Quality games. Anyone?

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?

2 thoughts on “Quality games. Anyone?”

  1. yo man FF 7 best story ever. no game i have ever played can live up to what FF 7 has. though out that game u are in constant confusion and u do not no anything that is going on. this reflect the state of mind of cloud, you are like him such that u do not no anything that is going on around you and when u finally grasp on what little u can piece together that so called memories is distorted by different events. though out the whole game u think you are this solider class one but really your not and you do no realize that till the end.

    on the point of Aries i think she never really died. you see she has always been there in the game. that she is still part of the story even after she been killed. what puzzled me is how did Sephiroth get there without cloud noticing was he hiding in a dark corner waiting for Cloud to come or what and why kill aries when you could of just killed cloud. man that buged the hell out of me XD

  2. Agreed. FF7 is the best RPG I have ever played, too. There are surprises everywhere, that end up revealing the big story, and everything ends up making sense =P.

    I think Sephiroth killed Aerith because she was casting Holy, to counter his Meteor. I thought Sephiroth went in that forest first, and Aerith followed him, and then Cloud and the rest. I don’t think Sephiroth is even interested in killing Cloud. Aeris is the only Cetra left on the planet, so only she can cast Holy.

    The game was pretty confusing haha. I had to read wikipedia afterwards to figure everything out.

    I don’t really get why Cloud thought he was in SOLDIER. Mako infusion or something? In Crisis Core he and Zack were both captured by Shinra to be experiment subjects after attacking Sephiroth. And then they escaped the lab after 3 years or something. Zack broke out and took Cloud, who was unconscious from Mako addiction, with him. And that’s when Shinra hunted them down and killed Zack. Cloud only woke up at the very end of Crisis Core to get the Buster Sword from dying Zack (who apparently got it from Angeal, another SOLDIER, Zack’s mentor).

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