Final Fantasy Hasn’t Been Great in 15 Years…
Peter Donnell / 4 months ago
Final Fantasy is one of the cornerstones of my gaming life. I’ve played pretty much all of the games with the exception of a few spin-offs, but it only hit me today that most of them have been pretty s***. I’m in my late 30’s, and the last truly incredible Final Fantasy I played was released in 2006. I am, of course, talking about Final Fantasy XII. It’s a game that really mixed things up in a good way, especially with the fantastic combat system, but still kept many core principles for the franchise. The story was enormous, enjoyable and it made sense too. The acting, the characters, the locations, the battles, were all crafted to an exceptionally high standard.
Final Fantasy XIII was interesting, and I enjoyed the first one… a bit. The characters were mostly annoying, often to headache-inducing extremes, actually. The story was nonsensical and forgettable, as in I’ve literally forgotten all of it. Worst of all, the locations were broadly linear. The subsequent follow-ups did not improve things at all. Pretty much all I remember of FF XIII is the range of honking and gasping noises everyone seemed to make.
Final Fantasy XIV has slowly become a competent MMORPG, but that’s also not really comparable to the single-player RPGs the franchise is known for. Plus, it also had one of the worst and most complicated introduction quests ever, which admittedly was recently overhauled. Compared to the likes of Elder Scrolls Online that’s fully voice acted and more accessible to players at various levels of commitment, the partial voice acting and lack of controller support left this one feeling like a relic than a classic and too far outside of the series usual remit for me.
Final Fantasy XV was the biggest disappointment yet. I REALLY loved what this game was doing. It felt like I was going to be driving around with my buddies in that huge car, exploring and finding amazing wonders, cooking, taking pictures, and more… forever! Then before you knew what was up, it rushed all the plot in at the end and was over… well, thanks a lot! For a game with such an open world, you take a sneakily linear path right through it, resulting in the end of the game. Don’t get me started on the erratic and confusing DLC that tried to elbow in some meaning… just don’t.
Then there’s Final Fantasy VII Remake. This stunning remake is STILL tied to PlayStation thanks to another 6-months extension on that deal. It will come to PC, possibly even this year, but honestly, I’m not sure I want to play it. We’re still waiting for the next part of it as even now, only part one has been released. How can we release a triple-disc massive budget and epic, world-beating RPG for the PS1 in the 90s, but we can’t do the same today? Give me a break. I’ll be into my 40’s by the time we’re able to battle Sephiroth again.
It’s no secret that the older ones are better. The PlayStation 1 had Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX, which were all stunning. X launched on the PS2, and that was pretty awesome if a little bloated at times and the Final Fantasy X-2 sequel was an equally mixed affair too, but still very much enjoyable due to the great voice acting. Even the earlier titles (I-VI) hold up well today and have had various re-releases over the decades that held up fairly well, even if most of them were stupid mobile ports, but emulation still presents a good way to play them these days.
In short, Final Fantasy has missed the mark for longer than I realised. Is it time to cut the series loose, or should I pin my final judgement on the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI? Final Fantasy VII is coming to PC but will be years before it’s the complete game, and as for that Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin Trailer? Well, the less said the better. The most modern and decent Final Fantasy game I can play right now is Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, at least we got a decent PC remaster for that back in 2018.
Thoughts in the comments, please.