A Fantasy Shatterred- My Experince with the Final Fantasy Series

Roken Ado

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Okay, this is my first thread in a gaming site and I have to say I love Escapist Magazine. They have such different, interesting opinions about gaming which is very enjoyable to read. So, this, I thought is the place to write about the situation that I'm in right now cuz I think this forum has actual sensible gamers and not egoistic keyboard warriors. It's about the Final Fantasy series. Apologies if this is a long read but please go through it and comment :)

Well I've always thought of Final Fantasy as the definition of a great RPG, before playing them of course. Back in 2004 I saw a trailer of a Final Fantasy game on the internet and marveled at the grand CGI cut-scenes of airships and beautiful cities and green meadows with lots of flowers. It blew my mind, I thought that this has to be the best game in the history of games. But they've been always kind of a "fantasy" to me. I could never get to play 'em cuz all I owned back then was a Pentium IV with 256 MB ram to play Delta Force 2 and Project IGI :p. Heck I didn't even know there was something called a JRPG. I'm glad I've developed quite a bit as a gamer since then and even now I look back at the day when I played Neverwinter Nights for the first time. It was the red pill of my gaming world...

So, here's where the story starts. Two years back I bought a PS3 and Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the first of the lot that i layed my hands upon. I remember talking to myself "look how far you've come, you've got one of 'em in you're hands now", as I was opening the case and taking a look at the manual. Slid the disk in. Started the game. And lo and behold, the fantasy came crashing down as my heart shattered to a million pieces. To be honest, apart form the visual design, I was mind mindbogglingly dissapointed with the game. Not because it sucked or anything. It was a fairly mediocre game. But I always thought that the story would be something much more grand than what I found. I was so depressed that i didn't even bother playing the first FF XIII. And a year later i sold off my ps3.

I always thought I didn't do justice to the series by judging with playing just one game. I kept thinking there had to be more to the series that this. So i researched a few forums and found IV, VII and X to be highly regarded by the fans of the series. Now that I own a good enough PC, I decided to give Final Fantasy X a go in an emulator. I've been playing it for a while now and i really like the combat system. Although JRPG's are fairly linear in their design but it's quite fine by me. In a way it helps the flow of the game too, if I might add. Now what i'm about to say may piss some off, but its just my opinion so don't come guns blazin' ok. So again, where it loses it is where I thought of the Final Fantasy series to be the greatest i.e., the story. Man it's so weird and crazy where do I even start. The cut-scenes are facepalmingly painful to watch. The voice acting and animations are like mad people talking. Even MGS4's hour long cut-scenes were better than this. Its a Japanese game but its not like Japanese people are weird and crazy. So why those cut-scenes? I mean Waka's as stupid as they come, Lulu's dead inside, Auron's uninteresting and Rikku just sits every where when she talks. People sit like that when they are about to take a dump man. It's so weird. And Yuna, wow... she's hell bent on marrying that weird haired Seymour and why I don't know. The first time Tidus saves her but then again, after being kidnapped, she shows up in a wedding gown just to send Seymour (who is supposed to be dead) with a ritual. Tidus and the lot come to save her, defeat all the soldiers, and get surrounded, lol. Then she marries Seymour and jumps from a building to save Tidus. Well, she could have jumped before marrying Seymour in the first place! Then Rikku throws a flasbang and they all escape. Well, she could've thrown it before Yuna got married! That's when i decided to take a break. I didn't rage quit, I got wiereded out. Those cutscenes, dialogues, the plot, all of them got built up to that momment.

Now I am so confused. This was definitely not a good story to me. I've played a bad Final Fantasy game and a good Final Fantasy game. FF X has excellent game-play but if it is to be considered a game with a good story and characters, which I always thought it was, then I was wrong all these years. So wrong. Final Fantasy is not grand to me anymore, its not the Final Fantasy that I conjured up in my mind all those years ago. I might've offended or hurt someone reading this but I myself am hurt as much. My dream game, my "fantasy" is broken now and i have woken up to the reality where Final Fantasy is just another game.

I want to love the series so much. The CGI cut-scene that i saw as a teen is one of those monumental moments in my life which made gaming such an important part of my life. I will surely finish the game. But I've not enjoyed anything except the combat so far. Some might argue that Yuna married Seymour cuz the plot is written like that and that the story gets better as the game goes on. But I have not enjoyed the story or the cut-scenes so far. Playing for twenty hours just waiting for the combat and frowning on tons of cut-scenes is not a good gaming experience to me (You too MGS4).

To me Max Payne was good story. The Witcher, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, all were believable and amazing gaming worlds. The story and characters played a big part in making 'em that. So, can anyone explain in what way the final fantasy series is perceived by the the fans. I still find the whole Final Fantasy experience hard to digest and understand, let alone enjoy. And if you do agree with my new-found fact that they have been over-hyped all these years, then would you share your experience with something like this that has happened to you? I am open to discussions but please don't abuse me with comments just because I might sound absurd cuz I don't like a legendary game. Good day :)
 

DOOM GUY

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I suppose they're definitely not for everybody, and yeah, they're not the greatest things ever, especially those two that you played (I still thought they were decent, but a lot of people won't agree with me about XIII)

To me, the best ones were IV and VI, with VII also being pretty good.
 

Roken Ado

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Thanks for the reply.. as I said before, I want to love the series. Maybe I just don't want to let go of that feeling when I look at a final fantasy wallpaper. But I do. I'm still playing FFX, I'll see how far can I go before I can't take the weirdness anymore. You have really made me want to try FFIX and VI in that order. But FFVI is't 3D.. so no more weird
cut-scenes i'm guessing?
 

Hairless Mammoth

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Roken Ado said:
Thanks for the reply.. as I said before, I want to love the series. Maybe I just don't want to let go of that feeling when I look at a final fantasy wallpaper. But I do. I'm still playing FFX, I'll see how far can I go before I can't take the weirdness anymore. You have really made me want to try FFIX and VI in that order. But FFVI is't 3D.. so no more weird
cut-scenes i'm guessing?
IV of course doesn't have CGI cutscenes, unless you're playing the PS1 port. The 2D games however have a charm to their simple cutscenes that only IX and maybe some scenes in VII were able to capture in 3D.

X is good from a gameplay perspective, but, besides Auron and maybe Lulu, pretty much every character and the entire narrative should have been overhauled, big time. It was also the first to drop the overworld and create *thunderclap* "The Hallway" a decade before XII did it. At least, X was interesting enough to keep chugging along. You might enjoy the later summons, abilities and bosses MT. Gagazet(you're almost there) and later areas have to offer. Gagazet also has one of the best music pieces in the game.

Definitely start with 9 after you've had enough of X. I'm playing it right now, for the thousandth time, on my PSP. It's my favorite, has one of the best stories in the series, and is simple enough for beginners while having depth and tons of sidequests for the JRPG enthusiasts. The soundtrack is also one of the best in the series, even considered his magnum opus by the composer.

Then go on to the rest in this order: 6 or 7(let's just say they are equals with flaws that compliment the other's strengths), the other, 12 if you can stand or even like its sudo MMO setup (It's definitely the most open ended FF since 6, though. [footnote]Also, it's the most complex. Just look up a thread in the gaming forums from a few weeks ago about getting into the game. Post after post, including a couple from myself, were thrown around about tips to get the most out of it. 12 is not for RPG beginners.[/footnote]), 4 or 5, then any others in the main series and the offshoots you want to check out.

I'd stay away from the post-12 games. You've got a good taste of those already. I could not stand 2 hours of XII's BS even before the hallway became apparent, and don't want to play any continuation of its story.[footnote]Watch Spoony's [http://spoonyexperiment.com/game-reviews/final-fantasy-series/] review of XIII (and maybe the VIII, X, and X-II reviews) to get the most entertainment out of that game.[/footnote] Also, approach 8 with caution. It's story has plot holes and weirdness the later games would be know for and the magic drawing/junctioning system either breaks the game, feels useless, or slooooows battles down depending on how you play.
 

Super Cyborg

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Even during the "glory days", I was never really invested in the series. I played and loved 7, and didn't play another one until 10, then went back and played 8 and 9 at some points. I still love 7 because of the combat, and despite the outdated graphics, I like some of the visuals. The only other Final Fantasy I can say I liked was Tactics. I got invested in the Tales series when Symphonia came out, and there are other series I like such as SMT, Persona, Disgeae, and others. I think Final Fantasy is fondly remembered because it was a lot of people's first JRPG series, but once you look at other games, there are much better ones than Final Fantasy. I would suggest trying a different series, such as Persona. It has a better story, and a pretty good battle system.
 

krazykidd

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I think the proble. If you played them late. Growing up with final fantasy games ( i still got the original nes cartridge) i saw the progression it made , and every one was as good or better than the last, wellto me at least, until x-2 and 13-2 which are to me the worst in the series. Also it seems you hyped the games for years, so disappointment is not surprising. I would say wait till 15 comes out and start there.
 

DOOM GUY

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Roken Ado said:
...You have really made me want to try FFIX and VI in that order. But FFVI is't 3D.. so no more weird
cut-scenes i'm guessing?
I forgot to mention IX in my post, but yeah, that's a pretty good one too, captures the spirit of the older FF games, which VII and VIII broke away from.

VI, due to being a SNES game originally, just uses the sprites for cut-scenes, and they're usually just used to explain what's going on in the story.

So, anyway, I'd say play those two, either order is fine, and then maybe try out IV and Tactics (I know some people who don't really like the rest of the series, but absolutely love Tactics)
 

RJ 17

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Roken Ado said:
So, here's where the story starts. Two years back I bought a PS3 and Final Fantasy XIII-2 was the first of the lot that i layed my hands upon. I remember talking to myself "look how far you've come, you've got one of 'em in you're hands now", as I was opening the case and taking a look at the manual. Slid the disk in. Started the game. And lo and behold, the fantasy came crashing down as my heart shattered to a million pieces. To be honest, apart form the visual design, I was mind mindbogglingly dissapointed with the game. Not because it sucked or anything. It was a fairly mediocre game. But I always thought that the story would be something much more grand than what I found. I was so depressed that i didn't even bother playing the first FF XIII. And a year later i sold off my ps3.
In the words of The Myth Busters: "Well there's your problem."

You were introduced to the series with one of the worst (hated by critics and fans alike) games. FFXIII was the worst...until FFXIII-2 came out. And from what I've heard, FFXIII-3 managed to wrestle the title of "Worst In The Series" away from FFXIII-2. In short: 13 proved to be a VERY unlucky number for the FF series, as each game was quite literally worse than the last.

Then you went on to 10. It's not......terrible, at least in terms of gameplay. But you're certainly right about the story: it really is god awful.

Here's the sad fact of the matter, my friend: you were lured in by the epic grandeur and beauty of Square's CGI cutscenes. I'm a long-since jaded fan towards the series and have very little love left for Square. But no matter what negative things I say about them, there's one thing even I can't deny: Square can make a DAMN beautiful cutscene. Sadly, however, it seems that they've exchanged their story-writing budget for their graphics-design budget. You want good stories? You'll have to go all the way back to the classics. Here's a break-down (which is of course simply my opinion on things) of FF quality:

FF4: Fantastic story, gameplay, and music...one of my top 3.
FF5: Pretty fun game, actually. You only get 4 characters in your party, but this game introduces the concept of "job classes" that characters can switch between and level up as. This leads to really fun combinations as once you've mastered a job you can take it's abilities with you to the next one. For instance you can set Knight as your primary job and pick Black Magic as your secondary skill. This is the system that is used in FFTactics, but I'll get to that in a bit.
FF6: Ditto to FF4, another of my top 3.
FF7: This is where the downhill slide began. I don't know if it's a coincidence that this just happened to be the game where they made the jump to 3D or what, but FF7 is where the quality began to drop off. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great game with a great magic and equipment system and a decent story...but most fans of the series would have you believe it's the holy grail of JRPGs and that simply isn't true. It has it's faults, but over-all it's still a good game.
FFTactics: The original one, at least, all the way back on the PS1 (so not this War of the Lions bs). You want an epic story? Pick this one. This is the game that inspired me to become a creative writer. It's a spin-off from the series with a VASTLY different format than any of the other games, however if you ask me it's got the best story of any game with the words "Final Fantasy" in the title. This is easily my favorite title in the series.
FF8: I'd avoid this one if you're looking for a story. It's all about angsty emo teens. The combat/magic system is ridiculously tedious and grotesquely exploitable...as in you can literally build yourself into god-mode and use limit breaks every turn if you do things right.
FF9: Many hail this as the 2nd greatest game after FF7, but I just didn't see what they saw in it. To me, this game was so depressingly boring that I couldn't be bothered to play past the first disc (think there were 4 total).
FF10: As I mentioned, the gameplay was fantastic, the battle system was perhaps the most fun to use of any of the games...but the story is just terrible and the main character is utterly unlikeable. Want a really good laugh? Go to youtube and type in "Spoony plays FF10" and watch his playthrough/review of the game. Feel free to do the same with FF13 for an even more hilarious tear-down of a game.
FF10-2: So bad that I rented it and returned it about 2 hours later.

And I haven't played an FF game since. From what I've heard, I really haven't missed out on much.

Anyways, welcome to the forums! With regards to the FF series, you just picked one of the WORST possible games to start out on...and followed it up with (at least in my opinion) another of the worst the series has to offer. Go play the classics (FF1 through 6) if you're looking for a good story in a fantasy RPG. My theory is that the writing was better "back in the day" because they didn't have amazing, pretty graphics to dazzle and mesmerize. They held your attention with an engrossing plot, not the curiosity about how lovely the next town or cutscene will be.
 

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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I hated the characters of FFX and the gameplay. Tidus is awfully annoying and Yuna is like the most boring woman ever. I hated the gameplay because the battle system is too simplistic to merit it being turned-based; it's just your party on one side trading blows vs the enemy on the other, positioning has no importance whatsoever. Positioning plays a key role in any good turn-based game from Chess to DnD to XCOM. Without it, a whole layer of strategy is just absent. With the same exact battle system as FFX, FFXII showed that with a few if-then-else statements (gambits), the game can play itself. You can't have XCOM play itself with a few if-then-else statements. The FF series has always struck me as highly overrated and I tried to play FFVI on SNES way back, I couldn't take the constant battles every 3 steps. I then played FFX and beat it as the random battles weren't as bad, but not one thing about the game was even good let alone great.
 

SmallHatLogan

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I have an inkling that you might not get much out of this series as a whole. You say you enjoyed FFX's combat but not the story, with previous games it'll probably be the opposite (or you just won't like them at all). FFX was the first game for me where the combat actually felt engaging. The first 9 games in the series require very little strategy apart from the occasional tough/gimmicky boss encounter. Using the guideline of "White mage heal, everyone else attack" will get you very far, and unfortunately it's just not very exciting. I'd recommend giving VI or VII a go (I also think V is great but the story is a bit lacking) and if they don't float your boat then you're probably wasting your time.
 

loc978

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As someone who played the series from I to X (with spinoffs between) as they came out (and then I gave up. Never finished X), I have to say RJ 17 is right. You want story, go with IV, VI and Tactics. VII isn't bad, but it does mark the beginning of Square's focus on visual spectacle and characters adhering to simple stereotypes.

...I'd actually recommend the old 8-bit FFI over anything past VII. At least you can just fill in the blanks in the bare-bones story with your imagination.
 
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RJ 17 said:
FFTactics: The original one, at least, all the way back on the PS1 (so not this War of the Lions bs). You want an epic story? Pick this one. This is the game that inspired me to become a creative writer. It's a spin-off from the series with a VASTLY different format than any of the other games, however if you ask me it's got the best story of any game with the words "Final Fantasy" in the title. This is easily my favorite title in the series.
I came here to mention this game. I was actually shocked with how much I liked its writing, in my opinion it completely blows the other Final Fantasy games out of the water in that regard. It's a pretty decent tactics game too, and while there was some parts where the difficulty absolutely spiked (Save a LOT), I really enjoyed playing it.

Although I have to ask, what's so bad about War of the Lions? I've only played that version and could have sworn it was just a remastered port of the original for the PSP
 

Signa

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To me, you played the Final Fantasy that killed the series to me, and the Final Fantasy that confirmed to me that it was still dead.

Play 4, 6, 7, or 9, and come back here again. Sure, there won't be pretty graphics in 4 and 6, but there is a story.
 

Super Cyborg

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The Almighty Aardvark said:
RJ 17 said:
FFTactics: The original one, at least, all the way back on the PS1 (so not this War of the Lions bs). You want an epic story? Pick this one. This is the game that inspired me to become a creative writer. It's a spin-off from the series with a VASTLY different format than any of the other games, however if you ask me it's got the best story of any game with the words "Final Fantasy" in the title. This is easily my favorite title in the series.
I came here to mention this game. I was actually shocked with how much I liked its writing, in my opinion it completely blows the other Final Fantasy games out of the water in that regard. It's a pretty decent tactics game too, and while there was some parts where the difficulty absolutely spiked (Save a LOT), I really enjoyed playing it.

Although I have to ask, what's so bad about War of the Lions? I've only played that version and could have sworn it was just a remastered port of the original for the PSP
I played it and the only thing they added was a few cut scenes and a few new missions. The only thing I remember hearing was that War of the Lions had really bad lag issues with the summons, which I almost never used because of the casting time. I have to play both the original, and the PSP one to get a better idea. Most people liked the remake on the PSP though, at least from what I understood.
 

loc978

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The Almighty Aardvark said:
RJ 17 said:
FFTactics: The original one, at least, all the way back on the PS1 (so not this War of the Lions bs). You want an epic story? Pick this one. This is the game that inspired me to become a creative writer. It's a spin-off from the series with a VASTLY different format than any of the other games, however if you ask me it's got the best story of any game with the words "Final Fantasy" in the title. This is easily my favorite title in the series.
I came here to mention this game. I was actually shocked with how much I liked its writing, in my opinion it completely blows the other Final Fantasy games out of the water in that regard. It's a pretty decent tactics game too, and while there was some parts where the difficulty absolutely spiked (Save a LOT), I really enjoyed playing it.

Although I have to ask, what's so bad about War of the Lions? I've only played that version and could have sworn it was just a remastered port of the original for the PSP
Re-translated, newly voice-acted and slightly rebalanced, too... I actually enjoyed it, for the record... but...

...they did a shoddy job porting it to the new hardware, so it actually has framerate drops pretty regularly. The PS1 version feels more appropriate, without the shoehorned-in new features and performance issues. I wouldn't say War of the Lions ruined anything... but it's not an improvement, either.
 

Bara_no_Hime

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Roken Ado said:
You want a JRPG with a good story?

Xenogears for the PS1.

Best story ever told in a video game. It has a fair amount of weird, but it is intentional, tonal weird not plot-hole weird.

Also, Planescape: Torment for the best story in a western RPG.

Planescape: Torment is a few bucks on GOG. As for Xenogears, I'd suggest finding a ROM since it's PS1 era and you already played a PS2 emulation.

Edit:

Oh, and if you liked the Witcher, go read the Witcher novels. The first Witcher game is bad fanfiction of the Witcher novels.

The Witcher 2 is far better, storywise (and reads more like good fan fiction).
 
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Super Cyborg said:
loc978 said:
Is that on the PSP? I played it on the PS Vita and it seemed to work perfectly fine, I've heard complaints about the lag on the iphone version though.

Actually, the summons were probably my biggest complaint in the game. The summons and some of the spells just took far too long to cast, if I wasn't playing this to pass time in transit I likely would have avoided using them entirely
 

AtomChicken

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The Best: Definitely some of the older titles like FFIV, FFVI, and heck, FFVII

The Middle: FFXI was a return to the roots, FFVIII is hard to classify, just bizarre.

The Worst: All the Bravest (just ask Jim Sterling), FFXIII had some serious linearity issues.

The Unusual: FFXIV first round was an utter pile of shit, but A Realm Reborn actually not only fixed the damn thing, but lured an old Warcrack gamer like myself into actually have fun (sans step and fetch it quests) and digging the story.

My advice is to treat the games in their own rights, and general sequels of existing games tend to be shit, unless its Crisis Core. Each title carries its own personality and weight, so take what you can get out of it. However, Final Fantasy is not the whole breadth of the JRPG market, ProJared (yes a youtuber) actually has a few videos looking at more obscure titles.
 

Super Cyborg

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The Almighty Aardvark said:
Super Cyborg said:
loc978 said:
Is that on the PSP? I played it on the PS Vita and it seemed to work perfectly fine, I've heard complaints about the lag on the iphone version though.

Actually, the summons were probably my biggest complaint in the game. The summons and some of the spells just took far too long to cast, if I wasn't playing this to pass time in transit I likely would have avoided using them entirely
War of the Lions was originally a remake of the PS1 game for the PSP. The reason you can get it on the vita is that it's part of the PSP download section. You can also get the original PS1 game downloaded on the Vita if you go to the PS1 section of the store. Summons and spells were a pain, especially summons. I never used summoners because they died quickly, and by the time it could be casted, all the enemies would be out of the way. I believe if you trained characters well enough they could cast really quickly, but that was more towards the end game.