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APFFRT 4 Round 1: (16) Final Fantasy II vs. (17) Fallout

APFFRT 4 Round 1: (16) Final Fantasy II vs. (17) Fallout – July 29, 2013 7:22 PM (edited 7/29/13 3:22 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Fallout is a game that I've heard about for years, but never actually played. No one mentioned how difficult it was, even in the beginning, though. I actually died without ever having saved halfway through the 30 minutes. After some consideration, I thought the fairest way to continue the competition was to start over with a new 30 minutes, saving regularly this time. I did die again, but it was during a fight that began when time was up, so I guess that's OK.

Final Fantasy II, on the other hand, is... not my favorite Final Fantasy game. I guess the 16 seed kind of gives that away. This is a pretty interesting matchup, but I'll leave the reasons why for the competition.

Game 1: Visuals
Fallout hasn't aged particularly well. It's a pixellated brown mess, from what I've seen. The color scheme may actually have been original at the time it came out, but now it's just the standard shooter palette. The people I met mostly looked pretty generic, but the unique characters aren't half bad. The radscorpions I fought were also pretty good, but the environments and interface are really not my thing. What can I say - I don't like postapocalyptic settings in anything. There's a reason I never played Fallout.

FF2 actually looks pretty nice for an NES game. The battle graphics are fairly detailed but still clear, though the overworld graphics haven't really advanced at all since FF1. The game does a bit of partial transparency stuff, especially with forests, that makes the graphics feel somehow thin, or cheap. I can't explain it, but there it is.

I have to give this one to FF2. Clear, low-fi graphics are always preferable to muddy graphics. Plus, the 13 on your character's back in Fallout looks so nice that it manages to make everything else look worse in comparison. Mostly, though, FF2's world just doesn't look so dreary.
Final Fantasy II leads 1-0

Game 2: Audio
Fallout's audio gets the job done, and the voice acting is pretty good. I only met three characters who were voiced, one of which had no apparent reason for being that seemingly important. The UI audio gets the job done, even if it's a bit repetitive. The complete lack of music fits the setting, but doesn't really make for an amazing aural experience. Frankly "audio" is not a category that was really designed for '90s PC games.

FF2's audio is extremely depressing early on (not that it gets much better). All of the early game music has a sad tinge to it, and for good reason: the whole plot is that you are part of a rebel alliance failing to fight off the powerful and evil empire. It's fitting, but it doesn't help the game. The overworld music itself is particularly bad, and that stays throughout the game.

Fallout gets this one, hands down. I would actually prefer to play FF2 on mute for the part I played. The battle music isn't bad, but on balance you're better off listening to something else. No music is better than this music, and that's why Fallout wins.
Series tied 1-1

Game 3: Combat
Combat in Fallout took some getting used to, and I'm still not sure if there's something I should be doing rather than right clicking twice to switch from movement to actual attacking, but by the end of the 30 minutes I pretty much understood what was going on. The first time around, I chose a character who was more social than physical, and that was a mistake. Who knew that punching scorpions to death with brass knuckles was so much more effective than shooting them? In any case, the AP system doesn't make a huge difference early on, but seems like it could lead to some very interesting tactical choices.

Combat in FF2 starts off boring and frustrating. It's not nearly as deadly as Fallout, but it wears on you just the same. In the very first fight I had, a Hornet ran away from me in the third round, presumably because it was bored. FF2's early-game hit rates are reminiscent of old school D&D (which is to say, terrible). The problem of missing constantly is exacerbated by the fact that if you have everyone target the same enemy and it dies, the other actions are wasted. Throw in a pointless enemy row system, and it's just kind of terrible. Also, the game starts with you getting unfairly destroyed by super-high level enemies.

Fallout's combat is actually halfway decent despite being repetitive early on, and that puts it several levels above FF2's. As with the audio, there's just no contest - but this is more a case of FF2 losing than Fallout winning.
Fallout leads 2-1

Game 4: Advancement
I gained a level toward the end of the session, but never actually figured out what to actually do with it. I imagine I was supposed to do something, since there was a bit "Level" indicator on screen, but that was about the point when I had 3 HP and a scorpion started chasing me. So is advancement good? I honestly don't know. Maybe I should have read the manual, but it's long and that doesn't really jive with the whole 30 minute thing.

In the long run, FF2's advancement is a bit of a nightmare, but early on its not (obviously) that bad. There are no levels, yet I still gained some max HP and am halfway to an offensive upgrade. I still feel underpowered in combat, but I think that's more due to bad combat design. The biggest downside is that I've recruited Minwu, whose vast array of white magic is an obvious tease for what's to come. However, I won't give the game any credit for this because I know full well that you will never, ever have a spell list as diverse and leveled as his.

FF2's advancement isn't great, but at least I saw some progress. It's my own fault that I don't understand Fallout, but within the half-hour I played, I can't really complain too much about FF2. Of course, that's largely because I avoided using spells because I know how the game works. That's not really fair, but arbitrary is the name of the game!
Series tied 2-2

Game 5: Characters
The characters I met, mostly in Shady Sands, are basically all assholes. They're all like "waaaah, we have scorpion problems. What, you want payment to help you? To help you save an entire vault full of people? Wow, what a greedy little jerk. Off with you, scoundrel!" Well, I helped them anyway, mainly because I wanted revenge on those scorpions from my first attempt. They're still dicks, though. At least the guy in the vault who sent me on this mission had pretty great eyebrows.

The characters are almost as depressing as the music in FF2. We have our generic party members, who at this point have no personality (well, Leon's personality is "MIA" I guess). Then there's Hilda, who's fine as far as rebel leaders go. But Gordon is a self-admitted coward, his brother was presumably a badass but died, and most everyone else is kind of lame. The only exception is Paul, the ninja/thief who's sort of a prototypical Locke (though not nearly as cool). He loses points for being named "Paul."

This is a tough one. I actively hate Fallout's characters more, but I don't really like FF2's at all. Too bad this isn't like the APFFRT where I was comparing worsts. Fallout has to win because at least its characters have some depth. All FF2 really has going for it is a ninja, and ninja are so played out.
Fallout leads 3-2

Game 6: World
As previously mentioned, I hate post-apocalyptic settings. All I saw was a town full of assholes and a cave full of scorpions (who were on par with the townspeople as far as being welcoming). The world map is a pretty neat idea, but I didn't explore much of it. If the amount of flavor text in the manual is any indication, this is a very fleshed-out world, but so far all I've seen is a town whose residents don't stop complaining about how boring it is.

Somehow, beyond all reason, FF2 manages to have a bleaker world than Fallout. As things start, the seat of the rebel power has been taken by the Empire, and the rebels basically suck horribly. Their home town has random encounters (albeit with easy enemies) and is crawling with imperial guards who will slaughter you mercilessly if you so much as speak to them. Hell, any one of the black knights who kill you in the opening scene could defeat the entire rebellion single-handedly (maybe excluding Paul), and that's actually kind of how the empire rolls.

FF2's world has a few things going for it, like a wide variety of towns, but it's all very empty and vaguely pointless. Sure, it's cool that you can take a ship from Paloom to Poft, or take an airship from Poft to basically anywhere, but you can also just... walk. The world map is an abomination that makes no physical sense and allows you to walk to your doom in any number of directions if you're not careful. Actually, Fallout probably works the same way (as far as danger, at least), but in Fallout's case it's the idea of a hostile world rather than hostile game design. However, what it comes down to (and I realize I sound like a broken record here) is that FF2's world is just so damn depressing. At least some of the assholes in Shady Sands are upbeat.
Fallout wins 4-2

Conclusion
This matchup had a lot of games that could go either way, but I think the right side won in the end. Fallout and FF2 are eerily similar games, in that they both have fairly hopeless settings. The difference is that Fallout's hopelessness is in the background, while FF2's is right there coloring everything you do. Certainly it could have gone the other way, but both games kind of represent a similar feel anyway.

Next Game: (9) Final Fantasy IX vs. (24) Dissidia 012[duodecim] Final Fantasy

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (16) Final Fantasy II vs. (17) Fallout – July 29, 2013 7:32 PM (edited 7/29/13 3:32 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Oh man. I haven't read this yet, but FF2 taking Fallout to 6 rounds looks pretty bad...

Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (16) Final Fantasy II vs. (17) Fallout – July 29, 2013 7:38 PM (edited 7/29/13 3:38 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
It seems for whatever reason - matchup structure, my biases, whatever - games have a hard time closing things out quickly. Historically only 12 out of 45 series (27%) have ended in less than 6 games. Another 14 have gone 7, meaning that 42% of all matches go exactly 6.

Also, shame on you for skipping right to the end!

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There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: APFFRT 4 Round 1: (16) Final Fantasy II vs. (17) Fallout – July 29, 2013 7:55 PM (edited 7/29/13 3:55 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
For the record, I didn't read the end, just scanned down to see how long it went. When I saw it go to 6 rounds, I honestly thought you gave it to FF2 Smile


As a side note on Fallout, leveling is very much in the D&D style. You get points that you can put into your skills to get slightly better at them. Every few levels you also get to select a new "feat" type skill. Those are where the big jumps in power come from.

Something else to consider: the shiny, sharp looking 13 on the back of the vault dweller is on purpose to highlight just how good people in the vaults have things compared to the outside world. I'm also interested in that you didn't mention the intro video at all for setting the world, as there is a ton of world building done in that intro video.

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