Review by Flare_Dragon123

"FFXIII needs to be a book, not a video game."

I took the ten or fifteen minutes of my time to read the plot synopsis for FFXIII on the FF Wikia yesterday and at some points I went “ooo,” and at other points I went “ahh,” and then I reached the end of it and thought, “Well I feel like I should've played the game to figure that out now.”

However, in retrospect to the fifteen hours I TRIED to play the game, I realize that NO ONE should play Final Fantasy XIII least of all fans like me (you know, you liked the pre FFXII Final Fantasies). I mean you can tell how hard Square Enix is trying to remake the magic balance they had in FFX where they balance sort of clichéd storytelling with a unique and interesting development system and overall a very good and well delivered emotional narrative. Unfortunately, I can't say that FFXIII necessarily lacks the narrative aspect, because the only reason I was playing the game after about five hours was to continue seeing the story. “Well… isn't that the point of a story in a video game?” Well… yeah that is the point of a video game but my emphasis in that sentence was the word “ONLY.” I was not enjoying the battles in between each story scene. I was not enjoying the character development system. I was not enjoying the jokingly terrible dungeon designs. I was enjoying nothing else about FFXIII than FFXIII's story, and that IS NOT A VIDEO GAME. That is an interactive novel, and the worst those should get is flip to page 86 to go to the movies, not press A to win a million times and you'll get another subtle story cookie.

Gameplay 4/10

The gameplay in FFXIII is a joke. I'd like to start with the dungeons/maps, whatever you want to call them. Now you've heard this said before, but FFXIII is little more than an extravagant hallway. Now your probably sick of hearing this and pointing out the fact that, “Dude, every game, to some extent, is linear, so its not really a complaint here.” That's what I thought when I heard all the complaints at first, but after playing FFXIII I realized that that is EXACTLY ALL THAT FFXIII IS OR TRIES TO BE.

Before playing this game I may have pointed to FFX and said, “Well what's so bad about a hallway? I mean the majority of FFX is running down a hallway, hitting lizards with Tidus and hitting birds with Wakka, so how would FFXIII be any different?” My reply to my past self is because everything in FFXIII's gameplay sections sucks holy hell. In battle there is a button called auto-battle. At first I shunned this and thought, “Like the gambit system in FFXII, it's a gameplay breaking efficient system that is going to rule the game and win it for me, rather than me winning the game for myself.” Well, even in FFXII's situation I still had to be somewhat involved until I got 20 gambit slots so I could program my character to do EVERYTHING. In FFXII the worst involvement you'll come to is throwing a potion, and eventually you'll get a healer class so that will become obsolete.

There's only one thing to do in battle in FFXIII and that is fill up the guard break bar (or as I call it, the super critical bar of doom) to the guard break limit which allows all of your attacks to do about 8000 times more damage to the enemy, at which point they most likely die. Battle revolves around doing this, all the time, every battle, ever. I can see a challenge run that involves not doing this, and people subsequently shooting themselves for doing it. To assist in doing this, the game gives you the classes, which you can shift at any time in battle, but of course these “paradigm shifts” must change everyone in the party so its not like too broken right? Well you get six and if you can't cover every combat situation with six party set ups you can't play games.

Anyways you have a buffer a debuffer a poisoner a healer a tank, and then you have the only two classes that actually matter, the Commando, which slows down the drain of said guard break bar (super critical bar of doom) and the Ravager, who fills it up faster than anyone else.

There's also this joke of a development system called the Crystarium which is trying intensely to be the Sphere Grid that you can see the tear dripping out of FFX's eye. See each character only gets certain classes (they get more as you continue the story) and each class has its own tree (hmm…) that gives certain stat increases (HMM…) and are unlocked by accumulating a number of points (AHA!!!) that you get in battle. These paths are linear, all the stats carry over, and in the end if you ignore it, well that probably doesn't matter.

I would talk about other parts of the gameplay, but they are so ignorant or stupid or whatever that I don't even want to get into it. Hands down FFXIII is a game where you keep up with the Crystarium and you press A to win. Like seriously, you will press A, and switch classes at the right time, and then press A again. There is nothing else you have to do but press A. If you press A right now you can see the ending video, but only if you sit in your chair and stare at your computer screen for about 40 – 50 hours, because Square Enix ****ing hates you.

*ahem* now then…

Story 8/10

The only reason I was still playing after a long time was because I was incredibly interested in the story. Now I'm not going to say in any length of the word that what FFXIII is doing is new or original, but what it is doing is something interesting and furthermore something I can identify with.

There are two worlds, Pulse and Cocoon. Cocoon is where most of the game takes place and it's a floating planet above Pulse that was created a long time ago by creatures known as fal'Cie. The fal'Cie are god like beings that are said to have created the race of mankind and that they created Cocoon just for man. Man of course takes over. Unfortunately, not all is perfect on Cocoon, as the fal'Cie, most of the time sentient beings that create different aspects of life for the humans (electricity, food production, blah blah) take a human and give them a brand that grants them magical powers. These people are known as l'Cie, and the humans of Cocoon are basically brain washed into believing that these people are going to be the downfall of Cocoon. Thus when someone becomes a l'Cie they are branded enemies of Cocoon and banished for life to the world below, Pulse. In the eyes of the Cocoonians, Pulse is a terrible place.

Its pretty much obvious even at the start of the story that the fear of the humans of Cocoon is unfounded and ruled by an overarching government that uses brainwashing to rule the fear of the people and do whatever they want in times when l'Cie are known to exist.

This all leads to the main story, revolving around Lightning, essentially a police officer in her hometown, and her sister, Lollipop (or whatever) who becomes a l'Cie. Lightning makes the conscious decision to rescue her sister. On the way she runs into Sazh, a pilot, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and got shuttled off with the rest of the innocent civilians to be banished to Pulse. Snow, Lollipop's boyfriend, leads a resistance against the military in a terrible liken to AVALANCHE from FF7, and wants to rescue Lollipop as well, while basically emulating an optimistic Lightning. Then there's Hope whose Mother gets killed by the military, and in all the misguided and stupid character developments (although its misguided and stupid in a realistic way) he hates Snow for it, and actually wants to kill him. Then there's Vanille who is… well… stuff… and all. And then there's Fang who… yeah. So the last two can't be revealed without spoiling plot, which since plot is the only thing mildly going for this game, I won't spoil.

So you get this main cast, unfortunately the game finds it necessary to proceed shoving the big long slim jim down your throat for what most people are saying is about twenty five hours of the game, and I can vouch for at least fifteen of that. Actually, they just say that the game becomes less linear at that point, but seeing as how its press A to win, I can't imagine there's a reason for the exploration.

Overall, I still think they needed to make FFXIII a novel, there's too many good situations that the story goes into that actually does have you emotionally involved, but the game itself is so terrible there's no way I'll ever get through it all.

Voice Acting 9/10

The worse it gets is Vanille, who is the typical young girl bubbly YAY! Character in this game, but she actually has a strange accent that sometimes allows you to forget that its still a squeaky character. Everyone else is alright, though it seems like Lightning never gets emotional (unless its angry) but since she is supposed to be Cloud with a… gunblade… then its understandable.

In all reality, Voice Acting is getting better and better, and even English Dubs are getting better for Japanese games. Well, at least the ones that can afford good voice acting, which is pretty essential for a game. Sometimes you stop playing amazing games (Baiten Kaitos) because voice acting is terrible.

Music 6/10

This is probably just in comparison to other Final Fantasies. I'm not saying that I didn't like the music, but most importantly, I never noticed it. I never at one point heard the music and said, “Yeah that sounds pretty good.”

This is a rare experience in an FF game. Nobuo Uematsu is the only composer good enough for FF games, and that's a verdict I'm calling truth until proven False.

Overall 5/10

Gameplay rules all. Despite the last part of this being mostly praise for FFXIII I can't say much else about it. The gameplay is so terrible that it drives me away from being interested, and unlike FFXII (which did the same exact thing to me) FFXIII actually had a story I was completely and one hundred percent interested in. So… yeah, where's the anime? The novel? Something with less pointless battles (like an abridged version of Bleach.)

So yeah, for the love of video games DON'T PLAY THIS GAME, and for the sake of sanity, DON'T BUY IT.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 11/04/10

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

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