Monday, December 8, 2008

FFX > FFXII

In non-FFXI related news, I wrote to the RPGamer.com QnA Column again.

For the past month or so, there's been an ongoing debate about FFX versus FFXII. While FFXII isn't the worst thing I've ever spent $40 on, it's not better than FFX for multiple reasons. People were disagreeing with this, which clearly makes them wrong. So I had to address it.

My letter ended up being rather (stupidly) long, but I did cut out several points I had planned to make for brevity. Which means if you think FFXII > FFX, you're actually more incorrect than you will know after reading this:
Dear Q&A,
There has been much mention of FFXII in recent columns, and the incorrect view that it is superior to FFX, that I want to address. I know not whether this letter will be read by Ethos, Bringer of Order or by Montok, The Corrupt, but rest assured, Evilpaul, Keeper of Precepts, will set both of you straight on your respective paths to enlightenment. Or to Mountain Dew: Code Red. We all have our own paths we must travel.

RPGamers may disagree on what is the most important factor in an RPG, story or gameplay, but none would dismiss the importance of either entirely.

Probably FFXII's largest flaw and weakness in comparison to FFX is that it did not have a story. It had a 20 hour sidequest that made the credits roll and forced the RPGamer to restart the game from his or her save file. FFXII was actually something of a throwback to the early days of RPGs when most of the story could be found in the game's manual. Or in the case of FFXII in the game's built-in Beastiary program.

That's not to say that the 20 hour sidequest was bad, but it was more of a mechanism by which the player could flag new Hunts which were the majority of the actual content in the game. There was little in the way of plot twists or innovation. It's strange to see a game poke fun at the post-battle celebrations every time you defeat a boss and then make the majority of the game about defeating boss creatures that spawn, in many cases seemingly randomly, for Hunt side quests.

The ending to FFXII was also more than a little anti-climatic.

FFX had a story. While some of the twists were ripped out of The Sixth Sense they weren't entirely predictable. The character you play is also more important to the plot than a Red Shirt in a Star Trek episode.

But enough about stories.

With regards to gameplay FFXII also falls behind FFX. Other than letting you run away without a loading screen from random battles, and later needing to go kill random enemies to grind for money to buy spells, gear, gambits, abilities, items, and everything else, FFXII threw away the well-balanced turn-based system in FFX and near perfect ATB in FFX-2 for a bastardized version of the combat system from FFXI. The gambit system which it was built upon idiotically required you to find a gambit in a hundred different shops for every possible percentile of player and enemy HP and MP. Most of which were not available until late in the game. So, while you can make your characters use Cures automatically at great convenience you would be over-Curing and wasting MP or under-Curing and risking death through most of the game with the limited gambits available to you.

Gambits were also inflexible enough that the system required constant tweaking and micromanagement. Turning one gambit on/off or reordering them from one moment to the next.

It didn't help that the License Grid made every character virtually identical with far less variation you find in the characters you can recruit at a bar in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Vaan is a Hume. Fran is a Viera. What's the difference between them in the battle system? None, whatsoever.

FFX had the Sphere Grid. Which while also not perfect and you could eventually, if you wasted sufficient time, have every character learn every spell and ability you couldn't do it half way through the game without even trying.

That's not to say FFXII improved nothing over FFX. The voice-acting in FFX was usually a combination of goofy, wince-inducing, whiny, and annoying. Auron was pretty well done, but unless Square Enix intended to have Tidus whiny and Wakka annoying I don't think it was pulled off very well. FFXII had the Judges who were as convincingly sadistic, noble, or furious as the situation called for. The voice-acting was a little off at times, but overall decent. Cid was also much better in XII. Like some sort of Charles Manson with a magic ray gun or something. While the scale seemed less epic I think it's the closest thing to another Kefka, in terms of a demented and depraved but more or less normal human being as a villain, in a FF game in a while.

Lastly, people complain about optional and not at all necessary content in other RPGs, like the pseudo-pokemonery found in Chrono DS, but that seems to be all people can say is great about FFXII. It's a short game with an OK-ish storyline and a huge, optional extra dungeon called "Hunts." Now recant your mistaken beliefs, and be saved Ethos and/or Montok!

Cheers,
Evilpaul
And yes, there are stupider (not a word) things than arguing about which Final Fantasy game is best.

Such as arguing about which Star Trek captain is best.

Or just arguing on the Internet in general.

2 comments:

  1. FFx >>> ffxii. After 2 hours of playing 12, I never played it again. Good thing I didnt buy it on release day like all you other shmucks!!!

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  2. I have played both games and I must say that FFX is the best. Rpg's, to me, is about story and wonder. FFX's story was amazing and kept me wanting more from the get go. FFXII ...not so much. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it didn't do it for me the way FFX did.

    Combat is another important element and I much prefered FFX in this respect. To actually see right off the bat what "haste" will do and if Auron will get another shot in before ^^monster^^ was crucial to my battle planning. Yeah, FFX has annoying random battles but at least the battles were fun and engrossing. I can't say the same about FFXII.

    I also found the characters in FFXII to be far less memorable than FFX.

    Both are good games, but FFX, in my opinion, was brilliant.

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