To say that I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series is something of an understatement. Final Fantasy VI changed my life in so many ways when I was a teenager, and ever since then it’s been one obsession after another. Years later, Final Fantasy VII changes things again, and then Final Fantasy X did it yet again.
In late 2006, I got my hands on Final Fantasy XII. It was the first time that a Final Fantasy game didn’t blow my mind, but I still loved it. It had some serious issues – mainly the insane difficulty level, the too-large environments, and the hyper micro-managing that just wore me out. However, when I finished it, I was pleased. It was a perfectly good game despite its faults.
I was excited for Final Fantasy XIII to absurd extents. It’s what made me buy a PS3, build my theatre room (yes, theatre room, not home theatre room, like you poor fuckers have). All I ever dreamed of was sitting in that room, playing Final Fantasy XIII on my 112″ 1080p screen with luscious, uncompressed PCM audio.
Months ago, I played Lost Odyssey. The pedigree is there – a game lovingly created by the original Final Fantasy creator and director, and the guy who did the music. It was like a perfect sequel to Final Fantasy X, and almost a semi-spiritual-remake to Final Fantasy IV on modern hardware. The game was fucking amazing. It looked great, sounded great, and most importantly, the characters and story were top notch. Jansen is probably the best JRPG character of all time, and with the best voice acting. The game was balls hard, but never punishingly so. I beat it, and I thought to myself, “Could Final Fantasy XIII be anywhere as good as this?”
I mean, all bullshit aside, Lost Odyssey is the true Final Fantasy XIII. It’s more Final Fantasy than Final Fantasy has been in years. Turn-based combat. Clear character job roles. 5-person party. Tiered magic spells. Awesome bosses. Airships. Boats. World map. Items in vases and bookcases. Awesome bad guy.
I keep faith in Square, waiting for that release date…
March 9, 2010 comes.
*takes a deep breath*
Final Fantasy XIII is one of the worst games I’ve ever played. I’ve rarely been as bored, irritated or just plain fucking upset over a game as this one.
I’ll just get this one thing out of the way so I don’t have to mention it again: Final Fantasy XIII has the second-most amazing graphics I’ve ever seen (Uncharted 2 rocks all cocks). The level of visual polish is amazing. I’m not talking about the cutscenes, because anyone can make a nice video. The game itself looks amazing. I also enjoy the complete lack of load times and the tons of save points. Even the in-game menu system is a thing of beauty.
So how about that audio? Garbage. The music is terrible. Nothing is memorable, and the things that are more “blunt” are just lousy. That battle theme? Yuck. If you want a good battle theme, Final Fantasy IX is where it’s at. How on earth can an FF game have lousy music? This one does.
Worst battle system in the world? Easily. While it’s nice to automate your characters to do boring shit like healing and buffing, it’s just not enough. I need four fucking characters for the right balance. And the game suffers the same problem as FFXII – because most of your fighting is automated, the enemies have retarded amounts of life. Let me shout it:
I DON’T WANT TO SPEND FOUR MINUTES ON A REGULAR ENEMY, AND I DON’T WANT TO SPENT 22 MINUTES ON A BOSS BECAUSE THEIR HEALTH BARS ARE SO FUCKING DENSE. There’s no point to this. It’s just annoying and waste of time. Make everyone’s life bar short and make all the attacks punishing and intense. That way if I die, it won’t take half a day to beat it. If everyone has a huge life bar, it’s the same as everyone having a short life bar. I prefer it that way. Chrono Trigger did this well with the 999 HP for the main characters. We don’t need 99,999,999 HP on anything, thanks.
The game uses something called the “Paradigm” system, which lets you switch group jobs on the fly. It’s a retarded version of the awesome idea of Final Fantasy X-2, which probably has the best battle system of any FF game. You’ll spend more time managing this crap than ever enjoying it. In fact, it keeps resetting as you change characters in your party and you’re always left out in the cold when you run into a nasty boss you lose your perfect little settings. It makes me want to murder the game, albeit slowly. All the truly useful Paradigms make fighting incredibly slow and tedious, since you’ll generally have one character attacking and the rest trying to keep you alive from the brutal onslaught that is every single fight.
The summon system – well, the less said about that, the better. You’ll have no idea what’s going on or what you’re doing. Also, it’s ridiculous. Shiva turns into a motorcycle. I have nothing left to say. The once-mighty being that cast the fearsome Diamond Dust spell and froze fuckers to pieces is now a joke. Hell, now it’s the Shiva sisters, sticking to the correct mythology, except that this is a Final Fantasy game and not based on real (mythological) life.
The levels are linear. That doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind going from point A to B all game long, but the environments are boring as hell. Other than the odd item, there’s nothing to see or explore. FFX was similar, but at least you loved that game. The music was great, so as you talked around, it felt like a treat.
The characters are terrible, the worst in an FF game since FFV. The only good character is Sazh, and even then there’s not enough of him. The bad guys suck, too. There’s no reason to even hate them, since they’re not evil, they’re just “misinformed.” It’s a group fight against ignorance, and it’s hard to get emotional. Lightning is a weak lead character. She’s a 50/50 copy of Cloud from FF VII and Ashe from FF XII. If that sounds good to you, please remember – just because you like bloody steak and ice cream, doesn’t mean they blend well together.
The storyline is awful. I’m not saying it’s bad, per se, but it’s awful in how it’s presented. The terms used are so fucking confusing (L’cie, Fal’cie, Ci’eth, etc) that you always feel like you’re not being let in on the inside joke. The worst part of it all is that you simply don’t care. You never get behind the characters’ emotions because you feel nothing. I’m not a robotic person, I feel things. FF VI has an amazing storyline, and 90% of the characters you’d give your spare kidney to in a pinch. Hell, even something happy-go-lucky like Grandia III had characters I still remember to this day. I mean, if a character script designer is stuck for ideas, just go and play Skies of Arcadia. Now those are some great fucking characters! Those fuckers make me smile just by looking at the game box.
You know what else sucks? All the annoying shit in the game. Leveling up is crap. It’s like the Sphere Grid from FF X, except linear and annoying. Half-way through the game you have to grind for 10 minutes just to gain one more attribute (out of, say, a million). Ugh. Now you also have to power up weapons with your hard-earned items and cash. That’s bullshit. The games makes you fight constantly, and that’s the worst part of the game. The incredible difficulty of the game (starting at about 15 hours in, by the way, until then it’s so easy a blind child could play it just by holding “up” and pressing X repeatedly) kicks you right in the teeth. Every boss fight makes you groan and they become frustrating feats of mental strength. You can barely die if you choose the “Solidarity” Paradigm, but then you can barely win, either. It would take an hour, so you change it up. Then you die. Then you repeat. Then you die. The you fucking kill yourself in real life. It’s never like a “fun difficulty” (like Ninja Gaiden, let’s say), because it always feels like the game is cheating in some way. It’s not, but you’ll feel that way. Something about it all seems forced and convoluted. You never feel in control, even when you’re winning. There’s too much pressure to “do shit” when when “shit’s working just fine.”
You know what? I can’t write about this game anymore. It actually makes me physically angry to think about it any longer. Pick up Lost Odyssey instead (for half the price at least), or if you only have a PS3, buy an Xbox 360 and buy Lost Odyssey. Don’t be so fucking cheap. I just saved you $60 anyway.
I give it an honest 1/5 stars. It looks amazing, and is a technical marvel. Well, sort of, because the audio is shit. So, basically, just look at screen shots and you’ll get the gist of it.
Summary: Final Fantasy XIII is terrible, and a shame to the franchise.
Let’s hope Final Fantasy Versus XIII is better. Well, fuck, it has to be, by default.