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Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

16127173809_4b7757bd7f_cI have a terrible confession to make. Settle down because it’s a biggie. I used to be a Final Fantasy fan. I know, I know, it’s not crime of the century but throughout my teenage years I loved that damned franchise. The games of the Playstation era were, indeed still are, some of my favourites of all time. Hell, Final Fantasy was the reason I bought a PS2. Sadly I thought Final Fantasy X was a dribbling mess and it only got worse from there. Imagine my surprise when it turned out Final Fantasy XV wasn’t just an improvement, it was actually good.

Historically, the reason Final Fantasy resonated with me was the characters. VII, VIII and IX especially all had a rich cast that you could empathise and fall in love with. Sure, there was your typical angst-ridden protagonist but there was depth beyond them. I maintain that Vivi is one of the best written characters in all of gaming and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

Somewhere along the way, Final Fantasy lost the ability to have that depth and instead forgettable main characters took up more of the game’s focus. Is anyone that surprised that Vaan wasn’t meant to be the lead in XII, but rather the far more interesting Balthier?

Where XV succeeds is that it not only has a less tedious main character in Noctis, but it limits you to only having three additional party members. Aside from the occasional guest, you only ever travel with Ignis, Gladio and Prompto. Unlike in previous instalments which have a much broader cast, limiting it to such a small number allows you to get to know these characters quicker and to a far deeper degree. They all feel like main characters.

Take Prompto for instance. Superficially, he’s an annoying character with a passion for photography and an unhealthy obsession with Chocobos. He’s also irritatingly peppy and doesn’t seem to take the situations the lads find themselves in with the seriousness it deserves. Yet his utter ignorance as to what’s going on with the political machinations and lore makes me empathise with him. For all it gets right, XV doesn’t do a great job of explaining a lot of things and you couldn’t pay me to watch the tie-in movie, Kingsglaive. In many of these situations I am Prompto.

Before I got my hands on the game, I’d heard a lot about these “beautiful boys” and written it off as a load of nonsense. Well now don’t I look like a prat because they are bloody beautiful. I’m surprisingly relieved that I get to spend dozens more hours with Noctis’ brooding, Ignis’ cooking, Prompto’s photography and Gladio looking amazing in a tank top. The memories of the beige cast of the likes of XII and XIII are finally consigned to the dustheap.

Though, that being said, if I hear Prompto singing “I want to ride my Chocobo all day…” one more time I shan’t be responsible for my actions.

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The Colossus is dead. The Playstation 2, the titan of home video gaming, has had its plug pulled and been discontinued by Sony after almost 13 years. As the unequivocal winner of the last console war (shipping more units than the XBox, Gamecube and Dreamcast combined), the PS2 has a special place in the hearts of millions around the globe. A monolithic black slab, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the PS2 transformed video game consoles and what we expected from them.

Launching in March 2000, the PS2 blew all its competitors out of the water with a combination of savvy business decisions and excellent games to back them up. Sony’s decision to include a DVD player built into the console gave it a place under people’s television sets that was normally reserved for VCRs and Sky boxes. Its ability to be stored vertically was a significant selling point as well, with space under a television at a premium. But for all these nifty extras, what really made the PS2 such a success was its games.

The Playstation 2 had phenomenal third party support. Franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, Metal Gear Solid and Gran Turismo gave the console broad appeal. Games such as Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Okami, though lacking the popularity of the aforementioned franchises, were critically acclaimed and provided something for the more cerebral and hardcore gamer. Crucially, Sony’s decision to have backwards compatibility built into the device from Day One meant that you weren’t restricted to the launch titles, strong though they were. On release, you had five years worth of games to choose from thanks to the original Playstation. You could even continue that save of a game you’ve invested dozens of hours into on the PS1 on your shiny new PS2 by plugging in your old memory cards. More than anything I think it was this feature that elevated the PS2 above its competitors. Nintendo was transitioning from cartridges to disks, Sega didn’t include it and Microsoft was just starting out in the console business. And there was Sony, with the game library of two consoles. How could they compete?

Certainly the backwards compatibility was what made me choose the PS2. It was the summer of 2002, I was a massive Final Fantasy addict and my PS1 had just broken. Conveniently, Final Fantasy X had been released a few months earlier and so for my birthday I was given a PS2 and taken on a trip to Electronics Boutique to pick out my games. It was a magical time and from that moment on I was hooked. The ability to use all my old games and get new, state of the art games? How could any geeky kid not be head over heels? The fact that console is probably the reason I didn’t do as well in school as I might isn’t something I regret. The PS2 really opened my eyes to the world of video gaming and for that I shall be eternally grateful.

Eventually, in the summer of 2008, my PS2 gave up the ghost and died on me. Well, I say died. Murdered would be a more accurate description. I punched it right in the middle after dying one too many times on a boss fight in Final Fantasy XII and that was that. I never bought a replacement, opting for an XBox 360 instead, which I grew to love but not in the same way. It (and the PS3 now that I have one) lack the character of the PS2. Though inferior in every way, the PS2 has a little place in my heart as a console that none since have matched. Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever feel that again. And so I raise a glass to the Playstation 2 and wish it adieu. The beautiful, magnificent bastard.