Final Fantasy XIII: The Positives
Because I'm such a negative B-I-T-C-H, I'll spare you all and start off with what I didn't hate about the game.
+ Firstly, and this goes without saying because it's friggin' Final Fantasy, the graphics are amazing. And they better be if I have to sit through hours of cut scenes and cinematics. But it goes beyond that, because even in battle, the characters look great down to every little detail. Even the environments (save for a specific section, but we'll get to that later) are breath-taking, especially the green wilderness of Gran Pulse.
+ The battle system is a lot of fun compared to Square's usual ATB or, even worse, turn-based system. While it takes some getting used to, the Paradigm system forces you to use strategy before and during battle as it also keeps random and boss battle fast-paced and challenging. My one gripe about the system is that if you set up the wrong Paradigms before battle, you could be royally screwed. However, because you can simply retry, this is a very, very minor hiccup.
+ The crystarium system is obviously modeled from the Sphere Grid system of Final Fantasy X, and, because I loved that system, I also love this version. I do, however, have one major complaint, but I will save that for the negatives section.
+ Weapons. I love that you level up the weapons, and that you can choose from any starter based on what role you want your character to fill. Want Vanille to be a great debuffer? Use the Belladonna Rod (rod, right?). You can even use cool gestalt-synthesis weapons that offer interesting abilities. I like customization and choice. However, getting your weapon to its final stage can be an exercise in EXTREME FRUSTRATION, mainly because you will probably battle a certain monster 10 times without it dropping a single trapehydro-whateverthehell - and that's even with special accessories equipped.
+ Fang. Everything about this character is awesome from her revealing sari to her rockin' mullet. The fact that she is, in my opinion, the best character in the game is icing on the cake.
Okay, okay, I'm done being nice. Now on to the bitch-fest I like to call:
Final Fantasy XIII: The Negatives
+ I'll get this one out of the way, because I'm sure it's the number one gripe people have with the game: The first 10-20 hours of the game are INCREDIBLY linear. Most of the time, you will just run along a straight path to an arrow that takes you to a random battle, boss battle, cutscene/cinematic, or all three. This would be less annoying if you got to choose your party, which you don't until nearly the end of the game.
Now, don't get me wrong. I understand JRPGs with a story need to be somewhat linear, or else you would never reach the final battle. However, it felt like Square was holding my hand through most of the game - as if their were holding the hands of all players - because they figured the audience would get confused if they were given more choices than "run forward". Not that I miss running back and forth taking care of errands between towns, I am disappointed that there is hardly any exploration when you get to Gran Pulse. Either Square-Enix was too lazy to develop more interesting dungeons, or they just assumed people playing FF13 were mildly retarded. I'm leaning toward the latter.
+ The characters. Ugh. One giant cliche after another. Firstly, we have Lightning, who starts off as a major bitch, goes through some sort of hormonal change, and then starts whining. Plus, her monologue about changing her name to Lightning was cringe-worthy - almost as bad as Hope's similar speech about how there is "no hope, it's just my name."
Then we have Snow, who is a big idiot who thinks with his fist and has some obnoxious hero complex. He is also dating a 12-year-old. He's going to break Serah in half.
Sazh is modeled after Lionel Richie, and I wonder if that's why he has a baby chocobo (aka a CHICKEN) in his AFRO. I wonder if there will be an outcry from the black community over how racist that is. Seriously. Did they even stop to think how that might come across? I don't care if it belongs to his son. Why not use a Moogle - a Moomba? Why something that looks suspiciously close to something Colonel Sanders fries up?
Hope is the only character who changed for the better. He starts off really emo (but who can blame him?), but I think he is one of the first characters to man up. Plus his Eidolon is pretty cool.
Vanille and Fang were the only interesting characters to me, BUT - BUT - BUT!!! Ugh, we'll get to that later...
+ Which brings me to my next point: the story. I couldn't even follow what was going on. I just wanted the writer to put down the crack pipe and start making sense. It's bad enough that the game threw so many terms at me I had no idea what was what, but my biggest issue is that he chose to follow Lightning. WHY LIGHTNING?! Vanille is the freakin' narrator. She also has a reason to fulfill her focus (and it's arguably just as "heart-wrenching" as Lightning wanting to save her sister). Plus, Fang is the one who destroys Gran Pulse in the first place. They are the most compelling character, but they hardly get enough screen time considering that THEY SACRIFICE THEMSELVES TO LITERALLY GIVE BIRTH TO A NEW WORLD. The two best character die in the end? I don't even know why, but it makes me angry and sad. But mostly angry.
+ Add this to plot holes you wanna scream at. For example, wtf was up with Jihl Nabaat? Why did I sit through 10 hours of appearances by the supposed "bad girl" only to have her get KO'ed in one hit with RUIN?!?! Square should have at least let the party fight her before Barthandelus reveals himself, if only to give her existence meaning. If they wanted to show how Fal'Cie use humans, Barthandelus could have let Jihl fight the party, then refused to help her when she failed, killing her because she was now useless. This fight would have also given the scene with Sazh and Vanille meaning - they could have vindicated themselves in the battle. It just seems like a total waste to me that she was murdered so unceremoniously by a villain with the stupidest name EVER.
+ Everyone has set roles. Despite being able to teach anyone any role be it Synergist or Commando, very few characters will learn every skill. In fact, most characters have at most 4 roles they are really useful at - the rest is just level-padding. This is very unlike the FFX system, where you could teach Rikku's skills to anyone - even slow but powerful Auron. In my opinion, the fact that each character is limited in his or her development makes you feel like you can't really customize your characters - and that's a damn shame for any RPG.
+ I really have no idea what happened in the end, or why free will translated into "lol just kidding moar plot holezzzzzzz" aka "Maybe it's all just Fal'Cie smoke and mirrors." And please don't get me started on how Vanille and Fang turned to crystal while Serah and Dahj came back. Also, why didn't anyone care? "Thanks Fang and Vanille for letting us all live now let's plan this wedding!" Barf.
+ The eidolons are utterly pointless in most battles and the getting the eidolons requires the skill of mind-reading, as the game gives vague hints to what you should do to fire up the Gestalt gauge. Oh, you're supposed to block the whole time? Why the F#$% didn't anyone just say so?
+ Lack of extra content. Once you get to Gran Pulse, you can roam around the map and explore different areas. There are also a bunch of extra boss/random encounters that you can access through C'ieth Stone missions. And thus comes the tedious back-and-forth bullshit we didn't get in Cocoon and Eden. However, these missions offer little besides useful items and some interesting and often difficult battles. You don't get to capture the monsters and put them in a big zoo (though according to wikipedia, you were supposed to be able to visit a zoo along with NORA's secret hideout, and Lightning's home - that is, until they cut content due to concerns regarding "scale and length" of the game). You don't get to learn enemy moves, and you rarely get character and/or plot development through these optional quests.
+ Finally, YOU CANNOT LEVEL UP FULLY UNTIL YOU BEAT THE GAME AND GO BACK. Why the developers did this, I have no idea, since you can't change the outcome of the game whatsoever. The only thing you can do is re-fight the final boss and make the battle much easier. And try to get 5-stars for a trophy/achievement. Oookay.
This game will be enjoyable to a certain few and aggravating to the others. Personally, FF13 exceeded my super-low expectations. After the lackluster ending of FF12, I decided that the series was being flushed down the toilet. So, I really, really WANTED to like this game. However, at the end of the tale, I felt like I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship. The whole game I kept telling myself it might get better, much like a victim of domestic abuse might say, "But he only beats me because he loves me and/or only on Sundays!" That is to say, no matter what excuses I kept making for Final Fantasy, it still didn't change the fact that the game was mostly a high-budget spectacle put into motion to siphon money off poor fan boys and girls stupid enough to buy the game - and that includes, unfortunately, me.
If I were a teacher, I would give this game a C, maybe a C+, because it is just not the Final Fantasy I fell in love with, nor a new Final Fantasy I could see myself eventually loving. In fact, if Final Fantasy Versus does not pick up 13's slack, I'm afraid to say that it might be the FINAL Final Fantasy I ever buy.
- Current Mood: bitchy
- Current Music:Martha Wainwright