Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — stanleylieber @ 2:08 pm April 8, 2010

FINAL FANTASY XII is by some measure my favorite video game of all time.

Certainly, I like other games. Tetris, Katamari, Super Mario Brothers; some installments are more interesting to me than others, but I’ve found that over the years I keep returning to the same archetypes. (Possibly, this says more about the dearth of innovation in the video game industry than my own tastes. Anyway.)

FFXII struck a perfect balance between classic virtues and modern craft. An entertaining story with engrossing action. Great character designs and deep, deep combat strategy. In short, polish with substance. I usually tag-team JRPGs, playing a couple of hours a day switching off with a partner, but this one I played all the way through, start to finish, all by myself. I bought action figures of the game’s characters. I bought another stuffed Moogle.

So, if FFXII was so great, why have I quit playing FFXIII altogether, mere weeks after its release?

I used to bristle when people criticized the FF franchise for being nothing more than movies you have to sit and click through. Sure, some of the games forced you to sit through a lot of cut scenes, and the combat systems have once or twice felt a bit empty. But for every FFX, which was heavy on cinemas and perhaps weak on strategic depth, there would be a FFXII, with a combat system I still find myself trying to map, mentally, onto my everyday life.

Hey, I said it was my favorite game of all time.

When it comes to FFXIII, there’s frankly not much I remember about the game after turning off my system.

The game finally fulfills what less easily entertained people have been saying about the franchise for over a decade:

- The characters are 1-dimensional cliches
- The storyline is a rickety scaffold upon which are hung gorgeously rendered music videos
- You don’t so much play the game as you simply click a single button at the appropriate times in order to trigger the next music video

Now, I used to think those complaints were silly. And I still would, if we were talking about FF 7-12.

Unfortunately, we’re talking about a game that appeared four years after its last installment and cost $60 at retail.

FFXIII producer Yoshinori Kitase seems like a nice guy. I feel a little guilty here saying I don’t feel like his game was worth the wait.

But… I don’t.

I want to love FFXIII. Seriously! I scheduled the beginning of my spring vacation this year to coincide with release day — specifically to maximize my FFXIII first-run enjoyment.

Now I find myself looking around to see what’s next.

FINAL FANTASY XIV, a MMORPG I have no interest in playing, is set for release later in 2010.

FINAL FANTASY: CHAOS RINGS, an original game for the iPhone, is set for release “soon.”

I suppose it’s possible that the last three chapters of this thirteen (get it?) chapter game really do comprise over half of its playable hours. It’s still possible that the game will take a drastic turn towards something that will hold my attention. But I’ll be frank: that’s starting to seem doubtful.

I don’t expect this game will sour me on the franchise. I’ve waded carefully around dud installments in past. But I had higher hopes for FF’s debut on the seventh generation consoles. Especially after waiting since 2006 to see the end result.