An Evolving Narrative

It’s a natural and beautiful thing.

As part of my seasonal tradition this year I’ve been playing through Final Fantasy X once again. It’s one of those adventures (and stories) that’s just as fun to experience a second (or a third) time as it was the first, even if you’re already aware of the plot twists and turns. You might even make more sense of the events the second (or third) time, too. It’s equally as interesting when you consider that many of the changes in Final Fantasy X shaped the series as a whole, with later instalments taking note of what worked and what didn’t.

There has definitely been a greater emphasis on presenting stories since then.

From Final Fantasy XII where no character was individually crucially important as each had their own role to play, to Final Fantasy XIII where the world was secondary to the development of the characters found therein, to Final Fantasy XV which seems to be building around both aspects but still focusing on the party and their development through their adventures.

Of course, as I don’t own a PS4, the information about Final Fantasy XV is pieced together from things I’ve seen through to roughly the third chapter of the main story. But what I have seen I’ve liked the idea of, as, even though I’m not playing this myself, I’m interested to see how the characters change. How they develop. If they develop at all. How that will impact the story and whether there are choices within the story that affect how it ends, or whether the ending is set no matter what you do. It’s an interesting change of pace for sure. It’s also interesting to see a similar battle system from Final Fantasy XII making a return, albeit without the Gambit system (if I remember correctly) but with party specific interactions at the very least.

We're in a different business these days.
We’re in a different business these days.

It’s also interesting to think that Final Fantasy XIV, their second MMORPG, has a particularly story based approach as well, often requiring you to complete things individual to your class to progress even as far as requiring you to venture into dungeons. Something that isn’t typically present in those kind of things. That said, I feel like Final Fantasy always had great stories to tell it’s just that they were harder to convey with the older technology. You can certainly show a wider range of emotions with hyper realistic 3D models.

You can also have tens of thousands of polygons for just their hair.

On the other hand, I feel that Final Fantasy IV still has one of the best collection of characters in the series which is equally as dynamic as it is interesting. Often times characters will leave, return, leave again, and then return for the last time. Or they might die. But each event actually changes the characters or the remaining party to some degree. It has a great story, too.

It’s been a fairly nostalgic year in many ways and I’ve been looking forward to experiencing Final Fantasy X again, which makes it a nice way to spend the festive season and to end off the year on a more positive note than has been present throughout. Took up the Expert Sphere Grid, too. I did use that system for about five hours back on the PS2 after I finished it the first time, but I never got much further than that. I’m not entirely sure how different it actually is (in terms of statistics and abilities) but it does seem more flexible. Seems easier to build characters who are proficient in a range of different abilities and spells than simply their default load out, which for some is actually somewhat confusing. Like Wakka. I don’t know what to do with him.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Adventuring on Gran Pulse

The wildlife is certainly something!

When first introduced to Gran Pulse you’re experiencing what was common in Final Fantasy as a series but not in Final Fantasy XIII as instalment. A sprawling world filled with danger, treasures, exploration, bosses, and the ability to experience any or all of it at your own pace. You also (finally) gain the ability to choose your own party and experience the breadth of the various Paradigms which are available. However, this freedom does come at the price of sometimes being overwhelmed or simply outmatched.

Particularly with the Cie’th Stone missions which are quite literally all over the place.

Geographically and in terms of difficulty relative to numerical ordering. Exploration is key with Cie’th Stone missions, as often you’ll be unable to find new missions or the ones you can find are too difficult for you to complete. They’re also useful for opening up new areas or mechanics. Most are tied to the achievements you can unlock, too. From a character development perspective it will be when your characters unlock the highest level of power they can attain (pre-completion). That said, while I have mastered the three primary roles each character has- I’m hesitant to invest in any of their secondary roles. Mostly because even with over 700k CP I’m barely able to fill one of those roles out.

They’re also vastly statistically inferior to primary roles and cost a considerable amount to unlock and upgrade. Often at very little benefit. As there are few who will gain the range of abilities or effectiveness in that role as someone who has it as a primary role. That said, some secondary roles for certain characters open up abilities that the primary roles don’t.

Gran Pulse is (unsurprisingly) home to some of the rarest equipment, accessories, and components. Often hidden behind any of the myriad of challenges this harsh world has to offer, but usually worth the price of admission when you start acquiring some of the most powerful items. Like the Genji Gloves. Or the Growth Egg if you’re going for those character development achievements. It’s quite amazing how much there is to do and yet how little there seems to be available to begin with. It seems fairly linear- but it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

You probably won’t be able to do it all on your first visit, either.

Leaving isn’t permanent- but it likely will be for most people who will move on to finish the story and defeat the final boss. I didn’t return the last time I finished Final Fantasy XIII, but this time I intend to go back and acquire a few more achievements and maybe even try to clear all of the Cie’th Stone missions. It’s been fun, though. If nothing else I’ve had a good time. It also brought back some great memories of playing the Final Fantasy series when I was younger. That said, this isn’t the end of Final Fantasy XIII- I have the whole trilogy to get through and I intend to do just that! I’m particularly stoked about what Final Fantasy XIII-2 has in store for me.

I was going to talk about creative things today as I’ve been working on something new. That said, I don’t have too much to share regarding that particular piece besides a rather hilarious sneak peek I posted over on Twitter. I should have it finished soon. So, if you don’t see it in the next post it should be in the one after. I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIII recently. So, this post seemed to fit as I could talk about something I enjoy and do something slightly different in the process.

Have a nice week, all!


Old Haunts

The best places to go back to.

I’ve been thinking about the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. I was originally going to pick it up on my newly acquired PS Vita, however it would seem that there’s a little snag regarding the physical version you can buy. It includes Final Fantasy X-2 as a download code. Which is sort of okay as I don’t really care too much for Final Fantasy X-2, but if I’m paying for both titles I’d like to be able to play both. Of course I could just download it. But I don’t necessarily have the free storage to download it at the moment.

Whereby it would make even less sense to pay more to expand my storage capabilities.

That said, the very same Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is now available on Steam and that could be a better option. The entire Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is available on Steam, too. While there is a good chance that the recently announced Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age will make its way there at some point. Or (at a stretch) make its way to PS Vita.

So I could have Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy IX on my PS Vita and everything above that in my Steam library. I’m unsure as to whether Final Fantasy XV will ever come to Steam, but I’d reckon it’s likely even if we have to wait an additional couple of years to see it. Still, I’m a massive fan of the Final Fantasy series. It’s one of the reasons I became as enamoured with RPGs as I did. It’s one of the few things you’ll ever see me playing filled with childlike wonder and glee, too. The other being Chrono Trigger. Even if I’ve probably finished Chrono Trigger over thirty times (that’s not an exaggeration either). While I haven’t read/seen too much about Final Fantasy XV, I’d still love to play it just because it’s a Final Fantasy title.

A fitting name for such a beast.
A fitting name for such a beast.

While Final Fantasy XII (and above) weren’t my favourite Final Fantasy titles, I do admit they deserve a second chance. Final Fantasy XIII was an entry in the series which I didn’t really enjoy the first time out, but I definitely enjoyed it more the second time I went through the story. Mostly due to the fact that earlier in the story they restrict who you can have, what you can do with them, and how useful they are. Once you reach Gran Pulse (I think it is) you’ve finally got the freedom to build the party that you want.

Greater selection of Paradigms to choose from, too.

Which would probably be my major complaint (for lack of a better word) with later instalments. They had interesting stories, characters, combat mechanics, and so on but there was always an annoying feature. Like the constant party shuffling early in Final Fantasy XIII. Or the fact that some parts of Final Fantasy XII played out like an MMO with intense grinding.

That said, Final Fantasy XII was an entry in the series that deserved the definition of epic. It was a stunningly beautiful title with an excellent selection of music, it also had a huge and vibrant world and took many risks with and different directions in many key Final Fantasy mechanics. It’s an interesting conundrum I’m faced with for sure. It’s such an influential series (for me personally), and I’m unsure as to which would be the best way to continue to support it. Steam seems like the obvious choice for the later instalments. Especially if those later instalments are released with very little changes to the original versions of said instalments.

Have a nice week all!