Review by rmoney426
"Whatever happened to good old fashioned RPG's?"
I must say I am extremely disappointed with Square Enix's latest FF installment, FFXIII. Never has a game had so much potential, yet failed to meet that potential so badly. Where do I start? In fairness, let's start with the good.
Graphics/Presentation: As you would expect on a PS3 system, the graphics were first rate. The cut scenes were beautiful, and the backgrounds matched seamlessly with the gameplay. Unfortunately, as others have pointed out, stunning visuals can improve a good game to a great one, not save a mediocre game.
Storyline: I thought the storyline was well thought out, and the characters had better depth than in some previous games. However, while the storyline is very important to an RPG, it isn't what truly sets a great RPG apart, and unfortunately this is where I must move into what didn't work in this game.
Gameplay: In a word...hideous. I have no idea who designed the battle system, but whoever he or she is should immediately be fired. The paradigm system is without question the worst battle system ever devised...in most cases the battle is going on so fast that all you have time to do is switch between paradigms. Many times the other characters take actions in their paradigm that make no sense to the situation (healing the leader who is only down a small amount of HP's when the character who is the medic is almost dead, ie), and in many cases the paradigm choices themselves leave much to be desired. All of which conspires to prevent control of the individual characters, which is one of the most fun things about RPG's. Leveling characters up is a arduous and painful process, and is limited by chapter and boss. This often makes the boss battles overly difficult. The spoils from victory are ridiculous; there is virtually no way to build gil or upgrade weapons and accessories in anything even remotely approaching a reasonable time frame. In many cases, the time allotted for particular battles is completely unreasonable for the battle at hand, and results in unfairly low battle ratings. Add to this the maddening fact that the game plays mostly like a side scroller for the first ten chapters, with only limited exploration and no side quests available, and you come up with an RPG that doesn't feel like an RPG at all. If I had to call it anything, I'd call it a cross between an action game and an FPS. In any event, the gameplay removes all of the fun elements of RPG's and replaces them with essentially button mashing.
Replay potential: None...one of the most endearing aspects of true RPG's is that you can replay them again and again and still enjoy them as much as the first time. This game, once you beat it there is no real incentive to play it again. There are no new revelations or side quests; there is no way to explore different areas to attempt to arrive at the ending a different way, nothing like that. Therefore, you beat it once and hoorah...who cares??
In conclusion, it is an absolute shame that fans waited 4 years for this, and Square Enix should be embarrassed for even assigning the Final Fantasy moniker to this game. This game has virtually none of the fun RPG elements that have made the Final Fantasy series such a great franchise, and I can tell you that if Square Enix insists on continuing to move the franchise in this new direction, it will fail very quickly. True RPG fans don't need button mashing...they need strategy and puzzles and challenge...all of which was sorely lacking in this "game."
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 04/20/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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