In the past 15 years or so we’ve seen a weird incline of games that are more graphically intense– it seems that every time we get newer hardware, we end up with games that are graphically superior to its predecessors, and while that isn’t a bad thing, it is when it detracts from the story.
Yes, we’re going to have me ranting about this sort of thing for a moment, because honestly I remember when games were so immersing story-wise that you actually went out of your way to stay up and all night and play them– it wasn’t about getting that new achievement or unlocking some weird content or staring at the pretty graphics, it was about learning more about the fundamentals of the game and advancing the story. This doesn’t just apply to RPGs, either, as a lot of games have in-depth stories but would be considered well outside of the realm of a role playing game.
Things have come a long way graphically, and while that is utterly fine and dandy, I still despise the kids that claim Final Fantasy VII to be superior in story and graphics to Final Fantasy VI, considering the huge leap from 16-bit to a more polygonal design, it’s kind of a given that VII is more advanced graphically, but if you look at it now and compare it to today’s games, it seems ridiculously underpowered, and the story doesn’t really hold up– I know, I know, half of you are looking at me like I’m retarded considering the mass awareness of Final Fantasy VII and its sequels, prequels, and the mass amount of merchandising that has been done to continue its legacy, but honestly, the story didn’t really give me much that made me want to continue playing. I’m not saying I didn’t love the game or the story, but I can play it once every few years and just be completely meh about it– it seems like the more characters that got added to that story, the less you knew about any of them. Whereas with VI, every new character you got had some epic back story that you could play through and made you fall in love with them, and their story, all over again. There wasn’t a character in that game that didn’t have some kind of depth, and none of them were throwaway characters you could just ignore as a whole.
That’s not to say that the rest of the Final Fantasy games weren’t the same. Sometimes you got good story, sometimes it was a mixed bag, it’s just a bit of a pet peeve of mine over people claiming the story in VII was superior to all others when it was not– and if you look further down the line at X, I couldn’t even play through the first hour of that game without getting so immensely bored that I just gave up– it was graphically superior to its predecessors, but I was /bored/ to tears with the new things they’d brought in, the fighting style, and everything else.
I understand a company’s want to make their game somewhat better with new tidbits and things for people to play with, but there’s a part where your new fangled whosamawhatsit is denigrating the story you could have had. Some people have never played Wild ARMs because of its graphics and game play (even though I find them to be rather interesting), but it has one of the most amazingly heart-felt stories I’ve ever experienced in a game. When does graphics get to take-over the rest of the game?
On another side of things, people have completely badmouthed Metal Gear Solid 4, even though I found its story and game play to far outweigh a lot of the games that came out at the same time– mostly they felt that the story took over, and the game had strayed from its long, arduous hours of game play through stealth action formula that had won it so much. But honestly, that story was good enough to carry it even if the thing had been hideous and not at all fun to play. Snakes development was enough to make me want to play it again and again, and let’s not even get started on the supporting cast of awesome.
There is a point when graphics are an issue and you don’t want to look at something ‘ugly’ while you’re playing it, but story should always weigh in first, at least as far as I’m concerned. I fear for the future of gaming when titles like Final Fantasy who used to be met with mass amounts of fanfare are now just throw-aways because of the way the series has gone. I haven’t even touched XIII, and I used to play them all pretty religiously, that should tell something.
( also posted at SPiRiTLiNG, at least in part. )