Apparently Matsuno didn't have much to do with the final product of FFXII. After he was driven to insanity, they revamped the whole thing and placed Tidus or whatever his name was at the helm of the storyline. Originally Basch was the central character with Ashe having an even more central role.
I'm not a primary resource on how the story changed, but I would guess that it changed a lot after Matsuno's departure. Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy Tactics, two titles in which Matsuno oversaw development through the final product, had far superior stories.
I didn't know his role was so far marginalized, but I can still see his influence on the story. It may have not been as good as FFT or Tactics Ogre, but I still thought it was far more interesting than the last few Final Fantasy games.
Basically I'm worried that they're not going to continue with the storyline as far as it involved the Archadian and Rozzarian empires, as it didn't look like the story was really done there. I'll be left wondering what could have been if they dropped all that and went back to a standard fare JRPG story.
The story is... meh so far. It feels like less of a sequel then FFX-2 did, and even more of a cash-in. There are some mention of the events of FFXII, but other than that, it's really more "just another adventure", than an actual continuation.
The gameplay is pretty disappointing too. There are a ton of "missions" but really not a whole lot of variation beyond "kill that" or "kill that while protecting this".
I say save your money and get Front Mission rather than encourage SE to churn out stuff like this.
I've yet to find any real challenge that can't be solved with a "Zerg Rush(kekekekekekekekeke)" which the game pretty much encourages you to do by giving you throwaway, re-summonable characters with no actual penalty other than waiting for them to be re-summoned on maps with "summoning gates", which most maps have.
It's just disappointing seeing a strategy game based on FFXII, that requires no strategy. And the fact that they re-used a bunch of sprites from FFTA for most of the enemy units is just fucking lazy.
This is the same crew that did FFTA right? I never got into that game and I was a huge FFT fan. The combat just seemed slow and lacked any of the complexity of the original. Plus, the story just seemed bland.
Does the story in FFXII:RW delve any deeper into the Occuria? That was one of the few aspects of FFXII that I wasn't entirely satisfied with. I could have used a little more backstory there.
Vaan was important, sort of, the Occuria intended to use him the same way as they tried Ashe and Raithwall. Somewhere between the events at Raithwall's tomb and the Stillshrine of Miriam, Vaan let's go of his hatred of the empire for killing his brother and moves on, realizing that killing them isn't going to bring him back, and it isn't going to change what happened back then. That's why he does not see Reks at the Stillshrine, whereas Ashe still sees Rasler.
That's kind of one of the things I liked about FFXII, our main character isn't some child of destiny, but rather a regular guy that gets caught up in events bigger than he could possibly fathom.
There actually IS alot of backstory too... the problem is, most of it is accessed in the bestiary by killing the specified amount of each monster, thus unlocking more pages in each entry. Most of them are pretty irrelevant though, and reveal nothing truly important.
I also enjoyed how Vaan was basically just "along for the ride". It was a nice change of pace seeing the main protagonist be mostly clueless to what is really going on, for a reason other than he lost his memories.
I really liked the story in FFXII but there were some loose ends. Some parts could have been fleshed out more, and I like backstory.
To me, Vaan's character was similar to a lot of protagonists from literature who play an active part but mainly serve as a the personification of the viewer within the story (fish out of water observer). Vaan is sort of like Ishmael in Moby Dick.
Really, if RPGs were still in the era where the main character was just a silent star, I don't think people would have noticed the lack of characterization. Look at Crono from Chrono Trigger, who is this kid?
And for those of you that appreciate backstory, don't go see "No Country for Old Men" and expect any! (but it's still a good movie)*
What? "Some" loose ends? The entire fucking plot from Pharos on makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!
I'd say Crono is very similar to Vaan in that he's not particularly relevant to the plot other than the obvious part towards the end of the game and serves primarily as the eyes through which the player views the events that unfold. The fact that he's a mute is just a different way to approach that concept. I think I might prefer it, in fact, to having someone like Vaan running around yelling "MY NAME IS BASCH FON RONSENBERG OF DALMASCA!!" like a buffoon. At least Crono was cool. Vaan is too "15 year old boys should be able to identify with him" plasticky.
I think Dragon Quest ceased to be relevant to the progress of gaming a couple installments back. It's expected to be a certain way.
You're kidding right? DQ VIII had an overworld map that was almost 100% to scale with the character, in a generation that either just has a lazy plain 2D map with dots for every destination (FFX, FFX-2, Shadow Hearts, Wild ARMs 4, nearly every other RPG). There are other things, but this really stuck out to me for some reason. Mostly because I think 2D maps are fucking lazy, and blatantly ripping off Indiana Jones :)
Also, The MegaTen series still keeps silent protagonists, which are done very well.
DQ8 had an overworld map with large buildings and a bunch of empty space to run around in. I wouldn't call that "to scale with the character". More like the game design called for lots of space to pad out so there would be more random battles. Any game with random battles is not progressing the genre.
2d maps with blips aren't lazy, they're functional and straightforward. DQ8 had a shitty map where you could almost never see what was going on around you. I'd take a simple map with locational awareness over some forced "to-scale" excuse for random battles I don't want to fight in the first place.
Besides the world argument, DQ has sold 41 million copies while a portable re-release (not a remake, a re-release) is flying off the shelves. You can question whether or not the Japanese are tasteless gaming philistines, but you simply cannot call the series irrelevant.
I don't think anyone was arguing whether it was relevant. The argument is whether it's relevant as a progressive game in the genre. In which case I tend to agree, given that DQ is notorious for supplying that nostalgia and tradition that people love. There is very little progressive about DQ8. Perhaps the scale of voice acting was progressive. Certainly its orchestrated soundtrack in the west was. And the mostly seamless world was a pretty good job. But those elements aren't particularly related to the RPG genre so much as they are merely examples of good production value and general game design. So they also can't really be used to call DQ a progressive franchise.