TV Tropes Org
site search
Final Fantasy XIII back to reviews
Comments
This Game Makes Me Look Back Fondly on FFX
In reviewing this game, I'm reminded of a quote by Tony Iommi, of all people. He intersperses his balls-to-the-wall riffing with gentle acoustic pieces because, he says, music needs dynamics. It needs the ups and the downs, because that makes it interesting.

That's the problem in a nutshell. FFXIII may rocket forward, but too quick is just as boring/static as too slow. RPGs need variable pacing; after you slog through a plot relevant dungeon, you need the choice of whether to carry on or just relax and talk to some NPCs, do a few sidequests, or kill monsters for EXP and gil.

It seems Square-Enix took criticism of FFXII to heart, because this game is the antithesis of it. Instead of a sprawling open world, you spend most of the game running down corridors. Inside of small and understated emotions, it's animesque in-your-face histrionics. Instead of a sublime and masterfully archaic script, the characters make awkward statements about their emotions and vague platitudes about their purpose. Instead of humongous cities you can explore with six different shops, everything is handled from a tiny menu screen. Instead of a lengthy, drawn-out introduction, it has a confusingly non-linear mishmash of jaw-shattering made-up names and people trying to kill other people for no adequately explained reason.

I could go on, but I won't. Suffice to say, they tried to make up for FFXII. Problem is, they went too far in the other direction.

However, the game does have some positives:
  • As always, it's absolutely beautiful.
  • The music can be good (though it frequently nosedives into animesque/J-Pop territory). The battle theme's violins are literally all I look forward to about combat.
  • Uhh....this video.

Well, that's about it. Seriously, I'm trying not to sound like the series is Ruined Forever (it's not) but I am genuinely at a loss to think of more good things to say about this game.

Everything that I merely disliked about FFX (linearity, "wacky" characters, bosses that are impossible without knowing their one specific trick, speedy and overwhelming combat that throws strategy out the window) is magnified by FFXIII. It is the epitome of style over substance.

Unless that substance is amphetamines.
The only thing I'm here to say is that 13's linearity was a purposeful design choice, not because of complaints from 12, other than that, this review is about what I expected.
comment #12825 VeryMelon 15th Feb 12
First off, FFXIII didn't have a design philosophy until the demo bundled with Advent Children Complete was released. In 2009. A year before it came out.

Second, of course the linearity was a purposeful design choice.

It was also a bad design choice.

If I wanted to play a game that relentlessly forces me to run down corridors and blow away enemies before they kill me dead, I'll play Half Life. RP Gs with menu-driven combat do not work that way.
comment #12845 WarriorsGate 16th Feb 12
...I'm going to have to disagree with large parts of this:

  • it's animesque in-your-face histrionics: A) I don't think you know what 'animesque' means, B) the melodrama was mostly confined to Palumpolom
  • Instead of a sublime... tiny menu screen: Stilted dialogue and spread out shops making shopping a chore are pretty high on the list of reasons I disliked XII
  • jaw-shattering made-up names: How is it any worse than any other fantasy story?
  • "wacky" characters: ? XIII was pretty low on humour
  • bosses that are impossible without knowing their one specific trick: Er, you mean the eidolon battles? That's kind of true, but it's not a Guide Dang It, since the game tells you the strategy you need
  • speedy and overwhelming combat that throws strategy out the window: A) It's X-2 that has speedy combat, not X, B) the battle system is entirely about strategy, sacrificing tactics in the process, C) I found that I had to pay much more attention to the battles than I'd had to in the previous games
comment #12847 Hylarn 16th Feb 12
"""First off, FFXIII didn't have a design philosophy until the demo bundled with Advent Children Complete was released. In 2009. A year before it came out.

Second, of course the linearity was a purposeful design choice.

It was also a bad design choice.

If I wanted to play a game that relentlessly forces me to run down corridors and blow away enemies before they kill me dead, I'll play Half Life. RP Gs with menu-driven combat do not work that way. """

  • whistles* calm down mang.
comment #12848 VeryMelon 17th Feb 12
Suffice to say, they tried to make up for FFXII. Problem is, they went too far in the other direction

True that. I don't care for XII that much, but I'll take it over XIII.
comment #12872 ManwiththePlan 18th Feb 12
@Hylarn

A) I don't think you know what 'animesque' means, B) the melodrama was mostly confined to Palumpolom

I took "anime" and added "-esque" to the end, like "arabesque". I didn't know Animesque was a trope.

What I meant is, whereas FFXII was steeped in English archaisms and Elizabethan theater, FFXIII sounded like badly translated Japanese. My impression was characters making exaggerated speeches full of That Makes Me Feel Angry and Meaningless Meaningful Words, and redundant dialogue filling space for lip syncing, a la Speed Racer. It's semantics, but this is just my personal opinion, after all. I did not enjoy the mise en scene of FFXIII.

How is it any worse than any other fantasy story?

I was excited for FFXIII's trailer until it lectured me about places with overly-literal names with impenetrable terminology. The actual game wasn't better, with phrases like "Pulse l'Cie" that stand out awkwardly in dialogue and aren't explained for hours. Other F Fs started with simple, coherent goals or events, like "kidnap this princess", and layered plot elements on. No matter how fantastic a fantasy story, it must have a recognizable story at the forefront.

"wacky" characters: ? XIII was pretty low on humour

Wacky =/= humorous. I mean flamboyant and cartoonish characters in a non-stylized, photoreal game, as opposed to FFVII or FFIX.

Someone really needed to keep the styling products and Lady Gaga wardrobe away from NORA. It's worse than Lulu's belts upon belts and Wakka's hair-spike-thing, and doesn't have the amusing benefit of sounding like Bender with a Caribbean accent. Both XIII & X feel overdesigned, as opposed to VIII, where every character has a consistent wardrobe with complementary color palettes (alright, maybe Zell overused the hairgel). XII could go overboard with the costumes, but the game was done with such beautifully dusky reds and golds, like a Persian miniature. FFXIII just seemed gaudy and garish and full of neon, like the Gold Saucer with a vengeance. It goes back to mise en scene.

speedy and overwhelming combat that throws strategy out the window: A) It's X-2 that has speedy combat, not X, B) the battle system is entirely about strategy, sacrificing tactics in the process

By "speedy", I mean the battle mechanics are overpowered, making fights either very brief or a constant stream of Phoenix Downs. I don't enjoy that; same reason I didn't like FFIV. And the later bosses of FFX can be boiled down to "spam Aeon Overdrives before he nukes your party". I prefer measured battles that play out like a chess game, rather than playing hot potato with ATB and hoping to kill the enemy before it slaughters you.

And I've played through FFVII, FFIX, and FFX recently, so it's not simply me misremembering it or that I needed to spend more time leveling. I genuinely disliked FFX's combat mechanics.

As for Eidolons, the game may say how to beat them, but it requires coming to grips with the battle system's intricacies, which is no easy feat, not to mention how cheap the Instant Doom thing is. This game is always rushing the player, isn't it? It's like it wants me to get it over with already.

And I wasn't thinking of an Eidolon when I wrote my review, but the Palumpolum boss Snow faces. He repeatedly nuked my party until I quit the game. I sure wasn't underleveled, as I actively sought out enemy encounters, and he still crushed me. I read there's a trick to beating him, but I never bothered to play the game again.

So technically, this is a review of half of FFXIII, but it's like the old schoolyard trick of splitting a glass of orange juice: you have to go through the top half to get to the bottom half.
comment #12875 WarriorsGate 18th Feb 12 (edited by: WarriorsGate)
Okay, a lot of that makes more sense, but isn't at all what you said in the review. Also almost entirely things I disagree with, but to each their own, I guess. Still have some things I feel I need to respond to, though:

In FFXIII, however, someone really needed to keep the styling products and Lady Gaga wardrobe away from NORA.

NORA gets maybe half an hour of screen-time. This kind of a bizarre thing to complain about. Particularly since they're obviously based on sporting outfits, and you're saying that they're weirder than the fashion victims that are the Guado or Ashe

By "speedy", I don't mean the combat is fast, but rather the player characters and enemies do too much damage too quickly, making fights either very brief or a constant stream of Phoenix Downs.

Um. I suppose that may be a problem with X, but it's not one with XIII: For most of the game regular fights last over a minute each, and you generally need some sort of strategy if you don't want that to be even longer

since you're locked into Eidolon battles and can't backtrack to practice on random encounters.

No you're not. Hitting retry puts you before the cutscene, free to do as you wish
comment #12877 Hylarn 18th Feb 12 (edited by: Hylarn)
@Hylarn

Okay, a lot of that makes more sense, but isn't at all what you said in the review.

That 400 character limit is a killer. There's always explanations, tangents, and caveats that I simply don't have the space to put in.

NORA gets maybe half an hour of screen-time. This kind of a bizarre thing to complain about. Particularly since they're obviously based on sporting outfits, and you're saying that they're weirder than the fashion victims that are the Guado or Ashe

Yeah, but it's the first half hour, and it made a bad impression on me. They were really just the most egregious example I could think of. The main cast is somewhat better designed.

And I didn't want to make a list of every bad costume in FFX, or we'd be here all night.

As for Ashe, her outfit certainly was gaudy, but given that Rabanastre was based on Ottoman-era Istanbul (which was a real-life example of the Ermine Cape Effect if ever there was one) and she's their princess, I think it worked with the vaguely Arabian Nights setting.

I suppose that may be a problem with X, but it's not one with XIII: For most of the game regular fights last over a minute each, and you generally need some sort of strategy if you don't want that to be even longer

But the "strategy" mostly seemed to be using Libra and switching paradigms to something that'll brutalize the enemy automatically. When I say strategy, I don't just mean "How do I kill them?", I also mean the battle system's depth and my ability to approach how I fight. FFX had some of that from older games like Blue Magic, Mix, or Steal, but in addition to the aforementioned problems, it seemed like a transitory stage between the older games and "spam the auto-attack" XIII.

XII, at least, had the option to disable Gambits, freeze the action, and attack manually with a wide range of attacks.

Hitting retry puts you before the cutscene, free to do as you wish

I remember being forced to battle Shiva down in Lake Bresha and wanting to fight someone else to practice whatever bullcrap stunt the boss battle was making me do, but not being able to. It's been about four months, though, so maybe my memory is faulty. Some day, I'll play FFXIII again and see if it's as bad as I remember. That happened to FFX, but OTOH FFVIII significantly improved the second time I played it, so who knows.

comment #12878 WarriorsGate 19th Feb 12 (edited by: WarriorsGate)
Yeah, but it's the first half hour, and it made a bad impression on me. They were really just the most egregious example I could think of. The main cast is somewhat better designed.

I think the problem he was trying to point out was the outrage over 1 or 2 charaters (the only thing weird I found was the orange hair guy), 1 or 2 secondary characters at that that could had been replaced and have no impact what so ever in the story or game, I mean can anyone even remember their names?. That's like complaining about FFVII's cartoony summons just because of Chocomog, and trying to defend your case because he's the first summon you get.

They were really just the most egregious example I could think of.

I think that's the only example anyone can think of.

I prefer measured battles that play out like a chess game, rather than playing hot potato with ATB and hoping to kill the enemy before it slaughters you.

The FF series have always tried to make the game more fluent with each game, compare the first ones where you had all the time in the world to choose your attacks to games after 6 where you now have a time and if you don't do it quickly your opponent will attack you again, because what would be the point of all that story, scenery, etc. in a chess like game, that's why pokemon and yugioh handheld games are more popular than the stationary console ones.

but rather the player characters and enemies do too much damage too quickly, making fights either very brief or a constant stream of Phoenix Downs.

It's starting to sound like your complaining because you weren't very good at the game, specially after your "spam the auto-attack" comment, I think enemies have the same speed as you, in fact a lot are away slower than you, the only times I felt things were too quick were when there were a lot of enemies regular speed enemies like the slugs or the multiplying fish, which even them had strategy of making a surprise attack to finish them quickly and taking down the caller fishes first respectively.

but it requires coming to grips with the battle system's intricacies

The strategy basically is basically to use your paradigms. The ones you should had fought by that point, Shiva and Odin. Shiva requires you to defend, the basis of the Sentinel paradigm, while Odin requires you to heal and raise the chain gauge, the basis of the Medic and Ravager paradigm.

not to mention how cheap the Instant Doom thing is.

In the fight with the shiva sisters one of them heals you, in the fight with odin healing actually fills the gauge, just how easy did you wanted them to put those fights? if you take the Doom away they're basically unlosable.

I read there's a trick to beating him, but I never bothered to play the game again.

First you complain there is no strategy but each time the raise the strategy you complain that it's too hard.

with phrases like "Pulse l'Cie" that stand out awkwardly in dialogue and aren't explained for hours.

L'cie are explained even before the cast becomes one, by the point the cie'th appear you know so much about L'cie that their explanation is "L'cie who failed to fulfill their purpose". Pulse is explained almost immediately as the place outside the sheltered world they live in, an the enemy.

Other F Fs started with simple, coherent goals or events, like "kidnap this princess", and layered plot elements on.

I was gonna make a list of how the plans change a few times and how characters develop and so their motivations and goals change and so on, then I remembered that that would be spoiling things for you, then I realized that's a bad complain for someone who hasn't finished the game. Is like saying that FFVI has a boring story because of it's Big Bad Gestahl.

So technically, this is a review of half of FFXIII, but it's like the old schoolyard trick of splitting a glass of orange juice: you have to go through the top half to get to the bottom half.

I'm aware I gave a faulty review but I'm gonna give some cheap reason why it still should be considered a valid one.

jaw-shattering made-up names

Like?
comment #12885 marcellX 19th Feb 12
Oh christ, here we go again -_-
comment #12886 MrMallard 19th Feb 12
The urge is so much more to comment on your FFX parts than the FXIII. I feel the linearity problems are worse (well I didn't mind them at all in X and even preferred them to less focused games :D) for different reasons that it being non-linear. I think they're bad at creating illusion in XIII and story and games are all about illusion (unless they're all about gameplay, see tetris)

The two stories make sense as far as linearity goes. One is about a long difficult journey and it's meant to reflect how damaged the world has become that the journey is so difficult. One is endlessly running away, never safe always with a time limit. But FFXIII doesn't pull it off because 1) The places never feel connected, in X you could join everything on a map and feel that the world worked, in XIII there was no sense that anything was 'just over there' 2) Combat system was awful for giving a feeling of on the run. People are meant to be run down, not reinfused with hyperactiveness after every battle 3) The corridors in X felt like they meant something. It was a road, or a mountain pass, or a plane, in FXIII they were tunnels regardless of how suitable that was. Just making the tunnels wider would have changed how it felt
comment #12888 Tomwithnonumbers 19th Feb 12
marcellX can handle this fine. I'll just watch.
comment #12890 VeryMelon 19th Feb 12
@ Mr Mallard

What bothers you exactly
comment #12897 marcellX 19th Feb 12
I remember being forced to battle Shiva down in Lake Bresha and wanting to fight someone else to practice whatever bullcrap stunt the boss battle was making me do, but not being able to.

Oh, right, Shiva. Yeah, that one does lock you in, and is the only one that does. Luckily, Shiva is also incredibly easy and beaten by staying as a Sentinel
comment #12900 Hylarn 19th Feb 12
I struggled a lot with Shiva :D
comment #12912 Tomwithnonumbers 20th Feb 12
In order to post comments, you need to Get Known
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy