Review by kraid_knox
"The romance of Final Fantasy is gone."
As a long time fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, I can't seem to get enough of the games, the stories they tell, the emotions you feel when you are really pulled into the worlds in which they take place. Of course with a great cast, crew, and story, all of the games had this wonderful freedom in their play style, but what made them great is that this freedom did not take away from they structure and stability of the game/story. When you put all of these things together, it builds a sort of romance, a "more than like" feeling towards the game, and you start to actually want more and more of what you are experiencing.
- INITIAL REACTIONS -
That is not the case with FFXIII. From the moment I started playing, I felt completely and utterly confused(-1 Point), but as with any new game I was looking forward to familiarizing myself with it, and learning how it could make this new experience one of a kind, as it did in other titles. However, unlike any other FF game, the more I played, the more confused and the more discouraged I felt(-1 Point). An example of this you discover upon starting the game is the "stagger" system(-1 Point), one of it's most unattractive features, which is literally required to defeat certain(and almost ALL)enemies to make any progress in the game whatsoever. Even still, I continued on and kept searching for something that would make me love this game as much as all the others.
- BATTLE SYSTEM / CONFIGURATION -
I do not have words for how terrible the "Chrystarium Role" feature makes the overall battle sequences(-1 point). It removes almost all the freedom in battle FF players (and RPG players in general) are accustomed to.As you progress throughout the game, it only becomes more and more complicated as more and more roles are unlocked for each character. I just want to be able to use the skill whenever I want, and not have to worry about things like switching roles mid battle, or not preparing the right combination for every single battle. It may seem clever to some looking for adding a unique and challenging aspect to the game, but I feel it is much too overwhelming to have all of this pushed onto you right from the start of the game. To make matters worse, you automatically switch characters randomly in the game, throwing you completely off balance. I also discovered I couldn't even switch party members until far later in the game, a feature which quickly became most taxing in terms of maintaining my positive mentality.(-1 Point)(-5 points so far o.o)
- EXPLORATION -
So, after a few hours of play, I couldn't help but wonder when I was going to come to an open area where I could enjoy the freedom of the world after so many long and arduous battles inside those suffocating, cramped buildings. With this at the back of my mind I kept playing, hour after hour, corridor after corridor, cutscene after cutscene, battle after battle.... I waited, only to discover that FFXIII's concept of freedom is only one mid-sized area, packed with ridiculously powerful monsters, annoyingly scattered mission stones, and the unfortunate and disheartening realization that this is all FFXIII has to offer (-1 Point) in terms of freedom and exploration. One of the most important factors in ANY RPG game, has been clean swept right out of the game.
- CAST/CREW / STORYLINE -
I started to follow the storyline more and more, trying to sympathize with each character, and find some truly genuine emotion from the game as a whole, but to no avail. The more I played the more I started to dislike who the players were, their personalities, their poorly constructed stories, and the lack of a solid foundation in which their stories 'should' have began. Overall I was very unimpressed with the cast/crew (although the voice acting was great, it was simply overcome by the mediocrity of their design. -1 point)
- OVERALL GAMEPLAY / MUSIC / CINEMATICS -
Even still, I continued to play, hoping, praying that something in this game would totally knock me off my feet and win my heart. Perhaps it would be one of the characters, a place, a song, a scene, anything... I am reluctant to say that there was not one single thing about this game that managed to capture my heart.(-1 Point) The visual effects are vibrant and colorful, even while playing, and even when in battle(+1 point!) Also, CG scenes were beautifully created, as expected in the FF series (+1 Point!). However, there is no love, there are no memorable moments to look back on, and all I am left with is a copy of a game I regret buying.
- LAST THOUGHTS -
I give this game a 2 out of a possible 10 points. The graphics might be wonderful and vibrant, but these are next gen consoles, its nothing we haven't seen before in countless other games. The game just has far too many complexities to allow players to enjoy it completely. The romance that swept us off our feet in the past FF games, has been lost, and I can only hope to see Square bounce back with their next title, perhaps with something that will captivate FF fans like never before...
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 04/13/11
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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