Articles tagged with kotaku


23-05-11
Posted by Duane at 16:44

Ha! I return, and what have decided to discuss on my return? Erm, this article by Tim Rogers on the website Kotaku.

First off, I used to kind of enjoy Tim Rogers when back in the first few years at GamesTM, I quickly developed the feeling that he was a little too self absorbed for my liking. Now I understand as a columnist/videogames blogger, you kind of have to be, but I get the impression that Rogers enjoys writing in such a manner a little too much. I'll admit its tongue in cheek, but does such an article need to reference himself and his supposed connection to the games industry quite so much?

By doing so, he begins to lose the reader not to mention losing sight of his point, which appears to be that Square-Enix (formerly Squaresoft) have lost sight of whats made them succesful and also refuse to listen to their fanbase. So what does he believe made them succesful? "accidents", or as the case actually is, taking a risk. Thats the basis of all initial success, no one got initial success by being safe, but you can't take risks all the time, you have to realise your strengths and play to that. Something that Square-Enix have tried to do, although for such an extended period of time with very little experimentation and risk taking that its begun to grate.

Let's not forget, the game he's slating the most in the linked article, Final Fantasy XIII, managed to achieve "XBox Classics" status, at least it did in the European PAL territory anyway, the brand still sells. I own a copy, as I do most Final Fantasy games, I own at least one version of each of the main instalments in the series aside from III (I did own the DS remake, it got stolen) and V, oh and XI but I don't really count that as a main game, it carries the roman numeral because at the time Square-Enix weren't really experimenting with different idea's carrying the Final Fantasy suffix really.

Final Fantasy XIII is really, the first time the fans have turned on the company for not trying something different. Lets not forget that the core gameplay of the series remained unchanged for a long long time, the battle system was essentially the same until XII, with a few tweaks here and there to make the game force you into a different tactical approach in order to make another 80 hour epic actually playable, thus we got different idea's such as the Materia system in Final Fantasy VII and the Junctioning system in VIII. They then experimented with different story telling methods, such as IX's Active Time Events which took you to little side stories that helped flesh out the bigger story or provided short moments of amusement. XII shook things up completely. But the thing that made these games enjoyable was their want for you to explore, for you to be immersed in the Fantasy.

In my opinion, the change to acted cut-scenes in X was the beginning of the end in this respect, by removing the simple action of press X in order to advance conversation and removing the voice from the players mind (and Tidus' voice still makes me shudder) that element of immersion was removed, it was only a small thing, some might say insignificant, but by telling me that the characters acted and sounded like this, the element of this being my Fantasy tale was taken away from me. XII rectified this a little, it was still cut-scene and voice acter heavy, but the world was so hugely populated that it was somehow more immersive.

XIII however, with its linear and overtly long introductory sequence with its insistant need to hold your hand and stop the action to tell you whats happening every few moments makes the game more of a viewing experience rather than an interactive. I've honestly not gotten very far into it, certainly not through this section, I'm on disc 2 and about 16 hours in but it takes alot of wanting for me to even try and progress through it, counter that with my Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection save file, 18 hours in (in a much shorter period of time, and on a handheld where I'm also juggling Tactics Ogre: Lets Us Cling Together;22 hours in) where I usually have the battery begin to run out on me before I stop playing and you can probably guess how much I'm enjoying the overall experience.

Which is a shame, as I think the battle system is probably the most tactical and impressive yet, it feels like Atlus' Persona battle system, only a little more advance and more reliant on pre-planning rather and having various back up plans rather than just reacting to any given situation by immediately contacting your external support to find out the enemies weakness (and thats not a criticsm of Persona in anyway, long time readers of anything I've written or whatever will know I adore Persona 3).

I think this is beginning to get a little long now, its certainly beginning to head away from my original feelings that whilst I agree that Square-Enix have lost sight of what initially made them succesful, I do think that a return to that kind of business is nigh on impossible for a company of their size. They need to find a balance between releasing safe games, of which I think Final Fantasy XIII is one regardless of the ridiculous amounts of assetts that were created during its development period, and taking risks with other titles (Dissidia perhaps) and then somehow combining the two to make their safer titles that little bit more interesting for the player so that we all keep investing in their products to see just what they are going to do next, we can all say we want Final Fantasy VII remade all we want, and it'll probably happen eventually, but as soon as it does, people will bitch that all it is is a remake of a game originally released in the mid-90s thats not actually aged all that well.
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