Review by Halo2298
"A beautiful cover to hide a completely lackluster game."
So, I don't often write reviews. However, being a long-time Final Fantasy fan (I've played all FF games except 11 and 14) and seeing the reviews cast around here, I couldn't just sit idly by while this game gets stellar reviews. Believe me when I say that this is easily the worst Final Fantasy game ever.
So let's get to reviewing:
To be blunt, there is none. This game completely retooled the Active Time Battle System, but not in a good way. So, firstly, there are 6 "playable" characters in this game. At any given time, your party will consist of one character you are in control of and up to two AI controlled characters. This means that 2/3 of the battle strategy is already removed from your hands in order to make battles "faster." These faster battles are exactly why this game falls flat on its face, but more on that in a bit.
The Paradigm System has been introduced as your basic means of control. There are 6 universal roles that the characters can advance in. You can also have 6 Paradigms to choose from in battle. Put this with those 6 playable characters, and now we're left wondering why Square-Enix thought 666 was the magic number. Anyway, you set each Paradigm to have the role layout that you desire (for instance, one Paradigm might entail two Medics and one Commando), and your characters will follow those roles in battle. Switching Paradigms is essential in this game. To simplify, it's basically telling your team to either: debuff, buff, defend, attack, or heal (or varying combinations of those).
Now that all sounds well and good, doesn't it? It sure did to me. Except now the battles are so fast that you just can't keep up with the system with your slow human reflexes. So you just select Auto-Battle, which selects pretty much what you would do anyway. So you press X. Then press X again. Then press X again. Tons of fun. Pretty much all strategy is completely removed from your hands. It's really just press X and watch as your characters do stuff. It's incredibly monotonous.
The summoning system is particularly terrible. There are only 6 summons, but you can only ever summon one once per battle. And for some reason, they're also transformers, but I digress. Summons are largely irrelevant to the game as you can defeat most enemies more effectively without them. The damage output against enemies is paltry considering how much effort is required to summon them.
This section is getting too long, so let me just sum up some of the other negatives: There's no world map. You can't return to previous areas (except at the end game). There are 64 "side quests" which are just monster hunts. Ultimate weapons can sometimes be more of a hindrance than a help. There are no cool limit breaks. There are also no real towns or NPCs.
For some reason, Square-Enix decided to take a classic JRPG brand and take all the JRPG elements out of it.
You've seen the cover of the game for certain. The graphics look just like that. Yes, they're amazing. Easily the best feature of this game. I could elaborate on this category, but there really isn't any need to. FF13's graphics are some of the best out there, and they're definitely the prime focus of this game.
A lot of people will tell you that most Final Fantasy stories are relatively mundane and not all that engrossing, so we shouldn't expect much from FF13. I would tend to agree with most on this point with a few amendments. While most FF stories come down to saving the world from destruction, they're generally well-told stories that make relative sense, and the manner in which the story is revealed to the player is usually top-notch. This isn't the case for FF13.
I could forgive the story of FF13 if the only problem was that it was another "world is in danger, save it" storyline. The problem is that the story is just never adequately explained. So, there are two stories in FF13. The one you would get by watching the cutscenes and playing the game, and then there's the ACTUAL story which is delivered via the menu datalog. As an example, in the one scene, the main villain says that he'll force the heroes to do his bidding, and the heroes, of course, say they won't. When you read the menu datalog that summarizes what happened, it says the complete opposite. This is just poor storytelling on the part of the game designers.
It also doesn't help that the story is plain stupid. The main villain is simply suicidal, and that's what drives his ambition for world destruction.
The sound effects for this game are pretty decent. In that when there's a clash of swords or an explosion, the sound effects are pretty excellent. That's the reason the sound score is as high as it is. The music is another story.
The music in FF13 is completely forgettable. Even having invested 100+ hours in the game, I cannot hum the battle theme for you. Which is sad because the battle theme is probably the best music in the game. The rest of it is hum-drum elevator music that often doesn't fit the environments.
When you compare this to the great memorable music of FF6, 7, 8, or even 10, the music in FF13 just falls completely flat.
Do any of you remember all the extras that were in Final Fantasy X? There were mini-games such as Blitzball (I thought that was really fun). You could also purchase all the audio track and video tracks in the record house or whatever it was. This allowed you to play musical tracks or video cut scenes any time you wanted. Guess what? All gone.
The best thing you get out of this are themes for your XMB, and the themes aren't even that good of a bonus since they were available years ago as part of Square's hype for the upcoming FF13. Don't believe me? I've had them all on my PSP since 2008.
The only reason why I could imagine anyone would want to replay this game would be because they wanted to see some of those amazing cut scenes again. Otherwise, there's absolutely no reason to.
Overall Rating 3/10
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 11/05/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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