[plight of...is generally a reflection piece on something on my mind. stream of consciousness and usually asks you guys questions in a formless rant that feels good on my fingers and keyboard]
If you’re like me, you’re a contradictory asshole. Usually I write this off to being human. It’s a cheap way out of arguments with your friends or girlfriend, boyfriend, or whatever without really admitting fault. You say something like “Yeah, I’m a fucking hypocrite but so are you!” And then you explain that existence is rife with contradictions and hypocrisy and maybe it’s just embedded into our collective consciousness, or our meat sacks, or whatever. So when I say I’m divided about Final Fantasy XIII and its insane linearity, I mean it. On one hand, I always wax intellectual about allowing for the evolution of characters, franchises, whatever. I opine with feigned hurt about fanboys who say “Oh, Batman should never act this way!” and “Final Fantasy cannot, must not, simply not have Moogles with three-centimeter ears!”
And yeah, I have a very clear cut, and determined idea of what makes a Final Fantasy.
I am Ian Drinkwater, just another typical hypocrite.
Here’s the deal. Apparently Final Fantasy XIII is the pinnacle of linearity. Reviewers have described it as one long-corridor of doom, where battles are endless, you’re healed after every scrum, and you have absolutely no ability to explore nooks and crannies. The entire ordeal, granted only from what I’ve read, is a stripped down game that features no exploration for the first thirty or so hours, and instead just punches you in the genitalia with gorgeous cutscenes and non-stop action.
I consider this to blow.
On the one hand, there’s this portion of me that believes that Final Fantasy developers shouldn’t be encumbered by the expectations of the fans. Maybe they should consider them, but should they kowtow to them instead of evolving the franchise as they see fit? I don’t think so. It’s a double-edged sword. Rip the fanboys away from everything they love and cherish, and they freak the fuck out. Maintain the status quo, and all you hear about is how stagnant the formula has become.
So what the fuck do you do! I have no idea. I really don’t.
The first twenty, thirty or whatever hours or so of the game doesn’t feature this. It’s been described as corridor after corridor of action. Wash, rinse, repeat. You kick the shit out of some dudes, who probably have laser guns, you are automatically healed after the battle, and then you watch a cutscene and do it all over again. It seems like there’s linearity, and then there’s linearity.
A brilliant and beautiful friend and fellow master of the masturbatory joke pointed out that a lot of games are linear. The example he dropped with Uncharted 2, which while linear to an extent is still an excellent game. It’s an interesting point, and I agree with it to an extent. I suppose my response to that is two-fold.
First, while the game is linear, Uncharted 2 offers sexy chunks of exploration. I’d run around like an asshole hunting for treasure, exploring every inch of the map. There is no such corridor of doom concept in Uncharted 2, or even in stock action games like Devil May Cry, and Prince of Persia. There is a minimal amount of exploration, something to engross you in the world.
And secondly, and on a personal level, and maybe I’m alone in this, but Final Fantasy has always been about delving into and exploring some new world. And a lot of that involves me barging into people’s houses unsolicited and interrogating the same small, fearful child over and over again. Yes hi, I’m a blonde spikey-haired guy with an enormous sword, may I ask you a few questions? What do you mean you don’t know where the super-sexy androgynous grey-haired man went? Well, little child, I’m going to keep asking until you lie or piss your pants.
I like playing Final Fantasy titles as much as I like enjoying their storylines. And if long corridors and repetitive battles are there in an effort to focus more on the storyline, I say I appreciate your experiment guys. It just doesn’t seem appealing to me. I could have suffered linearity in the form of something like Final Fantasy X’s world. It was pretty linear at the beginning. Go here. Do this. Talk to this guy. Now we shuffle you off to the next event. Even then it wasn’t that bad? Why? Because there were still towns you were being shuffled to. Shops to explore, characters to talk to.
But again, I waffle. Maybe it’ll be enjoyable, maybe I’ll love it anyways. Perhaps if I can let-go of my stale interpretation of what a Final Fantasy should be, I’ll be able to enjoy what this Final Fantasy happens to be. I can’t condemn them on the grounds of trying something new, I just don’t know if I’ll find it as magical as the past titles. I’m all for encouraging the evolution of titles, but I don’t feel any sort of intellectual onus to automatically applaud them for it.
Yep, that’s me. Applauding innovation and evolution, while simultaneously decrying an installment in a franchise when it doesn’t meet my expectations. A typical hypocritical asshole.