There are two aspects that most people talk about when discussing Final Fantasy games: The story, and the gameplay. In my previous posts I said I was unhappy with both. I’ve started the game over, and I’m still not happy with the story, but this time through the gameplay is really working for me.
In previous FF games, I’d march straight through the game, occasionally taking little half-hour leveling sessions to level up a bit past the monsters and ease my way past the occasional bossfight. This usually worked well. I was doing that here, and wondering why the game was so murderously hard.
For those that played the game: I was level 14 when I reached the Ogir-Yensa Sandsea. I was sort of surprised that the game gave me a level 18 NPC to travel with, and I was even more surprised to see that even with his help the journey through the Sandsea was really hard. Then I had a sort of forehead-slapping “duh” moment and realized that the little bits of leveling I was doing were falling way, way short of what the designers intended.
|We just killed over a hundred zombies. Are you guys bored? I’m not bored. I could do another hundred if you wanted.|
The gambit system makes it pretty easy to automate most of this, so I was reading blogs and writing posts while I nudged the analog stick and kept the process moving. Yes, I realize how absurd it is to look for ways to amuse myself while I’m playing a game. It’s like going to a concert and listening to your iPod the whole time. In the end, this silly behavior paid off. This time around I was level 24 by the time I hit the Sandsea, and it’s like I’m playing Final Fantasy again.
Now, I disapprove of this mandatory level-grinding for the most part. I think XP farming should be optional. It should be something risk-adverse gamers (like me) do to get ahead, not something everyone should be forced to do in order to keep up. Having said that, the game is so much more fun now that I’ve invested the time to get “ahead”.
|I don’t know why people are so excited about bone fragments, but after I killed all those zombies people were willing to pay a lot of money for this stuff.|
The other thing I did which added to my enjoyment of the game was to look up the layout of the license grid. The game really, really needed to make the contents of grid squares visible ahead of time so the player could plan ahead. Opening abilities via blind luck sucked a huge amount of strategy out of the game, and using this “cheat sheet” fixed that and made the game a lot more interesting.
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
Batman: Arkham City
A look back at one of my favorite games. The gameplay was stellar, but the underlying story was clumsy and oddly constructed.
Deus Ex and The Treachery of Labels
Deus Ex Mankind Divided was a clumsy, tone-deaf allegory that thought it was clever, and it managed to annoy people of all political stripes.
Mass Effect Retrospective
A novel-sized analysis of the Mass Effect series that explains where it all went wrong. Spoiler: It was long before the ending.
The Best of 2017
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2017.