Now Playing: Final Fantasy X and X-2

A long time ago, when these games first came out I played Final Fantasy X. I got kind of sick of it fairly quickly it felt more like a cynical attempt to sell guides than a real game with its narrow set of workable tactics and each enemy feeling like a mini puzzle-boss. I gave up fairly quickly. In fact, I gave up on Final Fantasy as a whole for the longest time.

With the release of the remastered version I thought it was time to give it another chance as this is a game beloved by many whose opinions I respect.

I was wrong. I shouldn’t have given it another chance, I think I was right the first time. The sphere grid is tedious, the world isn’t very interesting. The characters tiresome. Tidus is simply excruciating and Yuna isn’t a great deal better. Kimahri talk no good. The fun of not understanding Al Bhed.

Blitzball.

Fortunately the remastered version on the PC does come with built-in cheats, so at least I could see what was on offer story-wise. This didn’t really make me like the games either, but I did very much enjoy the ending of X. Not in the sarcastic glad it’s over way, I just thought it was very good. X-2 made lots of improvements to the system and initially I liked it quite a bit more. Rikku, a character I expected to dislike, really grew on me in X-2 – I didn’t really understand the addition of Paine, as she seemed v Lulu-alike.

Killing off the atrocious sphere grid was a welcome subtraction from FFX, whilst I liked the versatility of the sphere grid, the actual levelling interface was dull, repetitive and glacially slow. I also appreciated the lighter more fun post-Sin Spira. Sadly, the game soon became mired in tedium as endless series of mostly unrelated side-quests become the main quest. Although saying that, it was refreshing just how much of the game was truly optional. An interesting experiment inexplicably dressed up in hot-pants.

I did learn where FFXIII came from though. I was surprised at the many structural similarities. Paradigms are sets of dresspheres. The linear progression of the original, with a sequel with the ability to travel to different bits at will. The afore-mentioned sidequests. The levelling system in 13 is a strange combination of X and X-2 – the tedium of manually moving between nodes is now automatic, but you pick the job to improve in. Even the sequels map – X-2 isn’t about Tidus, and XIII-2 isn’t about Lightning.

I was actually surprised how much I disliked my time with X and, to a lesser extent X-2. I sort of expected them to win me over considering how other people talk about them, but it felt more like this was just a prototype of XIII which everyone else seems to hate despite it being roughly parallel to the highly regarded X.

I’ll have to simply continue to not get the praise for X and the inverse for XIII.

Now Playing: Forza Horizon 4

Finally, a driving game set in my home country.

Sorta.

I was actually expecting more of a The Crew style affair with the ability to traverse a scale version of the whole country taking slightly under an hour to cross the whole thing. That isn’t what we got in the end with the game being smaller than the last outing (which I haven’t played, this is really my first Forza outside of demos and the free Forza Motorsport 6: Apex). Rather there are four seasons of a squished sampling of Britain with one city (a welcome Edinburgh to the expected London), a few scattered towns and villages, and a great patchwork of fields.

Anyway, the game is super fun unlike the more po-faced serious car collector racers (GT and main Forza games). It’s also weirdly free as you can get it from a free trial of XBox game pass. Saying that I might just buy it when the trial period is up as I’ll likely pop back to the game repeatedly over time. There’s very little else the game pass offers PC users as so few games are available through the game pass on cross-play.