Final Fantasy vs Tales (Then and Now)
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The Final Fantasy series has been around much longer than the Tales series and as a result the graphical and visual style of the franchise has always been influenced by its original roots. Using a sprite-based character model and an overhead perspective, Final Fantasy was more or less focused on creating something simplistic. Whereas Tales wished to create a much more detailed visual style, especially in battle, Final Fantasy was concerned more with visual consistency using very simplistic models throughout the entirety of the game. These pixelated, polygonal characters didn’t have complex wears that could be represented and instead used various colors to define them. Of course as the franchise moved from one system to the next the visual style changed to make use of the hardware’s capabilities.
The most defining change for the franchise was the move from the Super Nintendo to the PlayStation. Rather than using 2-D character designs, the cast was now animated in full 3-D. There were distinguishable pieces of clothing and armor on each character and detail was some of the finest it had ever seen. While the character designs resembled anime, the implementation into 3-D gave them a distinct style akin to Japanese anime culture but rather than a cartoon, it was rendered into something different altogether. This 3-D anime and realistic style carried over into the next two generation of consoles as Final Fantasy became a visual powerhouse.
In short, Final Fantasy had Tales trumped across the spectrum.
Square-Enix and Namco Bandai’s latest endeavor in their respective franchise took a turn marking something new. Final Fantasy XIII and Tales of Xillia resemble each other more than thought possible and unsurprisingly, both received sequel treatments. These four titles shifted the balance of power, to put it dramatically.
Tales of Xillia still involves its heavy character driven story with a plot that isn’t too epic or complicated such as Final Fantasy. However, Tales of Xillia takes a drastic step forward in trying to create a much deeper and involved character amidst the various problems that is presented in the game. These multi-faceted characters with varying motivations and the underlying shades of gray that is constantly emphasized throughout the game’s narrative stands as a testament to one of the stronger narratives in the franchise.
Tales of Xillia isn’t just about trying to save the world or tell a journey about some halflings traveling to a mountain to defeat a great evil. Rather, it’s about a journey of life trying to depict how one must cope with their problems to mature into an adult. This sounds familiar compared to previous titles but the realistic reactions that characters portray is what sells Xillia. The plot in Xillia hasn’t fallen in quality. Rather, over the years the Tales games - save for Tales of Graces - have become more polished in narrative trying to tell a deeper and much more thoughtful story that gleams into the various meanings of life.