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Rocket Propelled Game
Posted on Thursday, December 11 2008 @ 14:27:43 PST

When it comes to RPG games I haven’t played that many. A couple FF games, a few recent games by Bioware and Bethesda, and that’s about it. But even with my limited view, I noticed a few trends in the east and the west.

For me, I honestly do not have a preference between the two. While every single eastern rpg seems to have the basics of "amnesiac teen boy and gang of misfits save the world even though they face unbeatable odds," to me almost every western rpg is "unnamed person rises up to become most powerful person in the universe. And guess what? IT'S YOU!!!!!". Many western rpgs seem to sacrifice storytelling and story in general and replace them with "choices". Now I haven't played the earlier fallouts, and I'm guessing these are exceptions, but the choices you're given make no difference whatsoever. It may change the ending up a little, but ultimately nothing has changed. You may go in a different direction for a little while, but it ends up like a 2D image of DNA. Though it may go of in one direction for a little while, no matter what choice you took you will come up to the same spot to get a new choice and repeat the process.

With character creation, all it does is it makes the game personal. However, it makes it impossible to present a likable main character when it differs from person to person. The person can only be as cool as you make them, which keeps them from being cool because really it is just you that is being cool.

Another thing is Western rpgs tend to feature a bunch more leveling up of useless non-combat skills. Like, "I would have a higher strength making it easy to kill my enemies, but my lockpicking was too low to get into some doors and I couldn't get any items." And speechcraft? Don’t even get me started.

But back to plot, it always seems to me that the plot will always be lesser. Whenever something happens, the end result usually feels empty. Like when Aeris died, it was shocking because not only did you come to like the character but it was so unexpected. When it is revealed that you are Darth Revan, you have a moment of "no way!" and then it passes. "The reapers are going to destroy all life!" So, what, I just kill them all? "The amulet of kings has been stolen!" Well now I guess I'll just go and do MORE work. “You need to go find your dad!” Who, the guy who appears for 30 minutes in the intro and then runs away? You never grow to hate your enemies and you never grow to care about the cause. The only reason you do anything is because it unlocks a new gun or item later on. Hell, even "You had amnesia and you've been pretending to be a dead person for years," "you had amnesia and actually don't exist," and "you've had amnesia and was actually raised by the person you've sworn to kill," seems to be more exciting and more satisfying.

The main reason for these plot differences seems to be because of whose perspective the story is in. In western RPGs, the story is all about you. Your choices, what you want to do, who you like, etc. This hampers the whole story telling process, since it’s too hard to plan out every potential plot point they just dump the whole thing. And they wouldn’t dare let you write the story because you can’t write for ****. In most eastern rpgs, the story focuses on someone else. What they want, their choices, etc. Hell, in the start of FFX, Tidus tells you “Listen to our story.” And so why should you be changing what happens. That would be like if your friend was telling a story, and you kept interrupting to tell him what you would do if you were him. Why is that important, it’s not your story?

Now don’t get me wrong, western rpgs tend to be better when it comes to the actual combat. You can do more than choose whether you want to attack or cast magic, mostly because it happens in a more real time. However, in most battles that makes the fight less about strategy and more about flying out all guns blazing. With most older eastern rpgs, the common turn-based gameplay allowed time to make your decisions, and it forced you to actually plan out how you were going to take down an enemy. In westerns, the strategy usually goes by which of the enemies you are going to effortlessly kill first.

But really, it’s all pretty much the same. Which one you like more depends on whether you like a good story before bedtime or a good look at what would happen if you were a jedi, or a robot or something. I like everything, but hey, I’m not everyone. However, I think we can all agree that the death of random encounters in recent RPGs is a good thing.

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