My Birthday is on the 9th of March this year. It's tradition in my family that we try to celebrate my birthday on this day every year. It's nice. Besides Christmas, this is really the only date that I actually ever remember, all other anniversaries and memorable events get stored away in the same place as the names of all the people I met at that wedding that one time at... wherever.
The point I'm trying to make is that when I saw that Final Fantasy XIII was due to be released on the 9th of March, it stood out to me. It made me think of all the Final Fantasy games I had received as birthday presents... which is to say all of them from VII onward (not including XI which of course is not even a proper Final Fantasy because it has no main character with a troubled past and hair like the fucking bomb). So I thought, 'that's a nice gesture, someone at Square has obviously realised that I get these games as birthday presents and have adjusted the release date to suit, I'll send a inter-webs letter to 'nice person at Square' to say thanks'.
But then I thought, do I actually want this game? I mean, that's a stupid question, of course I want this game, but do I want this game to disappoint me? To raise me up like a loving father, promising the world to me, only to be dropped on my head and develop a nervous twitch that I'll have to carry through the rest of my life? Let me explain. On my eleventh birthday I opened FF VII. That game instantly became, and has remained to this day, my favourite game of all time. Does anyone remember the fist time they left Midgar? The very first time they saw the world map? That shit blew my fucking mind out of my ass
. I'd been running around this city forever, thinking once I blow up the Shinra building then I'm good, game over, job well done. It never actually occurred to me that the other three disks in the box actually did anything... to be fair I was only eleven. There are so many things that can and should be praised about FF VII, but for me, the vast open world was the major one, a world of fantastic characters, unbelievable story and above all, choice. FF VII changed what I was allowed to expect from games, what I was allowed to demand from games. No longer could games just be fun, they had to be epic.
So FF VIII rolls around and I of course lap it up like some love sick fuck licking the face off the girlfriend he hasn't seen in about a month, and its amazing, it's incredible, it's superb, but it's not epic. Sure the world map is back, but it doesn't feel the same, it's not new anymore. Yeah, the combat has changed and the graphics are better but this isn't a life changing experience. Where is the feature that makes other game developers sit up and say 'shit, we need to gets us one of those in our games'? FF IX, FFX, roll by. Still good, still nothing. FF XI mixes it up a bit with it's online play sure, but... if its trying to change the way we look at how games should be made, then its just fallen short of the fail line. FFXII shouts “hey look, we've changed the whole method of combat”, to which we retort “it sucks”, followed by a sigh that echoes around the empty halls of our neglected expectations.
Which brings us here, to now, to the last few weeks before FF XIII hits us. The first FF developed for a next gen system, will this mean more than pretty pretty graphics? Will be see the next step in the revolution of gaming? Or is all we can expect from Square now a pretty decent game with stand out graphics?
You should know that I'm not trying to beat down on Square, I love Square, they release games for me on my birthday, and I hope to God that FF XIII is all the things that I know it can be, and perhaps the case may be that the JRPG scene called out much louder to the eleven year old I was than it does to the beaten twenty something you see before you now, but I can't help but feel about them the same way I feel about the whole of games as a medium.
What your doing is amazing, but you have the potential to be truly outstanding. We've seen glimpses of it, we know it's there. Just fucking have the courage to do it already.
Much Love read