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Subject: Persona 3: FES
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Author Topic: RPGs that critics love but fans of the series hate.  (Read 20339 times)
Summoner Yuna
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« on: June 06, 2009, 11:01:06 AM »

Hi, guys. I'm new here and I want to say that I love RPGs and they're my favorite genre.

Anyway, on to the topic.

I couldn't help but notice a very curious case in RPGs, especially the Final Fantasy series. Critics seemed to love FFXII (among them Stephen Harris from this site and his review is one of the best I've seen). They praised it for its mature, political, and well developed story, stunning graphics, and fun and fresh gameplay.

However, FF fans seemed not to like either the story or the gameplay, or they liked one or the other. You just have to go to any gaming forum and you can see that FFXII gets a lot of hate.

And I ask: what could the reason of this be? I think it's because the story deviated from the norm of the FF series. There wasn't so much melodrama as in past games. People expect the protagonists to fall in love, the hero to have some kind of big secret. But the characters in FFXII, although quite interesting, were more subdued. That's not to say they were underdeveloped. The angle in which they were portrayed was simply different. I find nothing wrong with that, but it seems to irk people. The personalities of the main cast were firmly and vividly portrayed, their conflicts and motives well-defined. Sure, some of them could've been fleshed out a bit more. However, I think because these characters don't have over-the-top personalities that people seem not to feel comfortable with them. They need some sort of huge drama, while this game focused more on political turmoil.

So, what are your opinions on this? Can you think of another RPG series in which something similar happened? If so, why do you think are the reasons?



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Lard
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2009, 12:17:52 PM »

Suikoden III comes to mind, at least when it was released.
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2009, 01:07:20 PM »

With FF12, at least here at RPGFan, the lovers far outweigh the haters.  I'm one of the few who didn't really like the game as a whole, but thought aspects of it were very well done.  After reading about the Zodiac edition of FF12, I am 100% sure I'd have liked its character growth mechanics far more than the license board.   

As for the topic at hand... hopefully something useful will be in my ramblings. 

But forgetting about examples and just looking at the phenomenon, here's a thought.  If a hypothetical Grandia IV was the best Grandia game in terms of characters and play mechanics, BUT was a hard sci-fi game rather than fantasy, who would be first to cry foul that it isn't Grandia?  Who would be the most objective to take the game on its own merits?  Is one population more willing to try and accept something new rather than want or expect the same flavors?  To what extent should expectations be respected- for example, when I walk into a diner I want diner grub like chicken croquettes and not fine-dining cuisine like caviar. 

And let's not forget, sometimes there's no satisfying anyone.  FF7 got slammed because it wasn't like FF4 or FF6.  But if it was like those previous installments, it'd be getting slammed for stagnating, not innovating, and giving players the same old rehashed stuff. 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 09:18:20 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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AztrohKitteh
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2009, 01:09:07 PM »

Hatred of an installment in a series is a curious thing, because when you look at it closely you can see that it is actually an expression of love. Looking deeper, you can see that hatred of an installment indicates faith that the next installment will correct the cause of hatred. Allow me to use a personal example: Final Fantasy. I've been a huge fan since FF6, but I hated FF9. Why did I hate FF9? Because, it wasn't any of the things I wanted it to be and it took the series in a direction that I didn't want it to. I became a harsh critic of FF9, not so much because I didn't like it, but because I loved their previous work so much more. So, when asked what I thought of FF9 I would say, "I hated it," and then list my opinion of the faults in the game compared to previous games.

At no point did I actually hate FF9, and if someone had asked, "do you hate FF9," I probably would have thought about it and replied something like, "not really, I'm just disappointed by it." Like a father who gets angry at his kids, he's not angry because he hates them, he's angry because he loves them.

The worst thing would be to stop caring. I stopped caring about Tomb Raider after the second game. I stopped caring about Sonic after the third one. I stopped caring about George Lucas movies after the Star Wars prequel trilogy (no I have not seen Indiana Jones 4). I stopped caring about Steven Spielberg movies after AI (has he even made a movie since then? I wouldn't know). The point is that I stopped caring about all those things because I'd been so let down that I gave up hope of anything good in the future coming from the same source. This, in my opinion, is TRUE hatred: When you just don't care at all.

So, to directly answer the question, FF9 was a huge disappointment for me. If you look at MetaCritic you'll see that FF9 is #5 in the list of all-time top scoring games for the PlayStation 1. I don't want to go into my reasons why, because it seems too much like flame-bait. Besides, I plan to play through FF9 again this year as part of the "Year of Final Fantasy" that they have going over at the RPGamer forums.

And, for the record, FF10 redeemed the series in my mind and I'm more of a fan than ever. I can't hardly wait for FF13!
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Dincrest
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2009, 01:16:05 PM »

Didn't someone once say that the opposite of love isn't hate.  The opposite of love is apathy. 

But, yes, when it comes to movies, TV shows, cars, toys, anything, evocation of strong emotions just shows how passionate people are about it. 

Maybe that's the difference.  As a critic, I need to be more objective in my analyses of games and sometimes have to keep an emotion or two in check.  I do not always do that, though, especially when a game either really impresses me or really pisses me off.  I like to have at least a little bit of "human factor" for my readers.  I think part of that human factor is taste in genres.  I happen to love visual novel games such as Ever17 and a lot of critics slam games like those because they're visual novels, complaining that it's all reading and no gameplay beyond Choose Your Own Adventure choices. 
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 01:22:59 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2009, 01:42:57 PM »

On FFXII: It was such a huge departure for the series that most people couldn't accept it. The game was more difficult (which pissed a lot of people off), and the only thing that was really changed about it was the gambit system and the fact you could move freely without transitioning into a random battle. And people just like their cliche JRPG stories, I guess. I loved FFXII's story. It kinds fell apart by the end, but it was still better than most of the other Final Fantasy games.

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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2009, 02:39:21 PM »

I agree Ash. I loved the fresh approach Square Enix took with FFXII. It's unlike any console RPG I had ever played (and still is) and even though the end parts seem kind of rushed, the game was still one of the best RPGs I had played in a long time. I've played every main installment of the series, and I would definitely put FFXII towards the top of my list for the series.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2009, 02:42:52 PM »

In regards to FFXII, it STARTS really good and starts to kind of crap out eventually. That might be why you get a lot of good reviews for it.

The other problem is that I can't honestly thing of a JRPG that has handled a political storyline well (and I don't play Suikoden games so maybe those do but whatever), and FFXII certainly did not, in my eyes, have the quality of writing or level of confidence and maturity to actually approach that subject without it becoming really silly. In general politics in RPGs are very exaggerated, generalized, and not at all like real-world politics.

And maybe the biggest flaw WAS that it didn't really focus on its characters because people, after all, ARE politicians and ARE at the center of politics.

You also need strong characters for the player to associate with these concepts. IF you're just shooting off ideas, you don't have a story. You have a manifesto.

This is why nobody reads that one part of 1984 that's just Goldstien's Book. It's abstract, boring, and nothing but Orwell getting on a soapbox and furiously masturbating for 80 pages.

Of course, gameplay was, I didn't think FFXII was that big of a departure. The license board was sort of a modified sphere grid. The battles were still based around ATB. The difference is that they took place on the main map and you could walk away at any time. The Gambit system is just AI scripting and you could turn it off if you wanted. I think that's why it started disappointing me later on. The further I got, I realized that the gameplay WAS pretty much the same as it always had been, just gussied up a bit.

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If a hypothetical Grandia IV was the best Grandia game in terms of characters and play mechanics, BUT was a hard sci-fi game rather than fantasy, who would be first to cry foul that it isn't Grandia?

Grandia feels more sega to me than strictly fantasy, or strictly grandia, even. Sci-fi is within the boundaries of Sega's typical work -- Phantasy Star and Skies of Arcadfia, for instance. And it's not like Grandia 1 didn't have gobs of sci-fi elements anyway.

In general fans bitch about anything. So I mean potentially, you could probably apply this to ANY game, except for cases where the sequel really is better than the original in every way and you can't really come up with a reasonable argument otherwise. Although, reasonable being the operative word there.

Fans bitch about everything!

Anyway, Daggerfall really comes to mind here. Because I hate it. And Morrowind got great reviews, and the Daggerfall fans hated it. And I think the Daggerfall fans are stupid for huge numbers of reasons I could enumerate. In general though they're the kind of people that want to sacrifice fun for realism, though, which is horrible game design.

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Didn't someone once say that the opposite of love isn't hate.  The opposite of love is apathy.  

My 6th grade science teacher did, once.
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Ramza
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2009, 03:00:46 PM »

In regards to FFXII, it STARTS really good and starts to kind of crap out eventually. That might be why you get a lot of good reviews for it.

I totally agree. Though, FWIW, Stephen did beat the game before writing the review. So he was keenly aware of the ending (which sucked, so hard)
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2009, 05:23:28 PM »

I know RPGFan finishes games. I don't think a lot of review sites do (Screw what they claim. They're lying bastards). But sometimes when you're sort of rushing through a game quality drops aren't as noticeable. Or maybe he actually liked it. I don't know. This and many other questions are unanswered.

What I was saying in the other topic still applies for me, personally. I don't judge a game based on its series. In general I don't go into a new game really expecting anything (even if I read reviews. Screw what they claim. They're lying bastards). To an extent I can assume that I'd like another game in a series if I liked other games in a series, but execution can vary a great deal.

I mean, I don't even really have anything I'd call a favorite game, so I can't be like, "Yeah, I'm really champing at the bit for a sequel to this thing."

Also, I can't say there are very many games out their that epitomize what my personal concepts of game design are, so again, no real situation where I'd necessarily want one game to play exactly like another. That and RPGs are long. A 60 hour game is about three games worth of game so it's not like I'd feel the need for a sequel anyway.
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2009, 05:54:43 PM »

This happened to an extent with Oblivion.  Critics loved it, RPG-starved 360 owners ate it up, and it sold well.  But if you ask most old Elder Scrolls fans what they think about it, they'll tell you it's nothing but an incredibly dumbed down version of Morrowind. 

...Which it is, but I think it's still enjoyable. :P

EDIT:  Oh shit, let's not forget the Fallout 3 debacle. :P
« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 05:56:36 PM by D-Rider » Logged

MeshGearFox
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2009, 06:28:27 PM »

From a mechanics standpoint I think Oblivion is sound, but the quest structure was... very similar from one town to the next and kind of lacking, and you don't really NOTICE this till you've been playing it for awhile.

Of course, Daggerfall fans say Morrowind was dumbed down, too, but I can't think of anything positive to say about Daggerfall's gameplay at all. Removing skills is not dumbing things down if the skills didn't serve any purpose in the original game, kids.
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ShadowLaguna
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2009, 07:05:27 PM »

Final Fantasy X-2 was loved by critics for some mysterious reason...
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Dincrest
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2009, 08:08:56 PM »

Because the game didn't suck:P  Was it cotton candy?  Absolutely.  It was overly sugary, empty calorie fluff.  But like cotton candy, it's still a fun snack to eat when you're in the right mood/setting.  Seriously, if you were to transpose X-2's gameplay system onto another RPG (preferably one with less fluffy story and characters) that game would be hailed as brilliant. 

I thought X-2 was utter fluff with plenty of cheesecake, but it was still fun.  The character growth system wasn't overly convoluted.  There were no glaring balance issues.  It wasn't riddled with bugs.  Basically, it was a very smooth playing RPG.  And I personally rather liked the music; I thought the music was underrated.  I really couldn't find much fault with it beyond the cotton candy/cheesecake factor. 

These days, when I pen reviews I ask myself "did I have fun with this game?"  If I reviewed X-2, I'd probably give it an 80, which is B-.  Ephemeral Phantasia on the other hand, now THERE was a game that I could not find a single redeeming quality in. 

« Last Edit: June 06, 2009, 10:02:18 PM by Dincrest » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2009, 11:06:10 PM »

FF12 - Shallow combat, hands-off battle system, story was fed to the player through a mini straw. Too much grinding for too little story.
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