Final Fantasy XIII review
I think it's time for the series to just pack it in if they keep making mistakes like this
Beautiful graphics and soundtrack; a nice idea that could work in theory...The bad:
...however, it's execution is a little less than stellar; bland story and characters (barring two); horrific pacing; barely any sidequests.Summary:
It's hard to really discuss this game without the need to look like somebody who just wants to live in the 90s. Like Sonic The Hedgehog, Final Fantasy has a rough time thriving in this generation. Now, this and the last generation have been much kinder to Final Fantasy than they have been to Sonic, but it's not without its stinkers. Final Fantasy 12 was absolutely horrible on all fronts except for the graphics. So what about Final Fantasy 13? While it's better, it's still not without its share of faults to keep you from really enjoying it. It could've been a fantastic game, but it didn't really deliver. It's like Square started something, and didn't follow through. Think of World 3-2 from Super Mario Brothers; it felt like a rough draft. That's how this game feels like.
I honestly never, at any point throughout the game, liked the story. It's about a gang of five (named Lightning, Snow, Sazh, Hope, and Vanille) who get branded with the mark of the l'Cie by a large entity known as a fal'Cie, which means that they are the enemies of the world they inhabit known as Cocoon. Basically put, l'Cie in the world of Cocoon are like homosexuals to Christains - a bad mix. As l'Cie, they have to accomplish a mission called a Focus, though it's given to them in a rather cryptic way: Visions. They get visions of an entity called Ragnarok.
There is more to the story, but there isn't much point in spoiling it, especially since it takes 20 hours for something to really happen, to shake up the story. Until then, enjoy watching scenes where characters talk about their pasts and, generally, keeping the plot needle stagnated at the 3 hour mark, which is when they see the visions. I honestly don't give a rat's left testicle about the story, truth be told, and the characters aren't much better. Lightning's awesome, Sazh is cool, Snow's alright, but the other three you're forced to interract with have the depth of jello, and the personality of mud. The three that aren't bad are the ones with the richer histories (oh, something about a cursed sister/fiance, cursed son, whatever), though only Lightning and Sazh have desirable personalities, and the way they interract with everyone else is fine, managing some decent dialogue. In the end, though, the story just isn't that great.
Like any RPG, the game is split into three different segments - the exploration segment, the battle segment, and the sleeper segment.
The exploration segment, well, let's just say that I'm saying exploration very lightly, as there isn't much exploration to be had in this game until the second third of this 60+ hour adventure. That's because they bring back the tunnel progression that was in Final Fantasy X. Now, it may shock you that I thought this worked better in Final Fantasy X than here, even though they serve the same purpose - to keep you on track.
The battle portion is handled differently. On the surface, it looks like the ATB system of old, where you wait for one of three or four meters to fill before you select your commands. Well, that's not exactly how they handle it here. What they do here is have you only control one character, and you select your commands, then initiate them when the meter fills. Usually, you would have to manually select all of your commands, but here, they add an auto-battle command, which is actually pretty lazy. It loses that feeling of urgency that the ATB system usually brings. It often has you hurrying up to make your decisions, but unfortunately, with a click of the X button, viola! You have selected your commands for that turn! Meanwhile, the other two fighters just do as they're told. I'll give credit where it's due by saying that the AI is competent, since they at least do what you would want them to do if you were controlling them, but still... Way to water it down, guys!
They do add a nice little feature known as Paradigms. Basically, they determine what sort of strategy you'll be pulling off. Want to pull off an all offensive tackle? Have everyones' jobs set to the more offensive ones, like Commando and Ravager. There are a grant total of six jobs, though each character only have 2 or 3 to begin with. I've heard that as you progress, the characters can use all of the jobs, but by that point, I'll probably want to stick with the jobs they have to begin with. It'd seperate them from one another, at least!
You want to talk about hand holding? This game defines it for the first 20 hours... sort of like how long it takes before something actually happens in the story to move it along. Throughout the first 20 hours of the game, you're SLOWLY taught how to fight and what to do and all that happy go lucky stuff. I actually wanted to shut off the game at about the 10 hour mark, because it was so boring, but I pressed on, because I kept on thinking to myself "its going to get better". While it does get better, honestly, the damage is done. First impressions mean a lot in today's world, and this is no different in the realm of video games.
It's undeniable how gorgeous the graphics are. The landscapes are richly textured and colored in a way that's meant to take your breath away, which it succeeds in doing at every twist and turn. The character models look a little too plastic-y to seem realistic, but for what they're worth, they look good.
The soundtrack is excellent, to say the least. Each track ranges from beautiful, to... more beautiful, but suitable to the situation at hand. It increases the atmosphere in a way that the voice acting, alone, can't. Speaking of voice acting, it's passable at best. Most of the voice actors seem to know what they're doing behind the mic, though they never pull a ripper of a performance. On top of that, Vanille's voice is just annoying. Too peppy and upbeat for my liking, and does more damage than favors in contrast to the broody cast.
This is a one time only trip, and that's me being generous, because there shouldn't even be that first trip. Anyway, the game has this long, boring adventure that you probably won't want to repeat. Unfortunately, the game also lacks sidequests. All you do is fight off a bunch of big, hairy monsters - have fun.
Final Fantasy 13 missed the mark completely. Yes, it's competently designed - so what? It takes too long to get going, and by the time it does get going, who's still playing it!? Yes, there are games that take their time, but they had something interesting going for them - this doesn't! I don't know what Square-Enix was thinking here, but then again, they haven't been thinking straight since they made Dragon Quest 8. For reasons beyond my comprehension, we're stuck with crap like The World Ends With You and Infinite Undiscovery, and now it's really tainting Final Fantasy, a series that hasn't been doing all that good after X. Jak does not recommend. In fact, if you play this, you will experience a frotal lobodomy.
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