Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Final Fantasy: The big three

I figured I'd give film a break and talk about videogames. Final Fantasy is notorious for being one of the most polarizing in history. In one installment we're given memorable characters, memorable settings, and a memorable story. The next installment all were given is a bunch of over emotional teenagers and a completely broken magic system. I would like to talk about what most fans consider to be the best in the series. So lets get started with, in no specific order: Final Fantasy VII. This was the game that really let america realize what the JRPG was and how good it could really be. With a cast of incredible characters, one of the most well thought out magic/leveling systems ever seen in a videogame, an unforgettable villain, and an incredibly deep (and heartbreaking) story, this makes Final Fantasy VII one of the most important games within the JRPG genre. Now lets talk about the precursor to VII Final Fantasy VI. This game made some drastic changes to the system and story telling of the series and to date still boasts the biggest cast in series history. With this entry we saw a drastic change in the setting, up until this point all of the games had been set in a medieval fantasy style setting. VI gave us a dark industrial steampunk style world, making it an incredibly different game in tone and setting. Another very interesting concept added to the game was character specific abilities this made it necessary to be careful about how you composed your party. Villains always play an essential role in Final Fantasy games, and if Sephiroth was the cold misguided villain, then that puts Kefka at the completely opposite end of that spectrum as the villain who just likes to kill people because its fun. All of this came together to make a very memorable and fun game with characters you could invest in. Okay so if VI was the launching pad for VII then X was the next inevitable phase after VII. X took everything to the next level: characters, story, setting and battle system. The characters were some you could truly invest in, each of them having an essential role to play in the story. Also this Final Fantasy has one of the coolest characters in the series history, Auron. This was also one of the first to put a Romance at the forefront of the story. It makes it the driving force of the story. The setting was drastic departure for the story it had more of a Star Wars type of feel than steampunk or medieval. This made for a very interesting setting. I feel I should also mention that this is one of the few videogames makes very effective use of time travel as a story telling device. Also to be noted, this game has some of the most difficult boss battles I have ever had the displeasure of playing, but it's not so difficult to play that it becomes a distraction. The sphere grid is one of the finest additions to the series and frankly I think it should still be used today. It allows players to fine tune there characters to an outrageous degree without being overly complex. For those of you who have played other games in the series its like a cross between materia and the license board. This combined with the ability to change characters on the fly and actually control summons makes this one of the best systems in the series history. The single most important X did for the series in my opinion is the elimination of an over world. The whole world is completely seamless making for an adventure that has a much better flow and a world that you can really get involved in.

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