Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Final Fantasy X: Calm Lands

Sometimes people complain that the later Final Fantasy games are too much 'on rails' meaning that you don't really have any choice in the matter on where to go or what to do. The story tells you to do something, NPCs block the way to walk in any other direction, and you go do it. FFX has definitely been like that this far, but I've never really understood the complaints. For the most part Final Fantasy IV was every bit as 'on rails' as this game, it just also gave you the option of meandering around aimlessly accomplishing nothing until you found the right way to go. Sure, when you unlocked the hovercraft you could go towards Fabul, but you'd get stuck behind a wall of ice until you went back, saved Rosa, and had her give Rydia a pep talk to learn fire and melt the ice. (Hilariously, if you use a game genie and gain max levels Rydia will naturally learn fire 2 and fire 3 but won't use those to melt the ice!)

The way I see it, as long as the plot is interesting you shouldn't mind being 'on rails'. And if the plot isn't interesting in an RPG maybe you should put it down and find some other way to spend your time... I understand the allure of a good side quest, don't get me wrong, and having some 'open world'ness going on can be pretty good. But to this day I still don't know what was going on in Oblivion because why would I bother trying to do the main plot when I could become The Grey Fox and the head of the assassins guild?

Anyway... Yuna has finally visited all of the temples (that we know of) on her pilgrimage and it's time to head to Zanarkand. Along the way we need to pass through the Calm Lands and Auron makes an ominous remark about how so many summoners lose their way here even though it just seems like a nice peaceful reminder of a previous battle with Sin. I don't know if they threw that line in as a warning to people who get trapped doing side quests or not... But that's what always happens here! The Calm Lands has the chocobo riding side quest to get a piece of Tidus' ultimate weapon, and it has the extra temple with the Magus Sisters summon, and it has the extra temple with the Yojimbo summon, and it has the monster arena. Oh, the monster arena! I think this may be the greatest side quest of all time. Why don't you go to every zone in the entire game and grind random encounters over and over until you catch 10 of every single monster that can spawn? If you do we'll unlock challenge bosses you can fight... Challenge bosses that are the only way to really, really twink out your stats... I know you like challenge bosses. I know you like maxing out your stats. I know you like collecting things...

Big battle to save the world from evil? Screw that! I want to collect some things and kill some hard dudes and max out some stats. Sin can wait.

The game was on rails, but now it's not (well, as soon as I go through another zone or two and get my airship, anyway), and the very interesting plot is now a thing of the past. So I don't know... Part of me thinks it's fine that a game is on rails, but as soon as there's a way off of them I'm grabbing my capture sword and jumping clear. I'll be back, rails. Promise. But first I need to catch all of the things. Oh, and maybe play some more blitzball...

1 comment:

Sthenno said...

I actually love this about FF games. They are on rails through the whole game, basically, and then before going to the final dungeon you can instead do other stuff.

But without that ending bit where the world opens up and there is lots to do, the on-rails experience can definitely seem a little empty, so I see why people complain.