Review by RyuuHou25
"Shining example of graphics being more important than everything else"
For years we waited for this game. We waited through the online 11, and many of us even waited through or bypassed altogether 12, being as the game play for that was more like a single player online experience. Waiting, apparently, does not always bear fruit.....
Graphics - 10/10
Obviously, this game is beautiful. The CG movies are fantastic and on level or above what was seen in Advent Children. Even the in game graphics are only a few notches down from the CG, which is of course what all the hype was about this entry, and on this point, it delivered. The only real downside to this, is ~everything~ is made to look grand and majestic, much to the point it feels at times as if the game is constantly out doing itself.
Audio - 4/10
I was really quite shocked at this. I have a full surround system, and I have tower speakers. I have optimum settings for video games, which have never failed before on anything else, most recently, Star Ocean 4. When I first put this game in, I was wondering if perhaps my system was even turned on? The song in the beginning sequence takes a good 15-20 seconds to "rise" and begin. When you start the game, you see the first CG movie, it's amazing, sound is great.....and then the game itself starts. Immediately, I notice massive sound reduction. The background music sounds like it's playing faintly, like on an elevator or something, character voices are still quite there, but a bit softer.....and sound effects. In the beginning, when watching the in game scenes of the monster destroying the train.....I felt like I was watching something that was sounded by a child.
The audio fluctuates wildly in this game. You ~have~ to have this cranked up high when not watching the CG movies, or you'll miss NPC talk, things your party members are saying while running around, and the beautiful music in this game, which is a shame really, because much of the music is beautiful.....in battles, it's the exact same thing. And there is ~no~ option to increase it or decrease it.....I haven't seen this option omitted from a game in.....years....I can't even remember the last time I didn't see it.
Gameplay - 1/10
I find it highly amusing that so many people are praising the battle system in this chapter of Final Fantasy. Considering it essentially holds your hand and allows you to "battle" merely by hitting X a few times every 10 seconds or so, I'm really confused.....it's basically been brought down to a button masher. Attacks can be done manually, you can choose which ones you want to use, put them in a command line, wait for the ATB gauge to fill, and then watch as they are executed....only one real problem. You don't really have to do that until near the end of the game, when all the complexities that we usually see come out in FF games much sooner, finally rise up. From the beginning of the game, pretty much until Chapter 10 (yes, there's chapters, 11 of which are rather short, with only Chapter 11 taking any real amount of time), you can just use auto battle, auto heal, auto protect, auto everything really. Hit the X, hit it again, you win.
The so called "strategy" employed here, is that spells like Shell and Protect and Barrier, and consequently DeShell and so on and so forth, actually have uses in the game early on, and can be the difference in you winning, and dying. This comes in the form of Paradigms, where you can switch the class of your characters on the fly, in battle, allowing different commands. However, it basically boils down to one uses offensive magic, one defensive magic, one heals, one casts party status, one casts enemy status, and one does physical attacks. Making it so you have to choose between these on the fly, set them up before hand and what not, is where the so called strategy comes in. Except of course for one thing again.....switching between them eats up precious seconds, during which, enemies do ~not~ stop attacking you.....so not only do you have to think this through logically, and pay much more attention, you have to, quite often, time the switches just right......many times, did I go to switch a medic role in to heal the other members, only to have them die.
Items?? Yeah, they exist.....they're 99% useless now though. Potions, Phoenix Downs, Antidotes......their only use is in battles now. If someone dies in battle, resurrect them with Phoenix Down....assuming you don't die before you can. Potions, use them if you don't have medic, otherwise they're useless, as they don't heal very much. Antidotes and various other items that cure status ailments.....you could use them. But, there's not much point until the end of the game, again, when battles get much lengthier and your survival can depend on them.
So, let's recap......you hit X, you win. You have to use your brain in battle a bit, but really it's more a speed game, do everything as fast as you possibly can! Because the faster you win, the more stars you get....that's right, stars. Oh, and a score too, which serves no purpose, at all, in the game. It's just.....there. And it doesn't keep track of it or anything like that. I'm not kidding. The stars represent how well you fought, and how fast you beat the enemies. There is a hidden time limit in each battle.....if you take too long, you lose stars, if you dawdle around in battle, you lose stars. If you get your butt handed to you constantly, but survive anyways.....you lose stars. Beat the enemies, beat them mercilessly, do it fast.
Yet again, sounding more like a button masher than an RPG. And the last blow.......if your party dies, big deal. If you die though, if the character you control dies.....game over. Doesn't matter if everyone else is still alive, if you die....bye bye!!! They make this up to you by allowing you restart pretty much right before the battle, so you can try again. But.....god is it frustrating. Say you go back and play 6, except in every battle it chooses one character, if they die, it's game over.
So, battles.....horrible. People can argue it all they want and make excuses for it all they want, it's annoying, it serves no real purpose and has no real depth until near the end of the game, which is inexcusable, and it's just a horrible, pale shadow of what we have gotten before. So people and enemies move around during the battles......WOW. They could have easily done this in a much better way, hell, they could have employed time altering and time freezing like they have in the past with no explanation whatsoever, and had everyone move when their bars were full. They wanted more realistic and fast paced, well......you're still standing there, holding a sword, and not slashing at your enemy like your life depends on it!!! At least, not until the bar lets you. So what was the point of making everything else so ludicrously fast??
There's no exploration until Chapter 11. There's shops, but since you get NO gil from battles (that's right, you get money in treasure chests, and from selling items you find, but that's it.....and you don't want to be selling the items, because they're used to make your weapons stronger!!!)
Each character has 8 weapons in the game. Each one has 3 levels, but each one ends in the same weapon, so really....there's 2 levels, for 16, plus the one end one, which is the same for every weapon for that character, so technically, 17 weapons for each character. You level them up with EXP they get from items......again, not kidding. Items that monsters drop, you use those, and you upgrade your weapons. It's complicated, it would only make sense really if you had a guide to explain it to you, and even then, the guide tells you.....don't bother with it until near the end of the game (anyone else noticing I say that a lot?)
Which is true, because to upgrade them efficiently, you pretty much need about two to three hundred of various items, which you aren't going to have until near the end of the game. You can upgrade them starting at Chapter 4.....but, it wouldn't do much good, and it would be a waste, since the more items you use at once.....the more EXP they get.
Despite what has been said, yes, there are side quests, mainly it's a hunting game, similar to what was in FF 12. Various monsters you have to hunt down and destroy. But.....guess what?? Not until near the end of the game.
Chocobos are in this......you get to ride them again!!! But not until near the end of the game.
Summons are back!!! You don't get to use them in battle really until halfway through Chapter 5 (there's a brief few moments before that, when you can use Lightning's....Snow gets his really early on......it's a shame he doesn't come back to the party until nearly half way through the game) Their use is extremely limited.....they require TP to use, 3 to be exact. You have 5. You never get anymore than 5. There are very rare items that refill your TP. You also gain back a very tiny bit of TP, every few battles. So, basically, every once in awhile, you get to use Summons (or Eidolons as they're in this one)
Not too bad, right??? Except for the fact they are WEAK as can be. Even fighting normal, common monsters, Odin, for example, cannot outright demolish them.....nope. You summon him, you fight with him for a bit until his meter is almost gone.....you hit square!!!! He transforms, you then can use his special moves (again, you can manually do them, however, there is that auto option) until that bar is almost empty, and then usually you want to unleash his ultimate move!!!! And then he goes away.....
And all the enemies are still there. WTF??? I'm not kidding, I can't count how many times Eidolons did not kill any of the enemies, or only dispatched one. On the plus side, they look really neat!!!
So.....you might be asking, what is there really to the game, with so much not really being pointful or around until near the end of the game??? The answer would be next to nothing. You get Crystal Points for beating enemies, which is based on your rankings in each battle. Get 5 stars, get the max CP you can, get less than 5, get less CP. These points are used to unlock crystals which are on a set path, much like the level system in FF 10.....except much less interesting looking, and much more horribly done. Because there is a cap for each chapter!!! So, those of you who like to level.....guess what?? No point until near the end of the game!!!! :O
Honestly, I sat there wondering why it takes so damn long for the actual "game" to come into the game and make it interesting and fun......I wouldn't play this again. I wouldn't. It's too freaking boring without having a reason to do all this battling. And with no leveling, no shops, no items to buy, no weapons to buy, nothing to upgrade until near the end of the game........which brings me to
Replayability - 1/10
Once you beat the final boss, you can get the final level of the crystal level system, you can finish the hunting game, and that's pretty much it. No, you cannot go back to earlier parts of the game, no, you cannot start a new game with all your experience/levels/weapons/money or anything. No, there is no movie viewer. That's about the only reason to play this horrid game again....to see the pretty, shiny movies. Except you have to wade through knee deep crap to do it. It's like smacking yourself in the fact with a baseball bat, to allow yourself to watch a movie for 5 minutes.
Overall - 4/10
I really don't even want to give it that high a rating, but since I can't deny the graphics are great, that makes the overall rating a 4. I know when this was released in Japan, there was boards flooded with unhappy people about this game, and now I see why. And I think it's pretty sad, that so many people are making excuses for all the shortcomings of this game, purely because it's Final Fantasy. It's like saying "As long as you put Final Fantasy on it, you can **** up whatever you want!!!"
As for the story of the game, well.....it's your typical FF fare, just shortened and chopped up and put through a blender. Starts off interestingly enough, but pretty much sits in a lull until.....you guessed it, near the end of the game. Hell, they might as well have just given us a 3 hour CG movie, told us what happened up until Chapter 11, and then just made the game Chapter 11 and 12. Clever too, huh, this being the 13th game, so there being 12 games before it, 12 chapters!!! Oooooo!!
I'm praying Versus 13 is better than this. I'm not kidding.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 03/15/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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