Will Final Fantasy Save The RPG?
You may remember last week's unveiling of the new Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailers, both of which are visually amazing. Granted, there is no gameplay in either, but the technical achievement on display is undeniable and it got us to thinking...will it fall to the legendary FF franchise to rejuvenate the ailing RPG genre?
We all know that the days of the JRPG are probably long gone, and although Western developers like Bethesda and Lionhead have delivered gems like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fable II, RPG fans certainly miss the good ol' days of the PS1. It wasn't just about JRPGs, either; dare we forget the late '90s when the Forgotten Realms experiences made a huge splash in PC land? But this generation has seen a serous lacking in the role-playing category, and only two or three great tiles per year isn't satisfying for long-time fans. Eternal Sonata and Valkyria Chronicles have helped a great deal in the past few months - I won't deny that - but we all know the sales of such titles have basically tanked, which means we'll be less and less likely to see similar games in the near future. Then you've got Atlus, who will eventually make RPGs for the PS3, but although their products are often excellent, they're almost never "hits." We not only need quality, but we need something that can be considered a blockbuster, and at this point, the responsibility seems to fall squarely on the shoulders of Final Fantasy.
FFXIII will probably lead the way simply because it'll be available on both the PS3 and 360, thereby giving the game a much better chance of becoming a massive sales success. While we do believe the 360 version will essentially be the poor man's version of FFXIII, it still gives 360 owners the opportunity to play it. And if Versus XIII is fantastic, that will not only boost PS3 sales, but also give gamers a reason to trust Square-Enix once again. The Last Remnant didn't cut the mustard and so far this generation, S-E hasn't really done much of anything for console owners. But they're clearly putting a whole lot of effort into the two titles mentioned here, and it's long past time the RPG genre found a savior...or two. So do we put all our faith in FFXIII and FF Versus XIII? Do we even have a choice? The next Bethesda game likely won't be that much different than Oblivion or Fallout 3 and Fable III probably won't be that much different than its predecessors, so perhaps we're talking about both sales and innovation.
It's a tall order for FF, but it may be our last hope.
12/22/2008 Ben Dutka