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Okay, so, firstly, for those of you who have not yet played Final Fantasy 13, I have put the following review under a handy-dandy cut, simply because I cannot withhold spoilers. There are several plot-specific points of the game I have major issues with, and will talk about at length. Therefore, even if you have played the game, I would not recommend reading further unless you have finished it.

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 g

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2010 04:57 am (UTC)
"But he only beats me because he loves me and/or only on Sundays!"

You're a goddamned genius, you know. That is EXACTLY what this felt like--a fucking Lifetime movie. "If I keep going back, he'll love me. I know he will. He's Final Fantasy! It's not like he's ever disappointed me before!"

There was motherfucking potential in this game and it was WASTED. They could have made an epic, and I mean a truly epic game if they had focused on the story with Fang and Vanille. There is this wonderful feel of nature and passion and life somehow being beaten down by technology and (for all intents and purposes) a very patriarchal male-dominated society (thus Jihl with the cane), but everything natural and vivacious still rising above all that. There was this feeling that Fang and Vanille were part of some greater whole, that they were the missing verses to a great poem, but they were forgotten to advance the bad-ass bitch and her sappy sister story.

And let's face it. Lightning fails as a hero. Repressed sadness only carries a hero so far before it turns to shit. Boring. We've seen this countless times before.

You're right. Fang rocked that mullet, but they didn't let her take over the game that should have been hers.

And fuck yes, we should have fought Jihl. All of that teasing in the trailers led me to believe that we would be fighting a Josef Mengele type of crazed villain, one who sought to destroy the world just to dissect it and learn about it. But oh no! We get the pope after an all-you-can-eat dinner at Shoney's. Cocksucker. I wanted to fight Quistis' sister, damn it.

I don't know what to expect from Versus. I really don't. You've seen those trailers, haven't you? It's like Shakespeare and Grand Theft Auto had a gay love affair and Shakespeare somehow got knocked up and gave birth to Aerith and Squall again. Ugh.

(Oh! Another anime I think you should watch just so I can get your opinion. 'Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne'. I think it's nothing more than misogyny wrapped in VERY sexy paper, but the main character is fun in a lot of ways. She's different than the ones you might find in typical 'torture a hot chick because it looks good' anime. Short series. 6 episodes. Give it a try and let me know what you think.)

Aug. 1st, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
My main issue with FFXIII (and this ties in with why I hate Lightning as a hero) is that instead of taking elements that worked from FF7 like a pro-environmental story, wtf-twist, or even all the fun minigames, Square-Enix was like, "Okay, let's have half the game take place in a futuristic city. Let's also follow a female Cloud Strife, because fan service makes us $$$! And then, just in case people aren't getting that we're trying to make another FF7, let's add a black character who uses guns aka Barret meets Lionel Richie."

Don't get me wrong - FF7 wasn't my favorite title, but it wasn't bad. I just wish the company would try to do something ORIGINAL for once.

Had they taken the environmental story and advanced it through Fang and Vanille, it would've been a much more satisfying end. Even if they had to turn to crystal to save Pulse, in doing so, nature triumphs etc etc and the mistakes of 2,000 years ago are vindicated. Instead of their sacrifice being a sub-story intended to distract viewers for about 5 seconds until Snow starts planning his wedding. Gag.

As for Versus, yes, I've seen the trailers, and I think Square is being retarded again. It looks like another crack at tapping into the annoying popularity of FF7 - the female seems like Aerith, and though you compared the main character to Squall - he seems like a black-haired Cloud to me. Then he has a posse full of bishonens that vaguely reminds me of the fucking Turks. Throw in a battle system rumored to mirror Kingdom Hearts and Dirge of Cerberus plus a sappy star-crossed love story... need I say more? I'm not that pumped for this game.

I'll have to check out that anime. Is there a certain site you'd recommend watching it through? I'm adding it to my list - right after I finish watching Kasimasi: Girl Meets Girl, which, if you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it. I'm only on episode 5 and it's really, really good.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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