Entries in final fantasy (4)


A massive(ly multiplayer) realization

At some point when I wasn’t paying enough attention, I seem to have become an MMO player. What started out as an academic dalliance to figure out what this World of Warcraft thing was all about has slowly progressed to become a Thing I Enjoy. Over the past couple of years (which, not coincidentally, also represents the time frame since which I acquired a decently beefy gaming PC), I have slowly begun to notice that I’m actually paying attention to MMO launches. I might even go so far as to say I’ve looked forward to some of them.

I’ve not yet devolved to the point that I’m pulling all-nighters on launch day, chugging lukewarm pizza and Red Bull, trying to be the first to reach level 60. I’m not planning weekly raid events or drawing up spreadsheets with PvP stats. But, more and more, I’m treating big MMO launches as something to look forward to and participate in. This is something of a big deal given my prior disdain for the genre.

To be sure, I have not yet conquered my general tendency to hop about wildly from game to game and purchase the newest, shiniest thing that catches my attention. When considered along with that pesky “job” thing I’m forced to drag myself to, it’s little wonder I rarely make it to the big boy levels of these things before losing interest. Nonetheless, only recently I've seen The Old Republic, Tera, The Secret World, and Neverwinter come and go while dabbling in the early stages of Firefall and looking forward to The Elder Scrolls Online. I can keep telling myself I’m not going to play these things all I want, but it’s clearly not working.

I’ve written before on some of the reasons why I like this genre, despite my frequent criticisms of it, but the realization that it may have morphed into something more than a guilty pleasure is relatively recent. There are many possible reasons for this development. The acquisition of my gaming PC makes me more likely to hunt down interesting PC titles, of which new MMOs represent a significant chunk. The drought of JRPGs these days leaves fewer outlets for long adventures and the oh-so-satisfying thrill of seeing your level number increase than there once was (a niche that western RPGs can only sometimes fill in quite the same way). MMOs as a whole have also increased dramatically in quality, both mechanically and graphically, as well as, crucially, user friendliness. Even repetitive games like Tera can impress with a solid set of combat mechanics, or games with tired combat like The Secret World can thrill with a unique setting and focus on story.

There has always been a certain something to MMOs that I enjoyed that nothing else provided. That sense of grand adventure, of scale, and of permanence is an addicting concoction. I think, simply put, the genre has gotten better at capitalizing on those strengths while not getting on my nerves nearly as much as it used to. The future looks bright indeed for the genre, and I am becoming more and more comfortable with admitting to myself that I genuinely like these titles, because the titles are more and more worth liking.

Not so bright, however, is the outlook for my staggeringly large backlog of unfinished solo games. Not a pretty sight. 


The Pitfalls of Tradition: The Decline of the JRPG

The origins of the fledgling medium of interactive gaming lie steeped in tradition. Close ties to technological development have inspired great change in a short span of years, but most games even today are still rooted in a core of rules and concepts formed many years ago.

When you consider that video games are, essentially, highly evolved forms of old-world entertainment, such as card and board games, this is understandable. Modern interactive games might be technologically wondrous, but they’re still based on rules and systems like any other traditional game. As such, it’s easy to understand the temptation to stick with what works and resist change simply for the sake of it.

This traditionalism has, in many ways, served the industry well. Years of honing concepts, evolving ideas, and developing genres has led to a steady trend upward in quality across nearly every facet of game development. It’s this evolution from early ideas, this adherence to what works, that has allowed video games to come so far in such a short time.

It is vital to point out that the key concept here is evolution, not stagnation.

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Final Fantasy XIII Progress Report: A Primary Concern

Final Fantasy XIII has a lot of problems. This should come as no surprise to anyone.

The Internet overfloweth with reports of this title’s many misfortunes. From a cast of characters filled with one too many jackasses to a difficulty curve overly fond of the comforting right angles of the good old brick wall to a level designer seemingly infatuated with tubes, Final Fantasy XIII is, shall we say, less than perfect.

My final verdict on the game will have to wait, and it will have to wait quite a while because this is a long, difficult game.

But I have discovered something recently. As per my usual habits, I had gotten distracted from my Final Fantasy-ing for a few days, having briefly put it aside to play some Super Street Fighter IV online, play around with some Rabbids that arrived from GameFly, and even do a couple of things that didn’t involve holding a controller.

I picked it back up today after deciding that, with so many terrific games coming out right around now, I needed to get Final Fantasy XIII out of the way so I could move onto something else with a clear conscience.

So, in an effort to clear my calendar (and just to get it out of the way) I put Final Fantasy XIII back in my PS3 and got back to the grind.

That’s when it occurred to me. I now know what my biggest issue with this game is, and it isn’t any of the things I thought it would be.

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Conquering the Vile Buzzword: Cinematic Gaming Realized

I’ve always hated the term “cinematic” when applied to videogames. 

Why is it, exactly, that the interactive entertainment industry has such a self-confidence problem that it feels the need to invoke a term that implies that, to be worthy of note, games must ape the best qualities of movies instead of playing to their own strengths?

The term always makes me think of franchises like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid; games that are known for being as much non-interactive cutscene as they are actual gameplay. Or it might conjure the image of Devil May Cry or others of its ilk that seem to revel in taking the coolest moments out of the player’s control and placing them in movies, as if afraid letting the player have fun would have spoiled the cool action movie moment the developers had in mind.

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