Don’t Judge a Book … (but in this case)

Disclaimer: I’m currently writing this while there is still a NDA in place for the Final Fantasy XIV open beta. Yes, it is COMPLETE bollocks that the NDA applies to the open beta and I’m sure there are plenty of players currently in the OB that are violating the TOS. At first I intended to honor the NDA, but I am so incredibly frustrated with XIV that I cannot in good conscience NOT share my experiences.

I’m not sure why, but the inner Final Fantasy geek inside of me still yearned to experience XIV despite all of the maligning I had thrown SquEnix’s way over many of the decisions they were making with XIV. It wouldn’t be very sporting and fair of me to completely write of XIV as an HD remix of XI, so it became apparent that the best way for me to speak from first-hand experience would be just that. Therefore I made the decision that I was going to get into the open beta come hell or high water.

In a lot of ways the postponement of the open beta, even if only by 24 hours, seemed to indicate just how ill-prepared XIV was to go live. I shrugged off the feelings of dread and tried to remain  optimistic that surely there would be some redeeming qualities amongst the distasteful reports coming out of closed beta. It was when it came time to apply for an open beta registration key that my spirits were almost destroyed entirely.

SquEnix’s servers buckled under the sheer amount of F5’ng that was congesting their pipes. I wasn’t surprised at all that it happened, but I couldn’t help feel a tinge of despair over the possibility of NOT getting into the open beta. I wanted to experience XIV first hand, but I wasn’t willing to buy the retail box in order to do so. No, I had too many doubts to feel good about handing SquEnix any money for what appeared to be XI with a fresh coat of paint.

Let me tell you just how excruciating it was trying to get a key. When I first saw the SquEnix account management login screen I nearly did a dance in my chair, especially when after submitting my login information I wasn’t immediately met with an error message. No, I wasn’t met a big fat internet-fail and eventually my heart rose when I saw the TOS page come up.

SUCCESS I HAD DONE IT! Now lemme just check that I agree and click on subm … WHAT THE … nothing is happening. Errors on page?! Javascript errors? /facepalm

No folks, I was met with a big bowl of internet fail and it didn’t taste good. After wiping the malcontent from my face, I sucked it up and began the whole process over again. And again. And again. I was persistent and kept at it, crossing my fingers every time I wasn’t met with a connection timeout.

In between my attempts to connect, I was somberly keeping an eye on the open beta client download. There were many times where I almost gave up, but even when it seemed like there was no hope, I kept that download going … just in case. Imagine how much I would kick myself if I had stopped downloading the ~5 gigs @ 130kb/s and actually got a key. For 90, NINE TEE, minutes I kept refreshing and/or reloading. No damn it, I wasn’t going to be denied.

Then it happened, a functioning TOS page. PRAISE BE TO YEVON!

I was in, well sorta. I still  needed to register the key which took a bit more time because not only was the key registration server congested, but so was the account management server. Even if I had not registered the key that night, I still felt GOOD. I had done it. I was going to get to experience XIV without giving SquEnix a dime … but I still had to get through the download and hope that the mirror site(s) I was getting it from had the legit code.

And … legit it was. /cheer

So after yesterday’s roller-coaster ride of emotional highs and lows, I was relieved that what I had downloaded was functional and after a small patch I was ready to jump in. I was on pins n’ needles when I loaded the launcher and logged into the game server and heard that familiar melodic theme of the crystals.

Oh Square, how could I ever stay mad at you?! Wait a second, I can’t go full screen?! What the … alright, let’s roll with it.

Back before all of the closed beta reports soured my expectations and the benchmark appeared to squash any chance I had at running this game I had aspirations to roll a Galka … er I mean Roegadyn gladiator. I’ve typically favored being a DPS class, but for some reason I felt like being a tank in XIV and damn it, I was going to be a tank. Even better was the sheer fact that I was even at the character creation screen; my computer wasn’t complete fail and was running it … as best as it could.

I didn’t spend too much time in the character selection screen but not for a lack of wanting to get in and get dirty, most of the customization selections were so subtle, that I didn’t get hung up on making my galka perfect … er, well they are galkas! A few small tweaks here n’ there and I was ready to get on with it and dig my teeth into a nice looooonnnnnng black screen as my computer and graphics card struggled to render the in-game cinematic.

Okay, let’s not panic … oh wow … this is chugging and … well, ugly.

While my computer was able to handle the game, it just wasn’t able to do it well. No worries, as long as it controls well. Once I finally had control of my galka, grrr I need to stop that, I was met with feeling completely lost with the controls. Granted I was able to move around, I just wasn’t able to move around with any sense of fluidity thanks to the piss poor mouse/camera support in XIV. No my friends, SquEnix hasn’t given two shits about what has become the defacto control scheme for MMOs in the post-WoW world. No, they wanted to make sure the game played and controlled just like Final Fantasy XI.

Good grief. I used to accept this horrible control scheme for the year I played XI?

These NPCs did absolutely NOTHING to help out.

At that point I knew exactly why the NDA was still in place, the game controls like shit compared to a modern day mmo and would arrive DOA and only sell to the XI die-hards. I had forgotten just how incredibly unintuitive the control scheme from XI was and I’m embarrassed for SquEnix that even Star Trek Online’s ground missions controlled like a dream comparatively. We’re talking about a control scheme that is not setup for mouse control at all and I cannot for the life-of-me think of a good reason why SquEnix hasn’t adopted a WoW’esque control scheme.

And to think that at one point the developers thought XIV could give WoW some competition? Did I mention that you can’t reconfigure the keyboard controls at all? Really? I mean, reeeeeaaaaaaaalllllllly?!?

Anyhoo, I decided to not throw my hands up in frustration and laboriously worked through the game intro with little in-game help. No, I wasn’t going to give up that easily and I’ve used this control scheme seven years before … it’d come back to me, right?

After finally realizing that once you’re deposited into the city you need to talk to NPCs to progress, I finally got to the point where my character, the big green behemoth Nevik James, was in the world and could interact with other players and play for really reals. My biggest point-of-interest at that point was to get outside of the city and check out the combat system … and to go attune myself to an aetheryte crystal in the desert.

I spotted a marmot on the horizon and bee-lined it to get into some action. Okay, how did combat work in XI again? Right, so I targeted the marmot, got within range and began repeatedly hitting 1 to swing my sword. Wait, there’s no auto-attack? Eventually I figured out the nuances of the stamina bar and that the highlighted box at the beginning of the bar was to indicate how much stamina it would take to hit my #1 button.

Really SquEnix? This is more interesting? /facepalm

At some point I leveled up as a gladiator and obtained a new skill, or trait, or something but couldn’t find out what exactly it was and whether or not it was an active ability to save me from the doldrums of repeatedly hitting 1. I also managed to aimlessly stumble into the camp I was supposed to attune myself to a crystal and found the crystal.

Now there was just one problem, how was I supposed to interact with the crystal? It wasn’t treated like an NPC you can highlight and target, so fruitlessly I fumbled around looking for some key that might attune me to the crystal. Eventually I decided to noob-it-up and ask in /say and thankfully I wasn’t met with “OMG f’ng noob …” Well at least open beta is good for not being berated I suppose.

Attuning myself to the crystal completed a quest I had taken from an NPC back in town and I was then given the opportunity to undertake a guildleve, XIVs bare-bones version of your a-typical quest in any mmo. It was your typical go out and kill X of Y quest but I suppose we’ll never completely get away from those …. right? So out I went to go kill three black moles. Exciting, I know.

It didn’t take long to complete, and other than discovering that I had to put away my weapon by pressing F to regenerate health I was thoroughly bored with the whole experience. Oh, there was one little neat thing about the completion of the guildleve, a node will appear that will allow you to teleport back to the crystal you attuned to. So there’s that.

I cannot express succinctly enough just how incredibly disappointed I am with my first experience and impressions of Final Fantasy XIV. It really is XI with a fresh coat of point. SquEnix hasn’t learned a damned thing about what makes an mmo thoroughly engaging and fun to play. They’ve failed on everything from accessibility to innovation. Hell, they’ve even failed to copy WoW’s control scheme to try to pull from that user-base. Final Fantasy XIV is a mess and is going to be a horrible failure … well at least from the impressions I got from the original visions shared by the developers.

But before I completely write-off XIV, I am going to keep playing it in hopes of finding something redeeming about the game. I just hope the NDA is lifted prior to launch so I can share my experiences with everyone before they go out and waste their money on this Final Fantasy XI retread. Oids.

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Crossroads

It’s no surprise that it’s been almost a month since my last update on the blog. It’s not for a lack of trying, but every single time that I’ve sat down to write something I’ve immediately lost my motivation. I’ll get this great idea for my blog, then just as I’m about to start typing everything goes blank. After a few minutes of blankly staring at the screen I just decide to do something else.

Is it writer’s block? I’m not sure. Usually I’ll rationalize my decisions to not update my blog with the notion that whatever I would have written would have been tripe and uninspired. That might be the root cause for the lack of updates over the past month. I just haven’t been inspired enough to sit down and share my thoughts.

Now before either of us goes into a panic, this thing happens to me a lot and at some point I just get over it. It has happened many, many times in the past and I’m positive it’ll continue to be a problem that plagues this blog for the years to come. Oh noes! Not to worry, I always get over it and suddenly my blog springs to life once more.

It’s just the natural ebb and flow of my blogging that is frighteningly  similar to that of my gaming habits. For instance, this hiatus has been caused from the lack of gaming that I’ve felt inspired to write about. What have I been playing this past month? Mostly Torchlight, a couple of PS3 demos and I’ve recently decided to try LOTRO, (free trial of course).

As great as Torchlight is, it isn’t a great game to blog about. I mean, it’s Diablo, what more need be said about it? Sure I could blog about the trials and tribulations of my melee alchemist, but would any of you care? It’s solely a single player game and the end-game is a randomized dungeon-crawler. At some point I may decide to post an entry or two about the unusual builds that I’m playing, but right now I’m not feeling it as a necessary blog update.

Anyhoo, I have also decided to give Lord of the Rings Online a try since I am a fan of the Tolkien world, but the game hasn’t struck a chord with me and there’s little hope that it will. My lack of interest in LOTRO is cemented in the fact that I’ve dedicated 5 years of my gaming life to WoW and every single time I play LOTRO, I’d rather just reactivate my WoW account. Everything just feels clunky in LOTRO where as everything in WoW feels just right. That isn’t to say that LOTRO doesn’t do anything well as it is most certainly a very competent game, it’s just that WoW has spoiled me as an MMO gamer.

Has WoW ruined every other MMO for me? That is my biggest worry about going into Final Fantasy XIV later this year. I’m hopeful that FFXIV will rekindle that love I had for Final Fantasy XI, but after playing WoW for so long, I’m worried I’ll fall into the same trap of rather-be-playing-WoW.

At this point I think the only way I could conceivably give any other MMO a fair shot is if I find myself in a strong community. If it hadn’t of been for the fact that Star Trek Online was released way too early, I might actually still be playing it. Cryptic failed to deliver on a true Star Trek experience and the community has fled from the game.

Many of the STO podcasts I was listening to have disappeared, or are having issues with feeling inspired to keep podcasting about STO. I’ve stopped following news regarding STO and at this point I could care less about it. Between my forth-coming inner-turmoil between WoW and FFXIV, there’s just no room for a poor MMO. I would say shame on Cryptic for STO, but after City of Heroes and Champions Online, it’s shame on me for putting my faith in them one more time.

Well, I think I’ve rambled on long enough about the MMO crossroads that I’m at. I’ll try to keep my inspiration and motivation going for slightly more frequent updates, but I think I’m going to have to go with smaller updates. More stream-of-consciousness stuff without so much emphasis on trying to write something great. I might even share a couple thoughts on what’s going on with WoW, but no promises. ^^;

fEidolon

Recently I’ve been hearing more and more statements about the polarization of the Final Fantasy series. In particular how fans of the series are more likely to passionately hate and love various titles in the series and the high likelihood that there isn’t a fan out there that likes them all. It definitely makes sense given how radically different each entry in the series tends to be.

I definitely fall into that former category as I hate some entries in the series (VIII) while loving others (X, XII) and today I can safely add another title to my hated FF list: Final Fantasy XIII. I really tried to like FFXIII, but there are so many flaws and inexcusable design decisions that I honestly think that XIII is by far the WORST Final Fantasy game (main series) ever created.

Woah, the worst in the series? Seriously?

Yes. Most definitely yes. From the criminal pacing of the first 4 hours, to the stale characters, to the pretentious names of Fal’Cie & l’Cie, to the horrific item management/upgrade system, to the HUGE STEP BACK from XII in combat, to the steep jumps in difficulty for certain encounters, to the unforgiving and piss-poor designed Eidolon battles I’ve had enough of this pathetic entry into the Final Fantasy series.

After finishing up Batman Arkham Asylum I felt that I owed it to myself as a fan of pretty much all things Final Fantasy that I should give XIII one last shot to make sure that I wouldn’t regret setting it down. I ground out some crystarium points and was able to get past the bombs that had previously proved impossible to down quickly enough and proceeded to run into yet another wall, this time comprised of fortified concrete: Vanille’s eidolon battle.

What a piece of shit encounter. First off you’re not given a choice on who to bring in to the battle, you must use Vanille and Fang. I like neither character and thusly when I first encountered Vanille’s eidolon I had over 80k+ CP unspent on both of them. Obviously I was destroyed this first time considering that you’re not given a chance to adjust equipment, paradigms, and spend CP prior to battle unless you’re retrying it.

After numerous failed attempts where either Vanille would die or I wouldn’t build the gestalt meter enough before running out of time I have no more motivation to keep playing through XIII. I’m sorry Square, you’ve failed … miserably. I guarantee that had the title not been graced with the name Final Fantasy very few people would have even bothered getting more than 5 hours into the game.

There are just so many better games out there and I refuse to waste my valuable free time on piece of garbage. I seriously hope the team that is inevitably working on XV take a long hard look at Mass Effect 2 and reflect on what made XII and X such a great game. (Ironically XIII was developed by mostly the same team responsible for X, my favorite in the series)

Oh well, looks like I can safely return to Mass Effect 2 now.

Focus

I’m coming awfully close to reaching my breaking point with Final Fantasy XIII. I was holding onto the hope that things would balance out once I got to Gran Pulse where the game truly opens up. Unfortunately when you do reach Gran Pulse, the faults of the game become so glaring that it’s nearly impossible for me to look past them. Even the battle engine has gone from chaotic fun to frustratingly inadequate with the incredible leap in difficulty in chapter 11 from non-boss encounters.

You’re dropped onto Gran Pulse with little direction with a landscape littered with Behemoths and Adamantoises with only a little yellow arrow on your mini-map blindly guiding you. While individual Behemoths are not impossible to take down at this point, you will get utterly decimated by an Adamantoise. Sure they’re easy to avoid, but there are so many meandering around that you’re given the false-sense of security that you can engage them. Well, it may be possible to down one, but not without a ton of grinding for upgrade components and CP.

Grinding is nothing new for veteran FF fans like myself, but I’m not sure I have the fortitude and patience for it anymore. Between higher level crystarium nodes requiring between 4k-10k CP and the continued scarcity of gil to buy components to upgrade equipment you can waste DAYS grinding. There are (side) missions you can undertake to give some meaning to the otherwise all-out grind-fest but these aren’t fun to complete either. Usually the mission descriptions do an adequate job of telling you what you need to kill and whereabouts to find your mark, but without a map of any kind giving you an idea to where these locales are you’ll be wandering aimlessly hoping that you’re going the right way.

Considering that I’m anxious to get back to Mass Effect 2, I decided that it was in my best interest to ignore these and push on through the storyline. What a mistake. I started blindly heading in the direction of the yellow arrow and discovered that in doing so, you’ll eventually be led to packs of behemoths. Oids >.< Eventually I found a path where I could skirt around a behemoth and fenris/wolf engaged in mortal combat and ended up finding a cave leading onto the next area I was meant to go to.

While it might seem a little contradictory, I am a completionist when it comes to exploration in Final Fantasy games and when I discovered a side-path in this cave that I had to take. It led to a room where my rag-tag team of three proceeded to get utterly decimated by the Juggernaut. I’m the Juggernaut, bitch! Okay, optional boss I figured and with my tail tucked between my legs I headed down the other path straight into another brick wall.

This time the wall was a seemingly ordinary pack of mechanical enemies with a larger “commander” unit in the back which could call in reinforcements slightly faster than I could take them down and then proceed to buff them to make them dangerous. I tried a number of tactics to tackle this normal encounter but I ended up banging my head against this wall for about 20 minutes. Initially I tried burning the adds and but couldn’t keep up with the reinforcements enough to put a dent in the big guy. Then I tried buffing my team and focusing solely on the big guy but once his adds are buffed, they just tore through me.

Eventually I decided to try my luck just by focusing my attention solely on the big guy by switching to RAVx3 after getting that initial powerchain to stymie the stagger decay and fortunately that worked. Relieved I proceeded onto the next platform to be rewarded for my hard work by a pack of 5 bombs. /wrists. After several futile attempts at burning down enough of the bombs to survive the inevitable self-destructs I threw my hands up in the air and turned the system off.

Leading up to this point I had encountered a number of fail-screens mainly from boss encounters and the odd puzzle encounter, but never from a pack of normal monsters. My frustration from these encounters has only been rivaled by the Eidolons themselves (Bahamut I’m looking at you). When your team is perfectly happy standing in the middle of a pack of bombs about to self-destruct I yearn for the ability to move my team leader ala Final Fantasy XII.

So I’m at a weird cross-roads with Final Fantasy XIII. Either grind to keep progressing through the story which I’m becoming disenchanted with, or put the game down and set it next to VI and VIII as the 3rd Final Fantasy game (main series) that has pissed me off to the point where I could care less about finishing it. It is hard to find the motivation to keep going especially with Mass Effect 2 whispering sweet-nothings in my ear, but I suppose I owe it to myself as a Final Fantasy fan-boy to keep going …

Paradigm

I’m closing in on 16 hours of playtime in Final Fantasy XIII and I hate to say it, but I’m pretty disappointed with the game so far. There’s something amiss in FFXIII besides the horrible pacing, awkward cinematography, and convoluted and relatively uninteresting storyline. I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet but I think it has to do with the lack of control I have had, even 16 hours in.

My complaints with the pacing of FFXIII are multifold from the frequency of save points to the battle system, even the item and story progression. You’ll often encounter save points on both sides of a cut-scene and then go through an entire “level” without one unless there’s a boss battle. There’s no rhyme or reason to the placement for many of the save points, but they do serve a secondary purpose: upgrading your equipment and shopping the miscellaneous “eCommerce” stores.

This secondary purpose raises more issues with the game thanks to the extreme scarcity of materials used for upgrading equipment and gil that is provided early on. Well I should state that you’re given enough materials to upgrade a couple of items a number of times but that presents yet another problem. You’re given so many weapons and pieces of equipment that you can’t upgrade them all which adds insult to injury because if you’ve spent any time upgrading any of your early weapons they’re far more powerful than anything you receive later in the game.

Even the pacing at which you upgrade equipment is strange with some items only requiring 300-500 points to level up and others requiring 1000+. There’s even a multiplier mechanic thrown in for good measure that requires the heavy usage of junk materials to increase the bonus multiplier for materials consumed while upgrading. You can keep bumping the multiplier with junk to reach a 5x multiplier (I think) but it requires a metric ton of junk as the highest I’ve reached is a 3x multiplier. This multiplier isn’t permanent, however, as beneficial materials used will decrease the bonus multiplier.

Certain types of materials are better for upgrading different kinds of weapons and equipment but you’re not given an interface to make this process simple and easy to understand. You’re forced to pick a weapon or piece of equipment and then manually go through all of your materials one at a time to see if it’s beneficial or not. It’s all very convoluted and horribly executed and explained.

You are given the ability to buy some materials from the save point stores but you’re given so little gil in the beginning that I’m wondering why these stores are even provided. I have been hoarding all the gil I’ve received so far and I currently only have 5600 gil. Yes, that’s right … 5600 gil after 15 hours of play. ><;

I’m hopeful that once the game finally opens up that many of these issues will be resolved. I feel like I’ve been playing an extended prologue as I still have no control over my party as the storyline splits the six protagonists into groups of two with the occasional intersection of paths for a fully fledged three person party. You’re also not given control of whom you want to be the party leader, so occasionally you’ll be in control of a character with paradigms that you’re not comfortable with.

You can think of paradigms as your classic final fantasy jobs or roles, but with new and exciting names! Can you sense the sarcasm? For example, instead of white mage, you’re a medic. You’re given the ability to change your party’s paradigms on a whim to suit the situation by selecting one of (up to) six preset combinations, (these are given exciting names as well!) and for boss encounters you’ll be doing this frequently. Generally you’re given enough paradigm combinations to cover most situations, but you may want to double check and create a combination or two with more than one medic or all ravagers.

One reason you’ll need to switch paradigms is too build up a stagger meter to drastically increase damage once an enemy is staggered. This stagger meter is not always easy to fill as the stagger point will vary from enemy to enemy as well as the attacks effective at filling the meter. This is where you’ll need to be mindful of the paradigms active in your party. Ravagers are great at bursting the meter up but that build-up quickly decays without having a Commando attacking the same target to slow the stagger meter’s decay.

You don’t need a commando active at all times to prevent the meter decay as I’ve switched to all ravagers to build up the meter on boss encounters as their stagger point is usually difficult to reach. You just need to pay attention to the meter and execute paradigm shifts and abilities as necessary. Your party leader can queue up abilities which cost a varying amount of action points: single target attacks requires one point, area attacks require two points and summons require three (I think). Initially you start off with three action points per command sequence, but once that character unlocks their Eidolon (summon) you’re given four points.

You’re also given the option to manually queue up abilities, or hand the reigns over to the computer to make the decisions for you by selecting auto-battle. Usually auto-battle is decent, but you’ll probably want to dictate how you want to apply debuffs to the enemies if controlling a Saboteur. In one battle where I controlled Vanille auto-battle wanted to apply poison multiple times without decovering or defaithing.

Once the abilities are queued manually or by auto-battle the ATB meter will begin filling and the abilities will automatically execute one after another once the meter fills. While the meter fills you can press the triangle button or Y button to execute the commands in which their segments are filled and cancel the remaining queued commands. Why would I want to do that? Occasionally you’ll run into a situation where you need an attack NOW to prevent the stagger meter from completely depleting or relaunching an enemy before they have a chance to retaliate.

However, it is more likely that you may use this when you do not need an entire ATB meter to finish off an enemy. Because of all these mechanics to the battle engine and the speed in which everything plays out, battles have never felt twitchier. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to frustration if you find yourself frantically trying to swap in a medic or two to prevent your party leader from dying; if your party leader dies, it is game over.

Overall the battle engine feels like a bastardized child of Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy X-2 which isn’t a bad thing. I just think that it could have benefitted from the action slowing down or pausing during command sequences to eliminate the frantic feel to a lot of the boss battles I’ve encountered. I’m sure some folks out there will love it, but because of the frantic nature of battle the engine lends itself to being more reactive than strategic. I’ve found combat really enjoyable so far but feel that if some of the frantic chaos was taken out, it would have been perfect.

Outside of the mechanics Final Fantasy XIII’s story and character development has been another disappointment for me. The entire first hour was extremely painful for me to get through as you’re tossed into the middle of an assault with a number of characters that are so incredibly stereotypical that you could care less what happens. Toss in the convoluted concepts of the fal’Cie and l’Cie and the battle between Cocoon and Pulse and you’re completely lost.

Things did pick up once I got through the fal’Cie interior and once the initial five protagonists were branded as l’Cie I was hooked. Unfortunately every time the story picked up, it tripped over itself and all momentum lost. There will be a building sense of urgency only to be ruined by short cut-scenes where the characters are casually or lethargically getting through the script. Sometimes they’ll have out-of-character moments leaving you scratching your head, but I think that has to deal more with Japanese storytelling style.

I’m having a hard time feeling compelled to keep going to the point where the game finally opens up. No game should ever demand so much of an investment from it’s players before becoming completely enjoyable. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m such a Final Fantasy fan-boy, I probably wouldn’t still be playing XIII as I’d rather be playing Mass Effect 2. Had the game not taken 5+ years in development and been released on PS2 it might have fared better in a pre-ME world.

Editor’s Note: I completely forgot to cover the Crystarium system which is how you “level” in Final Fantasy XIII. It is very similar to FFX’s sphere grid, just in 3d. No complaints here. I also forgot to cover Eidolons in detail, but I’ll save that for another update since I still haven’t grasped that system completely.

Gratification

It’s been a long time since the last original Final Fantasy graced the Playstation 2. Too long in my opinion, but the wait is finally over. Final Fantasy XII is now upon us to absorb our free time and whisk us away from our everyday lives. Months prior to release I secured my Collector’s Edition by completely prepaying at the nearest EB Games. Fortunate was I that this store planned on participating in a midnight release of the title. To say that I was enthusiastic about picking up my copy at midnight on All Hallow’s Eve would be a monumental understatement.

As midnight approached I naturally began to have difficulty in containing my excitement; it was exuding from my pores. You have to understand how many years of anticipation I’ve endured when I learned that Yasumi Matsuno was heading up XII. Matsuno being responsible for some of my favorite titles: Final Fantasy Tatics, Tactics Ogre, and Vagrant Story. His methodologies are synonymous for their intricate complexities ranging from gameplay to plotlines. His visions harmonize with my own on how I would create my own video game.

Every delay inflicted emotional pain and when the news of Matsuno stepping away from the project almost caused me to lose hope completely. All that melted away as I stood outside chatting of shared sentiments and anticipation with the only other soul to brave the wait outside the store in the cold. There were others, although not many, but they chose to remain in their cozy vehicles and hide from their geekiness in solitude. Not I, I fully embraced my geekdom. Final Fantasy although not my first console RPG (that honor belongs to Dragon Warrior) was the first to truly hook me into console RPGs.

It may be difficult for some to understand the mentality of those who show up at midnight to satiate their eagerness to be amongst the first to experience a game; I got my fair share of strange looks while explaining my plans for the night. It’s not something easily understood. It’s a comforting feeling knowning that you’re not alone in your geekiness; that you’re not the only one going directly home to pop it in. That being exactly what I did upon my arrival home.


Of course I’d get the Collector’s Edition.

I can safely say that after all these years it’s been well worth the wait. From the opening movie alone I would absolve Square of their sin of allowing so much time to pass since Final Fantasy X. X being the only title in the series to hook me from the get-go until now. XII’s introduction thoroughly engrossed me, I knew I was about to partake in something epic.

Epic is a great word to describe how I feel about my first hour with the game. Every inch of the game so far drips with polish, familiarity, and freshness. Matusno’s influence is evident in everything from the story to the menus, any fears caused by his departure from the game can safely be allayed. Although these are early impressions I have faith that Matsuno’s vision has been held throughout the game and will become yet another masterfully crafted experience.

Hey! Why not?

You scored as Thief. You’re a thief. You run fast, you’re greedy, you take after Locke Cole. You generally have to pull, and your job is a easy solution to your money problems. You love to steal too.

Thief

91%

Ninja

66%

Samurai

56%

Dark Knight

38%

Summoner / Beastmaster

34%

Warrior

34%

Ranger

31%

Black Mage

28%

Paladin

28%

Dragoon

28%

White Mage

28%

Bard

13%

Red Mage

3%

Final Fantasy 11 Job
created with QuizFarm.com

Yeah, I’m *almost* thinking of coming back to FFXI … someday. O.-‘ That is if they release some new jobs, and I may hold out for the Xbox 360 version (or a PC version upgrade).
*cough*And spend some USD on gil since I gave away all my l33t thief shit*cough*