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Gaijin Densetsu | Japanese Video Games | On The Outside Looking In


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Blog PS4FinalFantasy01

Published on February 27th, 2013 | by Christian

0

PS4 – The Final Fantasy Problem


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It’s been a week since the big PS4 reveal.  I went over the highlights some in the last edition of News GaiDen, and for the most part my impression of Sony’s meeting was positive. I like the announced features of the console; it sounds like a modern gaming console. Considering the Vita’s unceremonious release into a market not hungry for portable  gaming devices, I was waiting for Sony not to learn from that mistake, for them to make all kinds of false assumptions again, but they seem to have nailed it.  The hardware features sound great, but as we’ve seen from the Vita, solid hardware alone isn’t enough of a selling point. A platform lives or dies on the quality of its games.  This is where the meeting sort of fell flat for me, and it was most apparent during Square Enix’s presentation.  Watch it real quick: (it should queue up to the SE presentation immediately after hitting play)

Right, so if there’s one thing I can’t argue with, it’s that what they showed definitely looked nice.  Everything at the meeting looked nice, actually.  While Capcom’s Deep Down and some of the fly-over segments of Killzone Shadowfall stuck out as the most visually impressive, there weren’t any bad looking games.  Simply looking good doesn’t guarantee a good experience though,  especially for SE.

SE’s problem has never been one of not being able to make attractive games. Since way back with Final Fantasy IV, they’ve always been making games that visually ahead of the curve.  Final Fantasy VII looked so good at the time that it broke the whole genre open for people who would’ve never played a JRPG.  A steady increase in visual fidelity since their glory days hasn’t resulted in a steady increase in quality games, though, it has been quite the opposite.  They’ve been pushing the visual envelope while neglecting gameplay for years.  It’s like if Crytek remade DOOM, but didn’t change anything about the gameplay.  I’m sure a vocal minority would enjoy it, but most would probably be wondering why the developers weren’t pushing the gameplay as much as they were the visuals.

FinalFantasyXIII01

The problem has never been technology, this series looks great.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the Final Fantasy series, and am not one of these jerks you see on message boards crying about how SE hasn’t made a good game in over a decade.  It’s because I’m so fond of the series, that SE’s presentation left a worse taste in my mouth than even the Killzone Shadowfall announcement from earlier in the evening. It’s not so much that they showed a months old video many of us had seen before.  It’s not even that it was just a real time demonstration of their Luminous Studio engine.  Even the fact that they announced a future announcement instead of an actual game wasn’t the worst thing about this.  No, what stung the most was that SEs incompetent showing said a lot about many of the other titles shown that night.

Sony, despite making a strong effort to make up for the PS3’s cumbersome interface and social features, is falling into the trap that SE seems incapable of pulling the Final Fantasy series out of.  It’s the trap of relying on the brute force of technology to develop beautiful looking games that ultimately disappoint because they fail to deliver innovative new game experiences.  Don’t show me two first person shooters, two open world action games, a driving game, some tech demos, and then expect me to get all excited.  I don’t need higher fidelity murder-porn, or more realistic carbon fiber weave in my car models.  Show me more games like Knack and The Witness.  I want to see games that I can be curious about,  where I can’t immediately discern tired gameplay mechanics from a few minutes of video.  Take a page out of the indie development community’s playbook, step away from the huge AAA dev costs, and spend resources innovating on the gameplay side.  It sounds like Sony is going to innovate on their end with the hardware and services, but it’ll all be for nothing if we’re just getting prettier iterations of last gen’s games.

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