Review by idnn

"Kind of a great game, but..."

Being a long time Final Fantasy series fan I wasn't excited when I learned that Final Fantasy XIII would be directed by the guy who did Final Fantasy X-2. First trailers came and went, they didn't appeal to me at all, it seemed that the FFX-2 style over substance concept would transfer over to this new installment. Then came the English trailers, which were so repulsive to me I couldn't watch even one from beginning to end. The dubbing was so horrendous, after the great work they did with FFXII (which, I think, has one of the best English language dubs in the history of Japanese games, on par with Metal Gear Solid dubs. I dare say that it's even better than the original) they sank once again to the level of FFX dubbing. It feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, complete with cheap sounding voice modulation and accenting. Seeing as I wouldn't be able to bear this type of dubbing (I stopped playing FFX in the middle and resumed only after the undub came out) and wishing no harm to my ears, I passed the game completely. After a while I learned that the Asian version has English menus and subtitles, yet still retains Japanese voices. I imported it, finished it, and here is my belated review.

Graphics: 10/10

Well, simply wow. There have been many, many reviews and opinions that praised the graphics here, so it wasn't a surprise. Some didn't like the Cocoon and organic machinery designs, but I loved it. The way they made the Fal'cie and all the different creatures really appeals to me. I think it's very creative.

Sound: 8/10 (keep in mind I was playing with Japanese voices)

Great music (although, besides the battle theme, no real instant classics), fantastic sound design and good voices. I didn't like some voices, I thought Vanille was a bit overdone, but mostly they fit really well with the characters, especially Lightning.

Gameplay: 9/10

I love the new battle system. It's extremely dynamic, yet it enforces strategic thinking at the same time. I like the streamlining too, no towns or world map? Count me in. This game is like a movie interspersed with mob and boss battles, and I think it's a good thing. It would be linear anyway, so what's the point of manually moving a miniature person on the world map when the game can do that for you? And you get your overworld anyway, complete with 64 optional marks to kill, which is awesome too, especially when it's separated like that. Though it may have been introduced a bit too late, early mark hunting would be nice.

Plot: 9/10

Overall plot? Great! The main intrigue is gripping and creative, complete with a few nice plot twists. Fal'cie, L'cie, political games, armageddon, it all fits together really well. Now wait... how come I gave the game 6/10 you ask? Well, it's all because of this:

Dialogues and Character Dynamics: 0/10

They. Are. Atrocious. They destroy the fantastic ideas that move the plot. They are juvenile, even childish at times, make no sense and strip the game of any dignity. The dialogue writer should be shot repeatedly in the back of his head while being impaled on a stake. Now, maybe I'm too old for this kind of game, maybe they did want to cater exclusively to younger and simple minded individuals, but the point is - I don't care. If Disney or Pixar can make a children's movie in which dialogues are intelligent, creative and simply awesome, and cater to young people and adults at the same time, then so can Square-Enix. You have all the money in the world, hire a better writer! Please! The dialogues here destroyed what should be one of the best stories in the Final Fantasy universe. The characters have no personality, they are cardboard cutouts of a great idea, they theatrically repeat whatever idea they should be representing at the moment, and they do so without any imaginativeness and with finesse of a low-budget harem anime.

All in all, it's not a bad game, as long as you don't pay any attention to the dialogues you might even have a lot of fun with the battles, developing your characters and beating Gran Pulse marks.

On a side note, I can't imagine how the Japanese think... 39/40 at Famitsu, 120/100 at Dengeki and they were all enamored with the plot. I know that most Japanese anime and live action flicks have dialogues like these, but come on, there are many that do not and I refuse to believe that people that call themselves critics don't differentiate between them. It's yet another mystery from the land of the cherry blossom.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/10/11

Game Release: Final Fantasy XIII (Japanese language Version) (AS, 12/17/09)

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