Stop It Final Fantasy XIII-2

Final Fantasy XIII-2 is, unsurprisingly, the sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. Before I get into the meat of the post I have to make certain “controversial” statements. You see, internet, I liked Final Fantasy XIII. This may not seem weird to those who stay away from gaming message boards, but it is actually quite damning. If there’s one thing the internet community loves to heap all of its sweaty abuse on, its a heavily hyped game that ended up being a disappointment. How can you blame them really? When Square Enix was hyping the game as the second coming of Christ, it was clear that there was going to be some backlash when it didn’t turn out to be as magical an experience as gamers thought. Anyway, I thought the game was, relatively, solid and I have hesitantly been looking forward to its sequel.

Lightning disapproves of your hatery

Final Fantasy as a series has always been reactionary. You could say that they care about their fans too much (oh, doesn’t that feel all warm and cuddly). Final Fantasy 2 (they still used modern numbering for games  back then) was totally different from Final Fantasy (Calling it FF now, because this is getting tedious). In reaction to this, FF3 brought back the old job system and nameless characters. The same thing can be said throughout its history. FFXIII itself was a reaction to FFXII. You see, the internet is like a guppy: it has a very bad memory. Everyone hated FFXII at its release for not being character oriented and being way too open, both in customization, and in level design. The FFXIII comes along and its too linear and everyone hates the character focus (or just the characters, can’t account for taste). Of course, now FFXII is held up as a classic by many gamers, so there you go.

The abs! My eyes!

The developers of FFXIII-2 have been promising that they have learned from their mistakes and that this game is not going to be linear at all. It will have a more dynamic battle system, a strong villain, lots of customization options, and a pokemon-style monster training sidequest. These are all good things, but every time they release a bit of news, I can’t help but think they are shooting themselves in the foot. First of all, just by being a Final Fantasy has put them at a disadvantage, as people are far more critical of it than lesser series. Next we have to look at gaming trends. Do you notice the vast amount of popular JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing-Games for the layman) out there? No? Well there’s a reason for that. You see, western audiences have been moving away from the more quirky JRPG and to the more dour and serious WRPG (Western). Its the same reason why people moved away from campy Batman to serious Batman. What I’m getting at is that JRPGs aren’t popular in the west and holding on to a myriad of JRPG conventions isn’t going to help sell games here.

I know, Mr. West, I’m as upset as you are

Lets look at its villain, Caius. This character was not designed with western audiences in mind. He has long purple hair, a face of a 16 year-old boy, carries a huge sword, and dresses like he fell into a costume shop. This is pretty standard for an anime villain. In fact, I’m sure at least 70% of anime villains would meet this description. The problem is that the west is not interested in anime villains. The west isn’t any less reliant on tropes, mind you, look at all of the evil businessmen, or scarred, muscle-bound, war leaders that permeate throughout western media. While Caius may be an excellent villain, he ends up seeming behind the times here in the same way that long hair and ponchos do (please don’t let ponchos come back into style).

I can’t see that outfit letting his skin breath very well

When Square Enix released an “enhanced combat” trailer, I was intrigued to see how they had changed the combat. It turns out that they have just added quick time events (QTEs) to the combat. I want to spell this out to non-gamers, if there are any actually still reading this. QTEs were made popular in 2005 by God of War and Resident Evil 4. They are just a series of button presses that are made to make cutscenes more interactive. In the present day, there is nothing that the gaming world hates more. QTEs come across as lazy nowadays, as why have an interactive cutscene when you could just have the player do the action in-game. Basically, claiming QTEs as an innovation is not good. It makes the game seem dated.

This sums up current opinions on QTEs

Lastly I’m going to talk about their big plot device: time travel. Yes, they’ve decided that they are going to deal with all the shit that comes with time travel. If there’s anything I learned from Futurama fans, is that nerds love to pull apart time travel paradoxes, which are really hard to avoid. It also runs the risk of making the story jumpy and incoherent, which is really the last thing the series needs right now. Time travel also runs the risk of seeming dated. We, as a culture, haven’t been as interested in time travel stories recently (Hell, even Terminator: Salvation steered clear of it). Of course this can easily change, as time travel is inherently interesting.

As interesting as watching an elderly man play with a young boy

So there are three ways that Square Enix seems to be shooting themselves in the foot through their hype machine. This doesn’t affect my opinion on how the game will likely turn out, but they should stop giving ammunition to the internet trolls. Seriously, they eat this stuff like a giant, living wrench eats tungsten (or so I hear)

TUNGSTEN!!

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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