I really liked what this article was saying about games having both local and global modes, and the tactical and the strategic styles of gameplay. This seems like a good method to analyse the type of gameplay present, and immediately RPGs came into my mind as having these two levels. There’s the whole overworld exploration where the story events are usually triggered, where the game focuses more on exploration and item collecting, as well as managing many other tasks which are controlled in this level, earning the description of a strategic element to the game. The tactical, local part would come from the battle screen, which traditionally has a very different interface and functions which the user must learn in addition to the global play.
More recent RPGs such as FFXII have tried to integrate these two modes of gameplay, and from the looks of the PS3 offerings it will end up visually seamless. This kind of decision was probably made in favour of ‘realism’, and thing like the gambit system made it possible to have real time battles, something that I found hard to imagine in a FF game, probably due to being so used to the old system.
However well the modes integrate visually, as long as they are still there underlying the player’s experience the game is quite likely to be more interesting and enjoyable, as long as the learning curve is effective. As nice as real time battles are, for a tactical traditional RPG battle I prefer things like Dragon Quest where its all time-based selecting commands for each character, and you’re always very much in control of everything, as well as the game making the transition to battle very distinctive in a way that seems so old-fashioned now.
Will add to this one later.