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Final Fantasy: Officially Burnt Out

4:00 PM on 01.28.2011 // Jim Sterling

Square Enix may be the master of self parody. Only a company completely lacking in shame would officially unveil the next entry in a videogame franchise before the previous entry had even been released -- yet Square Enix did exactly that with Final Fantasy XIV, months ahead of XIII's launch.

I understand that XIV is an MMO, but even so, it's a ridiculous concept. It's even more laughable when you remember that Final Fantasy XIII was supposed to be three separate games, two of which were nowhere near to seeing a release at the time. 

Most major publishers only have a handful of games in development at any given time. Square Enix, with just one franchise, has more in the works than I can remember at all times. And with each sequel, each spin-off, and each pretentious, dreary name, I care less and less. 

I think the fantasy's worn off.

I saw a trailer for Final Fantasy Agito XIII this week, now renamed Final Fantasy Type-0, and I was almost pained by how little of a shit I give anymore. It was just another dreary, dark, pompously "epic" trailer with more boring orchestral score, more quasi-cyberpunk aesthetics, and more ludicrous costumes drenched with brooding depression. 

I used to be all for that. I'm one of those vile creatures who came to the series through Final Fantasy VII -- a game that's now very cool to hate -- and so I have no problem with the less fantastical, more  futuristic Final Fantasy games. However, Square Enix has just done so much of it in such a short space of time, and has completely saturated its market to the point where I just can't take anymore. 

The situation is simply overwhelming. Right now we have Final Fantasy Versus XIII, Final Fantasy Type 0, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 all in development at once. All of them are aesthetically indistinguishable from one another, and all of them will likely feature the same boring tropes that Square Enix have relied upon for years. I have no problem with games that don't innovate, but please tell me why I should care about three games being developed at once that all seem to be the same fucking thing?

Square Enix is, essentially, the George Lucas of videogames. It can't leave well enough alone. Final Fantasy VII, which I still proudly believe is a fantastic game, has been systematically torn apart by Square Enix with unwarranted sequels, prequels, spin-offs and narrative rewrites, and now the entire game is just a waffling, overwrought mess. We had Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, all of them adding more and more convoluted twists and turns to the series, with less and less respect for the audience. 

Am I alone in thinking that it's just too much? A painter who cannot leave his work alone typically ends up with a canvas full of muddy brown shit, and that's Final Fantasy VII now. After retroactively introducing increasingly silly characters into the series, and bogging it down with grandiose, meaningless tripe, Square Enix has ruined the whole thing. Just like what Lucas did with Star Wars

Then there are the names. Fabula Nova Crystalis, Versus XIII, Agito, Type 0 ... what does it mean!? What does any of this pretentious fucking shit mean!? The names alone turn me off, as they give a clear indication as to just how up-their-own-arse the games are going to be. Anybody who hides behind bastardized Latin, made-up words, or the pointless rearrangement of sentences in order to appear clever and "deep" is a complete and utter dick. 

Kingdom Hearts suffers from this as well. Once, it was one of my favorite franchises, but the more complicated and vague Squenix makes the plot, the less I care. We haven't seen hide nor hair of a Kingdom Hearts III, but we've seen the exact same bullshit as the Final Fantasy series appearing on handhelds -- Birth By Sleep, 358/2 Days, Re:Coded. Just this endless stream of flatulent names, with stories that stopped making sense years ago, and characters that couldn't be thinner if they were made out of Lena Zavaroni's stomach lining. 

Remember when Final Fantasy was an event? A real treat? Each game was a self-contained story lasting hours and hours, and they only came along once every few years. They were special, and they meant something. Their stories began and ended in one epic sitting, and each one was distinct and always brought something new. Contrast that to now, where the main entries in the series can't be separated from the huge amount of spin-offs and remakes and fucking sub-sequels. Now the franchise is just a grey sludge, everything looking and sounding alike, and constantly in development with at least five games in production at any given time. 

Final Fantasy is just a machine now. A lurching, thunderous behemoth, methodically plodding forward in perpetual drudgery, churning out the same foggy irrelevance over and over again. 

So when I see a trailer for Agito, or Type 0, or whatever inflated, grandiloquent name it's given itself this week, I can't even muster the strength to roll my eyes anymore. I already know what it's going to be like, because Square Enix seems incapable of pushing itself in any area other than graphics anymore. The game dialog is going to be a repeated stream of made-up words and brooding characters who have to learn to share their hearts, the graphics are going to be the same pseudo-futuristic stuff that we've seen already, and the gameplay will be another old idea re-purposed to look new, but will likely just be less interesting. 

Maybe it was always like that? Maybe I've just gotten used to it due to the overexposure? All I know is I've had enough. It's too much now. And it's not just a case of too much. It's too much, too soon, too clumped together, and too histrionic. Square Enix has officially lost the plot, and I've lost all interest. 

And not even Activision has that many fucking games in the pipeline at once. 

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
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