Fantasy: Upcoming Games
for Playstation 2 and GameCube
|In 1980 Square may have employed some geniuses, but they obviously didnt employ any fortunetellers. Otherwise, they never would have named their innovative new videogame Final Fantasy. It is twenty-three years and numerous games later and the fantasy is still anything but final. Heck, at this years E3 we saw three new Final Fantasy games for the big boy consoles alone (not to mention games for the Gameboy Advance and PS1). We will soon see Final Fantasy go online, return to its Nintendo roots, and the first, true Final Fantasy sequel. Its going to be a big year for FF fans. Since I am huge fan myself, I am having a hard time deciding over which game to get the most excited. Heres my impressions of the big three and my pick for which will be the must have Final Fantasy game out of the batch (like any true fan could pick just one).
Final Fantasy XI (online): Despite a somewhat disappointing reception for this game in Japan (where they typically sellout everything Final Fantasy the second it hits the shelves) I still held out hope for FFXI. Final Fantasy seems like the perfect game to make the online jump. (With the help of a PS2 hard-drive that looks like it will packaged with FFXI. How this will effect the game's price remains to be seen.) When I finally took a moment to play FFXI on the E3 floor (there were plenty of open spots) I felt like something was a little bit off. Being such an avid FF gamer, I was used to being able to just pick up a controller and start playing any FF game. But that wasnt the case with this game. It took me a while to the hang of it, if I ever truly did. It definitely had more of a PC game feel than a console game feel. To me it felt much to over complicated, especially the battle system. Granted, it is often hard to really dig into a game in a setting such as E3. Overall it just felt off and I walked away quite disappointed.
Luckily, they have some time before the January 2004 release date to work on it. Perhaps that will give me enough time to get used to the idea of a Final Fantasy game that is a little different that what I am used to. Square hasnt disappointed me very often, and I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Being a Final Fantasy fan from way back, I still associate the FF games with Nintendo. But after years of not making an official appearance on American soil, FF returned on Playstation (The last console game was Final Fantasy III on the SNES). The Final Fantasy franchise was great in America once again, but N64 owners were not going to get in on any of the action. Now, years later Nintendo and Square are set to rekindle their once great collaboration with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (FFCC).
Square set out to make FFCC a unique game for the Gamecube. They have tailored it to what they believe to be more in tune with what Gamecube gamers want as well as maximizing the potential of the cube. One such way they have chosen to maximize on this potential is by making with the connectivity (at Nintendos E3 press conference they made it quite clear that connectivity is their big push right now). What this means is those of use with a Gameboy Advance, or GBA SP, will be able to connect it with the cube for more special features. In fact, this is how they were all set up at E3. This tells me that this is the way they really want you to play the game. I certainly like special features, but here it feels a little forced. I dont like the idea that not playing it with the GBA means you get a limited experience as opposed to if you have it then you get a heightened experience. It is ok to make it a better game by adding connectivity, but I am leery that they may have made it less of a game for those who dont have connectivity. Besides the principal of it, two major reasons for not doing this is not everyone has a GBA and not everyone will want to use the less comfortable GBA for a controller. Without sitting down with the game and trying it both ways, I am going to remain cautiously optimistic about the connectivity.
Another way Square is attempting to reach the Gamecube market is by making the game a true multiplayer game. I think this is fabulous. Growing up my best friend and I would stay up all night and play Final Fantasy. This type of game really didnt lend itself well to two players. We would have to take turns and this was often frustrating. There wasnt a night that we didnt wish we could both play a character and now that is going to be possible. This should be tons of fun. On the negative side is the fact that being all grown up (sort of), it is much harder to find friends who can invest in that many hours of gameplay (With my friend living six hours away now our childhood dream will have to go unrealized). Still, it is a great idea and I am going to do my best to exploit it.
Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicles is really a different type of Action/RPG with a bit of connectivity and some multiplayer madness. It has a bit more of a cartoony feel than the other FF games coming out and that may be the breath of fresh air that some FF fans need right now. I personally cant wait to get my hands on this one come Febuary 2004.
Final Fantasy X-2: Perhaps the biggest controversy surrounding this game is how to say its name. Is it X Two or Ten Two? I am going with Ten Two, even though it technically doesnt make a lot of sense and kind of makes my brain hurt. On the other hand, there is the fact that in all these years FFX-2 is the first true sequel for the franchise. It is a continuation of the story from FFX this time with an eye on the female cast members, most especially a more bad-ass version on Yuni. At E3 they had a good sized playable demo and let me tell you it was a blast. Oddly enough, it was the FF game I was least excited for when I went to E3 and it turned out to be the one I enjoyed most.
You can expect it to be very similar to FFX in its gameplay and yet very different, with all kinds of exciting new things to be excited about. One major difference between the sequel and the FFX is the return to the more classic FF battle system. It also promises to be less linear than its predecessor, which I thought was FFXs only big problem area. And the best thing about FFX-2 is that of the three games it is set to be released first. It should be out just in time for the Christmas rush this December. You can guess what will be on my wish list this year.
No matter what your taste, if you are a Final Fantasy fan there ought to be a flavor for you coming out on either the Gamecube or the PS2 real soon. (For many fans Im sure there will be three new FF games taking up residence in their houses. X-box-only people are just plain out of luck) My personal favorite at this time is Final Fantasy X-2. Though I am sure I will give them all a chance to win my heart.