Review by BrawlNubZen
"A failed experiment by Square Enix"
There are many more than 13 games in the Final Fantasy series due to spin-offs, and I've played the majority of them. I only truly enjoy around 7 of the games with the FF title, yet I am still able to accept the other games as a part of the series. XIII however, does not fit into that category. Not only do it's flaws make it an abomination to the FF title, but rather video games in general.
Story: The game's story had potential to be decent, but Square Enix fell short on that one. The game starts out very abruptly, with no real introduction whatsoever (kind of like modern action movies). After traversing through a dozen narrow passageways, you then start seeing "development" through the use of 20 minute flashbacks. Really? They couldn't be arsed to include an introductory segment to the game, where I could become familiar with the characters and the setting? Too bad. Most games, good or bad, actually do that.
Aside from that, the rest of the story is pretty bland. There is no real development of the characters, and instead it feels like they're just acting out stereotypes, or just don't really care about what's going on. Snow is the worst example; he goes beyond the stereotype of no brains all brawn, because he isn't even strong enough to do anything. The characters are just ripping off previous FF protagonists except without any of the personality. SE must have realized that they could never make a good game ever again, so they decided to copy their own games hoping everyone would love it. Unfortunately, they were right. (2/10)
Graphics: From a technological standpoint, there's nothing to really complain about. However, graphics to me also include the atmosphere. The characters could be considered realistic, but their faces look way too detailed to be considered realistic at all. The characters aren't very interesting to look at in terms of facial expressions or body movements, and they really have no chemistry when together. Overall, uninteresting. (4/10)
Music: Many of the songs are very uninspired, mostly involving long segments of piano tunes pretending to sound beautiful and melodic. The battle theme grows repetitive, there's only so many times you can hear something trying so desperately to sound dramatic. The absence of the classic Final Fantasy victory theme is enough for me to condemn this game. Any long running series should be changed up to make it interesting, but there are some things you just do not change. The victory theme is one of them. Absolutely pathetic. (1/10)
Gameplay: The core of any video game, of course. The FF series, and RPGs in general, involve a lot of strategic elements and thinking out plans carefully. This game does not involve any such thing. The Paradigm Shift system, while seemingly complex, is really just a dumbed-down version of previous games. In other RPGs, people are able to attack and use magic spells at the same time. In FFXIII, either you're attacking or healing. You can't do both at once. How innovative!
The inclusion of the Auto-Battle function makes things even easier than they need to be. Instead of pressing down, then smashing X several times to attack, you can simply press X once to do that all for you. The Auto-Battle function is in fact so intuitive, that 9 times out of 10 it will probably select actions that you probably never would have even though of. More than half of the boss fights I've been in do not even require me to be in the room. During several boss fights, I've walked downstairs, gotten some chips, and had a conversation, all while just smashing X on the wireless controller.
I come back, the boss dies, and I get a perfect score of 5 stars. If you are able to progress in a video game by smashing X while being in another room, then it's not a video game. Aside from battles, you simply run down a single path the entire game. There's no need to backtrack, and it's not like you could if you wanted to. You never have to do anything extra in this game to win, and that to me is a disappointment. No effort involved. (2/10)
Overall: This is a good introductory game to people who are new to the FF series, because then they can move on to the other games and see what a good video game is like. Square Enix said themselves that they were heavily influenced by Western games during the development of FFXIII, and it shows. This game is more of an example of what a video game should not be, rather than a video game itself. It provesthat video games are not action movies; they are games. Games are meant to be played, not watched.
-The black character, Sazh, is tolerable
-Convoluted and dull storyline
-Equally uninspired characters
-Overly simplistic gameplay
-No effort involved
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/16/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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