Reviews: Final Fantasy XIII

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.

It's quite a mixed bag.

I got this from a friend who hated it, and I didn't have much in the way of expectations. I'd heard lots of bad things about it, but figured I'd give it a try. Despite my low expectations, I kept an open mind, and was quite pleasantly surprised.

As everyone says, the beginning is the weakest part by far. You're dumped right in the middle of a fast-paced action sequence, the battle system is virtually nonexistent, and there's not even the illusion of nonlinearity. The characters leave a bad first impression; Lightning as a cold bitch, Snow as an immature moron with delusions of grandeur, Hope as a whiny kid, and Vanille as a grating adult child.

However, I stuck with it, and eventually began to see the light. The battle system started building on itself and eschewing the 'press A to win' parts earlier, the pieces of the story began assembling themselves, and character development began making the rounds. I ended up quite liking some of the people I'd hated only a few hours ago.

It's not without flaws, though. Some of the dialogue is awkward and stilted, the cutscenes (especially the flashbacks) sometimes get too sappy, the AI in battle occasionally has dumb moments, and FUCK the 'party leader death' rule.

Final Fantasy XIII, all in all, isn't anywhere near as bad as everyone says it is. Everybody that says 'it takes 20+ hours to get good' is wrong; while that is the best part, it gets good long before that. If you can stick with it, it'll pay off in the end.

Flawed, but enjoyable.

I admit, FF13 has it's flaws, like the fact that you have no idea what's going on without reading the datalogs 90% of the time, plus the linearity can be tedious, but it's still an enjoyable game that can keep you hooked. Personally, I loved the game because of it's strong emphasis on character development and the battle system.

I also wonder What Could Have Been, since they cut half of the content that may have made the game 1000 times better. All in all, it has it's flaws, but it's still fun if you take the time to enjoy it.

All Style, No Substance

Here's the nutshell of FFXIII:

  • The graphics are very pretty.
  • The music sounds nice, but the magic isn't there. When I listen, I think "Sounds cool but what does it have to do with the setting?" It just doesn't draw you into the world.
  • They eschewed traditional FF leitmotifs, except for the Chocobo theme. No nostalgic value here.
  • There are loads and loads of cutscenes which do a pretty good job of making sure you feel like the story is still going on.
  • Voice acting is fine, except Vanille: You'll want to stab her in the face whenever she opens her mouth... She's the narrator.
Overall: Probably the biggest reason you will want to play this game (aside from the fact it's FF) and manage to stick with it.

Story and Setting
  • The story makes no real sense and you gotta read the datalogs to understand it. You should never have to read supplementary material to understand the core plot.
  • The ending is absolutely terrible. Reminded me of every bad Hollywood movie I've seen.
  • The characters are too one-dimensional. (Sazh of all people, the black dude with an afro, is surprisingly the best character in the game. :-) While the game does a surprisingly good job of managing not to get on your nerves with that, you can still feel it.
  • Antagonists don't make sense.
  • Small cast.
Overall: Pretty crappy.

  • Combat is just not that enjoyable. Press X to win will handle most combat for you. To make the game harder, there are some bosses you will be too weak to fight. Grind some enemies, then come back later and consider using some shrouds.
  • There is nothing to interact with aside from enemies, save points, treasure chests, and on rare occasion, bystanders. (You shop from save points.) This helps make the experience feel that much duller.
  • All you ever do is walk from one point to another or kill one enemy after another. When you finally get your non-linear segment where you can do sidequests, all the sidequests are nothing more than "go kill this enemy."
Overall: A giant bore.

Verdict: The cutscenes and graphics are the only reason this game will manage to hold your interest if you play it. I recommend staying away from this game.

Innovative & Interesting, but Unlikable Characters & Confusing Story Makes this an Unacceptable Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy games are quite controversial for reviewers because the fanbase is mostly made up of a bunch of rabid fanboys. For me, the Ratchet games are like this, however that does not mean I buy every single game that ever comes out. If Ratchet turned int a rhythm game, I'm not going to buy that shit, I have pride and I'm not clueless. Just because a game has Final Fantasy on the cover does not mean its good.

Final Fantasy is known for its characters, at least for me. I grew up with this series and Auron & Balthier remain gods in my book. Final Fantasy 13 has some of the most unlikable characters in any video game, ever. I can't tell if Vanille is Australian, an expy of Rikku, or autistic; Hope is a wardrobe malfunction with a mouth; Lightning is Squall if Squall wasn't cool and was on a never ending period. The only character who is likable is Sahz - the token black guy with a Chocobo that lives in his fro. I'm not exactly sure if his character is enjoyable or not because the entire story was confusing - that description just makes me smile. People complain about how the story isn't confusing and everything can be learnt from the datalog, but instead of can be, they should say "it can only be learned from them". This game throws myriads of terms at you so quickly, you can't tell whats going on.

Final Fantasy 13 is, in my opinion, an innovative game. The fighting is complex, strategic, and fresh; however, for a FF game, it is way too different. To call this game a turn-based RPG is wrong. I feel like the game should be filed under a strategy game, or given its own genre. An RPG is something like D&D, and while the genre is very diverse, FF 13 definitely does not follow any rules that qualifies it as an RPG - you do not decide paths, the game is unbelievably linear.

While the fighting in the game is the game's best feature, it also brought upon one of the game's most notably worst ones: the notorious 20+ hour tutorial. Most people won't play a game for more then 8 hours if they aren't interested, and its pretty obvious why. This reason is why people usually call this a hit or miss game. This is why I believe this game is a rent, because in the end, you are stuck with it, you get to play it to the point where the true game begins, and its not worth more then 10 dollars to begin.

Likeable, but pretty tedious

Final Fantasy XIII is a pretty divisive game in the series. While it's gathered a fanbase for its ambitious story, pretty graphics and stylish combat, it has been derided by others for areas that feel more like corridors than actual locations, an overly messy attempt to tell an epic story and a stiff combat system that defaults your cursor to an Auto-Battle option.

So, how did I feel about Final Fantasy XIII?

  • The graphics are incredible, even today. The game is very pretty. Everything is intially smooth and almost flawlessly detailed, but by the end of the game you end up seeing some jagged edges on character models and stuff. And even then, the graphics are damn fine.
  • Everyone's story arcs are pretty compelling, and eachcharacter brings something new to the table. The characters themselves are pretty good, even the controversial Lightning who's criticized for her violent and rash behavior early in the story. Spoiler: she gets over it.
  • The music, while a bit washed-out and mediocre in places, frames everything nicely. The area themes are appropriate and nice to listen to, and even My Hands by Leona Lewis does a good job of bringing the story to an end. The music was really good.

What didn't I like?

  • A majority of the game really is a bunch of straight paths with occasional hidden chests to find. It's forty hours into the game that you get to an open area, and that gets stale due to the samey "go here, kill this" sidequests.
  • The story, while pretty good character-wise, was a huge mess in regards to the plot. The villain was one-dimensional and consistently bland, the story itself is very weak - the basic summary is everyone banding together and saying "we will overcome destiny!" - and while most of the plot is told in cutscenes, you need to pick through the datalog to get the full picture. And there is a LOT of datalog info.
  • The battle system feels very bland and mechanical, and I didn't have fun with it. I personally didn't like the Paradigm system, it felt like they took a basic job system, whittled the options down to 6 and made you switch them around constantly because "strategy". It gets old.
  • The game itself took over 60 hours, at least 15 of which I honestly regret having wasted.

FFXIII isn't a bad game - a lot of effort went into making it, and it shows. But I wouldn't recommend buying it for anything over $10.

It tried

As other reviewers have said, 13 took every major consternation of 12 and tried to fix it. And in doing so made an incredibly unbalanced game.

The game is incredibly linear... to a point. Unfortunately, the bulk of the story is told through the linear areas and then completely dropped when you are given freedom to explore. At which point you can do nothing but explore, and grind, and do little meaningless sidequests... and grind more. You are stuck with a set party through most of the important parts of the game so experimentation is limited.

The background information? Relies on reading the Datalogs to fully understand and a great deal of the deus ex machinas aren't explored until the sequels. Put together they make a complete story but this is a really bad design choice to leave so much unfinished for so long a time. The enemies? The ones you want to fight you don't get a chance to and the true Big Bads aren't built up as a legitimate threat. In fact aside from the main characters there aren't that many prominent NP Cs or actual important antagonists driving the plot.

Which is a pity as there is actually a good theme running through the storied areas. All the characters are driven by loss and grief and how they deal with it is really the emotional crux of the whole game. But this is - again - dropped once the linear areas finish. The characters themselves aren't terrible but aside from Hope aren't really breaking any new ground. I found myself thinking Lightning was a Rule 63'd Squall instead of sharing similarities with Cloud.

The combat returns to shifted-screen turn based style but with the addition of Ai taking over and the Paradigm shift to simplify everything. It's a lot less exciting than it sounds and turns the battles into puzzles to solve. On the plus side, they actually made the summons far more important and useful than 12 so that's good.

It's not the worst game ever and definitely fills a niche. Had a better hand been guiding it and the plot balanced out better between free roaming and linear areas it probably would have been a lot better.

Among My Favorite Final Fantasy Games

XIII has a pretty slow start, despite it being heavy on the action. Problem is that we are thrown In Medias Res and have, hence, no reason to care what is going on until a few things are revealed as we proceed.

I overall love the protagonists, they come across as some of the most realistic I have seen in some time. Some have their training, others are civilians, but they still feel real. Sazh is a parent first-and-foremost, so his worry about his son is simple, yet hits the player emotionally. It's relateable. And even Lightning, who many deem nothing but the stoic 'strong woman' heroine, despite her arc involving her realizing her weaknesses and learning from them. And Hope is the best kid character I have seen in a long time - yes, he is obnoxious at times, but one cannot fault his strong emotions or misplaced anger, considering the events he has to go through.

The battle system is quite entertaining, if one bothers to look beyond the default setting of 'Auto Abilities'. Switching to Manual Input was one of my best-liked decisions and definitely made even random battles more fun for me.

The story takes a bit to get going, but is decently told and I finished the game with no questions left unanswered. The theme is depicted as Fighting One's Fate, and YMMV on that, but I found that the message resulted in One Cannot Fight One's Fate and the ending felt like it happened exactly as their Focus told early on.

The English translation, compared to the original Japanese text, is unfortunately a little heavy on the cheese and ham. It does make the lines come across as a little difficult to take seriously, but that is more at fault of the translating and localizing team, than the game itself.

XIII has gotten a lot of flak by a lot of people, but it not bad in any sense of the word. It starts slowly, but once the player has gotten to Chapter 3 and has unlocked magic abilities and roles, things get more interesting.

All in all, I would say XIII is among my favorite Final Fantasy games, next to Final Fantasy VI. It could have done with some minor changes, like removing the close-up upon changing paradigm the first time around or adding money drops, but those would be so minor that it overall would not change much of the game overall.

Trolls Ruined This Game.

Let's start with I've played this and finished this before on the PS 3 and somewhere along the way my thoroughly enjoyable experience was ruined once I started looking at reviews. Spent the few remaining years onwards (Well into FF XIV 2.3) thinking that it was bad. Yes, reading materials can do that to anyone. Rose colored glasses replaced with gloom colored glasses. And then SE brought it to PC and here I am.

The bad of the PC Version? 720p. The good? Ge Do Sa To lets you push it up to 4k and scale it back down to 1080p. The result? An unbelievably stunning work of art. Google it and you'll be amazed. It puts current PS 4 games to shame. The good? Everything else. And here's why.

The story is absolutely brilliant and character development is plentiful. Trolls who says otherwise probably decided it was bad and emo after barely 5 hours. A good story develops through time. Give it time and it will shine.

The battle system opens up when you start unlocking more Crystarium options. Press X to win only lasts until so ~ give and take 5-8 hours into the game. Complexity comes and the fun piles on and on. The result? A complex system that actually works its way into brilliantly self sustaining system. I value my WHOA:FUN:TIME ratio. Swapping roles back and forth to ensure fast and flashy kills makes my experience worth the time. GESTALT ROCKS BY THE WAY

The linearity is part of the story telling system. Yes there could have been more. No I'm not blaming the SUXBOX 360. No I'm not a Sony cultist. SE admitted to cutting enough story to make another game. Who shall we blame? I don't really care. Those aside, it worked well to tell stories and opens up paths to XIII-2 and XIII-3. Look at it with a broader point of view and all the linearity complains goes away. When the game opened up it opened up well. And to those complaining bout gil along the way I ask you this. How in the world do you expect a group of sudden-fugitives to make millions? They are SUDDEN-FUGITIVES NO?

The graphics. PC gets it the best. Ge Do Sa To helps you bump it up to 4k (provided you have a good sytem) and turn what's already a beautiful game into something truly special.

Lack of citizen interactions. Again, you are a sudden-fugitive. Does it make any sense to talk to 12709471027409709 NP Cs who consider you a threat and an enemy?

Conclusion : Play it! 8/10

Better than expected.

I honestly did not expect to like this game. I disliked VIII, and found X nearly unplayable - both due to their underdeveloped characters and somewhat ludicrous stories. (Floating colleges doing battle with motorcycle squads, or extreme underwater soccer with Leonardo Dicaprio? I'll pass.) I enjoyed XII a great deal, as it was just about the closest thing we're ever likely to see to a sequel to Vagrant Story. As XIII looked rather closer to VIII and X - at least from an aesthetic standpoint, more sci-fi than fantasy - I was poised to hate the thing.

In the end, and to my surprise, it's not a bad game. It's flawed. The pacing is severely off. You're stuck with several parties of two for far too long, and it's very slow to allow you to utilize its gameplay mechanics. As such, I can understand why many people grew impatient with it. On the other hand, the battle system is just plain fun. You certainly can't "press X to win," as seems to be the common complaint - at least, not after the first few simplistic hours. The first two-thirds of the game are quite linear before the world opens up, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking this is anything different. Every Final Fantasy has been linear; sometimes you have a world map that might fool you into thinking otherwise, or a few side-quests that open up later in the game, but all that's removed here is the illusion of linearity. You were always going from point A to point B.

The meat and potatoes of any RPG, to my mind, are the plot and characters. In this regard, XIII is a bit of a throwback to IV and VI, which were both more about the characters than about the story itself. Snow and Hope grated on my nerves a bit at first, but I liked them both by the halfway mark. As for those who claim Hope whines too much and ought to grow up - he's a teenager whose mother was killed in front of him mere hours ago. Give him a break, for God's sake. There are some intense and emotional scenes here, and the voice-acting is largely well executed (if a far cry from that of XII).

Give it a chance, and the game may yet surprise you. Sure as hell surprised me.

Starts Slow, But Really Picks Up!

I've heard a lot about this game, mostly how people don't seem to like it. And I can definitely see why. A lot of the dialogue seems odd and annoying, especially early on. Every couple of seconds a character is saying some kind of dramatic line, particularly Snow.

And the crystarium system isn't perfect. Each character has three roles out of six to specialize in, while the other three roles are far more expensive and usually less effective. The weapon and equipment upgrade system is a little confusing, and I had to read several online guides before I figured out how it worked. Even then, it's kind of impossible to effectively upgrade weapons and equipment until way later in the game. Even worse is the fact that monsters don't directly drop gil. You get it either from selling items or finding it in chests. (40 hours of gameplay? Enjoy your 500 gil!)

The first part of the game is slow and repetitive. The paths range from super linear to slightly less linear, with hidden treasure spheres. Though the minimap defeats the purpose of these hidden chests.

But, despite all that, I think this is a fantastic game. I really hated Snow at the beginning, because he would just say something different every five minutes. "I'm gonna save Serah! Now i'm gonna save Cocoon! Now i'll never leave Serah's side!" It got annoying fast. And Hope was just a really whiny kid as well. However their stories collided and I really liked their character progression. Snow actually took responsibility for what he did, and Hope became a really strong character.

The story really gets going after several hours of gameplay. As long as you read the datalog, the story makes sense and is pretty good. The final chapters are the best in the game, because the story starts to wrap up and some of the most interesting enemies are located in the final area.

The gameplay is the absolute best part for me. The paradigm system allows for very fast paced combat, and it can get pretty intense! The only problem I had with the AI is with the synergist role, which casts buffs one at a time. Why not just cast three at a time? Aside from that, the combat system works well, especially as your characters learn more and more interesting moves.

I can see why people don't like this game. But, I'm gonna count it as a wonderful addition to the series.

FFXIII is a glass half full, though not half empty.

FFXIII had the potential to help guide the series into a new direction upon the arrival of the PS 3, but upon release many fans and casual gamers alike complained of many things:

"It's too linear!" "The characters are annoying/unlikable/etc.!" "Where are the towns?!" "I don't understand the story!"

So...what went wrong?

I feel that the real problem with FFXIII is how the gameplay work in the game itself as well as the pacing of the story and the portrayal of the characters:

  • The Flashbacks and the 13 Days arc are completely unnecessary. They should instead be presented from the start, and fully interacted.
  • The mythology (l'Cie, fal'Cie, etc.) is thrown from all directions with only basic in-game description of whom or what they are.
  • Any information not found in-game is found in the Datalog instead, and said information barely makes an impact in the game in the first place.
  • The last story chapter to the ending is clearly a mess, no foreshadowing is used, and the blatant abuse Deus Ex Machina is apparent.
  • The gameplay actually makes sense, though it should have been made more apparent, as the party is constantly on the run and is expected a never-ending series of battle.

  • Lightningís role in the story, aside from rescuing Serah, is non-existent. Her connection with her officer and his troops are never explored.
  • Snow and Serahís relationship is barely developed, which hurts the story as it is one of the reason why the story exists.
  • Hopeís conflict with Snow, while compelling, is clichť. His relationship with Lightning, however, is one of the most engaging story arc in the game.
  • Sazh is easily the most likable and believable character in the game and his story arc is while appealing, is sadly cut off too quickly.
  • Vanilleís persona is annoying and childish, which does not help make her endearing. Also, Vanille is clearly the main character and should have been portrayed as one.
  • Fang is introduced too late and barely interacts with the rest of the cast upon becoming a permanent playable character.

Trying out new ideas is not a bad move, but in FFXIIIís case, it clearly did not help its overall quality. Itís not a terrible game, but itís far from perfect.

Not For Everybody, Obviously

Having played every offline game in the main series, and beaten every one except XII (which I plan on getting around to someday), I can say with confidence that while this may not be the worst game in the series, it is the one with the least direction.

Final Fantasy XIII spends the first ten or so hours in the middle of what feels like the climax of the first act of a better-told story. And while this technique can be done well, nowhere in the game does it adequately fill the player in on just what has led up to those events. The player is left to piece things together from sparse, confusing, anachronistic flashbacks and entire essays in the datalogue to get even a basic understanding of the plot.

The characters and battle mechanics are the most polarizing things about the game, so I can only offer my opinion: while I fully expected to hate everyone except Sazh, the game actually surprised me in that the only characters that I really disliked by the end of the game were Lightning and Fang. I think people are too quick to write off the rest of the characters based solely on how they're introduced (and to be fair, I did too for a while.)

The battle mechanics, while not amazing, are no more "press-X-and-win" than games like Final Fantasy VII or even some of the earlier games. The only problem I can say I had was that they do present the illusion of freedom and depth, which only makes the restrictions all the more frustrating. At least the earlier games were upfront about their simplicity. However, I did find the last arc of the game to be suitably challenging, provided you skip all of the "side-quests." Most of which really are nothing more than "Go collect Twenty Bear Asses" with no semblance of world-building or character development.

The game is a confusing, rushed mess, with a cripplingly linear world, poor plot pacing, antagonist motivations that make no sense and actively seem to contradict their actions, and a lot of that annoying faux-symbolism and faux-intillect that Square has become famous for lately. However, if you can get past that, and check your brain at the door, it probably won't be the worst sixty hours you've ever sunk into a game.

Definitely a love-it-or-hate-it affair.

Though it should be obvious by now, FFXIII is probably the most polarizing game in the series. While many lambaste this game for its undeniable linearity and complex-in-its-simplicity battle system, others claim it as their favorite in the series for this very reason. Honestly, I think the only way you cam get an accurate gauge of whether this game is right for you or not is simply by playing it. Most of the criticisms of this game are over nothing more than simple design choices made due to the huge backlash from its predecessor. The only actual serious flaw that I can blame Square Enix for in this game is how long it takes to get in. Don't rent this game for a night, play for 3 hours and decide you don't like it this is a game that gets exponentially better as time goes on, and it takes a full twelve hours to fully mature. if you're not sure about this game, give it a spin to make sure, but not until you have a whole free day.

The magic is lost

Final Fantasy XIII is...well, just a hard game for me to review. I really wanted to love this game. I wanted to recapture the things that made me fall in love with the franchise, from Final Fantasy VIs story to Final Fantasy Xs gameplay. But alas, that was not to be.

The gameplay is radically simplified. In all honesty, you can't just hit X and win every fight; only about 99.9997% of them. The only real control you have is with the Paradigms, and while it is fun to play around with them at first, odds are you'll find two and three that'll carry you through the game. Leveling is like a straightforward version of X's Sphere Grid; once again, it's fun at first, but after a while you start to see how confining it is.

And confined is the right term. A game can be an RPG without shops or towns (old school dungeon crawlers, anyone?), but FFXIII is virtually lifeless. There are no memorable NP Cs to speak of. The environments look pretty in screenshots, but are totally dull when running through them. The "straight line" dungeons are just...a bad decision, all told. I can understand mainstreaming a game, but this is beyond that. It places accessibility ahead of actual fun.

But what really kills the game is the pacing. The plot itself is woefully generic, albeit with brief flashes of creativity, and even that could be forgiven if told well. Here, you don't understand anything until about the fifteen hour mark. The nonsequential flashbacks are a neat thought, but once again, they suffer from poor writing and rather flat characterization. There is some genuine development, but once again, that's twenty hours in. The game only gets halfway decent at the infamous 25-hour mark.

Just to clarify: a game can get better later on. Both Persona3 and Persona4 took about ten hours before their stories got interesting. Heavy Rain muddled around for two hours before you took a rusty sawblade to your pinky. But 25 hours in inexcusable. Basic design dictates you show your best work first, and don't start sliding downhill until the last five hours. Oh, and the game does slide downhill for the last ten hours.

Like I said, I wanted to love this game, but it just couldn't make it. It's not the worst in the franchise (VIII), but it's glory days are long gone.

Does "Fabula Crystal Novalis" translate to "We're Incompetent"?

Let me disclaim first that I haven't actually played this game, only watched a playthrough on You Tube. (Insert your favorite Mass Effect joke here.) But what I saw was dismal. The game's gimmicks are just that, the character development is thin, and I spent the first six chapters waiting for something to happen.

Gameplay was boring. It continues Squeenix's love of characters that are identical to each other, and the Paradigm system only adds so much excitement. (The use of ATB bars to carry out queues was a smart move, though.) Even worse, the Crystarium is a waste of finger grease: the game tries to give you the illusion of choice by making you hold X to get new traits, even though there's no sane reason to skip them. The upgrade system was an exercise in busywork, you don't get to choose who's in your party until chapter nine, and who's bright idea was it precisely to reduce the stats panel to three stats? Even Roguelikes have more than that!

The story was a drag. When the party escaped the Lindblum, united for the first time all game, I thought, "What a perfect ending place for the first act, with two more after it of similar length!" Nope, we were almost two-thirds done. To be sure, I liked the character moments during the fragmented-party sections—Hope and Lightning; Hope and Snow; the ongoing Sazh-Vanille dymamics—but they weren't enough to tide me over, especially when there's so few of them. I was also disappointed at the lack of Halfway Plot Switch; Barthandelus just keeps being the badguy. They didn't even hide the Giant Space Orphan From Nowhere very well. And the frakking ending! Ugh. "Hi, we're back from being Zombie'd!" "How??" "Oh, we just felt like it." Right.

My feeling about Final Fantasy XIII is that Squeenix were phoning it in. It's got half a game's plot, shoddy mechanics and no depth. And I'm of mixed minds on what it means. As a RPG-designer hopeful, I'm glad one of the giants of the genre is about to fall: leaves more room for the rest of us. But as a Final Fantasy fanboy, who started gaming because of this franchise, I'm sad. These games are why I'm here. But it's time to turn in my card. Final Fantasy and I are over.

Worst Final Fantasy Ever?

I haven't played every Final Fantasy. Not even most of them. I've play IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII, and now XIII and I have to say that this is the worst Final Fantasy I've played yet.

Many people may cite VIII or XII as the object of their hatred for various reasons, but each game gets its respective flak. It seems that each fan of Final Fantasy has a game that they love, the one game that will keep them coming back again and again until something, anything, recaptures that magic but on the opposite end of the spectrum, a game that they pledge undying hatred for, the reason that they're cynical about each new release. For a while, I had VI for the game of my affection, and nothing for my game of hatred. I liked each one for different reasons and didn't find any to be bad, just different games. That was until I played XIII.

The battle system is conveluted, it seems that the best way to beat the game is to simply spam A until the thing in front of you dies. The paradigms were honestly fun at first, playing around with the various combinations and finding a few that really worked for you was a fun part of the game... until it was over, then you had your paradigms, and that's it. There were no unlockable jobs, just the few that you start out with, and you're stuck with that the entire game. This wouldn't be such a problem if the battles weren't such a chore.

And maybe THAT wouldn't have been such a problem if the story or characters were any good. I think everyone's been in a situation where they're playing a game just to get to the next cutscene but I honestly didn't care about anything that happened to any of the characters in this game. I kept hoping for it to get better but it never did. There were no stand out characters, everyone was an equal bore. The story was dumb but maybe I just didn't understand it. No, I definitely didn't understand it, and that's pretty bad because I understood VIII's just fine.

The world felt cardboard and I was more immersed in the PSX era pre-rendered backgrounds. The music was good the first 80 times but then it got monotonous.

All in all, Square needs to go in the opposite direction with XV and if that means going back to ATB random battles then so be it, anything to get away from this mess.

Good news, bad news, and more good news

I will admit that FFXIII almost drove me crazy. Of the series, this was the only one that made me want to throw my controller. Yet, I liked it. This game has its problems, but the good outweights the bad.

First the visuals. The game's strongest point. Every background is gorgeous. From the crystalized lake to the grassy steppe, I just wanted to stop and admire the scenery. This carries over into the battles. The characters do far more than stand in place, rush the enemy, and return. Even repitive battles are more visually interesting.

Second the gameplay. This is the game's weakest point. Players can only control one character in battle, and if that character dies its game over, creating both fridge logic and frustration. The paradigm system is confining and annoying but the AI is surpising intelligent; an improvement over 12's gambits. The inability to change battle team or leader is also annoying and there is no excuse for this. When I realized that there weren't going to be any towns I was disapointed. I don't like dungeon crawlers and especially not linear ones. However, this one struck a cord. Think about it: They have been irrevocably cut off from everything they know and love. Of course they're going to be isolated. The 'keep moving' gameplay fits with the story; they can't stop or they'll be killed. I actually found the game hard to put down for this reason.

Second the story and characters. First of all the datalog is NOT neccesary to understand the plot. You can go the whole game without reading it, though it does flesh out non-essential details like the function of non-boss Fal'cie. The storyline, while different from previous titles, is not bad. In Media Res allows the story to develop from both ends; the flashbacks of what happened pre-game influence how the player sees current events, which continue moving. The final parts of the game can be confusing because the game doesn't spell everything out but players will understand if they pay attention. The interaction between characters is gold. I felt for them in their despair and lack of purpose. The ways they deal with being L'cie and find out about the 13 days is well told and interesting, though it DOES take more linear dungeon crawling than I liked.

Bottom line: I like this game. It has flaws, but they're mostly in the battle system.

Better Than It Sounds

Everyone has games that they either like, dislike, or love. me, I'm pretty easygoing, and not that hardcore a gamer. As interesting as 100% completion sounds, I'm okay without it. I don't get that worked up about voice actors being bad, or poor gameplay, or even one-dimensional characters. I just try to roll with it, and for, me, if it clicks, that's fine, if not, then that's fine too. You might say that I have low standards, but honestly, I'm just looking for something fun.

In terms of Final Fantasy games, the first one that I ever played was Thirteen, so, unlike a lot of people, I may not have as much flak for it as other people. I've played other RPG's before, and, honestly, I play them as if I'm reading a book. Inserting myself into the character's shoes, not my style. I'm far more interested in letting the characters be themselves than trying to roleplay them. I like the magic of seeing other worlds, and trying to extrapolate how they're possible, not nitpicking over bad design.

In fact, I probably barely ever notice bad design. maybe this is good, maybe bad, but it probably does make me biased towards FF XIII.

Final Fantasy 13 is definitely different from its predecessors. It has a different feel from the other games, and would probably do well as a standalone title,not just as a final fantasy game, and possibly even better if it was a standalone title. Itís something that can be enjoyed on the surface, but is most pleasing when you look at it sideways, rather than head on. Itís also a more philosophical game than most, and letís be honest, most people donít want to get caught up in a philosophical train of thought when playing a game. Final Fantasy 13 is a very good game, provided you can look at it from the right point of mind.

Good, Not Perfect, But Good

I really liked this game, and I can say that as someone with limited exposure to FF. I've only played X and XII. Those were pretty good, but I liked this better. I found the characters in those to be dull and their plots completely uninteresting. (Can I say Blitzball emphatically enough?)

People say Hope Wangsts a lot, and I say, if you're gonna bug someone, go bug Tidus. "I hate you, Dad!" YAWN.

And on the linearity issue, just about every game you have played and will play is linear. Even XII, which is supposedly so open, does this, with all those sidequests being mere distractions from the very railroaded main plot. I don't care about that, I just want a set of good characters with a decent story. And I this game delivered that for me.

I loved the combat in this game. One of the things that I've disliked about previous F Fs is that you get so caught up in the nuts and bolts of fighting that you can't focus on coming up with a decent strategy other than "don't die". The paradigm system, ATB system and auto-battle functions work because it lets me pull my hands away and think about resistances, buffs, and combat roles, where in other games I would just bring out my heavy hitters and a healer and just go for it, or be bogged down by making sure my gambits were in the right order.

This game has its flaws, yes. The ending was weird. The slow introduction of mechanics matched the off pacing, resulting in long stretches with minimal character development and repetitive fights. Which basically describes Sazh and Vanille's plot from the Vile Peaks to Nautilus, which is a large chunk of time. And the difficulty spike once you hit that third disc can be very frustrating at times.

Overall, I like this game. It's not perfect, but I liked it and I'm rating this as my favorite FF game. It's no Mass Effect 2, but it's good. I'd recommend it to those looking for a good time sink and some interesting mechanics and storytelling. Just don't set your bar too high on this one.

Not what I was looking for.

So, I'll be honest; I really don't like this installment in the series. I think my biggest problem is that it follows on the heels on XII, which was almost XIII's antithesis as far as style and gameplay go. From what I've read, Square received a lot of flak after releasing XII because it was "too open" (an impossibility as far as I'm concerned), and this was what prompted them to create the "variations on running down a hall and killing things in your path" mode of play for XIII.

Now, I know it's been said that isn't the first time this gameplay style was used in the series, and I completely agree. In X, you ran down glorified corridors and defeated random encounters on your way to the next destination. Same thing in VII. The difference was, it didn't feel like you were. Those games did a good job of disguising the game's actual lack of nonlinearity. And, maybe I'm being shallow, but I honestly liked that illusion. XII is the same way. It's definitely, IMO, the most open of any of the FF games (all the world areas interconnect, and you can run halfway across the world to the Bonus Dungeon inside the first five hours), but there's still little incentive to actually stray off the beaten path for any reason beyond curiosity. Ultimately, it's the seemingly simple fact that XIII is honest about the kind of game you're playing that turns me off.