Review by megax11
FFXIII takes bold steps, but in the end, it doesn't deliver.
Kitase and crew focus more on story and graphics, in this Final Fantasy outing, to much disapointment.
The story isn't complicated, but rather, repetitive and sometimes annoying. While characters designed by Tetsuya Nomura are always in the mentality of emo, it really shows in every character here. I was surprised to see that Sahz, someone I thought would be full of humor, and a character who would offset all of the emo characters this game throws at you, acts just like them. I can't shake the fact that while playing through this game, I felt like I was navigating toddlers from their daycare, to a destination of their choice. Lightning always like to punch Snow and act emo. Sahz likes to wear a down face, and wants to kill himself 90% of the time. Snow is always crying for his girlfriend, while never feeling good enough. Vanille has an annoying voice, but is surprisingly upbeat (shocker). Fang acts more open than the rest, but alas, has an emo moment herself. Finally we have Hope. The worst character in any video game period. This boy is so confused, it makes me wonder if the developers were just as confused, because this child is full of emo moments and cries way too much, about some of the stupidest things, while he tries to make sense of Snow's actions.
The story follows this group of six, as they become L'cie after an encounter with a Pulse Fal'cie, a machine that "curses" people with the mark of the L'cie, which grants magic to those who bear the mark. They each have a focus, and upon finishing their focus, they become crystal, only to someday re-animate and be promised eternal life.
Like I said, the story isn't hard to follow, but the characters really bring the game down, with too many personal problems, where a video game should be upbeat in a world of problems today.
Let's get this out of the way, right now. The game looks great. For a Playstation 3 game, they kept jaggies to a minimum, which I hate in games. On Gran Pulse, however, those jaggies show up, like I knew they would. It makes me want to see if the 360 version suffers the same, as usually the 360 outputs better AA on games, which mean less jaggies. However, on other parts of the game, the game looks fantastic. The menus, are easy to navigate, but the game can throw a huge curve ball in the way upgrades are handled, which I will explain in the game play section below. Presentation is top notch, but that's like finding the proverbial needle in a hay stack full of problems and shortcomings.
Game play -
Where to start in this mess. My two favorite FF games are, FFVI and FFXII. They offered lush worlds, filled with life, bustling towns, and optional content to keep endgame players satisfied for day, weeks, or even months. This gamer is 112 hours into FFXII, and I still haven't gotten everything in it.
The same cannot be said about FFXIII though. The game's world is extremely linear, even to the point that Final Fantasy X, seems more open than this game. Treasure chests are never hard to spot, and there is no exploration, even after the game opens up.
My real problem with this game, is that it hand feeds you through the whole game, with Cocoon serving almost entirely as a tutorial for the game, only for the game to open up a mere 10 before it ends, and the tutorials go away.
What I mean by hand feeding, is that I never feel like I am playing this game. In battle, you can only control one character, and you can never really micro-manage your characters, except for changing gear, and upgrading them through the "Sphere Grid" like, Crystarium. On top of that, you can't control but one of the three characters in your party, and even in controlling one character, you will end up selecing Auto Battle throughout the game, as the battle system moves so fast - and without a wait option - you can't take your time to select each move for your character. So in pressing one button, my characters initiate up to six actions, and all gamers can do, is watch. This lends more to the fact this game feels more like an interactive movie, instead of a game.
Upgrading weapons is a chore. You get drops from enemies which can be used to upgrade weapons and accessories. Some items are harder to obtain, while the items that drop frequently, mean nothing in upgrading as it can hurt the process of upgrading. This is the huge curve ball I speak of. Why make FFXIII's system as complex as FFVIII's Junction System?
I have found it very frustrating to upgrade my weapons, as it costs too much, but you get very little gil throughout the game.
As for getting items, it is almost a bit frustrating. You run out of items quick, but you never get enough gil while on Cocoon, to buy items to raise your party.
Upgrading your characters stats is also frustrating, due to the fact that you have to grind to level up characters whose upgrades end up at 10,000 CP (Crystogen Points earned in battle) per upgrade, with battles netting you way less than that, unless you know where to farm for CP, which lends to the repetitiveness, which wouldn't be so bad, if the battle system allowed me more freedom to do what I want.
Side quests are also nigh, as the only thing you get to do, is hunt for Sahz's baby Chocobo, while in Nautilus, which isn't hard by any means, and 64 monster hunts, spread throughout Gran Pulse. This gamer thought that had the developer focused on making a game, instead of using insane amounts of CG to tell a story, with mediocre characters, there would have been more game play to be had. Sadly, this is not the case.
I can't say much good about this game. I watched it being played on live streams, and I didn't really appreciate it then, and now that I own the game myself, my views have not changed. This game is a mess, from story and characters, to upgrading weapons, and the extreme linearity this game throws at you. I am a huge Final Fantasy nut, but anyone who is willing to wait, to suffer (or not at all), should do so at the asking price of 20 dollars or less. The game's battle system isn't so great, due to the fact you only control one character throughout the entire game, and most of the time, you are only playing in groups of 2, until near the time to go to Gran Pulse, when you finally get a full 3 party group. The game isn't helped by the fact you press Auto Battle most, if not all, of the time. That made this gamer feel as if I am not playing the game at all, rather, I am pressing a button once, and watching an interactive cutscene play out.
I am giving this game a 6/10, for a lot of shortcomings on what should have been a video game, but instead feels like 90% tutorial and movie, and 10% game. I find it hard to even recommend this game for 20 dollars new, but if you can tolerate a lot of crying characters, controlling one character through the whole game, and lack of exploration and things to do, then this might be for you. This is my final, "Final Fantasy," until Kitase and crew are forced away from it, as this guy has seriously lost his ability to make games, so he suppliments it, with story and characters, for better or worse.
Games are meant to be played, not watched, and this is up there with MGS4, Heavy Rain, and dare I say it, Dragon's Lair, Dragon's Lair II, and Space Ace, as a glorified interactive movie.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)
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