And though I had slain a thousand foes less one,
The thousandth knife found my liver;
The thousandth enemy said to me,
'Now you shall die,
Now none shall know.'
And the fool, looking down, believed this,
Not seeing, above his shoulders, the naked stars,
Each one remembering.
--John M. Ford, The Final Reflection

The Asylum Director

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"The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any." - Russel Baker

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gripe #8: One For The Old Guard

Well, well, well. Another Gripe from me. It has been a while, hasn't it? Don't worry. This one, like the others, is non-sensical, ill-informed, and highly subjective. Now, please pass the vitriol and we can begin.

The PS3

First off, let me express my dislike of Sony's PS3. I have liked the company's products for years, mind you, and am an avid fan of the PS1. My opinion of the PS2 has always been treading murky waters but the few good games for it compensated. However, regardless of the game quality, I cannot condone the PS3.

The damn console uses so much proprietary technology that it is ridiculous. Also, judging from the specifications and insider reports I got, I'm sure the PS3 has failed to address some of the practical problems that have plagued Playstations since the very first one was released.

Also, as much as I hate to admit it, I dislike the fact that Sony is the dominant console company today. It only means that all the crap-tastic games will be coming out mostly for the PS3, which eats away at people's money. Also, it has become clear that being the dominant console has had very negative effects on the quality of the games coming out. A number of games for the PS2 during this time, the closing years of the console, are utter garbage. After a bit of historical analysis, they're (comparatively) worse than the last few games to be released for other console wars dominators, like the SNES.

It would be nice of the X-Box 360 (which is an excellent system, though the game selection lacks tried and true RPGs) or the Nintento Wii (Mario, Samus, Pikachu, and Link are all Nintendo needs to stay afloat in the gaming world, really) could kick the PS3 off the top spot that it will inevitably claim. Sony should take a cue from Nintendo. Even though the console is far from dominant, the Gamecube has some of the best games out there. Metroid Prime (and the sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes) is, by and large, infinitely more fun than most of the games to come out for the PS2.

Rest In Peace, Final Fantasy Series

As far as I am concerned, the Final Fantasy series is dead.

It started dying when Final Fantasy VII was released, though that was really just a flesh wound. At the very least, it featured a halfway decent plot but the villain was little more than a superpowered mama's boy and felt lacking. Still, at least Sephiroth was a more credible villain than Edea, Seifer, Kuja, or the horribly contrived Ultimecia. Don't get me started on the poor excuse for a villian that you get in Final Fantasy X. The death of a major character was a nice, poignant touch, but it served as little more than a way to extend a convoluted, confusing, and, at times, nonsensical plot. To make matters worse, the Materia system is a terrible system that just doesn't work.

Final Fantasy VIII, while I love the game because it was my first RPG (I went backwards through the series afterwards), was also a nail in the coffin. I confess that it is a good game on it's own but it is no Final Fantasy. The characters lacked development, save for Squall and Rinoa. Understandable, as most characters in a love story are poorly developed and serve only as background for the lovers to stand on. However, the easily abused Junction system and the level of combat interactivity threw me off. It didn't feel like Final Fantasy, a fact I realized after playing through the first game. Let's not even begin to talk about the lack of a credible villain in this story. Small consolation, I guess, is the fact that I actually am quite fond of the cast and am happy to see some of them in the Kingdom Hearts series.

Final Fantasy IX was the worst of the PS1 lot. Let's start with the Trance feature. I hate it. I despite it. I loathe it. Frankly, at the very least, the Limit Break systems from Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII offered a degree of control over them, making them infinitely more useful. The fact that the Trance ability could not be controlled in any way made me sick. I felt as if it defeated the very purpose of having a system like that. What's the use of it if you can't save it for a battle when you'd really need it? Let's not even begin talking about the plot and characters, who are all distressingly annoying. The villain, Kuja, is also the worst villain in Final Fantasy history.

Final Fantasy X I consider to be in a similar vein to Final Fantasy VIII, which means I think it is a good game on it's own but it doesn't stack up to Final Fantasy standards. The main gripe I have it is that the plot lacks power. The love story is has is not as potent or well-delivered as Rinoa and Squall's. The darkness of the atmosphere lacks the true, overall dark appeal of Final Fantasy VII, which lures you in from the get-go with the slums of Midgar. Finally, the system it employs reminds me too much of Diablo for comfort. Of course, there's also the debacle that is Final Fantasy X-2 to take into account...

Final Fantasy XI doesn't count. It only bears the Final Fantasy name, none of the legend or legacy behind it. Sort of like the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie. Standing alone, it is an above average product but it lacks the power to be desrving of the name.

Final Fantasy XII is what really killed the series for me. I'll give you one simple statement as to why: (almost) real-time combat. I liked the old ATB system. I love turn-based combat systems. I like having menus and commands and that little cursor/pointer thing. I like not having to worry about how fast I press buttons when I'm in an RPG combat situation. By making the combat what it is, Final Fantasy XII has effectively taken away what little RPG elements the game had after the four games that came before it. The plot is only marginally acceptable, as it is a good, solid plot but lacks Sakaguchi's signature. None of the characters are as memorable or as endearing, sadly. That is disappointing, as all the 3D Final Fantasy games before it (again, barring Final Fantasy XI) had at least one likeable character.

Final Fantasy XIII may or may not be the saving grace of the series for me. It looks nice enough and the graphics definitely feel like Final Fantasy again, unlike the 3 most recent outings. However, the combat is still carried out in the same way, which, in conjunction with the setting, makes it seem less Final Fantasy and more Halo.

***end gripe***

That's it for today. Work is I'm still not done doing what I want to do with Final Fantasy VI or Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. I'm not done watching Buffy, The Vampire Slayer yet. I'm still re-working Tohya's second "book." My social life is still dead in the water. I'm still sure I'm going to lose the WAFF contest Tuxy has, as well as still being a Mod on his forums. I'm still hammering out the details for my other fiction project, currently called Project: X because I can't think of anything else to name it. Yeah, nothing much has changed....

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