Review by The_Skiner
"A Rail RPG With Bad Story and Combat"
Your typical JRPG consists of three elements: story, exploration, and combat. If it can enjoyably create at least two of those aspects then it is probably a great game. Final Fantasy XIII fails to satisfy all three. It looks visually impressive but underneath the flash lies a game with worthless content.
Lets start with the good. Final Fantasy XIII looks amazing. It easily boasts the highest polygon count of any RPG ever. It's so impressive to watch battles unfold that it could keep you interested for hours. The occasional pre-rendered cut-scenes unfold into top of the line action sequences. You'd probably have just as much fun watching someone play the game as you would actually playing it yourself.
You'd probably have just as much fun watching someone play the game as you would actually playing it yourself. Exploration is nonexistent. I don't just mean the game is linear. I mean every single map in the game is a straight line. On the plus side, barring the player actually being blind, its impossible to get lost. There's even an arrow on the mini-map to tell which of the two ways you're supposed to be going.
I've heard people describe this game's combat system as streamlined. What I think they meant by this is that the game does everything in its power to disconnect the player from what happens on the screen. In battle you control one character while the other two party members are AI controlled. I use the term control loosely, however. You essentially have the choice of either pressing the attack option four times or pressing the auto-battle button once. As it is there's no point in having actions to input at all nor is there any point in trying to do well in combat. Health is fully restored between each fight and death is punished by placing the player right before the battle started.
Your party can consist of three out of six of the game's classes. Each of which is capable of doing one function. What control you have is being able to change the party's classes mid battle. For about 99% of the game, however, you'll find yourself switching between having everyone attack and having two people attack and one person healing.
Basic enemies all function more or less identically. You either kill them with basic attacks or break their combo bars and then kill them with basic attacks. Bosses are the same except that they sometimes do area effect abilities. If the game gave you any control at all over positioning then it would have been a crucial part of any strategies the player could try to come up with. Unfortunately it does not and the typical tank n' spank formula devolves into the spank n' spank formula.
I've heard people praise the combat system for its speed which amazes because of how grudgingly slow it is. As the game progresses, basic enemies do nothing but gain proportionally more health. By the end of the game the enemies in random battles have millions of health, which is about as much as bosses.
The year is 2010. America has voted a black president into office and in turn a Final Fantasy game has included a black protagonist that actually looks and acts like a human being. Unfortunately everything else about the game's story ranges from bad to cringe-worthy.
The plot itself starts with an interesting premise. A group of rag tag heroes are cursed by god kings. They must either fulfill their mission to destroy the world and bring harm to the loved ones they swore to protect or wait for the curse to run its course and die. All the while they are demonized and hunted down by their countrymen and former allies for the threat they pose to their nations security. Nothing really moves anywhere from there though. The heroes spend the game aimlessly wandering while they sort of search for a bad guy who sometimes decides to appear in front of them. It feels kind of like they took the premise and made a SyFy original movie out of it. It doesn't even build up to anything. No other JRPG I know of has a worse ending.
The heroes are almost beyond generic (Sahz, the aforementioned black protagonist excluded). What I mean by this is that they took typical archetypes from JRPGs and and manga and made them as flat and one dimensional and humanly possible. You've got a cast of tough chick, weak kid, fan service, and shonen hero that will protect everyone no matter what. Sahz's role is comic relief and yet he is the only character who you can take seriously.
The villains are just plain boring. They are graphically impressive to look at, but could have been very easily replaced with pretty rocks (that are also evil obviously).
The music is alright even though it's usually out of place and never really sets the mood. The voice acting isn't terrible especially if you consider some of the lines they had to work with.
REPLAY VALUE: 1/10
The only side-quests in the game all consist of the formula, talk to statue A, go to place B, and kill random monster C. There is a post-game, but there isn't anything to do in it but level up so that you can kill a monster called the Adamantoise faster. In my opinion anything that can be killed with the death spell doesn't count as an optional boss.
I really wanted to like this game. I mean it's got the Final Fantasy name on it. Still I couldn't find anything enjoyable enough to redeem it. It has very little content and stretches it paper thin over thirty hours. I wouldn't recommend this game even to the hardest of the hardcore Final Fantasy fans, the ones that would give all the games in the series a 10/10, including II, VIII, and XII. If Final Fantasy XIII were a guy you met on the street and he asked you to give him the time of day, I would recommend you promptly beat him to death with a brick.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/27/10
Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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