Review by bozoc19
"Worst FF I've seen"
I would call myself an avid RPG player and have played all the FF franchise since VII. This however fell far short of any expectations I had from Square-Enix.
Story - 1/10
The story of most Final Fantasy games are iconic and can move you in ways that you can't imagine. But in Final Fantasy XIII, there is no hint of that. After I heard a main character say "Let's run away" I was astonished. It's not the mid-battle and losing kind of "run away", it was let's "run away" so we don't have to deal with the bigger issue. The only memorable part of the story was how disappointing it is. There was an overall sense of saving the world but for the most part the characters didn't care. All the well detailed cut scenes were filled of hallow words that contradicted themselves some times even within the same cut scene!
Lots of people have said these characters are well developed with realistic actions. Well yes if I was personally faced with saving the world I might falter and change my mind. But that is not why I play video games. I want a strong well driven character that develops as time progresses. FF XIII has characters that run away from the bigger picture, change their morals every cut scene, don't care about their so called friends, have no real real reason to do the things they are doing, and call themselves "the Hero." Literally Snow calls himself a hero, just to fail as horribly as the others.
Sound - 3/10
*Note- I was playing on a standard wide screen TV without surround sound so experiences may differ
I did enjoy the musical score for the overall game. The battle music was good but nothing as memorable as FF VII. The part that got me was the foot steps. After hearing boots stomping on metal for the first 30 hours of play I was ready to just put the game on mute, and everyone wears boots in this game. The voice acting was OK until you have Vanille in your group and makes those girly noises every time she casts a spell or gets hit or moves. Then there was the final battle/ cut scene, due to the weird voice alteration on the final boss I couldn't even understand what he was saying over the background music. Although at that point in the game it didn't even matter to me.
Graphics - 7/10
This is one thing that Square knows how to do. The one saving grace of FF XIII is that it looks spectacular. Now if they could keep the camera in one spot so you could tell what happens. The opening scene catches your eye for how detailed everything is, then the action starts. FF XIII tends to look like Transformers did, a whole lot of detailed computer graphics mashed together with camera angles that change so often you can't tell whats happening.
Battle System - 5/10
The actual ATB system is great and innovative. It is a quick system that forces you to think quick or you die, which happens pretty easily. The boss fights do have some strategy to them. The normal monster encounters can be typically defeated by pushing 1 button to Auto-battle, so you can sit back and just watch the graphics. When you do get to a non-linear point in the game it is VERY apparent when you can not take on a monster. Each fight you can either win with minimal effort or you die in 1-2 rounds with about 20% being between the extremes.
The system allows you to que actions. Instead of having mana to use, stronger spells take up more time. The system incorporates area-of-effect spells. If enemies are close together you can hit them all, this also works to your disadvantage. If your party is grouped together they get hit by enemy AOE, an OK idea until you realize that you cant move your party away from each other so they tend to be stacked together and die from any kind of AOE monster, which the majority are later in the game.
You can give the AI roles to which they fulfill quite well for a computer, but lacks the ability to customize their set programing. You can't tell a party buffer to give people protect before haste so they wont die. And you can't change party leader mid-fight to fix things the AI gets wrong. The medic role is nice but lacks the ability to do anything besides heal. Esuna is always a great cure-all, but not in FF XIII it takes 1 debuff off at a time, not very useful when you have 4 on each character and hp going down quick.
Summoning creatures is always a large pivotal role in major battles in the Final Fantasy franchise. In this game, not so much. Each character gets one and only one summon that you can summon only one time in a fight by only one character (due to the fact that you can't change party leader). Yes they do help, but only to the point that they heal your party when they leave. They do look well detailed though even if they fail on all other aspects.
Game Design - 2/10
Here again Square falls short of their reputation. In previous titles they have shown a game with incredible depth and customization. Not only are you forced into a straight line for the first 2/3 of the game in the world but the "leveling" system is a straight line too. Don't be fooled by the detailed look of the circles spiraling from a central point, it's a straight line with an offshoot of 1 ability hear and there. This system is not only comparable to the straight line you walk in the world but you can't get to a higher tier unless you progress the story line by killing the final boss in a chapter. Oh and even if you do take the time to grind (yes a mmorpg term) out all the points to try and customize your character it costs insurmountable amount of numbers to get half the distance.
You might think that since the leveling system is so limited you could customize it else were? Nope. Your equipment is limited to a few random abilities on weapons and the accessories are pretty much worthless even if you do upgrade them.
Overall - 2/10
If you want a quick simple straight forward game that wastes your $60 this is it. I bought Final Fantasy XIII expecting a grand game that would touch my soul and keep me enthralled for hours on end. To the contrary I got a game that was a let down. After I stopped caring about the lousy storyline, I just wanted to finish it to say that I have. I plan on trading Final Fantasy XIII in to a game store. This is a hard thing to do because I have kept and replayed all of the previous titles (I even have the movies, yes even Spirits Within).
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/25/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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