No game at E3 left a worse impression than Final Fantasy XV; a game that looks to continue in the direction set by XIII boasting all the worse parts of the series with nothing of interest to reveal.
At the Sony press conference at E3, Final Fantasy XV finally made its debut after its metamorphosis from Final Fantasy Versus XIII. As the trailer roared on in the auditorium I remember thinking to myself, “This looks horrible.” Admittedly, I surprised myself with my own reaction. I am a Final Fantasy guy; I’ve loved almost all the games in the series from the artwork, to the music to the stories they told. So why did two trailers released at E3 leave me with these negative emotions? Well, I thought about it and decided to put my notes down on paper to explain why Final Fantasy XV looks so awful.
Final Fantasy used to be a giant in gaming. It defined generations; they were massive gaming events that elevated Square to an industry leader. Now the games have become a joke with the number series rendered pointless by MMO’s entries in the main series that should have been a spin-offs, all time low reviews of the latest game, odd sequels of characters we don’t care about, and even the music sucks. But that is all ancillary, let’s cut to the heart of the matter; why this game will most likely be terrible.
The most glaring issue of the trailers is the artistic design choices and the cinematography of the game itself. Final Fantasy has always been a game that has pushed the boundaries of what is capable on the system but it used to at least make sense. In the trailers there is so much going on I can barely make heads or tails of what the hell is going on. Who are these people, why are they fighting, why are there giant monsters throwing fireballs for no reason, why should I care? The Final Fantasy series has become about jamming as much crap on the screen to the point where is causing me an aneurysm and leading to sensory overload. And don’t say that it’s just a trailer and that it will be answered in the game, compare that to the Destiny trailer which has just as much going on. With that trailer it clearly tells us:
A) Who the good guys are
B) Who the bad guys are
C) why they are fighting.
It’s all basic elements of storytelling; having clearly defined story beats so people can engage with and enjoy the story. In the old days Square was pretty good with this, in fact I can surmise most of the Final Fantasy stories with one sentence, lets try it:
- FF1: Four legendary soldiers must travel the world to defeat an evil force plaguing the land.
- FF7: Ex Solider Cloud and his motley crew chase after Sephiroth in a quest to save the planet while dealing with the corrupt Shinra company at every turn.
- FF10: Blitzball star Tidus finds himself thousands of years in the future where he must aid the summoner Yuna on her quest to defeat the monstrous Sin terrorizing the land.
Now let’s try to surmise the later day Final Fantasy.
- FF13: Six random strangers meet at various points and are labeled as evil people by the religion of the world, but its actually the religion that is evil so they must fight back on two different worlds to try and bring things into balance and a bunch of other stuff, oh and everything happens in 13 days.
- FF15: Something about crystals, a bunch of spikey haired dudes are fighting, there was a behemoth, they showed 12 people who are all the same skin color and probably someone gets double crossed and??????
To paraphrase Shakesphere Final Fantasy XV feels like a loud bang, signifying nothing. No other trailer at E3 had more going on in it and no other trailer at E3 made me feel as little as this one did. Some might say that summons and over the top set pieces have always been a part of Final Fantasy, to which I counter that I get that is a JRPG and I am fine with that but Final Fantasy was good in spite of the moments where it went over the top. Now it looks like it’s a game that is cranked up to 11, on meth and won’t stop moving for anybody!
Stop whining, STOP IT!!! Oh god, why is he wearing a scarf?
When the horrible character designs and cinematography is not making you hate this game, you can always rely on the truly go awful dialogue. Final Fantasy XIII suffered from this in spades as characters would often speak like aliens with large gaps in consistency in their behavior; at one moment acting scared in front of a couple of guards with guns and the next destroying half a city with their powers. It is astonishing how a series that has such technically complex graphics can have such one dimensional characters. The dialogue in Final Fantasy 13 was painful, there is no other word for it and Hope was easily one of the worst characters in gaming history. If a game can’t make you believe its characters, then no one cares what happens to them and the entire thing falls apart.
The final fantasy games have never been about great gameplay, but up until 13 they at least got the story correct. You can see shadows of the same mistakes 13 made that in the trailer for XV. Take the quote a character from the trailer “My heart won’t let go.” No one has ever said that, EVER! That one line in any context is so devoid of real emotion the characters don’t come life and feel foreign. What about clearly defined villains with clear character motivations? Well judging on this quote from the villain in the trailer its not likely “The world we purport to know is ever changing, ending as we speak. And so it must be for all existence?” What the hell does that even mean!
Finally, the gameplay… where do I begin? As I said the FF series has never been good with the gameplay but I actually never minded. It was more like a game of chess rather than a button masher. In Final Fantasy XIII, you could literally play the first 20 hours of the game and only hit the X button in combat. Now I am really guessing here, but the gameplay looks a lot like the Kingdom Hearts gameplay, which sucks. It works in Kingdom Heart’s because you only have Goofy and Donald as your main companions but in a game like Final Fantasy 13 and 15 that means half of the charters sit out of every battle. Why are they even in game if you never even use them? It would have been really interesting to see if they could have created a game that took use of all 12 characters that stayed in battle with you, so you could grow with them and get to know them better, but again that is speculating.
I realize that upon writing this, that the game is not out yet and you may be correct that my judgment is a bit premature. The game is not out yet, but it has made its first impression on me and that impression is that Final Fantasy XV will be the first game in the series I do not play.
DanimalCart’s Soapbox: 06/26/13