Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Final Fantasy VI (Game Review)

How do you review a classic game like Final Fantasy VI (1994)? With snark, my friends. With snark.

The game is big. I'm 48 hours into it and I'm not done, despite my best efforts. If you start playing this game, you're in it for the long haul. Don't bring popcorn. Bring C-Rations or something. And if you're going to do this in one sitting, coffee.

The story centers around the great Magictech empire that's stomping about the world rather rudely. Out of this comes a hodge-podge group ready to oppose the Empire and see that it ends is horrible ways. They aren't so much anti-Empire as they are anti-abuse. What follows is a rather extensive cast of characters, each one representing a class, and each one having his or her own story. That's alotta classes and that's a whole lot of story. And humor. The game has no problems hopping into silly mode.

The designers knew their genre, too. They follow their own well established conventions until they broke them. Did you really think that you were done after 35 hours? No way, Jose. This ain't no Kemko RPG.

I'm playing through on the Android version. The adaptation to tablet is rather well done, but it sucks my battery dry with little difficulty. I also need to keep the tablet off solid surfaces because the tablet will overheat to the point where it has troubles. I find the direction controls aggravating. I eventually got used to walking about, but the controls lack finesse. I often find myself walking about in odd directions, or walking in circles. Driving vehicles is even more awkward. However, the menu system works fine. I'm able to navigate in and among the characters very well. I like the auto-equip function, which works reasonably well.

For me, the combat system is a problem and the single biggest impediment to having fun in the game. It's a semi-realtime system, which I despise. These sorts of fights just don't work for me. That means that every fight is an annoyance. The auto-fighting works well enough, with a few quirks, which takes most of the pain out of combat. However, the tough fights often wind up confusing as the game is progressing and not progressing at the same time. The challenge is often whether I can touch buttons quick enough, even with the pause game option turned on. And by being concerned with the buttons, I have trouble paying attention to what's actually happening in the battle. All in all, I find boss battles a grindingly long date with frustration.

There are places in the game where it gets needlessly difficult. The game revels in having moments of incomprehensibly annoying side-mechanics interspersed with the story. Most terribly, there are places where long fights are followed by long cut scenes, preventing any sort of stopping or pausing the game. One sequence took me 90 minutes to complete. I understand that these sorts of challenging game designs were the norm back in the day, because I lived through it and don't need it explained, I still don't appreciate them.

Although I will attempt to reach the end, I really don't care if I do. I'm more likely to get frustrated and walk away, never returning. If I want to know how the game ends, I can watch all the scenes on Youtube. You see, I'm not going to win any cool points by successfully completing the game, and I only have so much tolerance for the grind. There are many more Final Fantasy releases that I haven't played and I'm bound to have more fun than frustrating over this one.

* I do appreciate that this is one of the greatest games ever made, but it relies on a mechanic that absolutely doesn't work for me.