rant editorial stems from my recent playthrough of Final Fantasy XIII. With all the hype leading up to XIII-2’s release, I thought it was high time I dusted off the case that had been sitting on my shelf for a year and give the game a fighting chance. My struggles were long, hard-fought, and like all good novels ended in tragedy.
Overall, I found that I enjoyed the game. The graphics were pleasing enough. The character models were well-designed and in true JRPG fashion (the requisite number of scantily-clad females danced across my screen). The battle system was innovative but not so complicated that I needed a manual longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace to guide me on my journey. The leveling system was typical of recent Final Fantasy games and had a knack for blending job systems with grids. In short, Final Fantasy XIII began with all the bombastic flash of the other games in the series: it laid out the stepping stones for epic plotlines and legendary world building. Then, the characters opened their mouths, and everything went to hell. Thea vs. Final Fantasy XIII began.
Did I fight? I certainly did, only to be turned away with a shake of my head by what I have aptly dubbed speechifying. Cutscenes were looked upon with the same unfettered dread as a visit to the dentist. I went in determined to bear the mild unpleasant only to leave promising myself I would never return. Final Fantasy XIII told its story with all the subtlety of a train barreling through a library. I watched characters dance about my screen engaging in monologues fit only for a high school level English course—that is, I was subjected to lengthy speeches about morality, about duty, about whatever the fuck was going on in the story. I could not help but remember the words of so many college professors, words that to this day are still ingrained in my mind: show me. I wanted to be shown a story, to be lead down the pathways of the world, of the characters, through interactions, environment, and characters responding to challenges.
Readers, I ask when was the last time you faced your latest problem with a speech? Just this morning I was faced with a monster pile of paperwork to be processed on my desk. What did I do? I made dramatic gestures at my co-workers and schooled them in the many ways in which I was going to face this latest life-challenge with my elevated morals and heroic sense of duty. My words were like doves set free into the skies to carry my message across the land. The paperwork, of course, never was finished because I was too busy serenading my co-workers with my speeches. (Actually, what really happened is I sat down at my desk and worked for eight hours, which is what I expected FFXII to do for me.)
I am positive that this game will be worth finishing someday, but for now I have had enough speeches to last me at least another few weeks.