Late to the Game: Final Fantasy XIII and the Siren Call of RPGs


I have an admission to make: I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XIII all the way back in 2010 (paid almost full price, too!), played it for about an hour and twenty minutes that March and then proceeded to leave the game untouched for more than three years. Even still, when Final Fantasy XIII-2 came out, I went ahead and bought a shared copy with my brother. He beat it immediately, and I let the game sit on my shelf unplayed until just recently. Why did I put off playing these games for so long? A combination of things, really: I tend to avoid long games until I’m in the right mood for them, and a lot of people were super-critical of FFXIII when it first came out. It sounded like a disappointment and a time-sink, and I wasn’t in the mood for either.

However, after I recently knocked out Demon’s Souls, I found myself craving more good RPG experiences. The FFXIII games were the most logical place to look, if only so that I might finally clear out my backlog of 360 and PS3 games in preparation for trading in one or both systems. I started out with XIII-2 because conventional wisdom is that it corrects all the missteps of XIII, but even though the game was a lot of fun, the story was convoluted and confusing. I felt like I was missing something, so I decided to give XIII a shot after all. Much to my surprise, I’m really enjoying it – the battles are a lot of fun once you can paradigm shift – and I’m already a good twenty hours in after just a few days.

So why was everyone so hard on the game? Was it just a case of preconceived notions, or is there something genuinely missing?

Continue reading Late to the Game: Final Fantasy XIII and the Siren Call of RPGs

Gameplay Mechanics That Time Forgot

demons souls

For every gameplay mechanic that sets a standard in the industry, there are always a few that manage to slip out of vogue no matter how interesting they are. Back in the days when gaming was just getting started, developers felt like they could take a few more risks with their designs and some really cool stuff came out of that era. There are some neat ideas being presented today, but the fresh stuff is few and far between.

IGN’s newest appendage 1up put out an article on four gameplay mechanics that should have caught on and it’s an interesting look at some big ideas that have faded away into obscurity. While Demon’s Souls (and Dark Souls) are new, things like Rainbow Six’s mission planner or Blade Runner’s randomized story elements are kind of relics now, lost to the ages.

I remember trying to figure out Rainbow Six’s planner back in the day and I recall it being beyond the scope of my young mind. My missions frequently boiled down to giving everyone a shotgun and hoping for the best, but I bet if I went back and tried that game today I would find a layer of strategy that is so painfully absent from modern shooters.

The social single-player elements of Demon’s Souls is one of the most intriguing aspects of that game to me and I would be really pleased if that caught on in other games, especially sandbox titles. How awesome would it be if you were playing Grand Theft Auto V and saw some graffiti on the ground left by another player, pointing you towards a secret area with a special vehicle? This is a masterful way of bringing players together inside their own separate worlds and I’d like other developers to take a stab at it.

Do you guys have any gameplay mechanics that you used to love that have fallen by the wayside? I seem to recall squad commands being quite the big ticket item last generation but I don’t see that too much these days. Personally, I’d love to be able to give my AI teammates commands because they can’t seem to think for themselves that well. Sound off!

Source – 1up