gamesVSlife: Why I'm a stick in the digital mud - Gematsu
gamesVSlife: Why I’m a stick in the digital mud
posted on 11.26.12 at 02:36 PM EST by (@admeady)
And why I'm not in a hurry to shell out more gil for a new box.

It’s a funny thing is our beloved industry. By the time developers have access to the know-how and audience to make ambitious projects truly worthwhile, we move on, forcing them to abandon and re-invest in increasingly expensive stuff – and it’s all seemingly in the name of progression.

Consumers are put in a similar position, too. Like developers, we’re constantly chasing the next breakthrough: the next engine, the next box, the Next Big Thing. If we want to experience what appears to be the industry’s latest developments, the prospect of a new box with new software – all attached to an inflated price tag – is hardly an appealing one. That’s not to mention the fact that consoles aren’t guaranteed to support existing libraries of software.

But if history has taught us anything, it’s that new hardware doesn’t guarantee better games. Final Fantasy XIII, a gorgeous, linear romp, with production values destined to make amateur efforts weep with jealousy, was plagued by weak characters, poor writing, and an uninviting world. Improved hardware doesn’t make a for a more compelling game – and it certainly doesn’t promise a more compelling tale.

Then there’s Final Fantasy VI, a game which, by today’s standards, might as well be crafted with paper mache, some duck tape and a pack of blunt crayons. It had an interesting world, a diverse and curious cast and a plot with the power to pull me through hours of gameplay and text boxes.

And then there’s Final Fantasy XII, a game trapped in an unfortunate middle ground – a game with fantastic mechanics, compelling combat, a thin story and a less involved cast of characters; a game in which at every moment I thought “this would be so much better on a better machine”. Its ambitious nature left it littered with loading screens and a sense of confinement – it was seemingly an open world game strangled by the PlayStation 2’s hardware.

And so I’ve yet to truly see this generation’s Final Fantasy XII – I’ve yet to see a game that screams “Oh my moogle, this really needs new hardware”.

Yet beyond that simple comparison, extended cycles would appear to have their benefits. Not only does set hardware limit the technological ‘arms race’ effect, which might force developers to invest countless resources to merely get noticed, it allows them to iterate concepts without having to constantly iterate technology to such a radical extent. A design triumph will always overcome a technical one.

Bigger budgets will further us into a ‘go big or go broke’ system. Even now, a single ‘failed’ project can lead a studio to the doorstep of bankruptcy. Yeah, we’ll see better looking games, more expansive experiences – the best of what the industry has to offer may get better.

But we’ll also see the progression of this generation’s shittier practises. No doubt, publishers will continue to marginalize second hand games; they’ll want to push more downloadable content – they’ll be looking to charge us more at every step of the way for the sake of their bottom lines.

What’s more, if technical development outstrips conceptual development, the industry will simply be flooded with prettier versions of tired concepts – as if that isn’t already the case. I fear that the advent of a new generation will rob me of my appreciation for this one – one that I’m perfectly content with.

And so arguing for shorter generations is a bit like giving a super car to a learner driver – if they haven’t learned and experimented with the basics, then all that power – that additional investment for all parties involved – goes to waste.

This isn’t to diminish the efforts of those behind this wonderful technology, of course. It’s merely to say that technological progress, at least in the short term, is a given. Think about your favourite properties – how many of their iterations couldn’t be done on last generation platforms? And how many are really any more fun for being on this one?

We’re guaranteed to see more polygons, more mapping, more light sources – by this very fact alone, technological improvements aren’t, in and of themselves, an attraction. Only when coupled with compelling concepts and characters is technology ever truly exciting.

This generation may well be the ‘DVD’ of video games – it’ll be outclassed by future technology, but will always be playable. It’s the generation whereby the industry established consistency, it established a bar not to be erased or cheapened by future generations. It is what it is.

We know developers are a clever bunch. If they want to achieve something on a stubborn piece of hardware, chances are, they’ll find a way. Let’s consider, too, the vast number of games we haven’t played in this generation.

And with so much to play, I’m happy to be the stickiest stick in the muddiest mud.

gamesVSlife is a column dedicated to video games, life, and how games relate to life. Feel free to leave your comments and stories below.

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  • new_tradition

    Nuuuuu, you had to use FFXIII as a negative example D:

    Barring the fact I loved it on all counts, I do agree with the article. I have yet purchase any console at debut. I was still playing with my PS2 obsessively 3 years after the PS3 came out. If anything, I usually buy new systems when a game I *really* want is coming out. But graphics don’t really sway me.

    • Budgiecat

      You make like the game but it’s a perfect example. Versus too (in terms of taking so lon g to develop and perfect. By the time that game comes out, it’s likely the next consoles will be either announced already or even shipped out)

      Oh and I didn’t buy a PS2 & PS3 until 3 years into their cycle

  • fireemblembeast

    Some very good points here, as usual. :)I never would get a game just because of good graphics. Character design, on the other hand…..hehe
    And yeah, DLC is becoming really ridiculous these days. Next they will charge me real money to buy things in the game.

  • Budgiecat

    Makes a lot of sense 

    The bloated greedy publishers, stupid biased media and hungry graphic whores all shoot themselves in the foot causing the industry to just get worse

  • Revorse

    I hate that XIII was used as a negative example while VI is used as a positive. Lol I don’t get it. But anyway. Not saying I agree with developers and publishers, but I can understand. It’s a business and everyone’s gotta make a buck. If they know people are going to buy it, they’re going to make it, regardless of how vocal we are, if we still give em cash, then things aren’t going to change that much.

  • Locksus

    I rather liked FFXIII. Sure, it wasn’t anywhere near FFVI-X in my opinion, but it is a solid game in its own right. Still, it was a good example in the article. 

    Me 1st current-gen console was the 360 and I got it, if I recall right, in 2008. Actually I was oblivious to console gaming before that as the only game I played in 2004-2008 was World of Warcraft. Sure, I’ve played countless of hours on PS1, SNES, Genesis, PS2 and the original Xbox. I’ve played games as long as I can remember. It’s just that MMOs (Mainly Runescape and WoW) were such a big part of my life for several years.

    Console games in the late 90s and early 00s gave me many wonderful memories. For example, FFIX and FFX are a big part of it and I remember some scenes from FFIX and particularly this theme And I remember getting stuck in a place I remember being an icy castle or something like that. I could be totally wrong and there wasn’t such a place in that game but that’s how I remember it.
    I didn’t understand the story one bit when I was young as I couldn’t speak nor understand English at that time as Finnish is my mother tongue.
    Sorry, if I got a little sidetracked here but I just felt like looking back into my childhood. Good times, good times.

    Lost Odyssey is very similar to the old Final Fantasies and that’s why I love it so much. It reminded me of my childhood quite a lot, so the game was very emotional for me.

    • Adam Meadows

      I had a feeling using XIII as I did would bring in some disagreement. Then again, any game would. It’s merely an example of how new tech doesn’t make games any more fun or more compelling. 

      • Locksus

        You’re right. It’s your opinion and you have all the rights to express it. It IS a good example because it was a disappointing FF game but if you didn’t compare it to the older ones and judged it by its own merits, it was a pretty good game. 

      • You can give ur opinion but not like if it was the absolute truth. Many people loved XIII characters and history, you should respect them. They are not poor or weak to people like me. To me and many other XIII story is good like VII, VIII, X…it is all about personal opinion. If you did put “XIII is poor FOR ME” your article will be much better to read.

  • TerrenceG9

    I feel like FFVI is used as a positive example too much. Don’t get me wrong, when I was younger I loved the game to death and beat it many times. But I recently went back to play it… and it didn’t really have the magic I remembered. I feel like I glorified the memories, or I was just too young at the time to understand that just because I liked something, it doesn’t mean it was the best thing since sliced bread.

    • Locksus

      It could be because the games have changed too much. For example, the graphics of Halo or FFVII were great for their time, but don’t hold up to today’s standards. The same goes for gameplay. 

      I don’t know if you were referring to the story or not as that would be different but as for graphics and gameplay, things have changed. 

  • Gaara D.Dragon

    Common mistake n.1:

    FF XIII’s problem is that it’s linear. Wrong, it was never meant to be confined within RPG boundaries to begin with. It ignored gaming trends and it’s an action/rpg/strategy.

    Common mistake n.2:

    FF XIII’s other problem was that it had a bad story. Wrong (written and directed by the same team that did FF X) XIII’s true advantage was that it broke from the done-to-death cliche story of protagonist vs antagonist theme. It has evolved from the stale shounen anime themes.

    Those 2 reasons are why FF XIII is important and not the graphics.

    I read your articles but I’m a little let down Adam.

    • Adam Meadows

      All I can say is that I simply disagree. 

      I never said that its linearity was to its detriment. The story wasn’t particularly good. It had interesting themes, perhaps – but the cast was weak, and not particularly compelling in my eyes. Who is what written and directed by is meaningless – it doesn’t make it instantly interesting. 

      Linearity is not inherently tied to RPGs. Shooters, driving games – they can be linear or open world. Not sure what you’re getting at with this. Boundaries are irrelevant I think – doesn’t stop many of its narrative elements from being particularly weak to me. 

      And to say it wasn’t linear is playing with semantics, really. Like X, much of the game was simply getting from one point to the other. 

      The first few hours of the game presume you know and understand the world – I was forced to derive information, not from dialogue and characters, but from the re-caps and log entries. I was never given a reason to care about anything, really. 

       It’s a game that feels like its in love with itself, I think. 
      Again, though, I could’ve used any game for said examples and somebody was bound to be disappointed. 

      Thanks for your comments.

  • zakou

    Adam adam adam….

    Using history for only one generation? Why did you leave out Pong xD Nes`? Snes? PS1? I mean history made me realize that FF1 on NES isn’t better than FFX on PS2, in fact i have played almost all FF games and FFX is my favourite one and its only 10 years old compared to other FF games that are 20 years old .

    It’s very clear, we don’t know what the next gen will bring us, i mean the PS1 had amazing games and i love jrpgs but the PS2 was even better! the ammount of detail, voices, physics, animations that came with new technology made games just much more immersive, but it was a surprise how much PS3 sucked ass in the first 2 years of it’s release.

    Heavy Rain is the best example that graphics and technology show you immesrion that you would never experience in anything older or any book, older game. The amosphere combined with animation on face emotions with a fitting soundtrack will make you drop you jaws and even shed a tear sometimes. (imagine playing heavy rain on ps1 with blocky faces or PS2 with 0 real character emotion on faces or movement) and btw have you seen Kara Demo? Watch it and you will see just what next gen technology can do, how many emotions it can bring out just from a actual in game cutscene of one android woman, you could never bring so much emotions with older hardware if you tried making a scene like this.

    FFXIII story was bad? how can you even comprehend and gasp 50+ hours of story into a single word: bad.  or even 100 words wouldnt be enough, people call it good, bad, not good enough but in reality the story of FFXIII has more good than bads imo, and it being 50+ hours long make it worth all the work they put into making it.

    There are other games that you can call bad, GOW3? one of the best graphics, little to no changes from the last gen when it comes to gameplay but oooh shit its “God of war” let’s leave this one out of this lol, the game isn’t bad but nothing changes in it except the graphics, im telling you i wouldnt want a FFXIII to be like GOW3.

    FFXIII offers something new to already existing FF fans, in the end it is all opinions and you have the right to say anything but know this…there are wrongs in your statement.

    TL;DR: People will see faults with every game, in the end it is opinion vs opinion there is little to no facts, it’s the same as a libary man fighting with a rapper or gangster outside in the streets, the libarian will try to use it’s own logic thinking he is in the right but the outlaw will do the same thinking that he is 100% right, only to find out in the end that both fight over something that can only be opinionated.

    • Adam Meadows

      Except PlayStation titles did get people emotionally involved, didn’t they? Using blocky graphics and the likes. 

      I wasn’t bound to go on at length about Final Fantasy XIII, was I? How can you summarise ANYTHING in a single word? Should we stop using ‘good’ and ‘bad’ now? Haven’t you ever described a game as good? or bad? Never mind its story – an ENTIRE game. 

      I played Heavy Rain. Frankly, I didn’t like it. It was borderline comical, as characters and situations would take a sudden turn for the worse merely to create a ‘tense’ scene. If you felt emotional involvement in Heavy Rain, technology, I think would’ve been secondary to that. People have felt emotionally involved, and have likely shed tears at, games long before this generation. Haven’t they? 

      Like I said – I think this generation is the ‘DVD’ standard. It works, is of decent quality and has set new standard to be built upon. If we fast forward to next-gen, I don’t think this gen would look particularly long in the tooth. I just think it’s a shame that we’re pushing past it when developers are reaching their stride. Can’t we let it be a few years longer?

    • I actually cried at FF7’s memorial Aerith’s scene despite the blockiness and such…

      • zakou

        @Raiu:disqus @gematsu-861dc9bd7f4e7dd3cccd534d0ae2a2e9:disqus Guys why are you telling me that PS1 blocky graphics had emotional scenes that made us cry? I never said it didn’t? I read what you say do you read what i say?

        It’s funny how you mention FF7 because it’s on par with FFX both being my favourite games but even you fail to realize my point, even Square Soft made what i said, they used “CG” for Aerith’s death scene to make look more immersive and this is my point, the CG aka better technology than what the PS1 could not run/in game was forced to be used in many JRPG games just to show more emotion and immersion to the game.

        My point that i’m going to rephrase was that with new technology you can basicly make any game immersive and you don’t have to be god at story telling like how FF used to be in PS1 era, even with shitty graphics i got immersed but that was on of the few rare games.

        As technology grows we have more “options” more, we can use both old trick but now we can use something we could not before, we can add more realism to emotions, face/body motion captures, characters can have tears now when they cry where before on the NES we would never see tears on characters.

        TL;DR: FFX or FFXIII have enough emotions, quality and atmosphere in them they can stay linear i don’t care there are enough games for everyone, we can’t follow the same tradition/forumla for 1 bilion years, we need change be it in linearity or anything else, i mean FFXIII is just one part of the saga you still have XIII-2 (0 linearity) it’s like the same game but part 2 and then we will have Lightning Returns the last chapter in Lightnings saga and may probably be the best of them all but FFXIII is not just one game, it is 3 long games and everyone of them has totally different core mechanic, there isn’t much to debate here.

        TL;DR version2: DVD era or not, i enjoyed both old school and technology advanced games this gen and if you still didn’t get my point and think im a graphic whore then think again as one of my favourite games this gen is Tales of Graces F, 140+ hours and counting and NieR (probably the worst graphics on PS3 for rpg if you exclude LR).

        • Oh, I’m not disagreeing you or anything…

          Just find it funny that the way you said it sounds like “New Technology can help games become better”… I felt the same as I watched the Kara Demo but personally, I’m not excited for it…

          Just reminded me of my time with the Mass Effect series, I never felt immersed as I thought I would be with all the hype about it… Felt like I’m just there to choose whose fate to live or die….

          • zakou

            Because New Technology “can” help games become better, isn’t this obvious? with new technology come new possiblities you are not stuck with one developmen kit, one engine, one space of limitation, limited anti aliasing and etc.

            New technology can make games better, Disgaea 4 kept everthing original that it had, but with new technology it can have more, and better things like HD graphical sprites, more enemies on screen, etc etc.

            NieR is a good example that we don’t need the new techonlogy but im still not sure if NieR would be possible on the PS2, maybe? However…Either way im on both sides and open to baiscly all games be it new or old as alot of games offer unique experiences, some possible with older technology and others impossible without it.

  • Barrit

    I liked FFXIII. I didn’t think it was a bad game, but it didn’t pull me in either like past FFs. It didn’t have the best story and to me the main issue with that was that it didn’t have a villain who made you love to hate him, and really drive you to the end of the game to kick his ass. As I played the game, I was just waiting for the true, badass villain to finally show his face.. and that just never happened. Instead, the old guy just annoyed me and needed to go away lol. Other villains in past title that really drove me to the end of the game were of course Sephiroth and Kefka.. ugh, I can still hear his creepy 16-bit laugh!!!

  • Interesting article. I suppose I’ll focus in on a few points, and sorta discuss those in slightly greater detail.

    I’m going to get this one out of the way to begin with.

    Final Fantasy 13 –

    I’ve always complained about how 13 went about telling us the story it had, it was done fairly poorly. I think this comes back to the rocky road the developers of 13 drove on. They made tons of content, and in the end, they had to cut so much and use it for a sequel. The problem was, they didn’t have enough development moments with the writing. I think the cast is quite good, but they tend to give us the bare minimum of details. The Data logs had a bit more details, but lots of background stories, things that could help define the characters, were put in novels and stuff that only released in Japan.

    An example here –
    FF7 has lots of flashbacks and stuff that are mostly focused on character development. 13 had some of them, but they never really went far enough. They mostly told us events of the current story that we didn’t know about yet. What happened to Lightning that made her join the army? What happened to her parents? The story had potential, but they didn’t go far enough with the writing. I’m not saying what they had in the game was bad, I liked it for the most part. I just felt short changed, like I was missing lots of good stuff.

    When 13-2 was released, they decided to really go a different route. Most of the cast from 13 play small roles in the game. This kinda frustrated me, because I thought they had the chance to  make up for those details missing in 13-2. You can find more details about the cast of 13 on wiki pages than you can in the games.

    I think other things 13 does are quite good. I’ll admit, the early pacing of the game is hard for long time fans to deal with. It takes you down a path that is very linear. It makes up for it quite a bit later in the game, with the huge maps and side content.

    Japanese games this gen –

    I think it’s interesting that you use FF as an example. Considering just how much Japanese developers have struggled with consoles this generation. Many people on the internet write about the death of Japanese gaming. They focus on the low amount of Japanese games on the consoles, and how many of them are not very good. The articles tend to compare this gens JP console games to past generations. They always forget to include the portable games from this generation, and that is where most of the great Japanese games are.

    I’ve come to the realization that I’m missing out by not having the portables. It’s pretty obvious that gamers in the west prefer console or pc gaming. In Japan, things went down a different road this generation. They didn’t really jump on board with the consoles, not like the gamers in the west have.

    This generation of video games –

    Let’s just get to the point. Has the growth of video games hurt the medium? I think the answer is yes. It’s not really something I like to admit, or even think about. The truth is bright as day, easy for us all to see. Many of us deny it, we blame everyone and everything else. Some think the only solution is another video game crash. I’m not sure what I think the solution is. I can talk a little about how we got here… I’ll try to make this quick.

    Before this generation, I think video games were still considered by most to be an enthusiast hobby. It was not something that everyone did, and the consumer was, like it had always been, core gamers. Things started to change slowly when this generation of consoles released. I think even before the Wii took effect, the number of people playing Playstation and Xbox was growing substantially. The Wii was a phenomenon while it lasted, it helped push video games into the spotlight. All of this growth helped forms of gaming that were previously not talked about, become a big deal. Social games exploded, mobile games exploded. The point is, everyone started to play video games. With that growth, the consumer based started to change. The publishers figured this out pretty quickly. Things changed, the games being made serve only one purpose these days, making lots of money. The publishers are doing this in whatever way they think is best. You mentioned lots of the small microtransaction fee’s and stuff. I don’t think any of that is going away.

    The consumer base has changed, most of us who post here are not even the primary consumer. I suppose the best way to say it is like this – The core game is no longer the primary focus. The hardcore crowd, I’d say our numbers are even smaller. Why? Some just had to give up playing games because of real life, so they became a casual gamer. Others are still here, but the point is, the number of hard core gamers is just a small chunk of the consumer base.

    Look at the outrage many hardcore gamers have towards Call of Duty. A large number of hard core gamers complain about the series, they make petitions to boycott it, make huge threads on the net about how they won’t buy and support the game. I’ve seen some of those efforts grow into fairly large numbers. They all feel like what they are going to do will make a difference  Guess what? It doesn’t. The new CoD broke records when it released this year. This just proves my point, the consumer based has changed.

    I’m going on and on here, but I’m not really sure where video games are headed next. You mentioned development cost. This is a huge problem, heck, it’s probably the biggest problem in video games today, right next to awful marketing tactics.

    You know what, I’m just going to stop here… This post is already long enough, and just thinking about all the problems with video games is making my head hurt. =/

  • “But if history has taught us anything, it’s that new hardware doesn’t guarantee better games”
    True that… Minecraft, despite the simple artstyle and gameplay, is a million seller and a popular phenomenom… Would have worded “Better hardware equals more opportunities”…

    You may have the best looking visuals on the best hardware there is, but if the game itself sucks to the point that it turned into a movie, then it’s completely pointless…

    Regarding to Final Fantasy, here is the “What’s makes Final Fantasy Final Fantasy by Square Enix”
    Yeah, I got nothing to say on this after I played FF13…

  • PrinceHeir

    it’s no doubt the high costs of next gen will have an impact on how games are made.

    i think PS Vita and the 3DS are one of the few hopes we have for JPN developers to make their game without costing as much(it’s still a lot though)

    i won’t be surprised if most of japan’s finest will be on handhelds for now on.

    they’ll be needing them more than ever.

  • thethunderbear

    I feel that you are missing a lot of games that simply couldn’t be done on the PS2. The Mass Effect Games, any half-way decent physics driven gameplay (that is almost in every game these days). Unless you really know development it might be easy to miss these things but as someone who has worked in this industry for 16+ years I can tell you that most successful games simply couldn’t be done on the PS2, even with downgraded graphics. Also, don’t diminish the importance of graphics and sound, they immerse us into the universe and story in a way last gen games can’t. Look at the Wii for comparisons sake. It has not delivered the gaming experiences that the PS360 has. Squaresoft JP isn’t the best example of taking advantage of this generation. 

    Also, you are mistaken about next generation being more expensive. I’d have to write a long article explaining why but teams aren’t going to grow very much and there are so many reasons for this. To me this is the biggest problem when gamers write game related articles, and I don’t mean any offense by that. But they don’t know how development fully works. The jump from PS2 to PS360 was a big one, but the way tools have evolved because of the increased power you see even indie developers accomplish a lot of things that weren’t possible on previous generations and the indie community is going to flourish on the next generation as well.

    • ” Unless you really know development it might be easy to miss these
      things but as someone who has worked in this industry for 16+ years I
      can tell you that most successful games simply couldn’t be done on the
      PS2, even with downgraded graphics.”

      (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
      At first, Kojima wanted the game to be on the PS3 but he got tired of waiting and instead put it on the PS2…. Knowing the previous engine can’t be used due to numerous problems, they had to build a new one up from scratch with motion capture included…

      Then look at how well it turned out when it was first released compared to the previous entry… And it became a success… Despite it’s a last gen game, it fully immerses you into the environments of jungles, mountains, swamps,etc and its memorial characters and moments..

    • zakou

      No give up already XD if we mention good games like Mass Effect, Heavy Rain, Uncharted,  Bioshock, Yakuza, MGS4, Tales of Xillia and etc. You will get respond like “I was not interested in this or that game” xD’

      It’s a simple fact that Adam talks about technology but gives us responds like “im not interested”  :3  it’s not about opinions it’s what can the technology do.

      Beyond: Two Souls looks amazing btw xD and yes its the DVD era.

      Ok ok im done kidding around, let’s not take things seriously here XD opinions vs opinions aside…technology brings new life, ideas and possiblities to gaming world and that is a fact.

  • EspadaKiller

    Yeap I agree with this you Adam.

    Many game developers are having high budget on games, and when they fail they will fail BADLY.  And developing games are getting more expensive, thus more developers working on a game project. And they will turn to DLCs to earn some money, where those DLCs are supposed to be in the game for free at the very first place. Take Capcom as a example, seriously SMH at them.

    But hey, this generation of gaming brings me many fun games. Especially where online multiplayer is involved. Games like BF3 and L4D brings me lots of fun and laughter playing online with my friends.

    But this generation of gaming brings me disappointment too, the lack of JRPGs and too many shooters out in the market now. It’s been quite sometime since the PS2 era I had spent hundred of hours in a game. Games like I had spent hundred of hours without online multiplayer in the PS2 era would be GTA:SA, SO3, FFX, FFX-2, FFXII and MGS3. That’s because Japanese developers are really lacking in this generation though, might because of the budget of the game where they would rather develop for handhelds which are cheaper, earn more profit and much less risker.

    I really hope that next gen we would see more JRPGs on next-gen consoles, especially with the release of Wii U.

    • zakou

      Lack of jrpgs?….I spend the same amount of time on last gen jrpgs as this gen, example i spent over 100 hours on Star Ocean 3 as well as i did on Star Ocean 4.

      There are tons of jrpgs on consoles and handhelds this gen, just like i mentioned with star ocean, last gen we had Drakengard games, this gen we have NieR.

      Disgaea games just get better and better, Ar tonelico was changed but it’s not unplayable it’s just not as good as before true but its a balance because disgaea games changed for good.

      Magna Carta? we even have this game on Xbox 360, btw Magna Carta never was any good to begin with.

      Tales of? This gen is the best Tales of gen, not only we got so many tales of but Europeans finally got console release for Graces F and Xillia, so best Tales of Jrpg gen right there.

      Not to mention MGS4 and epic Yauza 3. 4, DS and 5 soon.

      I swear sometimes i think i am the only one who truly has 0 bias and notices the balance with the pros and cons, we agree on one thing, Shooters….there are toooo many of them however this gen has the most fighting games released of any generation ever.

      Im not even going to name them all but games like Blazblue like 4 games XD, Tekken 6/tag 2, Street fighter X tekken, Tekken x Street fighter, Battle Phantsia, Soul Calibur, Marvel VS Capcom 3, Dead Or Alive 5, Street Fighter 4 Etc Etc, we can even say this gen has tooo many fighters! lol.

  • Vampiric

    this article doesnt make too much sense

  • almostautumn

    I agree with this article, and it’s something I’ve been saying for a while. In fact, particularly with the PSP am I seeing this now; Sol Trigger is one of the first non-major dev game that I’ve seen truly utilize the PSP as it can be to its finest. We expect it from Square-Enix, Capcom and 1st party, but when smaller, more unique 3rd parties acquire that ability— it’s an experience like no other.
    I think it’s a shame that the gens move so fast,  Who has touched Uncharted and FF13 levels yet (graphically)? How great could so many games before if this were possible for smaller devs? And it would be possible, eventually, because the hardware naturally becomes easier and more affordable to develop for as parts, engines and of course devs themselves evolve and mature.

    *I do want to say I think you’re a goddamn basket case though for knocking FF12 in the slightest. The perfect video game if ya’ ask me; my absolute favorite. And so I hate you now.

    **Just kidding, of course.

    ***But FF12 is the best game of all time.

    •  no, dat would be Suikoden 2 dat is da best.

  • Gaara D.Dragon

    Here’s the main problem with Final Fantasy games today: they are -supposed to be- stand alone and unique experiences and yet some many protest when they brake the norms and don’t repeat themselves.

    I have to agree with zakou below, labeling a 40 hour long story as simply “bad” -i’m sorry but- it’s not exceptional journalism, especially considering that FF XIII did the one thing that no other console/japanese rpg did for a long time: brake from long dead stereotypes. Let’s be honest, it  was a fairly complicated story and that is what alienated most people. The fact that it was written by the FF X team doesn’t make it automatically better but it does demand a second chance something that a lot of gamers who protest online never gave the game.

    This whole article -just like a lot of others who want to talk about FF doom theories- ignores the simple fact that console/japanese rpgs at some point peaked and now are for a big part stale and irrelevant.

    I have to strongly disagree with you Adam that FF XIII is linear in terms of game play. In fact it’s the only FF apart from XII that allows a bit of strategy and diversity in battle. Yeah you had to push the x button a little too much but that was only because the difficulty was low in several places.

    And yeah the cast is uninteresting if you plan on comparing character for character with previous games, if you for example wanna find copy paste examples of the Yuna-Tidus romance or the Cloud-Sephiroth confrontation you won’t have much luck. XIII’s story basically revolves around the idea that you don’t always know what your battles are, it’s not as clear as going after that guy that killed your parents. 

    Addendum; FF XIII doesn’t have Tidus and Yuna but it has the best lesbian love duo in any game. And I’m not joking.

    • almostautumn

      Dude, it’s been over 2 years; all of your arguments, and all counter arguments, have been made already. Just… ugh; nobody cares anymore.

      By the way, this article isn’t about Final Fantasy.

      • Gaara D.Dragon

        Adam’s basically saying that big budgets don’t make big games and as an example he is wrongly using the only game of its kind that made it this gen and that was different.

        I am sorry but “XIII’s story was bad because VII” is the one argument that has been recycled to death this gen by people ignoring what year it is

        • almostautumn

           People didn’t like 13’s story because it was flat, badly constructed and with the majority of it being uncovered in a read-only encyclopedia (this is bad story-telling), not to mention being filled with characters who had about as much intrigue as a wet carrot.

          Just an opinion, but this is the majority’s also. If you disagree, then that is you. Again though, this is two years past, and everything you’ve said, and everything I just said, has been said about 10 million times. Google around, and you’re going to find there are a sort who like the game, and many that don’t. Both parties have wielded the same argument foundations since it launched, and the truth is that there are simply far more haters than admirers, and therefore, as ratings and statistics go, FF13 is simply not a good game and that, percentage wise, it is not going to apply to, or be enjoyable by, most. Hence, journalists, even when they themselves enjoyed FF13, admit to its many faults because there is a truth to them in that they are vocalized, empirical, and consistent.

          But it’s been two years. Two. Years.

          • Some people didnt like XIII story, SOME people. User Score for XIII in any website, like Metacritic, Gamespot, Gamestop, IGN is around 8/10. With many haters, this is a bad score?

    • solbalmung

      Dude I coudn’t agree more with what you said. FF XIII was a very bad exemple there, because a bunch of people didn’t like it doesn’t necessarly mean that it was bad. Duh it sold about 6.2 million copies world wide, got flying marks on many game sites, and some people still consider it a fail…

  • grumby

    It’s the voiceovers. I think the reason why the older FFs seemed better was because the characters were fleshed out by our subjectivity. Because we, the audience, read their lines, we got to put a bit of our own personalities into the story. Thus, the older games seemed to have deeper immersion because you didn’t notice you were already the characters. You were Kefka. You were Shadow. You were Sephiroth and Aerith at the same time. Tidus just had a pesky girlish scream and I couldn’t get what Wakka was saying half the time with his Canadian/Jamaican fusion accent. (The reason why Auron was so cool was because he didn’t talk that much!) 

    I think if they got voice actors to dub FFVI and FFVII, they wouldn’t seem as good. Terra would sound like Minnie Mouse and Locke would sound like a smarmy English aristocrat and I would throw my controller at the TV.

    I’ve been playing a lot of Okami recently, and I think the reason I am so involved in the story and the grandiose art style is because despite its very simple good vs evil story, i get to feel like a puppy god because I embodied her voice in that world (so to speak). 

    See, that’s why the silent protagonist system, as far as RPGs are concerned, works so well (i.e. Elder Scrolls) Because you get to voice the hero in your own head.

    OK sorry i went totally off-tangent and went into the metaphysics of playing videogames, but hey, voiceovers are a byproduct of technological advancements. I agree with Adam when he says that design trumps technicality. In this case, with unvoiced RPGs, you get to be involved in their design. 

    P.S. Sephiroth sounds like a smarmy English aristocrat in my head, not the husky “Batmanesque” voice we heard in KH and Crisis Core, and that’s part of why I love to hate him so much! It’s not the same with Balthier because I was never given that choice. XD

    TL;DR: Let’s all go back to the era when videogames were half interactive light plays-half bedtime stories. Perfect examples: Journey, and Chrono Trigger

    •  shhhh, ya will confuse Bioware!

      • I agree in the fact that in the past they play and imagine the story, now we have a movie in the game, and this is different, but not worst. Only open mind players will get the evolution to the future, and the haters will ger stuck in the past.

  • Willgaea

    I’ll buy the game as long is the game is fun and has replay value. It’s a big bonus if I can play with my gf or friends. I think that why I buy EVERY tales game that has hit the US shores.

    • Willgaea

       Also I hate how there is a new age (graphic hoes) that wants better graphics. It just makes the developer take more time to create the game. Game play > Graphics in every field.

      • Lele Mett

        I’m taking a game developing class at my school. And according to my teacher, “Real game developers, the ones that care about making games, not cash, focus on everything. The music, the story, the gameplay, THE Graphics, and more.” I’m even doing a 3d modeling class and Will…its so easy. It takes a little more time than that junk you see on Tales games but its really easy. As a game developer why wouldn’t you want to make it beautiful? Games are a form of art so why not push the limits?

        • Elvick

          Because money.

          If pushing the limits means you have to sell 5 million on a new IP just to break even. Then you’re not going to do it.

          Because that would be stupid. You’re going to make what you can afford to, while protecting yourself from closing your doors.

          Lair’s pretty visuals didn’t save the developer when the game failed to sell.

  • Lele Mett

    Adam…your article is filled with so many fallacies its just horrible.AND SO DOGMATIC! Do some research before you write or just don’t state your opinion at all because you obviously don’t have enough information to complain. All the things you just complained about…are all the things the critics LOVED about XIII. They’re only problem was its linearity. I won’t speak for everyone else here but I’m glad XIII left that JRPG basic plot. Many WRPG players dislike JRPGs because they feel like they are playing the same thing over and over.

    “I look around Tokyo Games Show, and everyone’s making awful games; the same games. Over and over. Their not changing anything, even the characters are your boring repeated anime characters.” said Keiji Inafune, 45, head of global research and development at Capcom and one of Japan’s most prominent game designers.”I feel like Nintendo, Capcom, and Sqaure Enix are the only ones trying new things. Pushing the limits.We can barely keep up with the west now.”

    You used one seires of games to talk about next gen…dogmatic. Friend, do some research. XIII was so loved that it sold over 6.7 copies world wide.The only people that hated it hated that it changed to much, and according to SE THATS WHAT THEY WANT FINAL FANTASY TO DO.

    The only bad thing coming next gen is exactly what Keiji Inafune is worried about.

    • I’ve mentioned this before, and even quoted the statement from Inafune. Good stuff.

      I suppose I’ll continue the Final Fantasy discussion some… Let’s be honest, most of the vocal fans of games like Final Fantasy on the internet, they don’t want change. I think the consumers in Japan are pretty much the same.

      Just look at Dragon Quest for example, the people who buy the series like candy in Japan were a bit upset by the big change with DQ X.

      Final Fantasy has always been about trying to do something different with each game. I think for years the developers have been trying to find the middle ground. Basically, they want to not make the same game, but they don’t want to change to much of the formula. Change is almost like a forbidden word in video games when it comes to long running series.

      I’m fine with change, but I think most fans want new entries in a series to be more of the same. What do you do as a developer? I think Square had a pretty good idea in the PS1 era with the series. They kinda did something really different with FF7 and FF8, but they returned to the roots of the series with FF9. I’ve said it before, but I think fans want another game like FF9, they haven’t really gotten that game this generation.

      • Lele Mett

        The gameplay is the only thing that I think should stay similar when making games. Its hard playing FF8 then FF 10 the 12 and then going to FF 13 and the games feels…too different. However, I don’t want the stories to be the same. For example, ive played 5 different Tales games and every single one of them has that basic Jrpg story. The charcaters were even similar. The mary sue, the joke character, that one old guy, the little kid. I stopped playing them because all I really needed was one and I pretty much knew how they were all going to turn out.

        With FF, each story has been beautiful in its own way…sometimes changing too much. But I love that about FF. I think their main problem is trying to change up the gameplay. FF 13 should not have been that linear, FF games have always had world maps. The battles themselves were the most intereasting I’ve had next to 12 and 10 but still could have been sooo much better if they used a few old gameplay mechs. As a game developer…I think I would do what I feeel is best. I’d find some form of gameplay that the fans love and stick close to that and just keep improving on it.

         Take KH1 and 2 for example, gameplay only improved but the story and events made it feel and look like a brand new game…but it was still KH.Trust me when I say the events and the games world its self really matter. If SE keeps changing its gameplay Im afraid that we might wind up with a FPS FF.

        • The catch is, with how the industry has changed. The big games will do whatever it takes to sell copies. That’s the sad part about all of this…

          If that means more of the same game with each iteration, then I think they will do just that. If it means copying other popular games, and trying to bring in a new audience to boost sales, then I think they will do that as well. =/

      • Elvick

        Change, and completely ignoring all knowledge from 20+ years of FF development and development of many other RPGs are two very different things.

        There are things SE have done in other RPG’s they’ve made that would have made FFXIII a much better game.

        Yet they did nothing to improve on XIII’s obvious glaring flaws. Thanks for that Cure, AI. But I’d have used a Cura instead. Since you know, the damage we’re taking negates that heal completely. Leaving me still in need of healing.

        Too bad I can’t use anything close to the Gambit System to set priorities.

        Gee, thanks Sentinal for taking all this damage away from my healer. It’s just a shame the AI of the healer decide to stand right next to you so he can die from AoE damage. Making you a complete waste.

        If only I could move like FFXII…

        I have nothing against change, but only when they actually apply what they already know to it. So that change isn’t a complete mess, that could have been avoided.

  • tanto

    physical is the only way to get an rpg

    ff has never been better this gen

  • I stop in “Final Fantasy XIII, a gorgeous, linear romp, with production values destined to make amateur efforts weep with jealousy, was plagued by weak characters, poor writing, and an uninviting world.”

    Oh Dear God, why people think that their opinion is the absolute truth? If Lightning, Sazh, Vanille and Hope are weak to him, they are strong to many and many and many! Bless this poor soul God! Amem

  • All people hate XIII??? And I think that history is the most important part of any FF game.

  • gamelayer

    I’d rather play with a 16-bit pixelated, dark-knight, like Cecil Harvey,
    than an anorexic looking J-pop idol with pink hair, made from a few 1000 polys.

    Graphics can help a game, but only so much.