No updates tonight; I’m playing video games, wai. Disclaimer: I’ve only played for four hours so far; we just begun the pilgramage. But since I have a very alternate view on RPGs, I figured I’d toss my first impressions out here.
In short: Jackpot. I’ve found an RPG for people who don’t like RPGs.
When the battle system’s a tedious chore and everything basically amounts to a dungeon crawl with bits of plot there only for purposes of having you brawl with monsters in funny locations while your team of 6 or 7 fashion victims levels up and gathers mad lewt, I get turned off real fast. I don’t play these games for the challenge of learning the intricacies of the battle system and finding all the hidden items that power you up while collecting cards / enemy skills / cockfighting slave monsters / 1/16th scale miniature soldiers. I’m not into countless nearly impossible side quests which demand study of the mechanics rivalling a three credit college course with the prize at the end being a snazzy new bronze helmet or a stick that summons bunny rabbits.
What I play RPGs for is the story. The characters. The experience of being immersed in another world. Watching mysteries unfold, seeing the plot twist, living the legend. And that’s what FFX is about in spades.
I’ve heard the complaints: “It’s just one long FMV sequence!” “You don’t even get an overworld map until near the end of the game!” “It’s too easy with those healing save points and the turn based battle!” And you know what? I LIKE having one long interactive FMV sequence that really makes me feel like I’m watching a story unfold. A coherent, well written story with good dialogue that doesn’t feel painfully obvious that it’s been awkwardly translated from Japanese. I LIKE having a very straightforward path through the game so I don’t get lost or caught on side paths; everything I need is right before me without having to know that the secret third rock in the back cave behind sixty enemies opens the treasure chest with the Really Good Sword you’re basically doomed without. I LIKE having the game difficulty set low with healing spots for the paranoid maniac in me who doesn’t like to reload saves after being pasted. Hell, I even Sherman Tanked my way up a few sphere levels on the “bunnies” (those pirahnas) before truly setting out, and it worked like a charm to give me the edge I wanted. Perfect.
Every complaint I have about RPGs seems to be addressed in this game. And if liking a game that’s all story animation, beautiful graphics and fairly simple gameplay makes me a lamer compared to the hardcore RPG nutjobs that cruise GameFAQs and the ilk… then ph34r my m4d l4m3r 5k1llz, y0. I finds my fun where I wanna.
And now, some specifics about the story, as I am a writer and we Examine These Things.
The mystery plot is being presented quite well. Auron’s odd antics and the freaky disappearing child are nice touches. Just enough to make you realize there’s a lot going on you don’t know about — not so much that it devolves into one of the less impressive episodes of the Twilight Zone. I am hoping Sin doesn’t turn out to be your basic alien monster with no purpose other than to kill… if there’s some sort of twisted conspiracy of motivations going on in the end, I’ll be jumping for joy. On a less grand note, Tidus is acting just as someone in his situation would; with a nice mix of confusion and awkwardness. I named him Mallory in my game, and it feels very appropriate.
Characters are a lot of fun. Wakka just kicks incredible amounts of ass; the laid back, casual, quasi-hispanic accent works perfectly for me. He doesn’t express a wild range of emotions, letting some subtlety and implied feeling creep in through his cheerful voice — Lulu does the same, and may I just add that despite suffering from RPG Fashion Victim Syndrome, she has a damn nice costume? For a change I don’t mind Square’s obsession with wearing more than one belt… need to find more FFX doujin pr0n…
Yuna I’m not so hot on. From the moment she arrived and I heard her first lines of dialogue I knew she’d be playing the generically meek and apologetic Japanese female stereotype. “Oh, it’s okay, it was my fault.” Gleeh. Backbone! Backbone! I’m glad I had the option to tell Wakka “She’s not my type” so I could shoot for the other girls in the game. (I like romance subplots, and not just for the hentai factor. Why do ya think I keep writing them in my stories? :)
So, overall… if you didn’t like FF8, buy this, it reworks FF8’s flawed battle and levelling system. If you did like FF8, you have good taste for games with well woven story development and you’ll love this game. And if you didn’t like the popeye-armed dramatic antics of Cloud and his cronies this game’s much better developed on the emotional storytelling front. So, well, jeez. Just buy the damn thing. I resisted all of one week and I regret I did.
And if you try to start an “FF8 rocks/sucks” thread in the comments on this entry I will terminate you with extreme prejudice. Here, I’ll answer the eternal question for you: FF8 Rocked and all who disagree with me will burn forever in the smoking pits of Hell. Thank you, drive through. ^_^