Back in the Transforming Odin Saddle

Hum diggy diggy. I sure do love me some goddamn Final Fantasy. Did I ever tell you how gorgeous a game FFXIII is? Or did you already know? It’s fucking stunning, you asshole; and I can’t straightaway explain my sudden aggression, but the motherfucking effort that goes into a game like this – to make it look, play, and feel just like it does – it makes me feel extremely proud to be a member of the human race and extremely lucky to be living in this era of our crazy fucking world. Thank you (fuckhead).

I may have some suppressed angst boiling up from being slightly conflicted about the battle system. You know, that clusterfuck of changing job “paradigms” on the fly and building up this damage meter so that you can outrageously fling enemies into the sky and do insane combos on them? It’s a little bit silly, but not without strategy. The idea was probably to animate dozens of unbelievable actions into a fight without making you personally move every joint of the character’s bodies. “You two, attack with your melee weapons, and I’ll lower its defenses!” Or, “I’ll cast elemental magic against him, you buff me, and you start fucking healing us, now, motherfucker!!” It’s not traditional, but it does make you consider the roles of a fighting party, and it is, in name, a role-playing game.

The categorization “RPG” is a bit of a dated misnomer for many games today, but FF was grandfathered in, as its first iteration, Final Fantasy, arguably fit the genre. In that game, you chose your four party members, named them yourself, and provided any hints to their personalities internally. The only thing you knew about them was that they were light warriors on a quest to revive the orbs of light. Thanks, DM! In subsequent Final Fantasies, the role that you would play became largely determined by scenario writers and character designers. By FFXIII, the story is completely out of your hands, and the only options that you decide are the party’s success or defeat by how well you play they game. I do not believe there are any optional story branches or extra endings, so instead of playing a role, you are merely playing out a role. “Role-Playing-Out Games” somehow never caught on.

But, hey, I love it. The story is fucking epic and the game is long enough to keep me occupied for months. This is my second time into it, hopefully my first time all the way through. As you may recall, I had begun a game on a certain Microsoft system made of lies and snake shit, but it broke and I was unable to continue the quest. Currently, I am catching up to where I was before, getting familiar with the controls and battle tactics again. Peering through the matrix code, fighting is a frenetic balancing game where you try to fill one vessel with damage and plug in different algorithms to keep your own from being depleted of precious life. It’s nuts, but it’s what I signed up for. It’s what I transferred out of Skyrim for, for god’s sake – you think that arbitrary fandom of the FF series alone could pull me off that beast?

But damn, it’s good to be back. Waking up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday while my family snoozes, putting Howard Stern on Sirius in the background, and filling some god damned leveling crystals is what the good life is all about. It is a noble way to live and I feel nothing but gratitude and joy. And murderous rage when my characters fuck up their jobs and kill us all and they should be shamefully violated by Cie’th zombies. But mostly joy.


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