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What Can Square Enix And Capcom Learn From Splinter Cell?

On the surface, it's a bizarre question. I understand that.

Square Enix and Capcom really don't make games like Splinter Cell. Military-based stealth? No, not really. So where am I going with this, you may ask?

Oh, it's quite simple, actually. For years now, fans of the Final Fantasy and Resident Evil franchises have complained bitterly that Square Enix and Capcom have abandoned their original fans in an effort to appeal to perceived Western tastes. In the eyes of many, this has backfired again and again. They just can't seem to locate an identity, as they desperately attempt to be "worldly" with the two iconic IPs. It's a really depressing situation, in truth.

Shifting to the Splinter Cell fan club, it is - for the most part - widely accepted that Chaos Theory was the best of the series. Double Agent wasn't bad and technically, neither was Conviction. But the latter felt like a significant departure from that which made the franchise awesome in the first place: An emphasis on stealth. Sam became more of an action hero and all those wonderful gadgets, all those various ways in which we could stealthily approach an objective, had sort of faded into the background. What replaced it felt more like a third-person shooter than a stealth title.

In many ways, that departure was a mirror of what started to happen years back with Final Fantasy and Resident Evil. There was an identity crisis; a developer's overarching desire to somehow cater to an entirely new audience, all the while sacrificing that which originally built their loyal fan base. To date, neither Japanese publisher has really managed to reclaim the lost glory of either franchise in question. At least, I would say the majority of fans of both IPs agree with that assessment. One could also argue that Splinter Cell was going down a similar path after Conviction.

But look what happened. It seems Ubisoft listened. If you want the details, read my review but in brief, we got our beloved Splinter Cell back. And it wasn't a matter of being "old-fashioned" or refusing to embrace modern trends. Those trends are reflected in Blacklist; it's flashier, the most significant new mechanic is definitely a nod to action rather than stealth, and Sam is still more of an action hero. But the core has reverted to an emphasis on stealth. It encourages and rewards the tactful and stealthy; the gadgets and techniques are back (and better than ever), and basically, it blends the original core of the franchise with new advancements.

Why, why can't certain Japanese companies do this? If you really think about it, it isn't that hard.

Related Game(s): Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Tags: splinter cell, final fantasy, ubisoft, square enix, splinter cell blacklist

8/27/2013 10:13:29 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (30 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 10:53:01 PM
Reply

Well Capcom has gone on record stating that the next RE will cater to oldschool fans of the series (we will see if this actually happens). FFXV looks (to me at least) like another F-up like XIII but honestly FFXIV is incredible. It may be an MMO but it brings me back to the glory days of the FF series and after the mess that is FFXIII I'm just happy to have anything in the FF series that excites me.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:03:50 PM

They said it about RE6 too so I wouldn't hold my breath.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:31:12 PM

They also said they're looking to the Last of Us for their inspiration for RE7. So well see how it turns out I guess.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 3:19:23 AM

I'm sorry, but Final Fantasy XIV will never be able to offer 'the glory days'' of VI - X. Yes, purely because it is an MMO. It just cannot offer that same sense of memorable characters and story's.

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Masszt3r
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 8:16:27 AM

Yeah, Capcom stated that rather consistently with RE6, but it didn't turn out very good. I would take that with a grain of salt.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:17:54 PM

Have you even played the game, Ultima? Don't take my word for it or the countless other gamers or game sites...play for yourself otherwise I don't care what you think.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 2:17:29 PM

I have not bought into the full release, but I played part fo the Beta. I saw how they tried to introduce some NPC's, but they just came across as very flat. I just do not see how an MMO brings Final Fantasy back to the golden era, none of them title were MMO's. I won't critse you for enjoying the game, if you're willing to pay 20 pounds every 60 days I hope you would enjoy it. But compairing an MMO FF to an old turn-based FF just doesnt work im afraid.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:03:26 PM
Reply

The way I see it things went wrong with a certain calculation, instead of updating the existing games with the latest trending improvements and integrating that into what makes the franchises so popular in the first place, they simply switched genres altogether while trying to retain some vestige of what once was.

You need to build on what is there, not strip it away, leaving little scraps of former glory for the fans. That's what happens every single time a developer says they will "appeal to both old fans and new".

It's not as if we as fans are sitting with our arms crossed saying "make it exactly how it was." That wouldn't make any sense in this day and age.

The way they are doing things aren't just bad for us, it is bad for their sales and review scores too (FFXIII series, Resident Evil 6, Dead Space 3). They don't seem to understand that a product created strictly for mass appeal can't succeed when you've already built a fan base for it on specialized gameplay.

The key is to update and add to the core experience, not replace that core experience with other popular forms of gaming.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:22:15 PM

They basically alienated their fan base in hopes of cashing in on the masses. You can't deny the sales weren't terrible. XIII and RE6 sold quite well.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:47:09 PM

Not terrible no, but there's the fact that they are running on the franchise name which can't hold out much longer. XIII still didn't come within spitting distance of X.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 12:31:00 AM

Well X has it beat by a little over 1 million units but I do agree the fact that XIII is multiplatform makes the difference that much wider. We can both agree that X does everything better than XIII and the HD release is going to sell like cheap Korean porn.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 9:30:47 AM

I think the less than half sales numbers of XIII-2 show how people really felt about XIII as well.

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EndZero
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:11:42 PM
Reply

They change the games to appeal to the masses, make it hip. They wanna get their games into the hands of as many people as they can. When long time fans become the minority, their word doesn't mean much if sales of the new products reflect success.

Luckily though, Resident Evil 6 bombed so the hardcore old school resident evil fans might get what they want.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 @ 11:59:31 PM
Reply

RE6 was the first RE I didn't buy on day one. In fact I waited until I could pick it up for $5. Still haven't finished a single campaign. Gave up half way through Leon's. the game is a damn mess.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 12:19:28 AM

same here Jawk. I bought RE6 for $20 and have yet to put more than 2hrs into the game. I've had it since March. I hate the game.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:02:03 AM

Honestly, it wasn't even worth the $5 or the 9gb it took up on my HDD.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 9:29:28 AM

Due to a Best Buy screwup I got RE6 for $5, which was about what it was worth. I played Leon's campaign, then halfway through Ada's I sold the thing.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 12:17:54 AM
Reply

yeah idk y they can't do some things ryte but watever i guess they will or won't get eventualy.
only time willtellif they can't turn things around for their sakes.1st

happy gaming =)

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Andivarious
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:29:23 AM
Reply

Ben's right, it really shouldn't be that hard. I wonder if it isn't some kind of Japanese pride thing personally, some kind of culturally ingrained refusal to look back and to only press forward. Or perhaps some kind of need to beat the west at their own game. I have no idea if either of those things have any credence, but it is something that I wonder about. I really don't think we will ever see a return to greatness for FF, or even a series that can ever fill the void that the withered husk of what once was such a great series has left in my soul.

Now, I'm gonna be really brave for someone new to commenting on the site (I've read the articles and comments for quite awhile now) and disagree with everyone. I think that for SE to make any kind of significant improvement to the FF series they would have to go all the way back to FFIX at the very latest, VII would be better, but at least IX.
To me, FFX was where the JRPG spirit died. It was all streamlined and didn't require any thought about where to go or what do do. It didn't have that same sense of adventure and exploration that the earlier games had. Granted, since it was so recently deceased it didn't reek quite like the FF series does now, and it wasn't rotten to the core yet, but it was were the decay started. So many of the things that I hate about the modern FF series can be traced back to FFX. To me, the remake just seems like new make-up on an old corpse.

Now, time to go find a profile pic...

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:53:59 AM

X did abandon the world map but it retained the gameplay and honestly I think the exploration/hunting in XII was some of the most fun I've ever had in a FF game.

You make valid points about FFX though. I hope World responds to you, he loves FFX.

Oh and welcome to the site.

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Jawknee
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:56:25 AM

Yea. I didn't mind the abandoning of the world map in X or XII. It was different since I had spent countless hours playing VII, VIII and IX. To me Final Fantasy died with XIII.

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 3:29:05 AM

I will always disagree with people who state the downfall started with X because it didn't have a world map. X had a tremendous sense of adventure and with the set up of the pilgrimage. travelling though the world of Spira was so well done and unlike XII, when you arrived to a new town/area the story would progress with a new confrontation or intimate conversation about characters. Just that the romantic scene in Malacania Woods, othwerwise you were just passing by, but that made the area so distinctive. XII never had that if was just landscape after landscape with nothing distinctive to make it memorable.

It seems we have all had a FF which has delivered the big disappointment, mine was XII, but while XIII was not perfect, I rather enjoyed it - I just wish it didn't become a franchise as XIII-2 was just so convoluted and now I am just tired of it and want it to end. I am not excited about the idea of XV having sequels either, A game S-E has been struggling with for years and they have the nerve to make a sequel with it... I think they should just knock it out make it as good as they can an move on. I can't get a good sense for where the series is going until I see Final Fantasy XVI, but that is looking like it could be within 5-7 year...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 9:44:54 AM

I welcome you as well. I do love FFX but with the way I've been promoting it lately people might be surprised to know it is in third place on my favorites list.

I think you have a very valid point of view, the loss of the world map seemed unnecessary and a step backward, plus that experience was indeed the most linear to date in 2001. If you think that is a good point to try to find the decline I got no problem with that, but the fact that the turn based battles, strong characters, and impactful story were all still there shouldn't be forgotten. This was their first foray into 3D environments instead of rendered backdrops so I cut them some slack on the exploration.

To me, X is still in the tradition of the past games but XII is the beginning of the end because it isn't really based in the FF tradition. The minor changes to X I think were just about keeping up with gaming trends (which were going more linear at the time) but XII didn't make any sense in the tradition of FF to me, why would you swap the ATB for an MMO AI program? They tried to then mesh the two for XIII but it was still too automatic, and then we got a look at what a TRUE linear FF looked like and that made X look like a huge game with tons of exploration.

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/28/2013 9:49:17 AM

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Andivarious
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 10:52:15 PM

I agree with you all to an extent. I played all the way through X and enjoyed it quite a bit for the most part. I could just feel a change in the spirit of the game, for lack of a better phrase.

I guess part of what I'm saying is that for me, IX was the last FF that had the complete package. I actually like the leveling and combat systems of X, but I didn't like the lack of freedom. It wasn't so much the lack of a world map exactly, it was that I felt too restricted.

I loved the exploration and hunts in XII, but the combat system was all screwed up (my brother had his gambits set up so well that he started a battle with one of the optional bosses, turned the TV off, and then just checked on the battle periodically until he beat the boss... that's just wrong). I liked the story in X and loved the story in XII.

It just seems like the broke something in X, sort of tried to fix it in XII and broke something else instead, and now they have no clue how to put the puzzle back together again. And to top it off, instead of looking back at old puzzles to try to figure it out, they just keep pulling random pieces out of western devs puzzles and trying to make a pretty pictures by forcing them to fit in their (still broken) puzzle.

It makes no sense.

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Andivarious
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 11:11:48 PM

Also, I would agree with you World about cutting them some slack for their first foray into 3D if they hadn't continued breaking things further down the line.

Ultima is right about us all seeming to have our own points where FF came apart at the seems. I think that part of that is because we all have different parts that really sucked us into the series. My favorite parts are the story and the exploration. I can be a little more forgiving about battle systems (though XII was a disaster by anyone's standards, and in my personal opinion, XIII was even worse). I'm sure for each of us it is a little different.

Hopefully y'all don't get sick of me. I probably won't comment on every article, but I plan on commenting fairly frequently. I try to not be so wordy, but I don't seem to be able to help myself.

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___________
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 5:32:20 AM
Reply

its extreme irony when you think about it.
ubisoft if anyone are the best at reviving franchises and listening to their fans and giving them what they want.
look at the new raymans and splinter cell.
but they STILL refuse to do it with AC.
sigh.
hey, maybe thats why im not enjoying blacklist, maybe its because every time i play that game its just reminding me of what AC could be.

to answer the question though its a bit of a unfair comparison.
ubisoft returns these franchises because their is clearly a audience for them, and there not trying to cater their games to a different demographic.
$E and crapcom are, they have to because the asian industry is in dismay, and to survive they have to try cater to the larger wider western audience.
so comparing a eastern developer and asking why they cant do what western developers are doing is pretty silly!

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homura
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:09:42 PM
Reply

I liked FFXIII. It's story and characters and battle system. Square-Enix is a creator and of course some creators wants to create fresh and new things they never attempted before. That's why they created the Paradigm Battle System to have a seamless battle. And to say that there's no strategy involved, just fight and defeat the last cie'th mission monster with 5 star ranking. But I do agree that they fucked up the story in XIII-2. I also did enjoy Resident Evil 6. Those epic boss fight and zombies. And I hope that their original IP's stays on Japanese Developer's Hand. Some things can only be done by Japanese. It's a good thing that Metal Gear Rising is done by Platinum not by Ninja Theory.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 1:19:44 PM

"I liked FFXIII. It's story and characters and battle system."


Ben are you going to implement a "ignore commenter" feature?

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Vivi_Gamer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 2:26:50 PM

I actually agree with everything homura said on FInal Fantasy XIII. I also enjoyed XIII. While the story as a whole was vague due to the datalogs, the characterisation was very well done. I mentioned one of my favourite moments the other day but then someone moaned about it so I wont do so again, but there were many memorable moments, which is more than iI can say for some of the the other games - Even XIII-2, It just got so convoluted, I can barely remember the whole story anymore.

But as for the battle system, I have never understood why everyone complains about it. There are some problems I will admit, Game Over when the party leader dies being the main one. But the focus on paradigm shifts was really entertaining, especially when you add the stagger bar element, it brought so much momentum to the encounters, I honestly felt more engaged in XIII's combat than most other FF's - and this is coming from someone who loves the series and I think you know by now I am not afraid to voice my criticisms either. There were times even in the normal encounters if you were not in the right paradigm at the right time you would get destroyed, I found the combat, efficient and engaging for the full 110 hours I spent playing the game and I still regard it as one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences of this gen.

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Lunar_Miyuki
Thursday, August 29, 2013 @ 5:38:47 PM
Reply

FF14 is a F up to me it doesn't compare to FF11 which Lasted 10 years and still has subscribers
heres some interesting info on FF14 the JP servers have the Least amount of people

FF13 is a F up which Square-Enix is forcing down peoples throats where they could of Used the $$ to Focus on bringing Type 0 over to NA/EU where is that game made greatest Hits in JP and never even was attempted to bring it over

heres my Idea of How square-enix looks at stuff
oh look heres 1 comment about 13 being an awesome game the fans must really love 13 thats all we needed to see 1 comment

15 i will get obviously SE already F uped with it cause they built an engine for it specifically designed for PS3 and couldn't make it on the PS3 meaning they not only Lost $$ on a developing a game but they wasted $$ on a engine for PS3

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