I have just finished Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, on the PSP. It’s a prelude to Final Fantasy VII, a 1997 game.
For those who don’t know, Final Fantasy is a very successful series of role playing games in fantasy settings from Square Enix. The most famous installment, FFVII, still have a fanbase of millions even today, more than 10 years after it’s launch. It’s the 4th best selling video game franchise of all times, after Mario, Pokemon, and The Sims (The Sims surprised me :-)). Beats even Tetris.
I am a die-hard fan of the FF series. This one is the 4th I have finished, after FFVII, VIII, and X.
I am not usually a big fan of video games, but I think FF worths every second of my time spent on it, up till now.
It’s one of a few games not based on bloody violence, has depths to the plots, well developed characters, cinematic full motion videos (FMV), innovative story-telling techniques, and with real music that is actually orchestrated and performed. Sure there are battles here and there, but they don’t distract from the beauty of the game. It is evident that the developers actually spent time on the game, instead of just throwing random bits together and hope to make big bucks, which is the case with many modern games.
The point of this post, though, is that I think they are going downhills.
If you have played Crisis Core, you would know what I mean. What’s with those repetitive “missions”, crappy music, Korean soap opera style plot, and random battles everywhere just to extend playing time? It did not live up to the legend that prior Final Fantasies have established.
Comparing it to, for example, FF7. In FF7, the female protagonist, Aeris Gainsborough, died an epic death halfway through the game, and is removed from the game since that point. If you have played as many role playing games as I have, you would find it strange. By classic conventions, when a main character dies, it’s almost predictable that s/he will be revived somehow somewhere later in the story. Not the case with FF. The character of Aeris is so well-developed that, people were actually shocked and saddened by her death. There was even a petition to the scenario writer, Yoshinori Kitase, to revive Aeris. But he wouldn’t.
In the real world things are very different. You just need to look around you. Nobody wants to die that way. People die of disease and accident. Death comes suddenly and there is no notion of good or bad. It leaves, not a dramatic feeling but great emptiness. When you lose someone you loved very much you feel this big empty space and think, ‘If I had known this was coming I would have done things differently.’ These are the feelings I wanted to arouse in the players with Aerith’s death relatively early in the game. Feelings of reality and not Hollywood.
– Yoshinori Kitase, Edge Magazine, May 2003
when I reflect on Final Fantasy VII, the fact that fans were so offended by her sudden death probably means that we were successful with her character. If fans had simply accepted her death, that would have meant she wasn’t an effective character.
– Yoshinori Kitase
An interview with the scenario writer
Where is this kind of drama in modern games?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making people’s heads explode in Call of Duty 4 with a .50 cal sniper rifle, but what about something with more depth?