Today on Kotaku, I noticed an article about the disappointing sales of Final Fantasy XIII and it made me reflect on my own separation from the JRPG train. Xenogears was the straw that broke the camel's back. I picked it up because I was looking at different turn-based combat systems, assuming that if the gameplay glue was strong enough, my story expectations would be easy to meet. But in Xenogears, after clocking the time between playable sections at 45 minutes long, I started looking at story value differently. I realized that in the 80-or-so hours it might take me to finish the game I could read nearly 8 novels. Stories that were good. Could gameplay ever make up for that 45 minutes lost?
Since Xenogears, its been harder and harder to stomach the mopey, unsympathetic protagonists, lame comedy, inexplicable choices, and unearned beats that would slip by me if a musical cue hadn't announced it. Nothing about the previews of FFXIII made me think it would be different. The article cited linearity and turn-based gameplay as problems but these don't hinder Modern Warfare or Pokemon. Perhaps these systems are implemented poorly but I'm curious whether another aimless, overblown story is also part of the problem. Curious enough to try it? I dunno.