So, now that I’ve beaten Final Fantasy XV and released my review of the game(Which may be hit or miss. It took me three hours to type up and I was trying a different sort of structure than I normally do, but it was probably the longest review I’ve ever written.) I wanted to follow it up by ranking all of the Final Fantasy games that I’ve played, which isn’t many, but that should help keep the list focused. And obviously I’ll do another one as I complete more of them because I have all of them, just never played most of them. My backlog is that large and newer games get priority. But I don’t wanna bore you with these opening schticks so lets just get this train moving.
Final Fantasy XIII was my introduction to the Final Fantasy franchise. A lot of people would say that it was a very bad place to start as its largely considered one of the worst entries in the franchise by longtime fans, but the fact is that I didn’t have any preconceived notion about the franchise when I entered it. This was my beginning and I saw XIII for what it was rather than comparing it to previous games. All it took was one flashy story trailer with a really cool art design and I was immediately interested and wanted the game. And when I got it, I enjoyed it. Unlike a lot of people I understood the story throughout and never really got confused even with all the terminology it threw around. The gameplay wasn’t very engaging to me though and some of the battles were just too damn hard. I spent the better part of an hour in a single boss fight and I was barely doing any damage to it which irritated me. Granted, I learned later that it was because I was severely underleveled, or, what passes for leveling in FFXIII. The problem was that I was being funneled down this very beautiful corridor and given the option to completely bypass enemies.
My main gripe however came with the characters. I didn’t care for Lightning or Fang whatsoever, Sazh was a walking stereotype that was great for comedic relief but nothing beyond that, Vanille was kind of annoying, Snow just wouldn’t shut up about Serah, I probably liked Hope the most because at least he actually had meaningful development over the course of the game. And the antagonists I was interested in came and went, leaving me with antagonists that I wasn’t really sure of. I think it’s because I started here that I was able to appreciate older games more.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 was my second game in the series, which makes sense because it was the next to release stateside. The story and characters grabbed me a bit more and Lightning being a side character was definitely good. Lightning in moderation is better than Lightning all day every day. The time travel story made it interesting because you would see these characters at different points in time and Hope became an even better character than he was before. On top of that, the antagonist, Caius, was better than Barthandelus or Orphan from the previous game. In fact, he’s one of my favorite antagonists in the entire series because he’s a pretty sympathetic character, you just have to feel bad for the guy.
Gameplay wise it was improved over XIII, still kind of confusing and automated, but I was more interested in playing it this time around and that’s great, just wish there were more characters than just Serah and Noel. The story was a bit short though, or at least it felt shorter. I expect long stories from games like these and so when it ends too fast I get a little irritated.
Type-0 was really interesting to me. I’m a big World War II buff and WWII was a big inspiration for the games director Hajime Tabata. He wanted to create a Final Fantasy game with an old war movie vibe, sort of like a documentary and to see this sort of massive fantasy war with an older feeling was actually pretty neat. The fact that it was M-rated meant that it was going to do it justice and it certainly did. Characters were stabbed, slashed, shot repeatedly, executed, it was very gruesome. I waited years for this game to come stateside and man was my patience rewarded. I loved this game. The controls were a little stiff, but that makes sense since it was a PSP game originally and it was really just better character models for the main characters, better lighting, and a higher screen resolution. Everything else was relatively untouched sadly. It was a 50/50 remaster, they could have done more, but they didn’t.
Luckily, the story was good enough for me to forget most of the problems I had with the game like the clunky combat, blurry and flat textures, god awful English voiceover(Seriously, this was a budget dub made in 2012. I don’t even think great voice direction could have saved this dub.), and Dark Souls-esque difficulty at times. Still frustrating, but it could be forgiven. The ending in and of itself was absolutely fantastic even if some plot twists came completely out of left field and you realize that you didn’t even get the full story because it’s impossible to get the full story on the first playthrough. You have to go through multiple times to unlock new scenes and eventually an alternate ending. It’s great for replay value, but man I’d hate to be the player who picks this game up, expects to play it through once, thinks the story is unfinished and sells it not realizing that there is more.
It’s great that this game did well enough that Square considers it a more experimental sub-franchise of the Final Fantasy series, one that can have whatever rating it wants and cover whatever subject matter it wants too and not have to worry about it. Tabata has already expressed interest in and even teased the next game in the Type series and I can’t wait to see it.
This game has it all. It’s beautiful, it’s emotional, it’s the culmination of 10 years of development. That doesn’t save it from being a flawed product, but with many saving graces. The gameplay is absolutely phenomenal and story is held up by the four main characters alone. The story however is also criminally short and unfortunately unfinished. It can also not be entirely clear what happened in certain scenes and that holds it back despite the fantastic English voiceover and extreme attention to detail. If this game had been given another year or two of dev time, it could have been the best of the best, but Square set a deadline that had to be hit, and so sacrifices were made to get it out in time.
However, for all the games faults, it feels like a classic Final Fantasy game. It has that atmosphere about it that is unmistakable. It pays homage to games past while also bringing the franchise into the modern era. I have no idea how good Final Fantasy VII Remake will be or what Final Fantasy XVI will be like, but this is a good starting point both for the future and for first time fans.
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO, but the story it tells and the world it breathes life into are unmistakably Final Fantasy to the very core. The world of Eorzea is breathtaking. Even if it isn’t as graphically impressive as Final Fantasy XV, its art design brings it up to that level. And the best part is that I get to experience the adventure with valuable friends in tow. Sure, I would absolutely love to see the story painstakingly recreated as a single-player adventure with the graphics of XV combined with the art style, but that won’t ever happen, and that’s fine because what I have is enough for me.
The music is beautiful, the world and lore is intriguing, the characters are lovable, and there’s so much to do. And despite the fact that the story gets pretty dark at times, there’s enough light to break through the darkness and create a perfect balance. The original XIV may have been a disaster, but like a phoenix it arose from its ashes to become something truly extraordinary and I will never forget the adventures I had in Eorzea and look forward to returning next year for the Stormblood expansion.
Out of the six Final Fantasy games I’ve played thus far, VII, by far the oldest of them, is my favorite. I went into the game optimistically, but I was somewhat hesitant because I’m not big on turn-based RPG’s, and full disclosure, I used the Character Booster function on PC, but it’s because of that cheat that I was able to enjoy the game without the hassle and I could see what was truly special about this game. It was goofy at times, like a character getting kicked into the screen or a character jamming their block of a foot against a wall after trying to kick it and hopping around, it was classic comedy. But layered on top of that was a grim world with a lot of problems and the game was quick to remind you that it isn’t all fun and games. Even the antagonists had their quirks. The duo of Reno and Rude rivaled the lovableness of the main cast. Of course, Cid takes the cake for me because he’s the foul-mouthed old guy who really isn’t so bad. He’s rude to everyone, not just the woman living with him(Who he ends up marrying post-game because he finally took that stick out of his ass.... mostly.). And while Cloud might not be the most interesting protagonist(at least at first anyway, he gets way better once his backstory starts coming out.), he’s definitely the most recognizable what with his spiky blonde super-saiyan hair and giant buster sword and he’s snarky which I love.
There was just so much to love about this game and I could see why many people love it despite all of the other games in the franchise. It was charming, quirky, sad, epic, it had everything and being the first 3D Final Fantasy game put everything into a whole new context for people. Only time will tell if the remake does the original game justice, but I have faith that it will, though I also unfortunately have the feeling that certain aspects of it will be changed to fit with the times. For instance Cid’s verbal abuse of Shera. The explanation for it and eventual resolution makes sense, but nowadays stuff like that is taboo because no matter how you try to explain it the argument will always boil down to something controversial and I doubt Square wants that kind of trouble. Though judging by Cindy in FFXV I’m fairly certain that Tifa is safe since Square doesn’t really seem to care all that much about what people think of sexy characters, which is great.