Review by s0rA3
"A complete miss in Final Fantasy."
If I had to compare the Final Fantasy series to a car model, it'll have to be the Nissan Fairlady Z. Why? Well, each Z brought on a new change. Every Final Fantasy had something new to share with us gamers for good and for bad. Twelve releases since the first one sounds impressive. Final Fantasy IV brought on the ATB, Final Fantasy VII brought on 3D environments and something called sequels (in a sense) and Final Fantasy X brought on voice overs instead of the scrolling text of before.
And of course, that brings us to Final Fantasy XIII. It's the first Final Fantasy to be on two consoles, the PS3 and the Xbox360. Ironic that Final Fantasy has now cross-platformed to all current console players. However, the curse of thirteen seemed to have struck this Final Fantasy here. It's time to dive into the meat of the matter.
Seriously, if you don't stare in awe of the intro sequence for the game, I think you need glasses or worse, need to be hospitalised for major eye surgery and be gouged out for that. The past thirteen releases have shown how far we have come since the 2D and 8bit sprites to full fledged CG cinematography. Ideally, the only thing that's more impressive than the detail in the graphics is the real world itself. It is mind boggling in the detail of each hair strand, or even the stubble on Sazh.
Sound and voices: 6/10
The soundtrack isn't that great but it's not bad either. It's not as dramatic as the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack or not as mellow as the Final Fantasy X soundtrack. Apart from the ending song, there isn't a single song that stands out and says to me, 'You'll be stuck with me until the next soundtrack.'. I do believe that the passion for the music has been lost ever since Nobuo Uematsu left. The voices seems to be fine apart from Fang and Vanille. The VA for Fang seemed to be having a flu whilst Vanille really wants to be punched in the mouth badly. And I know my Australian accent as I'm from Australia!
Battle system and growth system: 3/10
This is the main issue of the game here. I'll give you a sample of the battle system you'll be hitting. You're approaching an enemy. The ATB gets going and off you go. Here, most of the early FF wouldn't help you and you're on your own. But at least, it doesn't treat you like an idiot. In XIII however, it does treat you like an idiot. How you ask? Well, straight away in the battle, there is a big glowing button called Auto-Battle. Push that, and the system optimises what is the best attack and bang, you're off. If you want to hit before the enemy gets an attack, press Triangle and it'll attack with whatever gauge and whatever attack you set under that gauge. I assume this is done for the beginners. But I'm not a beginner. I've been through the first FF and all the way down to Final Fantasy XII. So I want that ability to attack without having to use that button. Square should have an option, asking whether you are serious about FF or just breezing through.
In previous FF, you could switch out characters and so forth. Here, you can't use any other team members. That's right. The team you have are the only team you have. And if your main character 'dies', game over. I don't think Square has heard of something called Phoenix Down or Revive. Unfortunately, the other characters are controlled by the AI and it's not the brightest given how it loves to just attack and don't do anything else. Only when you changed jobs do they change. So if you're not careful, you can easily get game over a couple times over. In my opinion, putting all your eggs in one basket isn't the greatest of idea when you're not into being careful like me.
The switch in job is interesting. Where have I seen it before? Oh yeah, that was done in a basic form in FFXII. Here, you can switch so that the character could be a chain attacker to a defensive fighter that counter-attacks. However, the characters only have two jobs. Only Hope has three and to be honest, that's probably all you need.
The growth system is worse off than X and XII. You move along a set piece called the Crystarium system as you battle along. As you do, you eventually hit the end quite easily. I've managed to max out the Crystarium within a few battles. If you're similar to me where you smack every single enemy on the field, you'll easily have Crystogen Points left over. Square, give me an expert Crystarium system and I'll be happy.
Side missions: 2/10
Absolutely nothing here. The side missions are the same. Hunt this monster, chase after this chocobo. Fight this mini-boss. Find the missing item. Ugh, I've seen more just by watching paint dry.
This is pretty generous since there isn't a main story. It's five mini stories, connected by the most clichéd lines. You have Sazy doing an Ethan (Heavy Rain fans should know this), Hope being an emo for 3/4 of the game, Snow and Lightning trying to be a Modern Family and finally, Fang and Vanille trying to tell us that lesbianism is the bomb. You have the l'Cie, fal'Cie, Cocoon and the PSICOM added in. However, you have no idea who or what they are until you reach the end. Trying to emulate Hideo Kojima, are we Square? The problem of doing that is that the back story is lacking and you're forcing everyone to use guides to figure out what the hell is going on. Not a way to tell a story. And believe me, I was absolutely gutted when I finished it. It felt like an underwhelming movie that cheaper than Alone in the Dark.
If I was a beginner to the FF series, this would be a good stepping stone into the FF series. It is overly protective and rarely puts a beat wrong. But I'm not a beginner. I know my FF and this sadly doesn't hit me where it counts. My heart. For that, I have to rate it as the worst FF I've ever played. And that kind of criticism is hard not to justify.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 07/06/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (AU, 03/09/10)
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