Gendo – My Love/Hate Relationship With Final Fantasy, and Why I Won’t Play XIIIMarch 10, 2010
With all the recent buzz about Final Fantasy XIII I figured I’d talk a little bit about why I don’t think I’ll be playing it. There probably is no possible way that I think I could sit down and enjoy Final Fantasy XIII, just from the information that I’ve gleaned from reviews it really doesn’t sound like a game I would like… but why? This won’t be an in depth discussion (it’s gonna come off as more of a rant), but more a casual glace at how I’ve come to hate the Final Fantasy series.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert on the series of Final Fantasy, but I have been here for a long time so I think I have a pretty good understanding of the series as a whole. I’ve loved the series since its inception on the NES, but the direction it started heading after VII had me losing faith in the series. Other people may have liked it, but for me it just wasn’t quite my cup of tea. We’ll go down the line starting with VIII:
Final Fantasy VIII was mired in a terrible statistics and magic system that literally had you drawing magic for hours on end to improve stats. Summons would eat up hours of gameplay time and it had a completely nonsensical story with really forgettable characters. Squall really gave Cloud a run for his money as “worst protagonist ever”.
Final Fantasy IX was a return to form; I give Square props for that. Kickin’ it old school, they kinda brought back what made Final Fantasy so awesome in the first place. Though, I still didn’t enjoy this as much as previous games in the series. Didn’t this one sell worse than others? A sign of the times?
Final Fantasy X was fun, different but it still held a lot of the Final Fantasy ideals from the past along with pushing the game forward. Linear it was, but it worked. Had some really memorable characters too, ones you really could actually care about.
Final Fantasy X-2…do I really even need to bother explaining why I hated this pile of feces?
Final Fantasy XI of course was an MMO, and this is where the alarm bells started to ring even more than after VII. Didn’t want to touch this, and if you know me then you know why. For people who don’t, I abhor MMO’s. They keep you compulsively playing, even though you’re really not enjoying it. But that’s a topic for another time.
Final Fantasy XII was more of the same from XI, except offline. More forgettable characters (except Balthier), and a plot that didn’t seem to end up going anywhere, first time I quit a FF game after less than 20 hours of gameplay. Also, the battle system was a joke. You could honestly put down the controller and have that damn game play for you. I hated it.
Now we come to Final Fantasy XIII. The “tunnel simulator” as it has “jokingly” been called. There is approximately 25 hours of gameplay before you’re allowed to move in a direction other than a straight line. No towns to flesh out the world, and from all accounts more cookie cutter forgettable characters in what’s supposed to be a “pretty good” story… The game has been compared to a FPS by I believe it was the games director? This is weird to say the least. And I know people will say, “Well these are pretty petty reasons to not play the game”, but you know what? From what I can tell, I won’t like the game. The series by this point has honestly completely forgotten where it came from. Most people have called this game the anti-Final Fantasy because it doesn’t even resemble a Final Fantasy game. There’s nothing wrong with changing up a formula (X did it amicably), but when a game in a long running series no longer resembles its past, then why would I want to play it? Why exactly should I care?
Final Fantasy XIII is the mass market friendly game that Square-Enix has wanted to make for a long time. It’ll either: sell millions to the hungry fanboys and bring in tons of new blood with its mass market appeal or it could end up flat on its face like it ended up in Japan, selling amazingly in its first week only to end up bargain bin a month later. This I honestly can’t predict…
All I know is Square lost me as a Final Fantasy fan with games like VIII, X-2, XI and XII. XIII isn’t going to win me back, and really Lost Odyssey has done more for the old school Final Fantasy fanboy in me than any game after Final Fantasy VII. Maybe Hironobu Sakaguchi really was the soul of the series? Maybe I’m just bitter because Final Fantasy is no longer that little niche RPG that could? While people are enjoying their copies of Final Fantasy XIII resting snugly in their warm PS3’s or (God forbid!) 360’s, I’ll be “stuck in the past” enjoying what I think Final Fantasy truly was: A combination of great graphics and gameplay, without getting overly technical or flashy. Interesting characters and a simple but endearing story, without getting too caught up in cutscenes and melodrama. Fundamentally a fun RPG, dammit! I think they forgot how to make those to be honest…
Well, after some careful deliberation I think my previous statements are going to stand as far as my decision on Final Fantasy XIII.
I finally got around to reading Jim Sterling’s review of FFXIII, and I gotta say I think I made the right call. I trust Jim and Chad over on Destructoid and Jim really paints a grim picture. One that I suspected was true, even though I hadn’t had my hands on a controller and playing the game.
As I said in my post, Final Fantasy has been slipping over the past decade in terms of quality. Other (read: many) people might not agree, but I’m of the firm belief it has.
I’m going to wait for Final Fantasy XV to drop. If Square picks up the pieces and puts together a great RPG like they were once capable of I’ll be right here waiting. So this isn’t “OMFG I’m never playing a Squeenix game again!”. This is just me waiting for a better effort.