Final Fantasy: Forging The Future

FF ALL

I’ve thought a long time about how to write this. I knew I would need a Final Fantasy article honoring its 25th year in existence (if we go by the Japanese release dates), but I wasn’t sure what the angle should be. I’ve already written so very many posts about Final Fantasy that the readers probably think I am trolling them. I’m not. It’s just my favorite game (as you might have noticed) and it’s the one that always gets my blood pumping. But I’ve conveyed that already, many times before. I thought about letting the whole thing go by, but that didn’t feel right either.

So rather than talk about the past of Final Fantasy, which admittedly was when people still cared about the series, I’ve decided to talk about the future of Final Fantasy and what I think I can be done to salvage the once-proud franchise. There are tons of articles out there about this very subject, but I hope you will agree that I have shown enough credibility regarding Final Fantasy to make my voice stand out against the cacophony of chaos currently clouding the Internet like a sudden squall. (See what I did there?) Continue reading Final Fantasy: Forging The Future

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Strikes At PAX

Yeah, that’s the title of the game: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. After the somewhat misleading marketing approach of Final Fantasy XIII-2 that fixed itself around Lightning, even though her appearance in the game was little more than a cameo, Square Enix is not taking any chances and apparently shoving the main marketing theme right in the name: Lightning is back and that’s a good thing. Somehow, despite the mixed reception of the first game in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and the more positive if cautious welcome of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the one thing people seem to agree on is that we all want more Lightning.

So Square Enix is obliging, but in a radical departure from the previous two games, which I applaud because that’s the main reason I love Final Fantasy. Details are still scarce, but we know that Lightning is the only playable character in the game, but is highly customizable, allowing you to change her combat style and appearance in drastic ways. The biggest shock is that the menus are gone as this is an action-RPG, giving you direct control over her movements and actions for the first time. It’s something Square has hinted at in the previous two games, but now they appear ready to fully embrace it. It’s a direction the series has been heading for quite some time, so I am anxious to see how they pull it off.

The other big gameplay difference is the presence of a Majora’s Mask type Doomsday countdown clock. The game will take place over 13 days and every action you perform, including healing, casting spells and reviving yourself will drain precious time from the clock, hastening the final showdown. Oh and the game takes place hundreds of years after FF XIII-2. Consider me intrigued.

What about you? Do the drastic changes Square is implementing only further turn you away from Final Fantasy? Or does their desire for innovation make you want to give it a chance? Hit the comments!

Source: IGN

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

Metal Gear Solid HD

Been a while since we had one of these discussions, so I thought it was time for a good old-fashioned “What Are You Playing” from the folks at GamerSushi.

This time of year is always a strange one. It’s about the time that you start clearing out the backlog from the end of the previous year, and you’re moving on to a number of random games that you couldn’t quite find time for before. Sure, there might be the random release like Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Twisted Metal to keep you busy, but for the most part, you’re waiting for one of the big releases from March or perhaps even as far away as the summer.

At least, that’s my story right now. Having just come off of Final Fantasy XIII-2, I’ve been dabbling in a few games that I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I do. For one, I’ve been totally up to my knees in the Mass Effect 3 demo. That one in particular was one that I had mostly written off, only expecting just a few evenings of fun – but it’s had the opposite effect on me. I’m totally suckered into it at this point, and I can’t get enough of the leveling system and the store purchases.

In addition to that, I’ve jumped into the MGS HD Collection, and I can’t believe how much I’ve liked playing Metal Gear Solid 2 again. Sure, I’m still at the early stage of the game (the Tanker), but I had forgotten just how tightly designed that section of the game actually is. I never considered that I would enjoy playing MGS 2, but here I am. And the restoration is great. In addition to that, I’ve been hopping in and out of Battlefield 3 multiplayer sessions with Mitch, and I’m right on the verge of being completely addicted to that as well.

So yeah, that’s what I’m playing these days. What about you gents? What are you playing?

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You After?

Calvin and HobbesOne of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics has to do with the idea that every man has a price. Calvin says that his price is two bucks cold cash up front, to which Hobbes muses aloud that he’s not sure what’s worse: that everyone has his price, or that the price is sometimes so low. What’s funny is that the more I think about it, the more this is actually true in gaming, too. Everyone’s got a price in terms of what they want from a game. And while the Bill Watterson comic touched on this in a more sinister way with morality, I think it’s what actually helps us enjoy games overall.

These thoughts started brewing in my head after an excellent piece over on Unwinnable, titled, Bullshit Vs. The Thing You’re After. In it, the author touches on every gamer’s price and what it is that makes gamers tick. And I think I totally agree. Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: What Are You After?

On Videogame Cut Scenes and Filmmaking

Mass Effect 2

Over the years, the advancements in video game technology and the bigger budgets associated with AAA games have helped the games industry compete with movies in terms of their appeal and their business. The experiences are bigger, bolder and more akin to Hollywood blockbusters than ever. We expect more out of games these days – and a lot of that mindset is owed to the cut scenes that were introduced several generations ago. Cut scenes stretched our idea of what games could be. But do games still do cut scenes right?

That’s the question Wired asks in a new piece titled 5 Film-School Violations in Videogame Cut Scenes. In it, writer Jason Schreier takes a look at some of the things that modern cut scenes still get wrong, even after all these years. While I think the list is sort of ill aimed (it’s more about writing and editing than actual direction), Schreier raises some great issues. In terms of writing, many games just can’t seem to cut it compared to the movies they’re trying so desperately to be.

While I’d have to disagree with him on Mass Effect 2 (one of my friends was a cinematic designer on that game and knows his crap), I’ve long maintained that many game cut scenes don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of the actual craft of film – shots are set up all wrong, and are more about flash and spectacle than about the story itself. To me, one of the most grievous recent examples is Final Fantasy XIII. For all the flack that the game takes, I felt like very little of it was directed at its cut scenes, which were often a jumbled mess. During action sequences, I often found it hard to follow what exactly was going on in the scene, to the point where I had to re-watch them several times.

So how do you guys feel about this list? How do you feel about cut scenes in gaming? Which games do it right and which ones do it wrong?

Source – Wired

GamerSushi Asks: Are You A Streaker?

Now before you shout, “YES!” and grab your trenchcoat and sunglasses, allow me to explain.

A streaker, in this definition, is someone who plays a game consistently for a long time, but if another game is played, the first one loses all appeal. For example, after beating Final Fantasy XIII, I continued to play, doing side missions and hunting down monsters. But, once I played Alpha Protocol and beat it, all desire to play Final Fantasy XIII is gone for right now. I’m sure it will come back again sometime, but I’ve noticed that I sometimes have to maintain a streak of playing a game every day and if I stop, I find that I don’t want to play as much as I used to.

Do you guys ever experience anything like this? Are you streakers?