As you may or may not know, I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series. A very successful series of epic RPG games/franchise by the Japanese company Square Enix.
I have played just about all installments from FF7 (1997) to, as of today, FF13, except for the MMORPG ones (11 and 14?), which I have absolutely no interest in. It feels like they are just milking the cow, so to speak, with the MMO versions. They have nothing to do with the new genre that previous FF games have established.
If you have never tried Final Fantasy before, I strongly recommend it. Start with FF7. You will be amazed :D. 8 is pretty good too, so is 10.
Each Final Fantasy game is set in an unique alternative universe with very cool fantasy elements, heroic stories, and lot’s of magic. The stories are generally unrelated, with unique characters, and each universe is unique, with it’s own rules, though there are some recurring motifs, and some elements that appear in all games (magic, summons, higher being, Chocobo! etc).
I just finished Final Fantasy XIII today on my PS3, and I have to say, I LOVE it :D. It has my approval. At 6 months start to finish, it’s got to be the longest game I’ve ever played. My game time was about 59 hours according to the in-game timer.
The game is full of cines. Absolutely stunning cines. The effects, animations, and rendering also push the bar for modern games. The models and textures are so detailed that they look better than anything in the real world. The technical elements are flawless.
On the more traditional elements – Final Fantasy stories have traditionally been tragic with dark and weighty backgrounds. This game is no exception. But that’s what’s so special about Final Fantasy. A dark background highlights all flashes of “goodness” in the game – any act of kindness, any show of appreciation. Lot’s of dilemmas. And way too many mind-blowing twists. It’s all too delicious.
Another major theme in the game is strong females, both mentally and physically, which I thought was really cool. If you haven’t noticed already, most games today portray females as brainless whiny pets that only exist for developers to answer the question “why are there no females in the game?”. And then some games tried to change that by making some strong and tough females at the beginning… that eventually broke down or otherwise submit to their male counterparts. I do realize the game industry is 99% male (don’t ask how I know…), but really??
Character development is very good for all players. They are well thought out, and have quite a bit of depth. I don’t like all characters equally. In particular, I hate Lightning and really liked Fang, but that all make the game more interesting. If they make all characters likable for all people, they might as well just have 1 character, and a few copies to help out in battles. The game won’t feel believable.
The new battle system is pretty exciting. Instead of trying to control 3 characters at once in real time as in previous installments, the player only gets to control 1 dude (or, actually, dudette most of the time) directly, and others by general instructions (heal, buff, attack, etc). I think it makes battles less chaotic, but does take out some control.
The leveling system and item system are also quite a bit simpler. Non of that draw magic/junction thing of FF8 (it was the part I hated the most). The game is presented more like a movie than a world you can interact with.
I think I leveled a little too much. The final boss was a pushover. That happened with Sephiroth, too…
Looking forward to FFXIII-2! (hopefully it’s not as bad as FFX-2)