Sunday, March 07, 2010

Linear

Like the huge Final Fantasy fanboy that I am, I've been keeping an eye on the reviews of the new Final Fantasy XIII that comes out on Tuesday. In general they have been positive, in the 80-90% range, but there's been much talk about the 'linear' nature of the gameplay. Particularly, the first 20 hours or so which have been repeatedly called out for the lack of decision-making allowed to the player.

The thing that I can't figure out is how this is thought to be any different from basically every Final Fantasy game ever made. Oh, to be sure, there's been varying degrees of how much control you had, but especially early in the game you have to expect being lead around by the nose collecting characters in predetermined groupings until somewhere halfway through or so you are finally allowed to construct your own parties and go where you want.

Sometimes you're even given the illusion of freedom, but until you get the airship, whatever mode of travel you have is likely carefully limited only to places you are 'supposed to go'. And the towns you can visit usually don't offer side quests until the end game.

So, given that, I'm thoroughly confused at how every review makes such a big issue over the linear gameplay. Either they're waxing nostalgic about what other games were really like, or they feel that today's gamer demands more.

In my case, one of the things that I like about JRPGs is the focused storyline and clear direction for experiencing a balanced adventure. So negative reviews, admitted lack of time to actually play a game of this scope, and the graphics quality issues of the XBox 360 version will likely not stop me from picking it up soon. Although I did make a half-hearted attempt to get Linzy to let me buy a Blu-Ray player (Playstation 3). She didn't go for it, so low-resolution 360 version it is.

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