Review by yumhotdogcake

"It's like a Chocobo with chicken pox; you have something nice and big, but with quite a few issues."

It's like a Chocobo with chicken pox; you have something nice and big, but with quite a few issues.

I LOVE Final Fantasy. I have been a fan of the franchise for almost all my life. If there's anything about the series I love the most, it's the story and music they have to offer, two of the biggest things I look forward to in any game provided the appropriate genre. I bought this game at midnight release thinking it was worth the $60 (and with the chance to opt into the FFXIV beta, why not?). However, with such big expectations and an extremely long wait, FFXIII didn't really provide the package for an avid FF fan like me. In fact, one might describe it as either a hot soup that cools down really fast or a disproportioned flavored cake. As a result, you'll need to be reheating that soup unless you finish it really fast, in which case, you won't. The cake will only taste good at some parts and will not compliment as a whole.

Story (*)
FFXIII, like any other FF, provides you with a brand new story that is completely unrelated to any other game in the series. While they created so much lore and background to consider and base on, it is a shame that they fail to utilize it effectively and at full potential to give some ground to the main plot. The downside of this is that a lot of events that take place contradict the lore or more so there are too many 'miracles.' It's almost as if they deus ex machina'd the latter portion of the game to death. The themes present were strong, but nothing you probably haven't seen before. The game seemed to make a political statement and analogies to the real world. I had a hard time following the plotline at first for there is the need to accustom yourselves to the terms and ideologies that this world is engulfed in. Fortunately, there is an encyclopedia-esque menu that can help recap events and lists the people you meet along your journey.

The characters are nothing too special. While at some points they show another side of themselves, they are terribly clichéd and follow some kind of character mold, much of what makes up most of their character. There are crisis moments that seem out of the blue and only exist to drive the plot. They just aren't believable. In contrast, there are other mature moments that really did reach out and make sense considering the world and circumstances they were in. However, the former overpowered the latter most of the time, making a noticeable imbalance.

All in all, the story felt really anti-climatic. There was nothing epic or heart pounding about it, which I could probably say was because of little connection that can be made to our heroes. All the characters (including non-playable) were under developed so that I didn't really care for them as much. Sometimes there was the feeling that there was too many. Either they have a good working ensemble cast or a strong leading character, both of which were close to non-existent. The story is very forgettable.

Gameplay (*1/2)
The battles are quite repetitive. The only thing that changes are the enemies and the way you choose your commands depending on them. Even then, you have the auto command which, unless you decide to solemnly swear on not using it, is what most battles are comprised of pushing even in boss battles with the occasional change in commands through what they call ‘Paradigm Shifts.' Outside of battle, you move through a very linear map. Later, you will be able to hunt monsters, which are essentially just extra boss battles.

Graphics (**)
If there's anything that shines most about this game, it's the stellar CGI and cut scenes. Sometimes, it was hard to make a difference if it was one of those fancy scenes or the game. It was integrated really well. The environments are truly stellar and detailed. It makes you want to explore them further. But once again, the linear, one way maps kill it and there is unfortunately no way of backtracking because of how the story is delivered. You're going to have to take in the scenery and cut scenes to the max the first time you get them. There's really nothing more you can say because you have to see it!

Sound/Music (*1/2)
When I first heard each track via new character or environment or cut scene, the first thing I thought of was: The style is considerably different! Later did I find out it was because the composer was different from the prior Final Fantasies. For the futuristic theme of the game, a lot of the tracks worked out. Each one was unique from each other and it gave a lot of variety, from jazz to piano to techno. However, the times they are played are also a hit or miss. There's only a couple tracks that replay, but it's okay because either they're character themes or fit the situation quite well.

When it came to the voice acting, the character, Jill Nahbat was probably the most convincing one out of all of them, fitting her demeanor. I was particularly satisfied with everyone's except Vanille's. When I first heard it, I could not understand some of the things she was saying, as it seemed like a hybrid French/British accent. I was actually quite annoyed with her voice, even until the very end. Overall, I personally did not feel the desperation or enthusiasm (save for one, though it was highly more inherent from his annoying character cliché) from these characters that made me want to say, "Yeah, I feel you."

Replayability (*)
Unfortunately, there really is no reason to be playing FFXIII all over again unless you want to relive those cut scenes (Youtube, extra save files) or attempt some form of challenge. To play again for the story is more like another 50-60 hours of slaving away for something just less than or about satisfactory. The ending is ambiguous enough for you to be thinking about that than to remember the details of a not so memorable storyline. I would just play it once to experience FFXIII and have another added to your 'completed FF games' list, and maybe again after a year or two has gone by and you need to pass the time.

Closing Statement/Summary
FFXIII shines greatly in certain areas, but fails to deliver a full package altogether.

Total Score: 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 06/01/10

Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (US, 03/09/10)

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