Review by throckmeisterz
"I can't believe this game is on the top 100--from a longtime Final Fantasy fan"
I wanted to give this game a 1/10, but before I could bring myself to do so, I realized that that just isn't fair...there are some good things about it. The problem is that, not only do the bad things outweigh the good, but also the bad aspects are in the categories most important to what has allowed the final fantasy series to produce more than 14 titles. I apologize for the semantic jumbling of the previous sentence, but you'll soon come to understand what I mean.
I am a longtime final fantasy fan. I started with ff7, which is still one of the best and most enduring rpg titles of all time on any system; since then, I have played through 8, 9, 10, tactics, tactics advance, 12, and parts of 1, 2, 5, and 6. I love the series so much that I recently picked up a used copy of 13 despite the warnings from several of my friends that it is unbearably boring. So, lets get to the meat of this review, starting with the good things (which are, admittedly, underhanded complements at best):
Graphics: fantastic, stunning, unbelievable. The game simply looks incredible, which is fortunate, considering the amount of time you'll spend simply staring at it without even touching your controller.
Story: The story is interesting, which is likewise fortunate because of the sheer length and quantity of cutscenes. However, I didn't find the story any more fascinating than any of the previous final fantasy titles which I've played, yet so much more time is spent on it.
Battle System: so-so. the system itself is pretty solid, but there's about 2-3 hours of intro before you first see the level up system, so the first several battles you face are almost completely pointless; I say "almost" because you do get loot from these battles, but, as it's the beginning of the game, the loot you get is essentially useless. The level up system is also pretty interesting...or it could be if you had any say whatsoever in your party formation (before the very end of the game). So, what could be a great battle system with a lot of nuance and strategy is completely obliterated by the fact that almost all aspects of that nuance and strategy are taken out of your hands. Also, if your party leader is ko'd, it's game over, and, of course, you don't get to choose your party leader; furthermore, some random non-boss encounters can ko your characters in one hit. Thus, if some random monster just happens to target your party leader, it's game over. Fortunately, if you are ko'd you come back just before that battle, which tells me that the game designers realized this was a problem, but, instead of fixing it (perhaps by allowing the party leader to be ko'd without game over as in ff12), attempted to reduce it; sure, it's not that big a deal when you do get game over, but it's still extremely annoying because it happens so easily. Finally, you only have direct control over your party leader's actions, and the majority of your time when battling will be spent watching a timing bar fill and selecting the "auto-battle" function which takes that last little bit of decision-making out of your hands. Honestly, battling in this game feels more like another cutscene than it does an interactive gameplay experience.
Gameplay: see above, but also: there are no minigames, no side quests of note, no optional bosses--basically nothing that made games like ff7 great in the first place. The world is extraordinarily linear, and there are virtually no open areas to go explore; there are no classic town/city settings and no random npcs with short funny little comments. Gameplay consists of running in a straight line for a bit, then watching a cutscene, then entering a barely interactive battle.
Conclusion: Basically, this "game" is more like a really long animated film than anything else. You will spend more time with your controller resting untouched on your lap and watching cutscenes than playing the game, and even when you are playing, it feels like you're just watching more cutscenes. If you want a video game, buy something else...if you want a mediocre and really long cartoon where you occasionally press the x button, then this is your "game".
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/11
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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