The evening Inbox is still shocked at the closure of Telltale Games, as more readers describe their favourite Final Fantasy games.
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Shadow Of The Tomb Raider has received some unfair criticism. There are those who havent even played it suggesting it goes back to the original Tomb Raider, when the reality is theres arguably less combat in the new game. Its about a 80/20 split in favour of exploration. Then you have some who have played it complaining theres not enough combat. You cant please everyone!
There is some pacing issues, the story starts well but then quickly loses steam, but with the settings on hard (no hand-holding) its the best of the reboot trilogy. Theres some good new stealth mechanics, the underwater sections are great, the tombs/crypts are frequent and well designed, and when there is combat, it comes across as a welcome respite. The game is the opposite of what many assume. I have to credit the graphics too, which might be the best Ive seen on console.
My main gripe is the storytelling. Even though some of the set pieces are spectacular, I do wish theyd do something about the instant death, trial and error gameplay. It was an issue with previous games too and breaks the flow and dulls excitement. I just think the design could be more organic, and allow for different routes. The bike chase section in Uncharted 4 is a great example, which overcomes its linear nature and allows the player some freedom. Its much more engaging. Other than those issues, Id easily go along with GCs 8/10 review.
I have mixed feelings about the sudden closure of Telltale Games. Firstly, shame on the management for clearly being so incompetent and making all those employees redundant. I hope they are all able to find work. Secondly, this is a case study of what can happen if you rest on your laurels. I loved the first Walking Dead game; it was fresh and had genuine emotion. But, it came with glitches, even for the time poor graphics, and after a second play through I realised that despite making different choices the overall story was unchanged.
The problem for Telltale is that they never really addressed any of these issues. In fact, Dontnod came along and made a far better episodic game where your choices did have a long term effect.
Its such a shame that Telltale poured money into acquiring licenses that they never really appeared to profit from. The Batman games could have been fantastic detective games, for example. But they were by and large the same.
I would never wish for any studio to close down and I hope that other studios management take note from this if the rumours of Telltale employees being creatively stifled are true.
Been catching up on a bit of Inbox I have missed in the last few weeks, here are my two pennies about two recent topics discussed which I have an opinion on:
Video game storytelling – weve just been going round in circles on this for years havent we? Nobody seems to really be able to even articulate what the problem with this actually is beyond, video game storytelling isnt very good. Let alone actually solve the problem.
Most games with a good story (stories that Ive enjoyed anyway) still dont seem to have much gameplay to them (Life Is Strange, The Walking Dead, etc.). One recent exception that sticks out is The Witcher 3. I really enjoyed the story there and actively wanted to know what was going to happen next; it enhanced the experience essentially and not in a way that it suffocated the gameplay, so it can be done, but it does feel that were still a way off this being the norm.
Final Fantasy VI – A very special game.
Final Fantasy VII – Deserves place in history but not aged well. Prospect of the remake still doesnt excite me for some reason though.
Final Fantasy VIII – Didnt like it. Foreshadowed some of the elements I dont enjoy from the later games, i.e. overly fiddly gameplay and angsty protagonists.
Final Fantasy IX – My personal favourite. Very charming, dont remember anyone ever having any complaints about the gameplay, pacing was spot on, just a very satisfying play.
Final Fantasy X – Played well, felt very next gen at the time and not aged badly. The convoluted extra plot layers are added in late enough in that they dont ruin the game completely. Voice acting was fine for me but I understand how it grated on some. Summons were really cool.
Final Fantasy XII – Po-faced, soulless. Too much Monster Hunter influence. Didnt look or sound fantastic. Respect that the gameplay was very rewarding for some whose minds work in a certain way, but for me was just dull.
Final Fantasy XIII – Good battle system, looked great. Couldnt understand what was supposed to be going on. Gave up before I was out of the linear bit.
Ive lost interest in the series now. It feels like theres a silent majority of fans who like all the tween-angst stuff from the more recent games, so this is what well be getting from the series for a while yet, but its not for me.
Just to clarify, my previous letter about Nintendo Switch Online wasnt a rant. I just wanted to share my thoughts with GC and the community and perhaps make a contribution to reader content.
Although there has been an awful lot of backlash towards Nintendos online service I have began to notice more and more people appreciate whats on offer for Switch online. Personally, I love my Switch for what it is, though apparently dataminers have found evidence of SNES software possibly being added in the near future. I think this was always going to be the case, and more content like this for Switch online is exactly what I think it needs.
Maybe in several years we could have access to a retro consoles full library, but only if people like myself get onboard I guess!
Just played my first and last PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds mobile. Here are the results. Pretty funny watching guys trying to drop shot me with the touch controls. My strategy was to camp out in a tiny shed and move to another tiny shed when the circle moved. It seems to make shooting people easier for me.
Chicken dinner first time out. Why would I go back? Retiring on top.
RE: Final Fantasy. Ill probably echo half of the other contributors, but mine is Final Fantasy VII.
It wasnt my first Final Fantasy game though (tradition often dictates the first you play end ups being your favourite apparently) as Id played two of them prior, VI and I think IV, although I could be wrong with IV due to the numbering differences in the West, and it was an American import. Ive played all of them since excluding the online-only ones, and the second XIII (Lightning Returns).
Its my all-time favourite game along with Shenmue and I dont like to imagine how many hours Ive put into over two decades on multiple formats but its probably 1,000+ and I still havent seen everything. I dont think as perfect Japanese role-playing game will ever be seen again, from the immersive story, the depth of characters, the genuinely villainous villains and the beautiful, haunting soundtrack.
Final fantasy IX runs it very close, but the more childish tone, the far less impressive soundtrack, and a character that annoyed the bejesus out of me and still does now – Zidane, I detest him with an irrational passion – means its not on the same level as its predecessor for me.
For the record, the only ones I didnt really enjoy were VIII, X, and XV. I remember enjoying XIII at the time but cant remember much about it now. I certainly didnt hate it as the Final Fantasy community seems to.
GC: IV was released in America as Final Fantasy II, so it could have been that.
The best Final Fantasy game for me is XII. The way the story brings the elements of sci-fi and medieval together with a healthy dose of piracy. The visuals still stand up today especially in comparison to VII, the first game on the PlayStation2 platform. Ive played this on repeat the most out of the series, literal hours spent levelling up characters aboard the Dreadnought Leviathan. Hours and hours of fun!
RE: Best Final Fantasy game. It has to be X for me. While Ive poured countless hours into VII, VIII, and IX there is just something about X that came together for me. Maybe it was the amazing graphics, the rich cast of characters or maybe even Blitzball which as someone who loves sport I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing. I also just love the locations in that game. Cant wait to play it again on the Switch. Oh and the battle theme is still my alarm clock sound to this day!
Small sample size
RE: Favourite Final Fantasy. Its VII for me.
Ive only played VII and IX. Not keen on any role-playing games from PlayStation 2 onwards; I much prefer the older 16-bit/32-bit role-playing games, i.e. SNES, Mega Drive, PS1, and handhelds. I will play VI, one day.
IX is really good, but I cant remember a great deal about it. It is worth playing through once, though, if anyone is thinking about doing so.
VII, on the other hand, is memorable. The characters, the storyline, the combat, the side quests and, err, any other aspects of the game that I cant immediately think about, are all excellent. It is epic and is well worth the 10/10 review score that was awarded to it by the Official PlayStation Magazine back in 1997. (used to love that magazine).
VIII, I havent played. I have tried a few times, but I always struggle to get into it and, consequently end up packing it in after about five hours. Strange, because I seem to remember that towards the latter part of the Official PlayStation Magazine print run (the mag ran until issue 108 and finished early in 2004) they had a regular final fantazine section, and the majority of people voted VIII as their favourite.
Currently playing: Yokus Island Express on Switch. What a great game!
Any chance of Nintendo bringing Bubble Bobble to Nintendo Online? Its probably the greatest game ever.
GC: Thats down to Square Enix more than it is Nintendo. And itd only be the NES version anyway. Its the original coin-op, and its successors, that need the full remaster treatment.
Any idea why the GFK Chart-Track charts arent out today?
GC: They are now. One of the major retailers was late sharing their data, which happens sometimes. There were no major retail releases last week though so it wasnt very interesting anyway.
This weeks Hot Topic
The subject for this weekends Inbox follows the annoucement of the PlayStation Classic mini console and asks what games you think should be included?
The console will contain 20 games, but only five have been confirmed so far: Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash!, R4 Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild ARMs. So we want to know what you think the other 15 should be?
You dont have to write in with 15 suggestions, just the ones you feel most passionate about. And please dont just write a list of games – we want to know why you think they should be included and what they mean to you and gaming history in general.
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.