Sunday, May 9, 2010

Progress, I think.

It honestly looks like I slept played through about fifteen minutes of battles two nights ago. The area with the save point was recognizable, but back tracking just a few rooms had me scratching my head. This is not the first time I have fallen asleep while gaming (Forza 3 saw me drive into a wall while bobbing my head) but it is the first time I have made positive progress in a semi-unconscious state. Well, there was the drinking game I created around Stuntman Ignition: every time I crashed, I took a drink. Three hours and a six pack of Lion Stout later I was passed out on the floor of my basement, but I remembered to save my game before hitting the ground, and my scores actually got better as the night went along. But that was the only time that happened, really!

Part of what saved the first twenty or so hours of Final Fantasy XIII from being boringly linear, as opposed to just linear, was the constant shuffling of the party. Everyone was not available at all times; on the contrary, I didn't have a full squad of three for many hours, and even then people were shuffled in and out quite often. This hid how boring most of the characters were by forcing them to interact with one another with no one else around. Sazh developed this strange fatherly attitude towards Tenille, up until he almost killed her. Hope developed a creepy crush/new mommy feeling towards Lighting. No one liked or talked much to Snow, which was fine with me. Now that the whole party is together all the time and everyone has kissed and made up, there is no conflict to move things along. Yes, there is still a bad guy, but he is nebulous and unseen; definitely not a character I can hate and use as a focus point to keep playing (see Kefka and Sephiroth for examples of how to do it right). Even the combat has suffered from the freedom. While it is quite possible to create all sorts of different combinations with the six characters, there is no reason to. Experience is shared equally amongst the cast even if they never see actual combat. I have been using Lightning, Fang and Hope for the last ten hours. Not because I like them, mind you, just because I have my paradigms set and don't want to go through the trouble of making new ones.

It sounds strange, but Final Fantasy XIII was actually better when I had no choice about what was going on. It was still (trying) to tell a story. Now I am just grinding through enemies trying to get to the end before the next game shows up, and the next game is Heavy Rain, which will once again monopolize my time for several days.

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