Tag Archives: Final Fantasy X-2

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation First Impressions

Normally Captain America and I play Assassin’s Creed games together. He plays them, I watch. I wrote a review of one of the newer ones before, and realized that in the scheme of things we’d skipped over one of them from a few years ago. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation is the first Assassin’s Creed game to feature a female assassin as the lead, and so this time, we decided to shake things up and I played while he watched. Unfortunately, that led to me having a few observations I maybe would have glanced over if I’d only been watching him play instead of being the one in control.

Ubisoft has come under fire in the past for its lack of female characters in their multi-player co-op, and honestly even just from watching my husband play the games I’ve noticed the lack of female playable characters. (It is worth noting that the criticism Ubisoft faced was for Unity and Syndicate, which interestingly enough were released after Liberation; the criticism was in response to a lack of female avatars for multi-player co-op, and their response was that it would have “doubled production time.”) It’s always struck me as odd that they continually showcase how multicultural and diverse their development team is, and yet the games focus mainly on male leads. In a lot of ways, it makes sense considering the time periods the games take place in, when things were far more patriarchal and women had little to do outside of the home. Or at least, you think that until you see the other assassins you associate with in the games very obviously include women among the ranks of men. So when I saw that Liberation was a female protagonist, I got excited. Finally, I thought.

And maybe I’m just jaded, but I touched on this same issue in last week’s post regarding Final Fantasy X-2, that hooray, there’s a female protagonist, so how do they make things interesting, different, and/or appeal to female gamers? By basing the major game mechanics on, that’s right, changing her clothes.

assassins-creed-liberation-hd-persona-missions-guide

Now, similar to FFX-2, there’s a fascinating element to this mechanic that makes a lot of sense. As I said last week, a part of me loved the fact that in FFX-2 changing clothes meant changing jobs and skills, and unlocking awesome powers, and they did it in a very interesting, effective way. In Liberation, changing clothes means changing identity and social rank. Aveline de Granpré is of African and French descent, the child of a slave master and his slave, who he loved so much he married her after the birth of their daughter. It gives her an interesting ability to fit into two social classes easily; she can be the elegant, proper, respectable lady, or she can dress as a slave and blend into the lower classes to spy on her targets. The different “personas” come with different level of skills, notoriety (a big deal in the Assassin’s Creed games), and reactions from people and guards around you. That aspect certainly intrigued me, this chameleon-like shifting of her social status to better carry out Assassin missions. However, and I say this as a woman who loves fashion and clothes, can we please stop trying to garner female gamers’ attention by focusing on clothes? It feels like a very lazy attempt to capture a demographic and comes off as a shallow ploy. Plenty of women are playing games that do not feature clothes changing and we enjoy them just as much. I frequently feel like what we want from games is to relate to the characters more and feel more represented, not be able to pick out our clothes (although that can be fun, too; I’m not criticizing the ability to do so as much as I’m criticizing the way this is used as a focal point when we feature female protagonists).

As far as the story goes, we got a few missions in and were thoroughly confused. Part of the idea behind the game is that it was released by Abstergo Industries, the big bad Templar organization of the modern era, and is heavily edited by them to conceal the truth from the public. As you play through you are contacted by someone who has hacked the network and is showing you the unedited version of events (after you see the Abstergo verson) to show you what they’re hiding. The idea was incredibly appealing, and we were excited to see it play out. The way it comes off, unfortunately, is like an excuse for lazy writing. There are a lot of jumps in time, brief explanations of what happened during the time skipped, and generally not a lot of info about what exactly Aveline is trying to accomplish in the Bayou. The story felt muddled and rushed, and we found ourselves so confused that we haven’t been compelled to pick the game back up in a while. We may eventually, because we constantly find ourselves short of games we’d like to play together, but for now we’re unfortunately not in a rush to finish this one.

Advertisements

Revisiting Final Fantasy, X and X-2

I wrote last week about playing through some of my favorite Final Fantasy games recently, and this week I’m continuing the topic by talking about Final Fantasy X and X-2.

Continue reading

Revisiting Final Fantasy (VIII)

Recently out of sheer nostalgia, I decided to replay my absolute favorite Final Fantasy games. I remember playing Final Fantasy VIII with David when it first came out and I was very young and impressionable, and I fell in love immediately. It’s one of those series where you never forget your first one, and FFVIII will always hold a very special place in my heart. I used to make it a habit to play through it at least once a year, because I loved it that much and also because in a weird way, it assured me that friendship, love, and good could and would win in the end. Sometimes I needed that assurance. I hadn’t done so in ages because adulthood is far busier than I thought it would be (remember thinking adulthood meant doing whatever you wanted whenever you wanted? Ha, me too) and so it was about time for another playthrough.

I also loved Final Fantasy X and X-2 when they came out. Again, I was a young teenager and the love story hooked me. When FFX-2 came out and it was female-centric and fun, I remember loving it as well. Between David and I, I think I was the only one who played it through enough times to cumulatively get 100%. I loved it that much. After finishing FFVIII, I decided to pick these two up since they’re now remastered for the PS3, and give them another go. Unfortunately for me, whereas I was able to play FFVIII without the use of a strategy guide (since apparently I basically have it memorized) I’d forgotten how much work X and X-2 were, and they took considerably longer to get through.

As I was playing through them recently, though, I noticed several things about each of the games and playing them through as an adult(ish). This week, I’ll focus on my thoughts on Final Fantasy VIII and next week I’ll cover my thoughts on X and X-2.

In Defense of FFVIII’s Story and Characters

468px-Ff8_art (1)

Final Fantasy VIII is the type of game that people seem to either love or hate. For a lot of people, after the ‘amazingness’ that was Final Fantasy VII, they decided VIII was a letdown and not epic enough. For some people, the love story was too much in a video game. And for other people, I think they couldn’t understand the time compression/travel aspect and disregarded its own epicness. Even David shied away from talking about the story is his post (which, maybe not so coincidentally, was yesterday’s Throwback Thursday – check it out) and opted to defend its battle system and other aspects.

I’d like to counter that by actually talking about the story, and how well done it was. I recently saw an article (which you should definitely read) that pointed out the parallel between the new, more realistically styled people in FFVIII and the more realistic storyline. I’d never given that much thought, but as I read through the article I realized how true that was. Final Fantasy, before VIII, was known for it’s small-sized, often times ridiculous looking characters, who were sometimes talking creatures and not humans, and its otherworldly magical stories. It was a huge change from what they were known for. And it seems as though, to balance out the shift toward realistic proportions in their games, they also gave us a more realistic world to explore and more realistic characters. Every playable character in FFVIII is a human, and almost all of them are also teenagers, which is another way to make them more relatable to the player since that was most likely the target audience.

Beyond the more grounded, realistic story, I’ve always marveled at how layered the characters were emotionally. Sure, Squall is off-putting, especially at the beginning of the game. But as the story progresses and he is continually thrust into leadership roles, he begins to grow as a person and I honestly think that’s where FFVIII did everything right. The characters are round; they make mistakes, they change, they grow, they form new bonds instead of staying stagnant. Squall is an anti-social loner at the beginning, but he learns to let people in and even, by the end, to love. The other characters do not go through transformations as huge, but they do not start off the story as deep in their bad habits as he does. Rinoa, Seifer, and Zell are maybe the other characters whose transformations are more obvious and dramatic as Squall’s. I’ve always loved getting to see the characters all go through their transformations, every time I play through FFVIII. It’s not often that characters are as rounded as these in video games; I notice a trend toward characters that are awesome, stay awesome, and end the game awesome as well. FFVIII boldly shows flawed characters learning to work through their problems, and that makes them incredibly relatable.

hqdefault

As far as the time compression story goes, it’s easy enough to understand, especially if you fully exhaust conversation options with certain characters. Sure, it has some plot holes, but they’re mostly rooted in the idea of villains wanting to create a world where only they survive. Almost every story that has that sort of villainous plot can fall a little short, just because it makes for a one-dimensional bad guy. I think what makes it work for Final Fantasy VIII is that it balances the ultimate bad guy with smaller ones who have more nuance to them, even if in the end they were all a version of the bigger villain (Edea, for example). In a lot of ways, the villain seems to be a means to an end for the game, giving Squall and the party a catalyst to go through to enact their character transformations.

The love story, to me, is still amazing even after all this time. It’s an interesting way to get two opposites together without one or both of them completely changing for the other. Sure, does Squall come out of his shell a bit more by the end? Yes, but it’s not only for or because of Rinoa; it also has a lot to do with being forced into leadership, saving the world, finally making some friends, and finding his family after all this time. Do his “Whatever’s” become fewer and farther between towards the end? A bit, but only because he finally trusts that he can express his opinion to other people, and trusts that they won’t ridicule or disregard him. I think, especially for someone like me who’s always felt socially awkward, the love story definitely feels hopeful and optimistic, and seems to convey the idea that everyone can find love. I’ve always loved that bit.

Overall, I think the game still has immense value, and if it weren’t for having to adult all the time, I’d probably try to get back into my habit of playing it through once a year. Sometimes you just need a bit of hopeful nostalgia to get you through. I know that personally, if they rebooted any of the older Final Fantasy’s (after they do VII) I would really like for it to be VIII.

 

And join me next week for Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2!

Final Fantasy and Religion

Final Fantasy X : X-2 HD for PS3So Holly recently completed Final Fantasy X, and I watched her replay it most of the way through. One of the things that struck me most was the organized religion in the game. I had been trying to think of a way to do a Science Fiction and Religion post about Final Fantasy, and I think that focusing on X is the way to go.

So I am going to look at some of the big themes in the games – religious and not – and then am going to look at some of the specifics of the organized religion in Final Fantasy X – and what it all might mean, if anything. 

I’ll close out with a video about Final Fantasy and Religion that I’ve been wanting to include in a post at some point, to wrap it up with a bow! Minor Final Fantasy spoilers, and a bit more for X, after the jump!

Continue reading

Re-Playing Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X : X-2 HD for PS3David and I bought the Final Fantasy X / X-2 in HD and I started playing it recently. I really wanted to play Final Fantasy X-2 because I had started it once, but David talks about how good it is and it looks interesting. So I decided to replay through Final Fantasy X first to get back in to the story.

I have to say it looks gorgeous, but I remember it looking gorgeous before so I do not know how much of a difference it makes. At the same time it has been interesting playing through the game again. I am remembering the things that I love about it and some of the things that annoyed me about it, which has been fun going through again.

Continue reading