12-17-2007, 02:33 AM
After I saw the newly released FFXIII ( ) and FFVersusXIII ( ) trailers, I was at once excited and disappointed. It's a progression of FF into the next gen but in a greater sense it remains a regression when compared to FFXII.

Matsuno Yasuno's FFXII is when Final Fantasy grew up--boldly evident in it's art direction, but most conspicuously in it's narrative. It was a narrative flushed with florid, even occasionally literate, dialogue, a story arc concerned with political intrigue and worldly repercussions rather than the vanity of a girl-boy-girl love triangle, and a manner of characterization and direction that placed greater value in nuances of expressiveness rather than the gauche, teenage bravado and superficiality of Tidus, Cloud, Squall, or any of their similar spawn. A Final Fantasy without Matsuno (FF Tactics, Vagrant Story, or FFXII) is akin to a Jerry Bruckheimer production but with a Dawson's Creek ethos slathered in, very thickly.

While FFXII eschewed the teenage melodrama and ungainly storytelling of recent and past Final Fantasies, it also melded the best in western and Japanese RPGs and did away with long outmoded mainstays and annoyances in both: no more random battles or time wasting end-battle EXP/gil summary screens; seamless integration of exploration and battle modes creating an amplified sense of immersion; a choice to micro- or macro-manage battles allowing for leisurely or frantic fighting via the Gambit system; the creative synthesis of single player RPG and MMORPG mechanics; a 3D camera control allowing for full view of Ivalice's grandeur, again adding to the immense sense of immersion; a strong female lead (Ashe is inarguably the lead) who is neither feeble nor whiny nor a submissive stereotype; locales (especially the metropolises) that felt alive with the denizens and not a static contrivance of NPCs. The innovations, evolution, and discarded conventions are considerable. FFXII is not without its faults, even though it's one of only six games to get a perfect rating in Famitsu (not that Famitsu still holds value for everyone), but it does represent the first time Final Fantasy can be considered entertainment for more than mostly kids and teenagers. Along with games like FF Tactics, Ico, Bioshock, and Half Life 2, FFXII is one of those rare times where a video game has a story to tell that won't make you blush too much. It's not on par with finer cinema or literature, very far from it, but at least it displays an ambition to get there someday.

(And here's a decent summation by 1Up's Jeremy Parish of why FFXII "is easily the best in the series": )

Those who dislike FFXII are likely to enjoy FFXIII. It's a return to the maturity level before Matsuo came in; a return to the cliches of a vapid but sullen hero with an elemental name (Lightning meet Cloud) and a farcically huge sword, zippered sportswear and asexual garments, and--because of the staff involved--a story that might rival FF7-10 in it's attempt to perfectly mirror a Ben Affleck summer blockbuster with inconsequential love interest and inconsequential ass kicking of inconsequential baddies who are equally as vapid as the hero and his love interest.

And yet inspite all that, I am completely hyped for FFXIII. FFXII's art director, Kamikokuyrou Isamu, is XIII's art director and as the trailer's have revealed, Isamu's breathtaking baroque aesthetic seems to have tempered the plastic, futuristic-sacharinity and over-simplicity of everything that Nomura Tetsuya touches--ostensibly the character designs are still very Nomura. The worlds the trailer briefly unveils looks like something I wish to immerse myself in. The music sounds as captivating, though not as ornate, as Sakimoto's FFXII score. So while my expectations for the direction, story, dialogue, and voice acting remain low, the art direction, music, and gameplay adequately retains my considerable interest and excitement.

As for FFVersusXIII, the music in the trailer while competent does sound a bit like a poor man's opera--watered down for an audience that doesn't know of Bellini or Puccini. The game itself looks dreadfully Nomura. If FFXII is an indictment of the maturity level of previous Final Fantasies and FFXIII a tearing down of the maturity level FFXII had achieved, FFVersusXIII looks to abolish all adult ambitions by winning the hearts of the demographic not quite old enough to get a driver's license--or those who enjoyed Kingdom Hearts. I don't know if I have the patience for a main character more sullen than a Prozac-popper on Medicare and so exceedingly self-absorbed he wears all black cause he thinks it's slimming.

12-17-2007, 06:24 AM
I can only say that trailers show nothing except for the beautiful graphics, this time I`ll just blindly believe Tetsuya Nomura and think that it`s a great game until the very last minute of it`s release date. FFvXIII is very Nomura-like, I don`t know why but to me personally it`s better, i`ve never been disappointed about his work.
Kamikokuyrou Isamu shouldn`t be allowed to touch any FF anymore at all. Although I can`t see his ugly fingers yet on FFXIII I truly don`t want it to become "FFXII-like-thing". FFXII`s graphics were horrible in many ways, maybe it was a too quick jump from highly detailed, colourful backgrounds to more realistic backgrounds. Still I just dislike FFXII.

12-17-2007, 08:35 AM
Really, I wish Matsuno, Sakimoto and Yoshida would just break off from SE and form their own company. Then I would never have to waste my time on Nomura's crap again.

Nice post, by the way. I too hope that at least some elements from FFXII are reused in later Final Fantasy games but honestly I can't see it happening. Most Final Fantasy fans (especially the Japanese ones) want more FFVII, VIII and X then anything else and XII is almost the antithesis of those games. I'm sure FFXIII will be a half decent game but there is no doubt in my mind that's it's going to be another FFX. vXIII...well, we'll see how it goes. As long as it's fun to play, I guess.

02-04-2008, 04:53 PM
I really prefer Tetsuya Nomura`s type of character design than Matsuno Yasuno's(not only appearance,but also personality).Matsuno Yasuno`s type is very magnificent but not fit for 3D version(and in a lot 2D anime his talent is fully shown and is great).Also,the FFVersusXIII trailer is really beautiful.But after all,graphics are not the most important point for the game.Let`s wait for the story.



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