I know what you’re going to say: “Greg, you write about Final Fantasy a whole lot.” You would be right. I do write about it a whole lot. I think about it a whole lot, probably moreso than most other series. The fact is that I credit Final Fantasy as the reason I’ve always been into games. Sure, Legend of Zelda may have been my very first game, but it was Final Fantasy that hooked me, and Final Fantasy II (which, I would later find out, was the fourth game in the series) that solidified the hold that games have had on my life. It was just pretty amazing to me that a game could have a story to it, and I mean a real story with characters and interpersonal conflict.
Tag: Square Enix
So, about a year and a half ago, I reviewed Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I was trying it after coming off of two other MMOs that I had been reasonably impressed with, because it was on sale and because I knew other people who played it and found enjoyment in it. I came away from FFXIV also being reasonably impressed with it, though, at the time, less so than I had been with other games. In all fairness, I attributed part of this to MMO burnout, but even then I had pretty much made the decision that FFXIV was a game I was going to put a couple months into, maybe level a character up to the maximum level, finish the main plot, and then leave it in favor of something a bit more single-player.
Eighteen months later, I’m still playing it.
Every so often a game comes along that presents a series of choices to me, the player, that I absolutely agonize over. This isn’t completely because of the immediate consequences of those actions, which are usually pretty obvious, but more because I know that the choices are going to have an additional level of unforeseen consequences much further down the line. Games like this make me sit there on the dreaded ‘branching choice selection screen’ for an embarrassing number of minutes because I know that no matter what decision I end up making about my character’s immediate future, I am going to regret it in some manner down the line.
It’s interesting to me, then, that as rare as it is to have a game do that to me, I have managed to play two of them in quick succession. One of them was from a very expected source. Dragon Age: Inquisition was a game that I always expected to provoke this reaction, this choice-anxiety in me. Player choice in narrative is kind of Bioware’s thing, after all. It’s what they do. Even if no other part of the game lived up to my expectations of it, I had been confident even without playing it yet that Inquisition would give me personal narrative by way of selecting exactly which part of my emotional gut I wanted to be punched in.
For some reason, I never got into the Tomb Raider games when they first came out. Part of that was probably because I didn’t actually own a Playstation during that time period, and they just kind of got lost in the backlog when I got a Playstation 2 and started playing through the original’s library. And part of it was probably because even back then, I was a bit cynical about inclusion in games. I had likely always thought of Lara as some kind of gimmick, a genderswapped Indiana Jones who was marketed toward a player base that was at the time considered male in the most unapologetic way.
So, when the series was rebooted last year, I still found myself with no real desire to jump into it. It was only after hearing that the game was actually pretty interesting that I decided that I’d give it a fair shot and see if it could impress me. As many of you know, I do have a thing for well-developed and realistic female characters, and while I don’t generally have a lot of hope that video games can deliver on that front, I was really curious as to how close this game could get.
I will freely admit that I have been playing a whole lot of Final Fantasy (and Final Fantasy-like) lately. It’s a testament to my devotion to the series that no matter how many times certain games in it are remade, or how far new entries deviate from tradition, I will still play them. And, really, I will also admit that I still enjoy the series, no matter what direction Square-Enix has decided to take it. Final Fantasy was my first RPG, so I’m not exaggerating when I say that the series has been with me through pretty much the entire course of my life. That doesn’t mean that I can’t see the obvious flaws that it shows sometimes, but I wouldn’t call the series ‘dead’ like a lot of publications are doing at this point in time. Overall, I’d say that my experiences with it remain primarily enjoyable.
Last week saw the release of two much-anticipated Square-Enix games in the North America region. One, Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies, is the 3DS spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light and is a standalone game that should have been released here sooner than it was. The other, Lightning Reutrns, is the actual successor to Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, and promises an ending to a trilogy that was never supposed to be a trilogy. It’s really interesting to me that these games were released in the same week. Why? Because they appear to represent two completely different design philosophies within Square-Enix and also represent some truly interesting things about the Final Fantasy brand itself.
I will admit, this isn’t an article that I thought I was going to write, because Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was not a game that I thought I was going to play. I had gotten quite burned out on MMOs for awhile, and even now that I’m not, I’m still alternating between Guild Wars 2, which I like quite a bit, and The Secret World, which I also like despite a few technical issues it has with one of my GPUs. I even spent a short bit of time with the FFXIV beta and walked away not very impressed at all. So what changed my mind? Well, the game was $15 on Amazon during Thanksgiving Day, and at that price I decided that I’d give it an honest shot for a month and see if it could hold my interest.
I will make the disclaimer that since this is an MMO, and since I’ve only played a few hours into it, I can guarantee you that I don’t have a complete picture of what the game can offer. But that’s not really my purpose here. My purpose is to tell you if it can grab and keep your attention out of the gate.