Why the fleet battles in Last Exile - Fam have no drama for me

February 4, 2012

One of the things that Last Exile - Fam, The Silver Wing features relatively prominently is fleet battles with those flying battleships. Unfortunately I find them essentially completely free of drama, which robs the whole thing of a lot of the point.

The direct reason that I find them mostly free of drama is that in an earlier clash with the Silvius, it's been solidly established that the fleet gunners of the Ades Federation have all of the accuracy of Imperial Stormtroopers; despite outnumbering the Silvius many to one and having it dead to rights, they failed to score any really meaningful hits. When you know that one side can't shoot straight, it's hard to take battles involving them very seriously.

The deeper reason is what this demonstrates about the fleet battles themselves: the outcomes of the fleet battles are arbitrary. What happens in a battle and what the outcome is is based purely on what the scriptwriters need, not on any internal logic of the setting and forces involved. If Ades needs to be strong and beat people up, it will; if it needs to be weak or lose, it will. One day Ades can shoot straight and is terribly dangerous, the next day not so much. An outnumbered ship may or may not escape or may or may not be harmed, and there's nothing about the scenario that will let me predict that. Clever twists are guaranteed to materialize when necessary, generally out of nothing. Improbable events will happen as required. This arbitrary nature of outcomes and lack of logic has robbed the fleet battles of most any drama or tension for me; what happens will happen and that's just it, so there's no point in doing anything more than maybe enjoying the scenery.

(It's not quite deus ex machina outcomes, but it's close. A few times it's literally been that when Guild members show up.)

Written on 04 February 2012.
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Last modified: Sat Feb 4 19:19:06 2012
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