care. Your decisions don't really impact the world around you when they should. The NPCs are dull and lifeless, the entire world feels lifeless. Ocassionally, I'll see NPCs conversing via the VAing, but other than that rare occassion, the environment itself is dull. You think with all that VAing they dumped into this game, they could at least voice some NPC if you click on them at the very least. Or fucking give VAing for emotes...

Like I said, you can romance your companions, but there's one big problem I have with it. You only have ONE option out of your 5 to romance. Don't like the romance companion for your class? Too bad, you're stuck with them. I mean, really? That stinks....

PvP 5/10 - This game's pvp is horrid. Honestly, I thought Rift was the worst pvp I played, but I was wrong.

A big problem is that level 10's can fight with level 50's, there's no bracket, which I understand why they wanted to do this, but it also backfires hardcore. And while they got giving everyone a buff correct, the big problem is a level 10 won't have the abilities a level 50 has, and stuns, cooldowns, and certain abilities are going to be a huge advantage over someone of much lower level. Rift came close to doing it right, buffing low levels in x0-x9 warfronts, but giving a bracket so people with the talents won't have an unfair advantage over another.

I also mentioned all the other problems like stuns/knockbacks/interrupts and all. Since every class has one, it can be a nightmare for casters, especially healers. Nothing like being knocked around, stunned, and then dead before you can get a castable heal off. Also, no dimishing returns. Yeah.... Resolve bar, which is a bar next to your portrait, is supposed to make you immune for a few seconds from being stunned, but from my experience, it either doesn't work, or it'll work whenever it wants to.

Also, world pvp? I decided to check out Ilum and went to the area. All you're doing is going to a point on your map and blowing up Republic carriers, and if you're lucky, kill any republic you see. I didn't see a single republic and couldn't even do my daily because the republic didn't fight back. Not to mention, those big walkers roaming around? Are only decoration. I litterally stood on a spot where the opposing faction fires in and guess what? Took 0 damage. You think an area that has all these walkers around would actually be used for maybe battle? Nope.

After about a day, I came back again and guess what? Republic and Empire people were just trading off nodes so they could get their daily/weekly done. Yeah, epic pvp...

I also went back to Tatoonie to check out it's pvp area too and same issue, no republic. All I did in these areas was farm nodes. Yeah great world pvp, this'll be a problem on an unbalanced server for sure.

End game (50 only content) 4/10 - This gets a lower score because of one reason. HALF the heroic flashpoints are bugged in some shape or form or not even avaiable (As of right now, only 6 are functioning), some of them bugged to the point in making the run impossible to finish or complete. Really? Because when WoW came out with cata, all the heroics were working.

Didn't people on the forums say that Bioware had 15 flashpoints in the game, way more than WoW had? So why the bloody hell are only SIX of them on hardmode??? WoW cata launched with more heroics than that!

Not to mention, there's no LFD group, so getting a group, if you're not a tank or healer, takes forever to do. And that's the staple at 50, farm heroic dungeons. When you don't have a server LFD system, it becomes a problem.

Also, some of the flashpoints are very unforgiving, not because of new and amazing mechanics, but because bosses have 2 minute enrage timers. That means your dps has to be really good, otherwise you're dead. So if people were bitching about Dragon Soul in WoW being a massive gear check, hope you're ready for SW gear check.

If you think SW is going to be any different end game from WoW, think again. End game is the same wine and dine, farm dailies, farm heroics/hardmode dungeons for gear to set yourself up for raiding or farm pvp gear. The dailies are going to get old after doing them non-stop for like 2 weeks.

A big problem is that like Rift, pvp gear is about the same as pve gear. Which should NOT be the case, and this is where WoW does it right, it seperates pvp gear from pve, and you obviously won't be doing nearly as much dps or heals in your pvp gear than if you had pve gear. So lemme ask a perfect question: If pvp gear is no different from pve gear and there's a queue system for pvp, why in the holy mother of fuck would I farm normal dungeons for blue gear so I can do the hardmodes when I can get insta win epics eventually through pvp????

I also heard the normal raids are actually EASIER than the 5 man hardmode dungeons. What were they thinking!? I have yet to do any of these raids since my guild doesn't even know what it will do, so may update this section later.

Misc (Latency. bugs, configuration, community) 5/10 - This game seems really unpolished. I've come across bugs that I experienced in beta and there were quite a few times where mobs would 'evade bug' on us, making them unkillable. There's been issues from graphic issues (From purple flashing rocks to a bunch of white dots running across the floor of a cave), gameplay issues (Healing delays), light/dark points not taking effect even though they were supposed to occur (Had this happen on Hoth for me), sound randomly going out and in (More frequent when traveling indoors), coming across invisable walls when I shouldn't (doing /stuck, however, helped me get out), and a whole bunch of random things that should've been caught and fixed in beta (Cutscenes being blacked out, characters jittering a bit in cutscenes, characters turning their heads at odd angles in cutscenes, etc). I even fell through the world once on Ilum and I fell to my death on my Taxi. And in Alderaan, my companion fell over dead a few times too when I took a taxi in a character quest area.

I also don't like the fact that I get stuck in a 100 queue and when I finally get in, unless I'm on Dromund Kaas or Imperial Fleet, I'm really lucky to encounter someone. I mean, the first time I saw a republic, I was in my 40's (50 is the highest level). And I rarely see anyone else questing around me too, if I see a single soul where I am, I gasp in surprise. Where is everyone?? I thought the servers could hold thousands of people, but it seems like a lot less. The most I've seen was 150 people on the Imperial fleet according to the chat channel. Today though, I noticed my server is 'standard' most of the time, so either they upped the amount of people per server or people quit.

Community is about the same as WoW and if you honestly think that the community here will be any different than WoW, I have a bridge in NY I'd like to sell you. I really like the logic my fellow guild mates told me that it's okay to be an asshole since we're Sith and if I didn't like someone ninjaing my chest (Had this happen, gotta love when you're killing an elite, someone decides to take the chest where you were trying to clear, and no, you can't open it in combat), I should roll Jedi. Yeah, perfect example of what the community MAY be. Not to mention, anyone who critizes this game will get basically called a troll, no matter how weak or strong their arguements are.

Also, load times in general are horrid, and becomes really noticable on Alderaan, and from what people told me, it's because the game has to load 'a lot of flora life'. I could litterally get up and go to the bathroom, come back, and find the game still loading. I think the worst load times I had outside this game was a minute in WoW and that's cause I had so much going on in the background and got d/ced in a populated area. I turned off a lot of stuff hoping the load times would stop, no go.

Final Score 5.3/10 - Lot of features lack polish and the game offers nothing if you're a veteran player of WoW or other mmos like it.

Overall: 6.6/10 - A game that's not as solid as it could be and lacking features that should have been implimented at launch. If you're a Star Wars fan and are a hardcore fan of Bioware games in general, you'll enjoy the game, despite the flaws. But if you're a mmo veteran or someone who is tired of WoW and is looking for something different, I would not recommend ToR. ToR will not make you quit the game you're currently playing unless you're just sick of the environment itself and not the current mmo formula.
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This is going to be a hard game to review, first because it's beta, and second, it's a MMO. Please note, this is just an impression review, as in, things may change on release or may be different than from what I've experienced.

I played in the beta weekend test from 11/25 to 11/27. The beta did go till the 28th, but I passed on really playing it, as I tested what I wanted to test.

Title: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Rating: T, rating changes in game

Graphics: 7/10 - I'm not a graphics whore, and graphics can be horrible depending on your video card too when it comes to MMOs. And while the cutscenes were really pretty, the overworld graphics lacked a certain charm as WoW had. Also, maybe it's because I had something turned down low, but the graphics seemed too dark, even when my character was in board daylight.

The UI is not too bad, but far from great, and hopefully will be more customable on release. There were some bugs with it as well, so I expect it to be more polished on release for sure.

The character customization is also lacking. While there are different races, they all look the same and are all humanoid. Cyborgs, besides one cosmetic different, looks exactly like human.

What's even more disappointing too is NPCs in the cutscenes use recycled models for body and facials. There's no excuse for having recycled models for this, especially considering how games made by Bioware have many custom features, like Dragon Age.

Plot: 8/10 - I'm only going to go on the character questlines here, the other quests will be covered in the gameplay. The character quests I've played so far, Bounty Hunter and Sith Inquisitor, have been really good and interesting. I only got to level 16 on my Inquisitor and 11 on my Bounty Hunter, but from what I've seen, I want to play further with both story lines.

Music/sound: 9/10 - Not going to lie here, the music and sound is awesome. When you swing your lightsaber, you feel like you're swinging an actual lightsaber. When you're shooting a blaster, you feel like you're shooting a blaster, and you feel like you're in the movie.

The music is epic. When you start a character, it even plays the familiar opening Star Wars theme.

The Voice acting in the game so far is fairly well done. There are some recycled lines your character says, but so far, it doesn't deter from the game.

Gameplay: This is divided into 6 sub-categories since MMOs are different.

Combat 6/10 - The combat is pretty dull and can be a little clumsy, more so the caster than the ranged I played. I have no idea how melee combat is. Targetting is horrible and brings me back to the old vanilla days in WoW. The only way to switch targets is to either tab or manually target, and that's a huge pain. No target-of-target exists, though this might change. The casting animations for healing is beyond dull. I thought it was bad in WoW, but it's worse in this game. Healing so far is the same spam heals, watch bars as every other MMO has, though you can dps during combat, depending how end game bosses are, this may not be possible in tight situations.

Star Wars adds something unique into the game called companions. These companions are sort of like your own personal NPCs or 'pets', as in they will fight with you in the open world and other things I'll cover later. Combat wise, they act like hunter pets. They actually have really good AI on their part, and they are very useful depending on what role you are, and I'd recommend you always have a companion out when you quest in the wide world. Also, any thing you can't use, you can give to your companion to use, which is great, because almost every item you find won't go unused.

Crafting 7/10 - Instead of your character doing crafting, you now have your companions do everything for you. You have the option of gathering the materials yourself in the world or sending your companion out to get them along with paying a small fee for them. As you go up in level for your crafting, your companion takes longer. If you have more than 1 companion, you can send the companion you're currently not using to get you mats too, which is really useful and you don't have to pause your gameplay.

However, it takes the overall feel away and while it seems good in theory, it's one less thing you have to do, and this might not work out too well end game. There's also the fact that you can only have 1 crafting ability and 2 gathering. You can't have 2 crafting abilities, which sucks if you decide to have an alt and want the alt to have 2 crafting abilities or if you want your alt to have all 3 gathering abilities.

You can also make something and 'reverse engineer' it to attempt to get another schematic. I don't know if you'll have to obtain schematics through other means later in the game, as I only got up to level 16.

PvE (Questing, exploring) 7/10 - If you played any other MMO like Rift or WoW, this is exactly the same thing only with a different paint. You gain experience by completing quests which range from 'fetch me this item!' to 'go explore this area!' to 'Kill X mobs'. There are 'bonus' quests you can complete with some quests and while you don't have to complete them, 90% of the time, you'll find yourself completing them anyways because it's on your way to your goal, so in a way, it's not exactly 'optional'. You also gain experience from killing mobs, pvping, and dungeons, which I will cover later on. But basically, you gain experience points the same ways you do in any other MMOs.

There are some innovative ideas such as Voice Acting every quest, but this backfires because you get tired of every single quest you get being VAed, and find yourself skipping the dialogue just so you can get your quest and go back to the game.

You get your own ship, which is a nice touch, and you can fly to whatever planet you want to go and play a mini game where you fly your ship in space combat wise. Sadly, this mini game is pretty much a space rail shooter, which may disappoint fans who wanted something more out of this than a Star Fox clone. So far, I found no real gain from doing this, but this feature would be a wonderful way to customize your ship both inside and out in the future.

Like other Bioware games, they added in an option to romance one of your companions, which adds another element into the game. I don't think I know of any MMO that has something like that, and it may be interesting. Sadly, I did not obtain a romancable companion on my Inquisitor, so I wasn't able to try this out, but you can send your companion to get gifts on certain crafting quests and give those gifts to your companions. You can also raise affection by taking your companions through quest dialogue and flashpoint dialogue.

The first flashpoint I tried out, Black Talon, is really fun and through dialogue choices, you can actually change the outcome of what happens in the dungeon and even change the mobs you fight as well. Depending on what and who is in your group will determine the drop rates, which is a huge improvement over a lot of game's dungeon systems, where as in you can go into one and all the drops are items that no one in the group can currently use.

PvP 5/10 - I had high hopes for Huttball. Sadly, after playing a game, my hopes shattered. I have a feeling that Huttball will be really fun if you go in a premade group. But doing it with a PuG is unbearable. The other two PvP warzones are pretty much clones of WoW BGs, only with different paint. PvP is going to be a problem in the future, because everyone has some sort of stuns/knockdowns. This could become really frustration with healing when you're constantly getting interrupted, stunned, or knocked down. It could make casters frustrated as well. It's still too soon to say, but I really did not enjoy the PvP as a healing spec, from what I've played.

End game (50 only content) N/A - I haven't played any end content in Star Wars, so I can't give feedback on it.

Misc (Latency. bugs, configuration, community) N/A - I'm not going to score this as well since it's a beta, it's expected for bugs. I expected Latency issues as well as crashes, but in all honesty, I rarely had any serious lag issues and I think I crashed once or twice out of 3 days playing, which is really good. Because features were missing as well, I can't make a final call for this option. Community I can't comment on, but this game feels more like a single play game with co-op rather than a MMO.

Final Score 6.25/10 - Lot of features lack polish or haven't even tried yet. This will change on launch for sure.

Overall: 7.5/10 - Overall, it's an enjoyable game with some flaws. There's no way to tell if it's game to stick a subscritpion fee with until end game content is out. If you're burnt out on WoW and want something totally different, I would say pass on Star Wars. However, if you like the current formula and are tired of just WoW's environment, I would say pick up Star Wars. You'll get your money's worth out of the first month and getting to level 50, at the very least.
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Remember what I said to the last fic? Yeah, this is why you sometimes don't need a sequel. Or maybe write the whole story instead of half the story!

Series: Star Ocean 3
Title: Time After
Author: ErrantFeather
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: M
Warnings: Minor Sophia and Maria bashing, lots of OCs, NSFW stuff, confusing plot
Couple (if applicable): Albel/Fayt, one sided Fayt/Sophia, Albel/Alternate(!?) Fayt

Plot: 4/10 - I gave this a low score because of one thing: This story feels like half of a story. The author made a huge mistake and wrote this entire story from Albel's PoV when it would've really benefitted from third person or Fayt's PoV in every other chapter. He gets one part in one chapter, but it's short and Fayt's PoV is not spoken about again and Fayt doesn't even appear till near the end of the story.

Again, the gang is going after the rest of the Programmers, but because of ebil!Sophia, she makes a deal with one of them to get rid of Albel. However, it backfires and Albel gets stuck in 4D space. The only way for Albel to get back is to cooperate with the Incantarix and find an alternate universe and try to find someone with the connection gene to send Albel back.

Yeah, I probably lost people there. In the alternate universe, Albel comes across alternate Fayt and things proceed to get confusing from there.

And this is the story's problem. Maybe the author was trying to explain the 'alternate dimension' that you see in the Lava Caves, but it's not pulled off well. Not to mention, the story is already confusing enough with the genetic part of it and all these programmers and OCs and now we have to deal with an alternate universe that basically is a parallel of the Eternal Sphere?

Meanwhile, something is taking place in the Eternal Sphere and we're left in the dark about it. Which is why this story should've either been third person or have interludes featuring Fayt. When I finished the story, I felt like I missed half the story and went back chapters to see if I missed anything.

Also, the ending is kinda cheesy.

Writing: 9/10 - Again, nothing is wrong with the writing. Except the lack of paragraphs. But it has a lot of dialogue, so it doesn't matter too much.

Characterization: 2/10 - Okay, I know Sophia can be immature and sometimes a bit of a bitch. But I don't believe for one minute she would try to send Albel to 4D space out of jealousy. I believe that Fayt and Sophia were close childhood friends. But that's all I think they were, just friends. Believe it or not, male and female friendships do exist. I don't think Sophia might be too happy with Fayt's choice, but to go as far as destroying his happiness? I don't think so.

Albel just doesn't seem like Albel and neither does Fayt. Just like the last story, they seem to suffer from the 'love starved' sydrome. Especially Albel, but then again, this is from his PoV. The author just doesn't do a good job of keeping Albel in character, I don't feel like this is the Albel from the game or a very sedated Albel from who we know. He also seems very 'emo', which I don't doubt Albel is, but I see him as more of a snarky guy trying to hide being emo from others.

Negativities: Indirect Sophia bashing, OCC Albel and Fayt, feels half told
Summary: The quest to restore peace from Luther's programmers continues. Only there's a snag along the way...
Overall: 5/10 - Good writing cannot save a story, sadly. Probably best not to bother with the sequel unless you really want to know what happens from the first fic on how they deal with the enemy. That is, if you can manage to follow the plot from both stories.
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This next story though, is a really mixed bag. I don't think it's bad fic, but I don't think it's the greatest fics I've ever read. A confusing one... Ya, if you haven't played SO3 by now and are worried about spoilers... Don't read this. :P

Series: Star Ocean 3
Title: Time Will Tell
Author: ErrantFeather
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: M
Warnings: Minor Sophia bashing, lots of OCs, not canonly correct(?)
Couple (if applicable): Albel/Fayt, one sided Fayt/Sophia, one sided Fayt/Maria, Nel/OC

Plot: 7/10 - The only reason it scores this high because the plot itself is very very creative. But it's very very strange. We start post-game with Fayt staying on Elicoor II. Then we have Albel's family thrown into the mix.

I really think the author plays with canon a bit too much here. Albel's mom is apparently from Aquaria and his parent's marriage was political (I think it was to explain why Albel looks a little like the Queen of Aquaria, red eyes and her hair is black with blonde highlights too), and that he's the nephew of the Queen of Aquaria. Then you have Albel's younger brother, who had a twin, and a sister and... Yeah, this is NOT cannon at all. Period.

Meanwhile, we have people from 4D space interferring. There was a rumor going around that Elena was actually a 4D being, but in this story she's not. But there ARE 4D beings, specifically programmers that worked under Luther, messing around with the Eternal Sphere and... it's really damn confusing. Meanwhile, we have another plot going on behind the scenes about Albel taking his mother's place in something called the 'Circle of Voices'. Then we have a bunch of confusing ass flashbacks trying to explain how Albel got his 'Wicked' title, and then we have something about transferring Fayt's powers because of what happened in game and it's just...

It's really damn confusing.

Writing: 9/10 - Nothing wrong with the writing at all except it lacks paragraph structure a bit. It's perfect here.

Characterization: 3/10 - This is where the story really flunks because of the plot, too many OCs, and the minor Sophia bashing.

First of all, I really don't like how Albel is portrayed in this fic. And I think it's more to do with the back history than the way he's written. I know where the author was going with this fic, but it just... really didn't work out, in my opinion. Giving Albel family was probably the first mistake, moreso with his brothers and sister, though the sister plays a very minor role. Helgrave is a very important character and I honestly thought he shouldn't have been related to Albel, maybe like a close friend or something. Albel also falls victim to the 'love starved' sydrome, which throws his character off a bit too.

I'm also not too fond of Fayt's portrayal here either, and I can't really pinpoint why. I think it's because he's too focused on Albel, but he also seems sort of love starved as well. I think his feelings develop too soon for Albel and the plot behind Maria transferring the destruction gene to Albel to keep him alive just... lacked something. It might be again, it's not canon, because Fayt's father died, and I think his father was more his focus, not Albel.

I like to think Fayt developed feelings for Albel near the end of the game. Technically, you could make a case for it before the end of disk 1 if you really wanted to. To me, though, that's too soon because Fayt doesn't really know Albel too well, near the end of the game at least gives time to it to develop.

Nel plays a huge role, and while there's nothing really wrong with her character, something seems off as well. Maybe it's how her relationship with Helgrave developed or maybe she's sedated from normal, I don't know.

The other characters play minor roles and I really don't like the indirect bashing of Maria and Sophia here either. You can tell the author doesn't really like them, so they suffer a little bit from OOC sydrome. In fact, I think all the cast does to some minor degree here.

Negativities: Really confusing plot, too many OCs, not cannonly accurate, OOC sydrome
Summary: Fayt tries to start a new life on Elicoor II with Albel. Too bad things never work out how they should...
Overall: 6.3/10 - If you're REALLY desperate for Albel/Fayt fics and want some substance to it, this fic might be good to read. It's confusing plot and it not being cannonly accurate sort of spoil what could've been a great fic. However, don't real the sequel to it, it's 100% beyond a doubt, horrible.


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