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Author Topic: Teen Angst, Japanese Style. The FFXIII Impressions Thread.  (Read 22478 times)
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skystride
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« Reply #160 on: March 14, 2010, 07:58:49 AM »

Hey guys, can we use a convention like "Beginning/Middle/End of Chapter X" before posting spoilers?  I would really like to read some of the posts but it's not always clear.
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« Reply #161 on: March 14, 2010, 02:39:11 PM »

Quote from: skystride on March 14, 2010, 07:58:49 AM

Hey guys, can we use a convention like "Beginning/Middle/End of Chapter X" before posting spoilers?  I would really like to read some of the posts but it's not always clear.

Good idea, as the game's structure makes that pretty easy to do.  Will revise my post.
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« Reply #162 on: March 14, 2010, 03:28:14 PM »

Quote from: skystride on March 14, 2010, 07:58:49 AM

Hey guys, can we use a convention like "Beginning/Middle/End of Chapter X" before posting spoilers?  I would really like to read some of the posts but it's not always clear.

i'll be steering clear of 'beginning/middle' myself smile (so glad i went the media/review blackout route, btw - between ffxiii & heavy rain, i might have to start doing it with all games i'm interested in from now on)...
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« Reply #163 on: March 14, 2010, 07:20:40 PM »

chapter 9 boss was crazy.
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« Reply #164 on: March 14, 2010, 10:56:04 PM »

Memo to sound designers:  I don't care how appropriate it is in the context of the game, never, never, never, ever use a constant wailing siren as the background noise for an area.  Having to listen to that damn siren for over an hour in chapter 9 just about made me hurl something at the TV.
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semiconscious
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« Reply #165 on: March 15, 2010, 01:33:13 AM »

Quote from: Gratch on March 14, 2010, 10:56:04 PM

Memo to sound designers:  I don't care how appropriate it is in the context of the game, never, never, never, ever use a constant wailing siren as the background noise for an area.  Having to listen to that damn siren for over an hour in chapter 9 just about made me hurl something at the TV.

what? - it didn't add to the foreboding feeling of imminent danger? smile ...

somewhere in chapter 9, & with the smallest bit of backtracking/grinding, i've been able to keep just about everyone maxed out - anyone else doing this?. also, afa a certain character introduced in an earlier chapter:

Spoiler for Hiden:
does colonel hotbody remind anyone else a little bit of bayonetta? smile ...

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« Reply #166 on: March 15, 2010, 02:21:17 AM »

Quote from: semiconscious on March 15, 2010, 01:33:13 AM

somewhere in chapter 9, & with the smallest bit of backtracking/grinding, i've been able to keep just about everyone maxed out - anyone else doing this?

Yup. Constantly. It's kept me from having to upgrade any weapons and/or items. Maybe I should one of these days...
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« Reply #167 on: March 15, 2010, 02:23:58 AM »

Quote from: semiconscious on March 15, 2010, 01:33:13 AM

somewhere in chapter 9, & with the smallest bit of backtracking/grinding, i've been able to keep just about everyone maxed out - anyone else doing this?. also, afa a certain character introduced in an earlier chapter:

There's a spot towards the end of Nautilus where you can grind on a respawning group of 5 of those floating blue machines.  The battle takes less than 1 minute (plus another 30 seconds or so to run down the hall and trigger the respawn), and you get 640 CP per battle.  I spent about an hour there last night, and ended up with a massive CP boost.  I'm now mid-way through Chapter 9, and I already have everyone maxed out.  It was much easier than trying to fight those damn Viking dudes with their shit-load of hit points.
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semiconscious
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« Reply #168 on: March 15, 2010, 03:51:15 AM »

speaking of vikings, chapter 9's made me a huge even the odds fan smile - towards the end (i'm thinking):

Spoiler for Hiden:
blew through the damn vikings with ease, & easily & quickly decimated / 5 starred the dragon both times...

might i suggest a thread title change?: 'rpg awesomeness, japanese style: the ffxii impressions thread' would be a bit more accurate smile ...
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« Reply #169 on: March 15, 2010, 04:27:34 AM »

Quote from: jersoc on March 14, 2010, 07:20:40 PM

chapter 9 boss was crazy.

Damn, you ain't kidding.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Just ended up losing about a 20 minute battle to him when my Doom timer ran out.  I had him down to 50K hit points (out of 462,000  eek), but I couldn't finish him off before time ran out.  Problem is that I was never get him to stagger mode before he'd unleash his super-attack that reset his chain gauge.  Frustrating.  I think I just need to play a little less defensively, as I spent half my time in Bully paradigm which eliminated one of my attackers.  I also probably overhealed, when a bit more of the Relentless Assault would stagger him a second time.

Hopefully I fare a little better when I try the battle again tomorrow. 
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jersoc
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« Reply #170 on: March 15, 2010, 06:28:02 AM »

Quote from: Gratch on March 14, 2010, 10:56:04 PM

Memo to sound designers:  I don't care how appropriate it is in the context of the game, never, never, never, ever use a constant wailing siren as the background noise for an area.  Having to listen to that damn siren for over an hour in chapter 9 just about made me hurl something at the TV.

i'm pretty sure my roommates wanted to kill me. i wanted to kill the game. i fucking hate when games do this. I GET IT ALREADY

oh yeah. i wanted to ask you guys. do you have a hard time reading the text on the game? i find some of it incredibly small and the grey and dark white back ground on the items list i can't see shit. no, it's not my eye sight. the smaller text just shows up blurry or something. any setting i've tried does nothing to fix this. this is the first game in a while where i've had this issue.

gratch, you have the guide don't you?
boss spoilers i guess
Spoiler for Hiden:
i pretty much set my paradigms up like the guide suggested. when he did the main attack i used my hero's charge so that i could heal, hope rebuffed and fang used sentinel. then before the boss goes off you switch to hope healing, fang stays as sentinel and you go commando or rav whatever you want. hope should keep everyone healed and you shouldn't come close to dying from the attack. i could only stagger him once. i pretty much sat in diversify until towards the end to beat the doom timer. beat him my second time
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jersoc
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« Reply #171 on: March 15, 2010, 10:16:28 AM »

ok, these bosses keep more ridiculously hard. took almost an hour to beat a boss in chapter 10. the game pretty much forces you to use lightening, fang and hope, which sucks.
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« Reply #172 on: March 15, 2010, 11:57:10 AM »

Quote from: jersoc on March 15, 2010, 06:28:02 AM

gratch, you have the guide don't you?
boss spoilers i guess
Spoiler for Hiden:
i pretty much set my paradigms up like the guide suggested. when he did the main attack i used my hero's charge so that i could heal, hope rebuffed and fang used sentinel. then before the boss goes off you switch to hope healing, fang stays as sentinel and you go commando or rav whatever you want. hope should keep everyone healed and you shouldn't come close to dying from the attack. i could only stagger him once. i pretty much sat in diversify until towards the end to beat the doom timer. beat him my second time

Yep, I did things just like the guide suggested, and simply ran out of time on the doom timer.
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semiconscious
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« Reply #173 on: March 15, 2010, 12:37:16 PM »

must admit i'm not all that crazy about the soundtrack - anyone else notice, between the vocal tracks & the techno-ish stuff, a certain shin megami tensei flavor (tho not as good) to it all?...
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« Reply #174 on: March 15, 2010, 12:51:47 PM »

The game finally clicked for me this weekend and I am loving it.  The story is getting better and I enjoy the cinematic portion a great deal.  Just started chapter 6
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #175 on: March 15, 2010, 12:54:32 PM »

Quote from: semiconscious on March 15, 2010, 12:37:16 PM

must admit i'm not all that crazy about the soundtrack - anyone else notice, between the vocal tracks & the techno-ish stuff, a certain shin megami tensei flavor (tho not as good) to it all?...

I really like it (though I did get rather sick of the Chapter 9 music by the end).  I definitely notice the SMT flavor in certain portions. 
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Gratch
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« Reply #176 on: March 15, 2010, 01:06:46 PM »

Quote from: semiconscious on March 15, 2010, 12:37:16 PM

must admit i'm not all that crazy about the soundtrack - anyone else notice, between the vocal tracks & the techno-ish stuff, a certain shin megami tensei flavor (tho not as good) to it all?...

Nothing about the soundtrack has really stood out for me, either good or bad.  It's just sort of...there, which is very disappointing for a FF game.
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« Reply #177 on: March 15, 2010, 02:49:03 PM »

I finally got the game, but have had only one chance to play, so I'm not to the clicking-for-me point yet - but I have faith in GT Impressions, so I'm good.  I opted for the 360 version to give me more flexibility (two 360s and one PS3.) 

I will likely restart the game today, with a little more knowledge under my belt - for example, I thought Libra was automatic since I could see enemy data in the menus following fights.  After reading this thread, I realized what I was missing.  Oopsie.

I still have to break the habit of whacking the A button when in panic mode - I kept seeing one full segment on the blue bar, and my character not doing anything until the second segment filled.  I am probably queuing commands without realizing it;  a little more play time should sort that for me.  I'm pretty sure that I will soon be playing the game non-stop.   nod

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« Reply #178 on: March 15, 2010, 02:51:04 PM »

Quote from: mytocles on March 15, 2010, 02:49:03 PM

I will likely restart the game today, with a little more knowledge under my belt - for example, I thought Libra was automatic since I could see enemy data in the menus following fights.  After reading this thread, I realized what I was missing.  Oopsie.

Unless you made it a fair way through Chapter 3 (about 3 hours into the game), restarting won't do any good since you don't get any XP in the first two chapters of the game. 
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« Reply #179 on: March 15, 2010, 03:14:13 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on March 15, 2010, 10:16:28 AM

ok, these bosses keep more ridiculously hard. took almost an hour to beat a boss in chapter 10. the game pretty much forces you to use lightening, fang and hope, which sucks.

Frankly, I could see that as a decent group that covers a lot of bases. Minor character archetype spoiler based on just finishing Chapter 8:

Spoiler for Hiden:
You have two possible healers, two nukers (one of which is really good), a tank (haven't seen much use for it yet though), two Commandos (which can lay on the damage once an enemy is Staggered), a defensive buffer (Protect and Shell, along with some elemental), and a defensive debuffer (Slow).

So yeah, I really can't complain much about that trio.
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« Reply #180 on: March 15, 2010, 04:01:24 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on March 15, 2010, 02:51:04 PM

Quote from: mytocles on March 15, 2010, 02:49:03 PM

I will likely restart the game today, with a little more knowledge under my belt - for example, I thought Libra was automatic since I could see enemy data in the menus following fights.  After reading this thread, I realized what I was missing.  Oopsie.

Unless you made it a fair way through Chapter 3 (about 3 hours into the game), restarting won't do any good since you don't get any XP in the first two chapters of the game. 

Thanks, KG - you saved me some time.  On most new games I spend 3 hours- minimum - just hitting all the wrong controls, so I'm sure I'm nowhere near Chapter 3.   icon_biggrin
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« Reply #181 on: March 15, 2010, 04:53:12 PM »

Anyone have any tips on strategies of where you should put your CP?  I just keep willy-nilly putting them in there.  I guess I am trying to put some focus on some people, like Lightning and Sazh as Commando/Ravager, Hope as Synergist/Healer, Vanille as Healer/Saboteur, etc., but not clue really if that is a good strategy or not.

I unlocked the crafting and have just kind of been throwing items into that as well.  Sometimes I get bonuses, but no real clue why or what is behind the system.

Also, which is better for getting to Stagger quicker?  Commando or Ravager?  Is the difference really that Commando is physical and Ravager is elemental and so you choose based on Libra output of what their strengths and weaknesses are?  I will change to Ravager with Lightning and do lightning attacks on something that is weak to it and I swear their health barely moves.  Maybe because Lightning is higher in strength than in magic and so those attacks don't work?  Just kind of thinking out loud to see if anything thinks maybe I have some of these concepts down or can tell me what thoughts might be wrong.
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« Reply #182 on: March 15, 2010, 05:06:06 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on March 15, 2010, 04:53:12 PM

Anyone have any tips on strategies of where you should put your CP?  I just keep willy-nilly putting them in there.  I guess I am trying to put some focus on some people, like Lightning and Sazh as Commando/Ravager, Hope as Synergist/Healer, Vanille as Healer/Saboteur, etc., but not clue really if that is a good strategy or not.

I unlocked the crafting and have just kind of been throwing items into that as well.  Sometimes I get bonuses, but no real clue why or what is behind the system.

Also, which is better for getting to Stagger quicker?  Commando or Ravager?  Is the difference really that Commando is physical and Ravager is elemental and so you choose based on Libra output of what their strengths and weaknesses are?  I will change to Ravager with Lightning and do lightning attacks on something that is weak to it and I swear their health barely moves.  Maybe because Lightning is higher in strength than in magic and so those attacks don't work?  Just kind of thinking out loud to see if anything thinks maybe I have some of these concepts down or can tell me what thoughts might be wrong.

1) most of the way thru chapter 9, & my characters've been maxed out most of the game - so upgrade whichever specialties you'd like first, but know you'll be able to do all of them eventually...

2) haven't touched crafting (or bought or sold anything)...

3) pharaoh's ez guide:

Quote from: Pharaoh on March 12, 2010, 08:24:02 PM

Ya the secret to this game seems to be using Libra ASAP on new mobs, getting their info sheets tracked so your party knows what to do. Then its a matter of setting the autopilot on ability selection, and making sure your paradigms are matching the flow of the battle. Commando + X to build the stagger,  full ravager to make it trigger, and then commando + ravager to Launch and nuke em to death. Repeat as needed...

things get fast'n'furious eventually, but this is good strategy early on...
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« Reply #183 on: March 15, 2010, 05:08:38 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on March 15, 2010, 04:53:12 PM

Anyone have any tips on strategies of where you should put your CP?  I just keep willy-nilly putting them in there.  I guess I am trying to put some focus on some people, like Lightning and Sazh as Commando/Ravager, Hope as Synergist/Healer, Vanille as Healer/Saboteur, etc., but not clue really if that is a good strategy or not.

Early on (say before Chapter 8 or 9) it really doesn't matter.  Skills are cheap and you should max out each ring with relative ease in each chapter.  Later on the CP skills increase astronomically so you have to start making harder decisions on where to put them.  At that point it's best to shoot for abilities first and then look at your characters stats and formulate a plan.  If they are low on HP then it may be worth working to get as many HP nodes as possible.  If they are primarily used as a Ravager then it's probably good to chase Magic nodes (and the same for Commandos and Strength nodes).  

Quote
Also, which is better for getting to Stagger quicker?  Commando or Ravager?  Is the difference really that Commando is physical and Ravager is elemental and so you choose based on Libra output of what their strengths and weaknesses are?  I will change to Ravager with Lightning and do lightning attacks on something that is weak to it and I swear their health barely moves.  Maybe because Lightning is higher in strength than in magic and so those attacks don't work?  Just kind of thinking out loud to see if anything thinks maybe I have some of these concepts down or can tell me what thoughts might be wrong.

Ravager will raise the meter the highest the fastest.  However it drops off really quickly as well.  Commando doesn't increase the meter much but it will keep it static or radically slow the rate of descent.  The best opening strategy is usually a Com/Rav combo.  Once you are at about 30-40% stagger, switch to Rav/Rav and you should put them in Stagger very quickly.  While doing Rav/Rav, watch the rate the meter is descending between attacks.  If it starts falling rapidly, quickly switch back to a Paradigm with a Commando in it.  
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« Reply #184 on: March 15, 2010, 06:01:50 PM »

I am regretting not being more focused with CP for Sahz and Hope.  Thankfully Iím still early in the game (CH5), so I think Iím still ok.  I focused on both of their Ravager and Synergist roles, and didnít level up Medic.  Now Iím going back and trying to bring Hopeís medic back up. 

Iíve noticed that the CP cost associated with each NPCs roles are different, which supports the idea that it is more efficient to level up specific roles with each NPC.  I know thatís probably a nobrainer for most of you, but I was surprised to see the costs were different.   
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« Reply #185 on: March 15, 2010, 06:03:24 PM »

Quote from: Roguetad on March 15, 2010, 06:01:50 PM

Iíve noticed that the CP cost associated with each NPCs roles are different, which supports the idea that it is more efficient to level up specific roles with each NPC.  I know thatís probably a nobrainer for most of you, but I was surprised to see the costs were different.   


Are you sure you aren't looking at different tiers (ie comparing Tier 2 skills from one character to Tier 3)? 
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« Reply #186 on: March 15, 2010, 06:11:09 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on March 15, 2010, 06:03:24 PM

Quote from: Roguetad on March 15, 2010, 06:01:50 PM

Iíve noticed that the CP cost associated with each NPCs roles are different, which supports the idea that it is more efficient to level up specific roles with each NPC.  I know thatís probably a nobrainer for most of you, but I was surprised to see the costs were different.   


Are you sure you aren't looking at different tiers (ie comparing Tier 2 skills from one character to Tier 3)? 
I donít think so.  Hope and Vanille had really low CP costs for their 1st tier medic rings(60-90 per), while Lightningís 1st tier Medic costs are significantly more expensive (200-300 per).  Maybe the roles they start with are cheaper to level up than the roles they pick up throughout the game? 
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« Reply #187 on: March 15, 2010, 06:15:43 PM »

Quote from: Roguetad on March 15, 2010, 06:11:09 PM

I donít think so.  Hope and Vanille had really low CP costs for their 1st tier medic rings(60-90 per), while Lightningís 1st tier Medic costs are significantly more expensive (200-300 per).  Maybe the roles they start with are cheaper to level up than the roles they pick up throughout the game? 

Certainly possible.  I'll have to check.  I did notice last night that each skill was approximately 1000 CP no matter which job I checked which is why I assumed it depended more on the Tier.  I do know that it is insanely expensive to open up new jobs beyond the default 3.
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« Reply #188 on: March 15, 2010, 06:26:33 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on March 15, 2010, 06:15:43 PM

Quote from: Roguetad on March 15, 2010, 06:11:09 PM

I donít think so.  Hope and Vanille had really low CP costs for their 1st tier medic rings(60-90 per), while Lightningís 1st tier Medic costs are significantly more expensive (200-300 per).  Maybe the roles they start with are cheaper to level up than the roles they pick up throughout the game? 

Certainly possible.  I'll have to check.  I did notice last night that each skill was approximately 1000 CP no matter which job I checked which is why I assumed it depended more on the Tier.  I do know that it is insanely expensive to open up new jobs beyond the default 3.

I noticed the cost difference as well.  On equivalent tiers, Hope would pay 1,000 CP for an HP, MP, or strength node, while Lightning would be 1,080, and Fang 1,200. 
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« Reply #189 on: March 15, 2010, 07:23:25 PM »

my CP is costing 3-4k now. The costs should only rise while you ascend the tier. it shouldn't be a static number. so you can always go back down and the cp shouldn't have changed.
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« Reply #190 on: March 15, 2010, 07:46:11 PM »

Just wanted to put my 2 cents in regarding the review complaints of the game being too linear for too long.  They were right.  The game has become a wash,rinse, repeat game.  The thing about the exploration aspect of earlier FF games was that it broke up the cycle and thus the tedium.  Right now the only thing that breaks up the walk down the narrow area to the next fight thing are the cut scenes.  I like the game and it is, for the most part, fun but I definitely wish it would open up a bit and I understand now why its taken its share of criticism over this.

Oh and how can Odin be such an SOB when you fight him and then turn out to hit like a girl when you summon him?  Its like they gave him a pony for his 16th birthday... oh wait, they did!
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« Reply #191 on: March 15, 2010, 08:05:57 PM »

i blame western rpgs for ruining good rpgs. FF games have never been about vast exploration. Hell, even ME and ME2 has you funneled down corridors. Not really sure why people complain so much. The exploration in Fable 2 is pitiful, at best. In fact, Fallout 3 is the only good example I can think of.
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« Reply #192 on: March 15, 2010, 08:13:41 PM »

Quote from: jersoc on March 15, 2010, 08:05:57 PM

i blame western rpgs for ruining good rpgs. FF games have never been about vast exploration. Hell, even ME and ME2 has you funneled down corridors. Not really sure why people complain so much. The exploration in Fable 2 is pitiful, at best. In fact, Fallout 3 is the only good example I can think of.

I'm somewhat in agreement with this, I hate that Western RPGs have created this expectation for all RPGs to be open-world. I really hope FF13 sells extremely well, I want it to outsell Fallout 3 and ME2, so that other developers can have some breathing room when it comes to making a linear, story-driven RPG without open-ended plot elements. I'm sorry, but games like Fallout 3 and ME2 don't have nearly the same impact in story telling and character development as a Final Fantasy.
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« Reply #193 on: March 15, 2010, 08:22:43 PM »

Quote from: Ridah on March 15, 2010, 08:13:41 PM

Quote from: jersoc on March 15, 2010, 08:05:57 PM

i blame western rpgs for ruining good rpgs. FF games have never been about vast exploration. Hell, even ME and ME2 has you funneled down corridors. Not really sure why people complain so much. The exploration in Fable 2 is pitiful, at best. In fact, Fallout 3 is the only good example I can think of.

I'm somewhat in agreement with this, I hate that Western RPGs have created this expectation for all RPGs to be open-world. I really hope FF13 sells extremely well, I want it to outsell Fallout 3 and ME2, so that other developers can have some breathing room when it comes to making a linear, story-driven RPG without open-ended plot elements. I'm sorry, but games like Fallout 3 and ME2 don't have nearly the same impact in story telling and character development as a Final Fantasy.

I actually disagree with this when it comes to ME2. I think the characters in ME2 are actually more realistic and deeper than those in FF13. In fact to me the characters, their backgrounds and motivations are one of the strong points of ME2.
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semiconscious
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« Reply #194 on: March 15, 2010, 08:31:13 PM »

Quote from: Ridah on March 15, 2010, 08:13:41 PM

Quote from: jersoc on March 15, 2010, 08:05:57 PM

i blame western rpgs for ruining good rpgs. FF games have never been about vast exploration. Hell, even ME and ME2 has you funneled down corridors. Not really sure why people complain so much. The exploration in Fable 2 is pitiful, at best. In fact, Fallout 3 is the only good example I can think of.

I'm somewhat in agreement with this, I hate that Western RPGs have created this expectation for all RPGs to be open-world. I really hope FF13 sells extremely well, I want it to outsell Fallout 3 and ME2, so that other developers can have some breathing room when it comes to making a linear, story-driven RPG without open-ended plot elements. I'm sorry, but games like Fallout 3 and ME2 don't have nearly the same impact in story telling and character development as a Final Fantasy.

expect them to be, & basically demand them to be. i prefer playing bayonetta to god of war, but hell if i'm gonna demand that god of war be more like bayonetta - it wouldn't be god of war anymore, for one thing smile . they're different games, doing different things, &, even tho they fall roughly into the same genre, criticizing either for not being more like the other is (as gratch would say smile ) bullshit...
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 08:40:04 PM by semiconscious » Logged

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« Reply #195 on: March 15, 2010, 08:37:45 PM »

Friend of mine mentioned Eidolons should be used as much as possible to increase their strength.  Is that true?  I didn't see anything mentioned in game and I was being pretty conservative in their use.
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Roguetad
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« Reply #196 on: March 15, 2010, 09:18:17 PM »

They did such a good job with most of the tutorials, but that Eidolon gesalt rpm tachometer thingy came out of left field.  I have no idea what to make of that.  I just press A.  They look cool, but don't seem to do a lot of damage.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 09:20:24 PM by Roguetad » Logged
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« Reply #197 on: March 15, 2010, 10:24:13 PM »

Quote from: Roguetad on March 15, 2010, 09:18:17 PM

They did such a good job with most of the tutorials, but that Eidolon gesalt rpm tachometer thingy came out of left field.  I have no idea what to make of that.  I just press A.  They look cool, but don't seem to do a lot of damage.

Yeah, I have no idea what's going on there.  There is some meter that runs down, but you can also go into gestalt mode.  Not sure how you are decide when to move from one to the other.  Just before it runs out?
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #198 on: March 15, 2010, 10:27:26 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on March 15, 2010, 10:24:13 PM

Yeah, I have no idea what's going on there.  There is some meter that runs down, but you can also go into gestalt mode.  Not sure how you are decide when to move from one to the other.  Just before it runs out?

Yes.  The higher you build Gestalt (basically the same idea as Staggers), the longer you can use Gestalt mode.  So you want to build it up as much as possible before time runs out and then trigger Gestalt mode at the last second. 
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« Reply #199 on: March 16, 2010, 12:14:39 AM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on March 15, 2010, 10:27:26 PM

Quote from: The Grue on March 15, 2010, 10:24:13 PM

Yeah, I have no idea what's going on there.  There is some meter that runs down, but you can also go into gestalt mode.  Not sure how you are decide when to move from one to the other.  Just before it runs out?

Yes.  The higher you build Gestalt (basically the same idea as Staggers), the longer you can use Gestalt mode.  So you want to build it up as much as possible before time runs out and then trigger Gestalt mode at the last second. 
What does the tachometer thing do after you go into Gestalt mode?  I figured out the timing of the purple gestalt bar, but that dial tachometer thing that appears in the UI after I activate gestalt mode is all kinds of weird. 
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