Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ready for another Final Fantasy?

I've been a fan of the Final Fantasy series since VII. I went back to play VI, and have played every installment with the exception of XI and XIV, which was online only. Final Fantasy X is my favourite game of all time, and I have a poster of Tidus and Yuna in my office. I loved the movies, and adored the story in Crisis Core. You can tell since Zack is part of my blog banner. The difference about Final Fantasy and what sets it apart from other RPGs is that it is able to immerse the play in an entirely new world. Although each series is set apart with no connections, there are things you'd expect from each game, on top of the game mechanics and unforgettable music pieces. 

I used to write reviews for these games, but haven't done so in a long time. Not likely to write any soon, since it takes too much effort to write one that gives proper justice to the game, which is usually too deep to understand by a straightforward play through. The games have really changed since the beginning too. Newer installments nowadays are so much more complicated than the SNES days. Back then, you'd really only need to know what attacks to use against each category of enemies. Understand elements and physical/magical attributes would mean you're a master at that game. But not with the newer games these days. The guide books can be thicker than dictionaries.

For example, when I played FF XIII 2 years ago, I discovered the entire concept of fighting in the series has changed. And it's a revolutionary change. No longer do you control the actions of individual characters in your party. You role has been upgraded to that of a manager on the battlefield, and you command what roles each of your party member holds. This change, by itself, already means you have much more control over the combat system. On the flip side, many of the fight commands are now autonomous. 

For example, in the early days, if you found out that an enemy is weak against fire, you'd base all your attacks on fire. But in FF XIII, the computer will automatically select fire based attacks for you, and execute it for you. Sounds too easy? Not so, when you're the one having to assign who does the physical attacks, magical attacks, healing, and other spells in your team. In short, you don't worry about the small issues. Your main job is to make sure the characters complement each other well as a team, and that you trigger the correct setup for each team configuration, and that you can switch to the correct setup on the fly during the fights. It is so much more complex, because there's a lot of other mechanics involved as well, like the leveling up process for each role, and the bonus equipments, accessories, etc. There's even a system to recruit monsters and level them up. Seriously, I'm overwhelmed by the entire system in FF XIII-2. I'll need to break it apart piece by piece. On the left you see what I drew 2 years ago, to see which team configuration works best for me.

In a nutshell, Final Fantasy games are no push over and it's not child's play. It trains you as a manager and how well you organise your team mates, exploiting individual members' strengths and covering up their weaknesses. Strategic planning is also tested, since leveling up can be done in so many ways. I'll try to have fun with the whole thing though, haha. The only problem now is finding the time to get back to that world. :)

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