Lamenting The Modern Final Fantasy I Never Played

Fancy a gambit

I hear good things about the new, updated port of Final Fantasy XII.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, as the remaster is known, has released on Playstation 4 to glowing reviews and a bucketload of positive hype. Forums, subreddits and comment threads are abuzz with nostalgia for what is, by many accounts, a very strong FF; one all JRPG fans should play.

Sadly, I never did get around to the original.

Sometime before the original release of FF XII, I was convinced the franchise was the greatest in all of gaming. From FF VII, right through to and X-2, by way of VI, I devoured them all; multiple times in most cases. Everything in the games appealed to teenage me: The stunning music, the stat-based gameplay, the characters, the stories, the length, the substanceFinal Fantasy was a big part of my gaming diet from the Playstation era onward; I played them over and over until my time to ascend to a Playstation 2 arrived, then I moved on to my beloved X. Great memories, all.

I remember reading a preview of FF XII circa 2004, and feeling just as hyped for it as the others. The world of Ivalice looked like just the kind of place I’d love to spend a few hundred hours; the characters looked superb and I even loved the revamp of the random battle system. I was all set to absorb every pixel of the game and continue my FF love affair for many more years.

Then; Halo 2 happened.

I’d owned an original Xbox for a little while, but having grown bored of the first Halo game it had sat, stagnant, for some time, whilst I continued to play my much-preferred PS2. However, as the hype for Halo 2 grew and grew amongst my friend group (we were avid LAN-partiers when Halo: Combat Evolved had first released), I found myself swept away; from that first time I connected to Xbox Live and played a game of Halo 2, against other people, I was utterly hooked. The next two years of my life were spent either playing H2 over Xbox Live, or having a breather with whatever else Xbox game my friends were playing at the time. Final Fantasy XII was completely forgotten, and by the time it had released and I’d heard about it, my PS2 was long gone; sold to fund my blossoming Xbox addiction. The passion had gone, and I moved on with my gaming life, having never played what may potentially have been one of my favourite games ever.

Now, the opportunity presents itself again, and my adolescent nostalgia has awoken; straining to be heard. I have designs on purchasing a PS4 in the very near future for its huge catalogue of exclusives; now there is one more exclusive to add to the list that I am determined not to let slip away again.

Final Fantasy XII. My beloved Master Chief may have stolen you from me once, but this is one fight he isn’t finishing.

E3 2017: Sony Press Conference Reaction

God of bore

Following Microsoft’s reasonably good showing at their press conference, on Monday night it was Sony’s turn to try to wow us. Here are some thoughts from your friendly neighborhood games blogger guy:

I must admit to being a little underwhelmed by Sony’s offering, having expected the mighty blow that would finish Microsoft off for good to appear (anything from Bloodborne 2 to a The Last of Us Part 2 gameplay trailer would have done this, I feel), but did not end up materializing for the whole of the fairly compact presentation. We weren’t expecting any hardware announcements, and sure enough there weren’t any curveballs from Sony in this department, so it was left to the games to prop up the Sony tent this year.

Following hype-inducing trailers for Uncharted and Horizon: Zero Dawn DLC’s, Kicking things off was Days Gone (link), a good-looking game but rather similar in many aspects to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and Uncharted franchises. Everything from the post-apocalyptic environs to the rugged, bearded protagonist, to the gibbering zombie hoards, screamed “unoriginal”; honestly I feel like the PlayStation has these games in abundance and another one may be overkill at this point. It did, however, demonstrate some interesting mechanics involved control of the zombie hoards using the environment; whether this will be enough to prop the game up in the crowded PlayStation exclusives list remains to be seen.

We were given a look at Monster Hunter World (link), confirming the rumours of a more streamlined, action-orientated version of the venerable series being developed for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The trailer showed some entertaining-looking gameplay involving the hunting of a large T-Rex-like creature, and I’m personally excited to be getting a more accessible installment in the franchise; it’s long been lauded as a giant of modern gaming, and many feel it deserves to be available to a larger player base.

The biggest personal surprise of the night was the gorgeous-looking remake of Shadow of the Colossus, coming in 2018. This looks like a full rebuild, with modern presentation and rather splendid-looking graphics. I only played Shadow for the first time last year, and was absolutely enthralled by it; if they fix the (admittedly god-awful) controls, then this remake could do very well indeed.

A good chunk of the conference was given over to PSVR, and we saw a number of titles in development; some interesting, others fairly dull. The Inpatient caught my eye for the setting; an asylum for the mentally unwell. Done carefully, this game could provide real thrills as one questions whats real and what isn’t; done poorly, this could upset a lot of people. It’s certainly one I’ll be keeping tabs on.

God of War (link) probably provoked the most excitement from the (unusually placid) live audience, and with good reason. The game looks like it’s going to provide a more emotional kick than previous entries, with Kratos’s son in tow and seemingly a playable character in parts. The juxtaposition between merciless spine-crusher and attentive father will be interesting to observe. Additionally, the gameplay looked suitably bombastic, with the same slick-looking combat you’d expect but ramped up a notch. As we learn more about the game, it could be that this is a real system-seller for Sony providing they keep pouring on the hype. A very exciting title, indeed.

Elsewhere, we were given glimpses of the new Call of DutyDestiny 2 and Detroit: Become human. Detroit has been much-hyped in recent months, but I found myself completely unmoved by the trailer on offer here. Nothing about the game seemed interesting or unique; many of the “android-uprising” tropes have been visited many times before, and the trailer did little to sell me on the mechanics of gameplay, either. Worth keeping an eye on though, as most Sony exclusives tend to be, as we hopefully learn more about what potentially makes the game unique in the months leading up to release.

The final game shown at the presentation was, rather surprisingly, Spider-Man (link). I almost turned off the stream and went to bed at this point, but I’m pleased I didn’t, because this game looked to be one of the more exciting reveals of E3 2017 thus far. Expecting little, I was blown away by the fluid combat mechanics, the detailed city environment, and the sense of movement when Spidey embarks upon his signature web-slinging escapades. Thoroughly enjoyable to watch, this looks like a real labour of love for venerable developer Insomniac, who’s renowned levels of polish look set to make this an exciting adventure indeed. Whilst I don’t think this should really have closed the show, it really did stand out for its gameplay and I’m itching to give it a go.

So far, then, it’s been fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of wow-factor for this years’ E3. Given the open goal Microsoft left for Sony, I was surprised to see a more modest, reserved affair from Sony’s press conference. It’ll be interesting to read the fallout of over the coming weeks and months, especially with the Xbox One X just around the corner.

Of course; average conferences from the big two leaves the E3 excitement award wide open for my beloved Nintendo to swoop in and claim it on their bright red wings. I’ll be tuning in and tweeting along to the Nintendo direct this evening with vigor, and will of course have thoughts up on the blog soon after.

Edit: Undertale!

Next-gen Playstation in the Pipeline?

Digital Foundry have published an interesting piece on the whispered possibility of a 2018 release for the PS5. At such a curious crossroads in games development, could we be in for a new generation so soon?

It certainly isn’t business as usual this year, with the release of the Scorpio on the horizon. Exciting (and expensive!) times to be a gamer.