Monday, September 16, 2013

Everybody needs somebody to hate

There is always a sense of accomplishment that comes after finishing a good, long JRPG. At under forty hours Tales of Xillia was a little on the short side. Add to that how much I straight up cheated by purchasing in game funds and the feeling is significantly lessened. Namco tried something a little different this time. They tried to create a sympathetic final boss. He isn't evil. he isn't even bad. On the contrary, he wants what is best for his people, the only difference between him and the 'good' guys is that he is willing to sacrifice a different world that he only just learned existed and who had also just attacked him to do so and they are not. Everyone respects each other. Hell, they like one another, but there is a knock down, drag out fight anyway.

There is no weight to it. There is no desperation or malice or even any hurt feelings. One side wants A, which just might work and be good for everyone, and the other side wants B, which will work but only for the nature loving, magic using pure people, leaving the machine using, spirit killing, world destroying people slowing die off (at times the game felt like a Greenpeace recruitment tool).  No one dies in the end, they all shake hands, and a obvious sequel is teased.

It just doesn't work. It sounds obvious, but a game of such length needs a bad guy to latch on to. It keeps the player invested. When I think of great RPG villains I always come up with


Sephiroth because you spend the entire game chasing him and Kefka because he was just evil. I am sure there are others, but these two work because they are introduced early in the game and the player is given time and reason to really hate them. There is no reason so hate Gaius, the final boss of Tales of Xillia, and even less reason to hate Muzet, the spirit he bonded with. One is noble and the other is just looking for direction.

On the plus side the game has a character in the party that is completely unlikable for the vast majority of the game and he never really changes. It would have been nice for this to create more inner-party conflict. I will settle for him showing up after one of the two main characters 'dies' and shooting the other main character's childhood friend. Minus points for the shooting victim not dying irrevocably, but good effort.

I don't regret any of my early adulation of Tales of Xillia. It is a better playing RPG than anything Square has come up with in quite a while. It just wasn't as good as Tales of Graces f. Honestly, not much is.


Time to start Diablo III. I think I am in the mood for a monk. Hope it is the right call. 

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