rionaleonhart: final fantasy versus xiii: a young woman at night, her back to you, the moon high above. (nor women neither)
Riona ([personal profile] rionaleonhart) wrote2016-11-28 08:58 am

Cons: My Icon Seems Stupid Now That The Character In It Has Been Removed From The Game.

We're on the verge of a new main-series Final Fantasy release! It's been a while.

One of the things that fascinates me about the Final Fantasy series is the way it reinvents itself with every new game. Every entry in the series tries new things; every entry has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

Here, for no particular reason, is my list of pros and cons of the main-series games I've played extensively (I haven't played the online entries, and VI is the only 2D release I've played for a substantial amount of time). Direct sequels and spin-offs aren't included. I've tried to avoid very subjective judgements, which is why 'the characters are the beeeeest' doesn't appear under VIII and XIII. Please imagine that 'music' appears on the 'pros' list for all of these games except XII (sorry, XII).

Final Fantasy VI:
Pros: Still looks good twenty years later. Characters all have distinct battle abilities. You can suplex a train.
Cons: Feels a bit unfocused on account of having too many characters and a non-linear second half.

Final Fantasy VII:
Pros: Materia system allows for interesting setups. Midgar is a great setting. Fascinating storyline.
Cons: Graphics have aged badly. Awkward translation. These two things, combined with oddly out-of-the-way backstory cutscenes, make the fascinating storyline very difficult to grasp. It's sometimes hard to tell how you're supposed to progress. (The upcoming remake may well resolve some or all of these issues.)

Final Fantasy VIII:
Pros: Actively rewards not getting experience, so it's great if you prefer exploring and progressing the storyline to fighting random encounters. Triple Triad!
Cons: Confusing stat system, making it easy to screw up your playthrough if you don't know what you're doing. Revolves very, very strongly around Squall, which is great news if you like Squall but may make things tricky if you don't. Story falls apart at disc 3.

Final Fantasy IX:
Pros: Fun and cute! Doesn't take itself too seriously, on the whole, despite dealing with some bleak themes. Contains Chocobo Hot & Cold, the greatest minigame ever made.
Cons: Slow battle system. You will eventually finish the Chocobo Hot & Cold sidequest and be sad that there are no more Chocographs to find.

Final Fantasy X:
Pros: Nicely strategic battle system. Excellent levelling system; the Sphere Grid defines initial roles for the party members but allows for customisation. Strong, reasonably coherent storyline (this is very rare in a Final Fantasy game), although things get weird as you approach the end (this, by contrast, is very common). Probably the most accessible game in the series for newcomers.
Cons: Very linear. Awkward voice acting. A bit too cutscene-heavy. The European release likes to drop murderous superbosses in your face when you're innocently trying to revisit previous locations.

Final Fantasy XII:
Pros: Great translation; a lot of thought has gone into the way different characters would speak. Intricate world. No random encounters.
Cons: Poorly paced; long segments without any story advancement make it hard to follow the plot. Although the voice acting is good, the sound quality (on the PS2 version, at least) is poor. Boss battles tend to be a bit of a slog.

Final Fantasy XIII:
Pros: Good pacing, great battle system, gorgeous. Extensively explores the relationships between the party members. Rarely demands grinding.
Cons: Very linear; no sense of exploration. Writing occasionally lacks subtlety. No gameplay variety; there are battles and there are cutscenes, but that's your lot.

I've no doubt that Final Fantasy XV will also get some things right and some things very wrong, and I'm looking forward to seeing what those things are. Going by this lovely piano-and-violin piece from the Episode Duscae demo (and the fact that the composer is Yoko Shimomura), 'music' seems likely to be one of its successes.

If you'd offer different upsides or downsides for any of these games, I'd be interested to hear about them!

(Anonymous) 2016-11-28 08:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I am glad that suplexing a train makes it onto the list of FF6's pros! Always made me laugh. I was also hilariously amused by any of Edgar's tools where he randomly has on a hard hat or whatever (Drill! Chainsaw!).

All true abour FF7, particularly when it throws you into random mandatory segments of "find this item" and you're like "oho, I will search the world for it" and actually it's crammed in a really hard to access corner of the sea. WTF, FF7? Also had dodgy minigames (snowboarding segment? Noooo!). I guess most would add Sephiroth to the pros.

FF8: GFs don't cost MP! I think that's a plus. Also, it has moombas. (THEY'RE SO CUTE.)

Story falls apart at disc 3 an orphanage. ? :P

FF9: Has some great story for its focus characters, but it makes the fact some of the main crew lack much focus much more obvious - shame they couldn't balance it a bit more (although I love Zidane, Dagger, Vivi etc). Has ATEs, a really great mechanic! I nominated FF9 for the "Game Within A Game" steam award precisely for Chocobo Hot and Cold. xD

FF10: The HD version also drops murderous superbosses on you whatever the region! I recorded myself beating Dark Anima, if you want to be bored to death. :P Here: (Also recorded myself against Dark Bahamut, but that's more than 15 mins long!) (I also did a menu one which is boring as hell, but I commented on that one so you could actually hear my voice? xD )

FF12 pluses should include Balthier and Fran. :P The voice acting is also uniformly strong. For all that people complain about FF13 letting the game control battles itself, 12 did it first with gambits. Oil and fire is a terrible status combination!

FF13: Lots of side quests in numbers, but lacks variety (they're pretty much all ceith stone missions). I've got 80 hours on my first playthrough by side questing for all the tough bosses. Game caps your levelling at certain points so you can't power level and remove any elements of strategy.

jecca_mehlota: (...whatever.)

[personal profile] jecca_mehlota 2016-12-01 12:34 am (UTC)(link)
I agree with the above comment. Balthier and Fran are definitely not subjective, and it's probably criminal that, of all the sequels and prequels and offshoots etc they've made, SE hasn't given us "Balthier and Fran go on adventures and steal shit and it's wonderful" yet.

... I was going to write separate FFXI and FFXIV lists for you, but they ended up looking almost identical, haha, so.
Pros: probably the largest entries with regards to story and worldbuilding and lore, open world (explore for days! Get actually lost! DIE HORRIBL--wait), interact with people!, new things always being added, SO VERY PRETTY!
Cons: interact with people..., open world (get actually lost! DIE HORRIBLY!), the level grind is real*, you can never really beat either game, player character carries the idiot-ball a bit more than seems reasonable at times (works better in offline games since the main player character isn't actually "you")

* XI is much kinder than it used to be, and XIV may be adding a level-jump option with the next expansion next year, but it's still gross.
jecca_mehlota: (Are you for real?)

[personal profile] jecca_mehlota 2016-12-02 02:01 pm (UTC)(link)
To be fair, that one largely belongs to XIV. In XI you mostly only suffer from an inability to see through obvious "disguises" (with the curious exception being Prince Trion, who is an idiot but I love him), but maybe the player characters are just face blind.

I think the thing that's most had me throwing my hands up like WHAT ARE YOU DOING was the storyline from right before they launched the first expansion pack. You get a bunch of signs and warnings that, oooo there's a conspiracy and there are SPIES IN YOUR NETWORK and something bad is going to happen, so you go to a party, but before that you get called to a secret meeting far from prying eyes because someone needs to tell you something very important but they're afraid for their life.

You go to the meeting place!

No one is there!

But there's a weird vial with some stuff in it, sure, let's bring that along, doo dee doo. You show it to someone and are informed, holy crap, that held some really intense poison, oh shit, oh dang.

SO YOU STICK IT back in you pocket like WHY???

And then of course the city ruler calls to into a meeting and gets poisoned and DIES (or does she???) and WOW YOU SOMEHOW GET FRAMED FOR IT.

And I'm just like, Rana. Rana, this was so obviously coming, why in the world did you insist on carrying that VIAL OF POTENT POISON to a meeting with A VERY IMPORTANT PERSON when you knew for a fact that BAD THINGS WERE BREWING.

And then you go on the run and everyone dies (or do they???) and bleaargh it was just so dumb.

Actually, the Dark Knight story quests where you develop an evil alternate personality and go on quests to save lives and ruin days kind of had me wondering, too, but brains are weird and it was kind of hilarious so I let it go.
thenicochan: (Papyrus happy)

[personal profile] thenicochan 2016-12-09 06:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Love your list. Here’s some of my thoughts/additions:

Agreed with VI for the most part. Ironically, I think the same con can be applied to XV thus far, just flipped. I’d also use “female protagonists” as a pro, because Terra and Celes are both pretty great— but also a first for the series.

Agreed real hard on VII. Love the game, it’s great, but the fandom around it wants to ignore how awful it can be on a technical level at times.

In regards to VIII I sort-of feel like Triple Triad needs to be listed in both categories haha. It’s so addicting, to the point I sort of resent it(???). I have complicated feels. I actually wouldn’t say the story falls apart at disc 3, but I would add the fact that story comprehension (especially in regards to Squall and Rinoa’s relationship) can feel forced if you don’t have her in the party at the right times. Also, despite how confusing the stat system can be, once you understand it the game becomes ridiculously easy.

IX: I’d change Chocobo Hot & Cold, as it personally kinda bored me, and would add QTEs to the pros, plus the fact the story switches focus a lot, so we get a lot of great development for a majority of the main cast. And tied for best soundtrack + Kuja

Agreed on X across the board. I wanted to defend the murderous superbosses, because they’re fun, but then I remembered how I got stuck in the HD rerelease because I forgot to get the stupid sphere for Anima from Besaid Temple and got pounded by Dark Valefor when I tried to go back. Ugh.

Completely agree on XII, though I’d add a pro that when your party is wiped out the other characters will come to your aid, which finally averts the problem with “lazy backup” from other RPGs. Oh, and the NTSC vanilla release has the con of the License Grid making it actively more difficult to make your characters unique from one another than not, which is boring. (Luckily the international release + new Zodiac Age have the option to use a different grid for each character. Whew)

XIII is a little more complicated for me. I agree with most of your pros, though I wasn’t a huge fan of the battle system. Like XII, it tended to play itself—though I felt like I had more control in XII with the gambit system. I wanna add “amazing lady characters” as a pro, but that might be a bit too subjective haha.