In an interview with Strategy Informer (which has all sorts of Old Republic goodies) Erickson pointed out the successful game’s lack of definition in reply to a question about the main staple of The Old Republic being its story and the interaction with gameplay.
“Well, before I address the main point I just want to take a slightly more controversial route,” Erickson said, “You can put a ‘J’ in front of it, but it’s not an RPG. You don’t make any choices, you don’t create a character, you don’t live your character… I don’t know what those are – adventure games maybe? But they’re not RPG’s.”
Strong words indeed.
Of course Final Fantasy is anything but final or a fantasy at this point (Sci-Fantasy at a stretch) so saying it’s not an RPG isn’t exactly a huge stretch either.
Click after the break for a tiny bit more, including some editorial opinions on what is and is not an RPG.
Many would argue that BioWare’s true RPG’s like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire and the Mass Effect franchise are true RPGs that have inherited the throne from Japanese developers, whose games are so niche, they’re either not RPGs any more or they need a ‘J’ in front of them to distinguish them from computerized D&D translations.
It’s all about perspective. The ethical system of light/dark present in BioWare’s games is one way to tell a story, though it inevitably leads to debate on which ending was ‘correct’ when working within established franchises like Star Wars, the Good ending is canonical in KOTOR, for example, regardless of how you chose to progress your character.
It’s less of an issue in games like Mass Effect, which managed to actually just read your old save file and begin where you left off. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ending to Mass Effect because the game itself is wholly reliant on the player, much like the original Role Playing Game, “Dungeons and Dragons.”
That point aside, it’s much easier to say that KOTOR is a true RPG than any Final Fantasy, whose story-telling hasn’t progressed much since the days of the NES. Your actions DO affect the outcome even if it isn’t “correct” according to George Lucas.
Squad-Enix wants to tell a specific story, which in turn removes it from the realm of RPGs in general, as the decisions the player makes in-game have no bearing on the story overall. It’s painfully linear and much closer to God of War than anything else.
I can upgrade my armour in Halo, does that make it RPG? Seeminly by Square-Enix’s definition, yes it does.
Progression and upgrades do not an RPG make.
Even MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and Aion have the developers strongly considering the players’ actions when developing and expanding storylines. The Matrix Online took this a bit too far and ultimately suffered for it, but MMO games are a different subject and better left for another day.
It’s safe to say at this point that Square-Enix is no longer an RPG developer. Their crown has long since passed to developers like Blizzard and BioWare.
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