I really shouldn't have bought one used for $100 last month. Fuck.
bshirk's forum posts
Right now I can renew for $45 and a free arcade game, but I'm not sure that it's worth it. Back when Halo still felt fresh, I played frequently, but now I'm rarely on live. Still, I kinda like to try out the latest multiplayer games. It's rare when I really get into one, but it's still nice to have some competition once in awhile. I can afford it, but I guess I'm not sure if I want to support the service on principle. I'm not a fan of the $60 price tag and don't think they should be getting away with it.
It's nice to see that someone took the time to compare the two games! For me, it's a tough call. I love both game' characters, I prefer FF13's battle system, but I declare Lost Odyssey champion thanks to its superb story, events, music, and side-quests. Lost Odyssey may have had a "save-the-world" story as someone above claimed, but what made it special were its emotional, memorable events. Its funeral scene is easily one of the most impressive in gaming and draws heavily from East Asian Buddhism. It just had so much detail and the short stories are some of the best fiction I've ever read. I love how they include so many historical events and were relatable to people around the globe.
Living through economic downturns, being a target of violence or theft, witnessing political upheaval -- they're all part of being human. When thrust into turbulent environments, we tend to find comfort in the familiar -- whether it be Classic Rock, a Harry Potter book, or a Super Mario game.
Yet, despite this appreciation for what we already know, we're quick to judge what's banal. No matter how well-crafted, works of fiction containing cliché elements-- ranging from books to video games quickly become grating to an audience who places a greater importance on innovation than fun.
Originality is typically central to the advancement of a medium, but unfortunately, placing too much importance on the unfamiliar often causes people to reject works that project clichés without thoroughly analyzing them. Rejecting a 40-hour role-playing game because a character has amnesia isn't much different than calling Calvin & Hobbes childish after examining a cover featuring six-year old Calvin in a wagon or refusing to listen to a Mozart piece that uses an arpeggio also found in a Bach composition.
Hackneyed products are rarely appreciated by critics, but the gaming press is especially notorious for its frequent use of the term 'cliché.' Dictionary.com describes a cliché as: "A trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse..." Game journalists commonly use "cliché" to describe elements of Japanese role-playing games, which unfortunately, dulls the term's meaning and leads to a lack of thought-provoking discussion.
Certainly, it makes sense for writers to use "cliché" on occasion, but generally, it's a lazy, stereotypical way to describe games that authors more often than not haven't even played. Deeming the use of characters with amnesia in JRPGs a cliché may illustrate a lack of creativity in designing main character backgrounds or plot devices, but it also denies the potential individuality of such characters.
Likewise, focusing on JRPG clichés such as "anime character designs" and "save-the-world plots" is a glaring misrepresentation of a diverse genre. Certainly, it's undeniable that such elements exist, but if that's the sole focus of a Tales of Vesperia review, readers who haven't experienced the game wouldn't be aware that the Tales series places more emphasis on character interactions than story, and that Vesperia's central theme is more of a discussion on whether the law should always be upheld rather than a tale on world salvation.
This unfair use of the term 'cliché' rarely extends beyond the JRPG genre in the gaming press. Shortly after the release of the Xbox 360 and the rise of open-world games, sites such as IGN proclaimed JRPGs a stale, archaic genre with an abundance of clichés, while trite elements of other genres frequently went unnoticed.
IGN portrays Gears of War 2's 350 pound, f-bomb dropping space marines as meaningful characters that enhance its drama, while the opening paragraph of its Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Review makes the latter title sound like a cliché-ridden relic. In IGN's Gears of War 2 Review, Nate Ahearn writes:
"Without spoiling anything, Epic did a wonderful job of keeping the focus where it belongs while still giving the new characters meaningful roles that not only enhance the drama but also evolve the motivations of the Locust."
This is inconsistent with Daemon Hatfield's Dawn of the New World Review that focuses on clichés from the get-go:
"Tales of Symphonia...is a run of the mill, standard JRPG without a single original idea in its head. Sullen country boy with a bad haircut destined to save the world? Check. An awkwardly translated, incomprehensible story? Check. Monster hunting? Check. This entire package -- from the story to the gameplay to the visuals -- feels like a relic we should have grown out of by now."
Dawn of the New World undoubtedly features familiar RPG experiences such as monster hunting, but focusing on that particular element (that actually bears little similarity to Pokémon) hides this JRPG's unique content. Due to Daemon's focus on the game's few clichés, readers wouldn't be aware of Emil's growth from a cowardly individual into a more altruistic being who eventually reveals himself as a Norse Mythology-inspired god whose aim is to purify the planet by wiping out humankind.
Mentioning clichés occasionally isn't harmful, but when the term is abused, its use becomes a cliché in itself. It's important to support innovative products and recognize stereotypes, but if what's unoriginal becomes the focus of our examinations, we may miss the intent of what we're analyzing.
If historians only focused on what the Romans borrowed from Greek culture, they would have missed out on their massive road networks essential to their military success and their phenomenal sewage systems that provided for more sanitary living conditions. Likewise, it's important that game journalists don't get entangled in familiar plot devices and instead focus on comprehensive analysis to encourage fair and in-depth video game coverage.