My dislike for Square's games continues to grow. Even when I try to go into fanboy mode, I get disappointed. Between bad design choices that lead to frustrating gameplay, (Extremely high encounter ratings... which also means random encounters, I thought this method was out of style these days) and terrible writing that sounds like a bad fanfic... I think I'm done with Square's games. (More at the bottom.)
The Next Area
The next area is called Shady Woods. It will be fairly short, no wait, it will be really short. There is a secondary area along with it though. The idea behind this area is concealed traps. The foreground (trees) scroll at a different pace than you. (You know the illusion by now with 2D games) You must be very observant for this area or you're going to fall into it's many traps. Although it's short and condensed, it will be harder than Black Rock. The hindered visibility plays into this mostly. So yes, the game is going back to it's roots of pissing you off.
The shot doesn't show it, there's a lot of tall grass in some areas for enemies to partially hide themselves.
The second area of the update will also play into hiding things, but not to the extent the forest goes to. It will change throughout the area. Instead of spoiling it, I'll let you all find out for yourselves.
The game is actually getting close to the end. Story spoilers, (actually not really, Jeremy tells you right at the beginning of this) a Muffin is obtained from this area, which only leaves one more that is being guarded. Story wise, most of the characters will be explained in the next area as well as their motives. (If you are even following it .) :P
Once all the content is in the game, lots of stuff will be fixed up like the sounds and dialogue; So no worries, things aren't being skipped over, just put off for now.
RPGs, Specifically Square
I think I mentioned FF13 in a previous post, but here we go anyway. First the good: The characters were great. They were written very well, stayed in character (aside from a few parts that made me go o_O) and were overall, enjoyable. Snow may have been annoying, but that doesn't mean he wasn't written well. While I hate characters with misguided revenge issues, Hope like the others, was done well. As usual with Square, the visuals were awesome, especially Pulse. The artists put a lot of time and effort into crafting them perfectly, I periodically stopped to look around to see what they had built.
And now the bad: The battle system. At first I didn't really like it, then around chapter 4 and 5, I saw some potential for it and I at that point, I was enjoying it. This is around the time you Synergists and Saboteurs. I won't explain combat since you can read up about it anywhere else and you have most likely played it. I say I liked it, yet I place this under the bad. Here we go. Around Chapter 10, it was suddenly becoming annoying. Every battle became the same thing. Buff/debuff first, stagger, kill. Skip a step periodically, but it always played out the same. Battle started taking too long due to the buff/debuff aspect. Sure you don't have to do that, but then it just takes even longer to finish a fight. I'll come back to combat in a second.
*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***
The story was something else I enjoyed. I was a well crafted drama with really good pacing... and then Chapter 10 happened. The villain was about as typical as they come with plenty of illogical moments of sudden "hahahas" thrown in. Now I didn't go to the school of how to be a generic villain , but I'm beginning to think there's a class called "Moments when you shouldn't laugh, laugh anyway". Why, WHY must they always laugh at everything? I knew the story was about to go downhill when the villain gave his wondrous exposition on how evil he was at the end of Chapter 9. What's worse was the characters that I had enjoyed for the first 9 chapters were suddenly filled with one liners all through chapter 11. Which lets talk about that particular chapter for a second. Why was it there? Gameplay wise, that's where the game opened up, but nothing gets accomplished in the story in this chapter. Mediocrity and one liners apparently go hand in hand when delivering stories in gameplay driven areas. Before I go to the next part, apparently only main characters get any development. By main characters, I mean only those 6 in the party. If you weren't in that party, you weren't important.
Interactivity was a big concern with this game err movie. If you've played FF13, you know the immense amount of cut-scenes there are. When not in a cut-scene, you are running down a hallway, periodically engaging in combat. This repeats for the entire game. (Except Chapter 11) I never really felt like I was interacting with FF13, nor was in interacting with me. I felt like a spectator the entire game. What choice did I have on these pathways? None to be honest. I didn't really feel like I was interacting in combat either. You choose your role and the game plays for you. There are 2 main options you have in combat. Auto and Manual. Something that was done right, once you have either fought an enemy for a moment or used Libra, the characters would know how to fight the enemy better. This was also a slight problem as well as there was almost never a reason to not choose Auto. (Double negative, RAWR!) So there we go, I'm no longer interacting with the game past that.
FF13 can be summed up as a movie that you constantly have to press the play button to keep running. In this case, the A button and sometimes holding the left stick in the up position.
Another game I recently played by Square was FF4:The After Years. I played this out of curiosity and wanting a nostalgic feeling. The original FF4 was the first major rpg I had played through, so it holds that special place... you know what I'm talking about. I loved the original's dramatic and interesting characters. I was hoping to see more of that in the sequel. I decided to try being a fanboy for awhile. Bleh, I'm not going into it much. It started out decent, then goes into the realm of bad fanfic. In conclusion, Square could use better writers.