BONUS CONTENT: Looking Back at Final Fantasy X (PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSVITA, SWITCH, XBOX ONE)

With the release of the new Final Fantasy XVI trailer I can’t help but think about the series as a whole as well as my favourites of the series. I struggle to pick which is my favourite, that would be like picking a favourite child. I would never be happy carving a hierarchy into stone, solemnly decreeing that this is the definitive order and so shall it be for all time. I would probably make my list out of water as like water my opinions are fluid, constantly shifting from outside influences. Sure some titles will remain in familiar territory. Using the Premier League as a metaphor, FFXIII will always fall around the back of the pack and fight against relegation, FFXV despite soiling it’s underpants in the final third does enough to hover around mid-table with the likes of FFV, FFXII & FFIX, although the latter 2 do make it high enough now and again that they could qualify for the Europa League and the top spot is usually fought over by FFVII, FFVIII & todays subject matter FFX.

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus (whom I always pronounced as Tie-dus, it was years later when I watched a making of documentary that it was pronounced Tee-dus), a young blitzball player from the large city of Zanarkand. His home is attacked by the gargantuan being known as Sin. After the attack, Tidus finds himself lost hundreds of miles from home. A chance encounter with the summoner Yuna and her guardians finds Tidus a way home.

The game really made you invest in and bond with the characters which makes the stories twist and the end that much more heart wrenching. As previously mentioned the world was also full, vibrant and rich, oozing with culture and lore. This is even before I mention blitzball which I spent more time playing than I care to remember. I would have loved blitzball to have been release as a FIFA-like spin off. Graphically too, FFX was a huge step up from the previous console generation and truly showed off the capabilities of the PS2 at the time.

Final Fantasy X may be a game that fights for the top spot but that doesn’t mean that it is without it’s flaws. It was the first Final Fantasy to ditch the world map for a series of smaller locations which made the world feel small and far too linear, not to the extent that XIII did but it was still an unwelcome change to the series. Also the sphere grid levelling system meant that because everyone can learn every skill & ability each character looses their unique feel in battle later in the game, with Overdrives and Yuna’s summon ability the only unique abilities left. This is not to mention some of the cringe worthy dialogue (The laughing scene in particular).

From the outset you can tell that Final Fantasy X is a very different breed from the Final Fantasy games that came before it. The use of voice overs, mo-cap & skeletal animation & 3D backgrounds being the most noticeable. This huge evolutionary leap is due in part to the series’ jump from the Playstation to the Playstation 2. The massive increase in hardware capability gave Square that unrestricted creative freedom to take the series away from the tried and tested Final Fantasy model. Although this does mean a few classic flavours of the series get left out in the cold, this however is the price of progress and whether you like it or not it’s happening. I brought up this same point in my Final Fantasy XIII review all those years ago and although I am for the evolution of the series and it’s modernising to introduce new players to the franchise I still yearn for some of the classic characteristics to come creeping back in, mainly a full explore-able world. We’ve not had one of them since FFIX. Imagine if Final Fantasy XVI comes with a modern fully rendered 3d world to get lost in, full of secret locations and optional cities and towns? If it does I think I will genuinely loose my shit.

Resident Evil (GameCube)

What I wanted to do this week was to play Mass Effect 3 and tell you all how awesome the series is and that you should buy all of them but I can’t. Last week the nice people of Nvidia emailed me telling me that they were going to send me a new gaming PC and a copy of Mass Effect 3. This is great news but it just means that I have to wait for everyone to get past the red tape before it can start playing on it, which can take a wile. So in the mean wile I’m looking at my favourite remake of all time. Resident Evil on the GameCube.

I have mentioned in an earlier review that I am a big fan of the Resident Evil series. I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for Resident Evil, I wouldn’t be the gamer I am now. I probably would have gone out, met people, been popular and enjoy playing FIFA (that’s a scary thought). The first, although I didn’t think was the best, was probably the most memorable. The amount of times I played/watched someone else play it, I could more or less narrate the game all the way through. So when I heard that Capcom were remaking it for the GameCube I was very excited.especially since my brother had just bought a GameCube.

Capcom originally stated that in making the remake they changed 70% of the game, and it shows without seeming like a completely different game. One of the biggest noticeable differences is graphically. It looks phenomenal. Even by today’s standard it looks amazing. It would not look out of place on the 360 or PS3. The realistic graphics and the ambient lighting (or should I say the lack of lighting) really do make the game what the original wanted to be. Where the original felt cheesy and comedic, the remake actually does feel scary. A must play in the dark when you’re in the house alone.

The story in essence is pretty much the same. S.T.A.R.S alpha team is trapped in a mansion and must escape from the horrors within. A few additional sub-plots have been added here and there, for example the George Trevor sub-plot. The game also contains new game play additions, including the defensive items which can be used to attack an enemy that is attacking you. Also the ability to burn corpses of zombies, because if you don’t after a period of time they will become one of the new enemies in the game, the Crimson Head. These are stronger, faster zombies with claws instead of fingers, basically the brick shit house of the zombie world. Another new enemy in the remake is Lisa Trevor, daughter of George Trevor. She’s wears shackles and a dead skin mask of her own mother (in some sort of Leatherface esc. way) and get this, she can’t die.

Also improved in the remake include the writing and dialogue. Let’s be honest, the dialogue of the original was the wrong kind of  good, it was so bad it was good, much like any film Steven Seagal’s been in. Although at times it can seem forced and awkward it’s still a massive improvement on the old dialogue. If you are unsure how bad the dialogue was go to YouTube and search for “Jill Sandwich”. Fans of the original will be left a bit disappointed by the removal of the “Jill Sandwich” line from the remake but it’s a small price to pay in the name of progress.

Now my final thought. It’s awesome, by far the greatest remake every made. True most of them are just to squeeze a few more pennies from their fans, but Resident Evil shows us just what a developer can do when given a second chance. It is a must buy for any GameCube owner and Resident Evil fan.

EXTRA CREDIT:

After writing this review and reading it back, I can’t help but think that this game is the last of it’s kind, a dying breed if you will. Ever since Survival Horror stopped being made in Japan and moved to the US it’s lost it’s subtlety and it’s charm. Modern so called “Survival Horror’s” such as Dead Space or Left 4 Dead aren’t even Survival Horrors any more. Gun control must have gone servilely lax given the amount of weapons, guns and ammo that litter these new instalments, eliminating any kind of survival element. As for the horror aspect, the bottom line is that they are just not scary. Developers need to learn what the difference is between shock and scare. It’s not hard to shock people, just have something unexpected happen. For example someone sneaks up behind you and slaps you on the back or have the cat jump on your face while your sleeping. This is scary the first time but when repeated over and over, which these games tend to do, it just gets annoying and predictable. A good horror game gives you the tools, sets the scene and your imagination does the rest. The Japanese are very good at this, The American’s are not. I bet you wouldn’t even find the word subtle in an American English dictionary. Probably think it’s some sort of sandwich, I digress.

Resident Evil I truly found scary. Since then I’ve not really found too many games to cure that certain itch. Siren Blood Curse helped for a little while but even then that was just a shadow of what the genre was. It seems that in this day and age of “instant gratification, multi-nuke launcher to the face, explode-splode, boom” style of computer games that are topping the sales chart there is no room for compelling story, intense atmosphere and immersibility. Nope, apparently all those qualities can go fuck themselves. Oh what sad times are these.