Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

Developer(s) – Arkane Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda

Director – Harvey Smith

Designer – Dinga Bakaba

Developed primarily at Arkane Studio’s Lyon branch, and released in late 2016, Dishonored 2 was released later last year to critical acclaim, with player and reviewers citing major improvements made over the first game; most of which concerning the game’s difficulty, as many players opinionated that the last game seemed too easy. Personally, I agree that the sequel is better than the original game in almost every respect, and whilst the gameplay wasn’t structured as well as I believe a Dishonored game has the potential to be, it was more than a worthy sequel.

Graphics – 9/10

Taking place in a new city away from Dunwall known as Karnaca, there are many new aspects of conceptual design added to expand upon the series’ mythology, as well as an overhaul of graphical quality, making the game just as compelling and wonderful too look at as the first game; if not, more so. There are new machines to have to contend with besides the tall boys, and a new set of city streets and buildings to navigate through and discover new secrets and vantage points. The second game also seems even darker than the original, giving it more of a gritty feel to it appropriate for the feel of the story. The setting of the Void is where this aspect of the game seems most prevalent as the Outsider is also portrayed as a much darker character in himself.

Gameplay – 9.5/10

This time round, the player is given the option to select from two characters from the start of the game, both with their own unique set of abilities; there’s Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the original game and the empresses royal protector, or Emily Kaldwin, the empress of Dunwall. The game itself is also structured very similarly to the last, taking place in a semi-open world and offering players the option to either take a stealthy approach or run rampant and kill every enemy standing in the way. The game also presents the option of going the duration of it without killing a single person. The best thing about this game is that the character choice not only offers a new dimension of gameplay with so many new powers and options to experiment with, but it also gives it even more replay value than the first, warranting at least four different playthroughs. So even though it didn’t offer a completely open world, which I think can be implemented very easily in a game like this, there is plenty of replayability to be had making for a fairly long gaming experience.

Controls – 10/10

As with the previous game, there are no issues with its control scheme, despite the fact that there are more options and abilities available. It’s actually quite impressive how the developers have managed to incorporate so many new features whilst at the same time keeping the fundamentals of the game to a perfect standard. Keeping a control scheme unique in a gameplay perspective that has also taken and maintained prominence throughout the industry for almost twenty years also makes it seem even more impressive in my opinion.

Lifespan – 7/10

Each individual playthrough lasts about as long as it did in the first game, clocking in at around 20-25 hours, which for me, was mildly disappointing, as a game like this can have a campaign that can be easily made to last longer. However, the game’s lifespan is in its potential replay value, of which there is a great deal of for those willing to delve deeper into the game. So whilst it may not have the lifespan that a Dishonored game could have, it still has a great of longevity attached to it, and will make for hours upon hours of entertainment.

Storyline – 7/10

The sequel to Dishonored takes place fifteen years following the events of the original game. Whilst Emily Kaldwin has long since been installed as the rightful empress of the city of Dunwall thanks to Corvo, the empire has prospered, but it has not been without challenge. A serial murderer knows as the Crown Killer is murdering enemies of the state left, right and centre, and has led many in Dunwall to believe the Crown Killer is Emily herself. Whilst Corvo and Emily are attending a remembrance ceremony for Emily’s mother Jessamine, a powerful witch named Delilah Copperspoon is introduced to Emily, and claims to be her older half-sister and rightful heir to the empire. Whichever character the player chooses at this point manages to escape Dunwall, whilst the other is subdued by Delilah, who usurps the throne, and the player character is tasked with putting an end to Delilah’s regime and rescuing either Corvo or Emily depending on the character’s choice. Whilst I thought the game’s story was not as suspenseful as the last, since there is not as much of a elaborate twist to it, it still has the same level of political intrigue, and just as much emotional charge; especially as this time round, Corvo is given a voice as opposed to being confined to the role of the silent protagonist.

Originality – 7.5/10

Though the structure of the game remains relatively the same as it’s predecessor, the formula is kept fresh enough with the introduction of so many new features and abilities added. It’s most definitely evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, expanding on what was already good about the first game with the exception of the story. In my opinion, it does still leave room for both improvement and development in the event of a possible third game, but having played through both, I would welcome a third with open arms. The second game cemented the fact that both the concept and mythology behind the series is more than worth further expanding upon still.

Happii

Overall, Dishonored 2, whilst not being exactly the sequel I had hoped it would be, still present massive improvement upon the first game. It’s enjoyable and lengthy with a decent story, and plenty of gameplay options to match; well worth one playthrough at the bare least.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Square Enix

Publisher(s) – Square Enix

Director – Motomu Toriyama

Producer – Yoshinori Kitase

In development of over six years and strangely codenamed “Colours World” for some time, Final Fantasy XIII was finally released in 2010 to widespread critical acclaim, and even receiving a near-perfect score from the Japanese publication Famitsu. Personally, whilst I was disappointed that Square Enix chose not to go back to the classic Final Fantasy formula, and to this day haven’t since, I still thought it went leaps and bounds ahead of Final Fantasy XII critically.

Graphics – 10/10

From both a graphical and conceptual standpoint, the game is visually flawless, making it perhaps the best-looking game of the seventh generation. As well as the FMVs being incredibly detailed and exciting, the game’s conceptual design is extremely varied; taking place in locations such as amusements parks, open fields, and futuristic steampunk cities that the series has become synonymous with since Final Fantasy VI.

Gameplay – 6/10

Incorporating element from both Final Fantasy XII and classic Final Fantasy games, it presents players with a very different combat system and level-up system, which was a lot easier to cope with than in the previous instalment, and much less irritating. The biggest problem I had with the game, however, is its sense of linearity during the first half. There are many different beasts to fight, and plenty of opportunity to level up, but there are hardly any side quests for the first half of the game, and whilst the structure of most games in the series is similar, this game seemed to want to go out of it’s way to lead players along a linear path, saving open-world gameplay for the second half.

Controls – 10/10

There couldn’t possibly have been any issues with the games control scheme, since during combat, there isn’t a great deal of button-pressing required; much less so than in any game in the series. There is also the facility to automatically input strings of commands in effect, so there’s even less issues to do with controls than In most other RPGs.

Lifespan – 9/10

After the first half of the game is finished, which should take around 20 to 25 hours, the rest of the game affords players much more to do, which can in turn make the game last around 60 to 80 hours, which, whilst may be fractionally shorter than many other games in the series, is still a very substantial amount of time for a game to last. In a time when linear video games were taking precedent, a game like this was a breath of fresh air to me.

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows a party of six people, who have been cursed with a dangerous brand, which in time, will kill then, unless they can discover the nature of, and complete, a focus that they had been given along with it. Although that may sound very simple for a Final Fantasy game, the story is far from simple; especially to follow. Everything, from the plot to the characters, is introduced extremely abruptly and without explanation. Not much time is given to players to think about just what is happening from the start, which to me, made it extremely disappointing for a Final Fantasy game.

Originality – 6/10

The only original things about the thirteenth game in the franchise is that in lieu of Final Fantasy tradition, the conceptual design is different to every other game in the series, and that the combat system has been altered, but in this case, isn’t anywhere near as enjoyable as most other games In the franchise. It did cement its place in popular culture somewhat, as a contemporary pop song was recorded for use in it by Leona Lewis called My Hands, but to me, that isn’t truly a saving grace.

Happii

Happii

In summation, while Final Fantasy XIII may be a bad Final Fantasy game, it isn’t a bad game overall. It does have its strong points and the gameplay is much more enjoyable than its predecessor, but I think it would have been better to simply bring back the classic style of play synonymous with the series, and do better to introduce players to the plot and basic premise.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Final Fantasy X-2 (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 & PlayStation 4)

Developer(s) – Square

Publisher(s) – Square Enix & Electronic Arts

Director – Motomu Toriyama

Producer – Yoshinori Kitase

The first direct sequel to be developed in the history of the series, Final Fantasy X-2 was created with the intention of presenting players with a much more positive atmosphere within the universe of Spira, departing from the darker and more serious vibe that the original game gave off. It certainly lived up to that, as most of the main characters are much more carefree than in the previous game, which presents a few problems in the storyline, but nevertheless, it plays out very much in lieu of Final Fantasy tradition; arguably, more so than its predecessor.

Graphics – 9.5/10

From a technical standpoint, there were a few minor improvements made departing from Final Fantasy X; most notably in the facial expressions of central characters. A couple of the locations within the game have also been re-designed, with a few new locations within familiar ones thrown in for good measure, such as the dungeons of Zanarkand and the floating ruins atop Mt Gagazet. Although the majority of the open world in the game is taken directly from the original game, which some players may criticize it for, I look at that as being both practical and realistic.

Gameplay – 8/10

The basic premise of gameplay works pretty differently from most other games in the franchise. It involves the main characters taking many different missions throughout Spira, with the options of choosing where they may go from the beginning; eliminating the initial sense of linearity synonymous with most main entries in the Final Fantasy series. In addition, the combat also has a few changes, with it relying on the active time system to determine which character attacks next. Character classes also work much differently, swapping out the sphere grid in favour of giving the player the option to make character swap out their class at will, making it easier for each character to become a jack of all trades. Though I prefer the sphere grid system from Final Fantasy X, this system worked particularly well, and to me, was the last great Final Fantasy combat system before Square Enix changed it for the worse.

Controls – 10/10

Despite the new take on combat, it is still particularly simple to get to grips with, and otherwise, the rest of the game plays out more-or-less identical to the previous game, with which there were also no problems.

Lifespan – 8/10

Though it can’t be made to last over 100 hours like the original game, it can still be made to last a particularly long time; around 50 hours or so, which is still adequate for an RPG. At first, I though of it as being underwhelming for a game, which had open world exploration available as an option, but for a game that took merely 2 years to develop, it’s quite the achievement.

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Final Fantasy X-2 follows the female lead of the last game Yuna, as she has since formed her own team of treasure hunters called the Gullwings, along with former party member Rikku and a new character called Paine. Yuna formed the team after she found a sphere seemingly containing footage of her love interest and the male lead of the last game, Tidus. Believing he may still be in Spira somewhere, she also resolves to find him. Though the story starts as being much happier than Final Fantasy X, it does eventually develop into something much more darker and convoluted, which keeps the sub-series fresh. But it’s also marred down during the first half of the game for the fact the dialogue between the main characters much more cheesier than in the previous game, as the Gullwings give off a vibe very reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels.

Originality – 7/10

Though the game follows very many tropes of the series that many players will be familiar with and at this point even accustomed to, it still makes for one of the standout experiences on the PlayStation 2. It gave testament to how innovative the original Square team could be before the merger between them and Enix, and then, in my opinion at least, the Final Fantasy series was left to stagnate. Commercially and critically, it continues to do exceptionally well, but I’ve never been captivated by any of the newer games in the same capacity that I have with most other entries in the series prior to Final Fantasy XI. This, in my opinion, has been the last Final Fantasy game with any positive innovation attached to it.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Final Fantasy X-2, whilst not having the same sense of longevity as the original game, is nevertheless a very worthy sequel and worthy of the attention of anyone with either a PlayStation 2, 3 or 4. Despite the sometimes cringe worthy dialogue, the story does eventually evolve into something better, and has many other elements keeping the series positively fresh at that point.

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Final Fantasy XII (PlayStation 2)

Developer(s) – Square Enix

Publisher(s) – Square Enix

Director(s) – Hiroyuki Ito & Hiroshi Minagawa

Producer – Akitoshi Kawazu

It’s my opinion that ever since Squaresoft and Enix merged into the entity Square Enix, and the subsequent departure of many of the central developers of previous Final Fantasy games, such as series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and long-time composer Nobuo Uematsu, the Final Fantasy games have taken a huge turn for the worst in terms of quality. To me, Final Fantasy XII is the best example of that.

Graphics – 4/10

Although the graphics are technically marvellous, in lieu of the franchise’s tradition of bringing cinematic experiences to gaming, not only is this set in an already established universe, breaking series traditions, but I didn’t find it very conceptually compelling either. It seems to encompass a world heavily influenced by medieval fantasy and steampunk fiction, which was done with Final Fantasy IX, and Breath of Fire IV to a certain extent, but both of those games did it infinitely better than this; as has every other Final Fantasy game since number VI.

Gameplay – 0/10

In all honesty, I couldn’t get through the prologue of this game without feeling acrimoniously disappointed by it. It was the first time I’d ever witnessed the combination of turn-based RPG combat and real-time combat, and I’d never been more sorry to se a franchise undergo such a negative change. I remember watching a video on YouTube published by a reviewer called Stan Burdman. In it, he voiced his opinions of the deterioration of the Final Fantasy franchise, and commented that developers don’t improve on either turn-based RPG combat or real-time combat by combining them together, but rather they are both made worse; and I couldn’t agree more with that point. The video itself no longer seems to be on his channel, but he was the very first video games reviewer I ever found on YouTube, and I would highly recommend readers check him out.

https://www.youtube.com/user/stanburdman

Controls – 3/10

Since this game was also very much a question of trial and error, since it was also one of the first games unfortunately popularise this style of play, the control scheme was always going to be a matter of contention. And in my opinion, it’s handled very poorly within the combat system, and only served to make this game feel like that much worse an experience.

Lifespan – 10/10

In lieu of Final Fantasy tradition, however, the game lasts about the amount of time that could be expected of a game of it’s kind, and does offer an extremely long experience for those who are more lukewarm to this style of play. Levelling up characters takes a long time, and there are a great many side quests to keep players entertained at least.

Storyline – 5/10

Aside from the game being set in an already familiar world, it also has an already familiar plot attached to it; another Final Fantasy convention to be unfortunately broken with the twelfth game. It takes place in the world of Ivalice, the same setting of Squaresoft’s own RPG Vagrant Story, and tells the story of an orphan named Vaan, who along with the traditional supporting cast of characters, is caught in the middle of a raging war, and must fight in order to bring peace to Ivalice.

Originality – 0/10

Though the game has a unique combat system, I think that it makes it unique in a much more negative way. In my opinion, it’s too much of a radical departure from other games in the series, and has lead to a sharp decline ever since. As I pointed out, there is also hardly any originality about the visuals or the story, and in that respect, makes it seem even more like a step down from every other exceptional game in the franchise.

Angrii

Angrii

To sum up, Final Fantasy XII is unanimously my least favourite game in the Final Fantasy series, and one of the worst games ever made. I’ve hated this title ever since I first played it, and there haven’t been a great deal of games released throughout the years to have disappointed me as much as this.

Score

22/60

3.5/10 (Very Poor)

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (PC, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Square Enix 1st Production Department & HexaDrive

Publisher(s) – Square Enix

Director – Hajime Tabata

Producer – Hajime Tabata

Final Fantasy Type-0 was a game release on the PlayStation Portable back in 2011, which much to my surprise, had garnished critical acclaim from several different gaming publications; Famitsu even giving it a near-perfect score of 39/40. I, however, was unable to look upon it so positively, since I found several frustrations to be had whilst playing, and found it largely impossible to recommend it to anyone else.

Graphics – 6.5/10

Conceptually, the visuals aren’t too bad. In lieu of the franchise’s tradition, the game is set in a world set apart from every other in the series, but with stable elements of it, or elements alluding to other entries, such as the Chocobo, Cid and the concept of earth, water, wind and fire, which the first game revolved around. On a graphical level however, it’s all over the place. I found several different textures inconsistent with one another, such as that of character clothing and buildings; some of them looked fairly well rendered, and others made the game looked like it could match the graphical quality of the PlayStation 2. The game was reputed to be re-mastered, but Square Enix and HexaDrive clearly cut a lot of corners; particularly where cutscenes occur.

Gameplay – 2/10

The gameplay was even more woeful. Similar to Final Fantasy XII or Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, it relies on the ill fated mixture of turn-based RPG combat and real-time combat; a gameplay formula that I have had several negative run-ins with over the last decade or so. The game has variety in it’s combat with the ability to switch characters at will, and to use several different abilities, but all it did in essence was serve to remind me of how much of a flawed system it is. Most often when I play these kinds of games, I’m reminded of a very good point that YouTube personality Stan Burdman made in his own critique of the series; developers don’t improve on either style of combat when they put them together, but they make both of them worse.

Controls – 7/10

I half-expected that this would be the case when I learnt of what play style this game employs but I never expected it to be anywhere near as bad as it is. The control scheme is also extremely frustrating to have to be able to get to grips with; especially when fighting with summoned creatures. In the first boss fight in particular, the camera angles were extremely awkward. Often times, I couldn’t see where I was attacking, or where the enemy was when I tried to attack. It was after this fight that I complete lost patience with the game altogether.

Lifespan – 7/10

For anyone who has the patience to look beyond this game’s plentiful flaws. There is at least a fairly long gaming experience, clocking in at about 20-25 hours. There are a couple of side quests in lieu of the franchise’s tradition, and the story mode is also quite long; even for what is for the most part an extremely linear game. Final Fantasy games are linear to begin with anyway, but just not on the same level as this title. It plays out much more like a Dark Souls game than a Final Fantasy one.

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Final Fantasy Type-0 follows a group of students, alluding to Final Fantasy VIII, called Class Zero, who are fighting for the Vermilion Perystilium against an empire called the Militesi, who are attempting to take over the world by destroying the surrounding states of Orience; a land governed by powerful crystals representing different deities for the different states. The story is a lot darker and violent than most other entries in the series, with it starting out extremely morbidly, yet with a frighteningly realistic portrayal of what war is really like. It’s also the goriest Final Fantasy game I’ve seen by some distance. Final Fantasy VII had a fair bit of gore in parts, but this game goes above and beyond that level of violence.

Originality – 6/10

To confound what problems I found with this game, there was also hardly any uniqueness to experience with it either. To me, it just seemed the same as every other game of its ilk, and whilst it may have had a new story attached to it, it failed to stand out to me from a gameplay perspective. Although I find games like to be largely forgettable experiences anyway, this title had even less going for it than the likes of Final Fantasy XII or Dragon Age Origins.

Angrii

Angrii

Overall, Type-0 HD is by some distance one of the worst Final Fantasy games to have ever been released. The gameplay is much less than immersing, the controls are flawed, the graphics are inconsistent on a home console and to me, it epitomizes everything that has gone wrong with the series ever since Final Fantasy XI.

Score

35.5/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)