Ben's Week In Review: January 16
I usually love winter but that blizzard was just plain absurd. Thankfully, I just got all cozy with some of John Cheever's short stories, Fable III, and believe it or not, fresh blueberries. :)
I reserve the right to be excited about FFXIII-2
No, it hasn't been confirmed or anything but that registered domain is as clear as day. I suppose Square-Enix could plan to use that site for something entirely different, but I would call that toying with our brains. At any rate, despite the fact that Final Fantasy XIII wasn't exactly what I wanted, I still enjoyed my 100 hours of time and above all else, will always hold out hope for a full-on S-E revival. I reserve the right to harbor and nurture that hope based on many years of role-playing bliss courtesy of the company in question. Granted, I haven't wanted to replay an entry in the FF series since FFX, but I still spent nearly 300 hours having fun with FFX-2, FFXII and FFXIII. Hence, I can't help myself- if I hear about a new Final Fantasy, it's like a chemical reaction; it's inevitable. I'm going to get excited and I'm going to think about it.
I do find it ironic that such news arrived only days after I posted my hypothetical editorial, and I honestly hope FFXIII-2 will become a reality. Look, they could royally screw things up. They could make a sequel that's closer to a shooter than an RPG (at which point, I may then give up all hope) but I refuse to believe that all the feedback and criticism from lifelong fans has eluded the ears of all Square-Enix employees. Maybe...just maybe...it'll surprise everyone...
What will the next MGS be like?
I am not as closely tied to this franchise as I am to FF, just based on my RPG roots. But even so, I have nothing but respect for Kojima and Metal Gear Solid and I loved MGS4. While it was more accessible and did allow for a more action-oriented approach, the developers didn't erase the possibility of stealth. That was still there for the hardcore. Maybe Ubisoft should've taken the hint before they ruined Splinter Cell with that Conviction abomination. Anyway, now that we know Kojima Productions is looking for a few good people to work on a "next generation MGS," I think it's time we ask ourselves what that project will be like... At this rate, it's likely it'll be multiplatform - despite Kojima's repeated aversion to the Xbox platform - and here's hoping they don't take another step in the "accessible" direction. But above all else, I'm looking forward to the story element.
I think that regardless of the setting and style, if Kojima is directly involved (and remember, he isn't directly involved in Rising), the storyline aspect should be the biggest highlight. We can't expect that to disappear, can we?
Personal gaming update
I plan on playing Dead Space 2 through to completion and I'll also try Mass Effect 2 but in the meantime, I have to rant a bit more about Fable III.
I'm still not sure if I'm going to finish it. After playing for so long, I've decided it's a very strange blend of everything I love and everything I hate about the current state of RPGs. I've got my towns and my large explorable areas and my magic and my side quests and all the rest. At the same time, combat is essentially pointless. You earn a few Guild Seals but it takes multiple tough battles to earn one full Seal...which I can earn in about five seconds being nice to an NPC. Anything I wear has absolutely no bearing on my character, who, by the way, doesn't even have personal statistics. Most all chests I find and treasures I dig up are only cosmetic; i.e., tattoo sets, pieces of clothing, gems to sell or give as gifts, etc. In short, it feels like a Facebook-esque, "social" action/adventure and yeah, that's RPG lite.
I like the freedom and I like hunting and searching for optional stuff like the hidden gnomes, books, and keys. But in the end, it's very clearly lacking in depth, and it's obvious they did it on purpose...and there's that "accessibility" term again. Looks like I'll have to rely on Dragon Age II for my hardcore RPG fix, and I'm hoping some of the JRPGs will get me. Hyperdimension Neptunia looks like fun, and yes, I'll be doing a review. You can also expect the big reviews soon, too.
1/15/2011 Ben Dutka