Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII is not a good game. I don’t just mean it’s not good in comparison to other games in the FF canon. Nor am I saying it simply fell short of the expectations built up over its four years of development. It’s not a good game, full stop. The characters are not likeable. They aren’t pleasant people. They are stubborn, they are sullen, some of them are cowardly and some just a bit stupid. This impacts on the already pretty dull plot. Your party are essentially cursed by God-like beings into doing their bidding and once cursed you become outlaws on your home world, hated and reviled for your imposed ‘focus’, a task which you must undertake, that will essentially constitute an act of terrorism against your own people. It’s pretty straight forward stuff and it’s easy to get to grips with the story of two worlds separated by hate, each fearing the other while these marked slaves called l’Cie carry out missions against each other, even against their own will. You’ll be forced to sit through one cutscene after another that expounds this plot until you’re completely sick of hearing about it and of course you don’t care particularly about what happens as it’s impossible to relate to the characters.

The game looks pretty but that’s not the same as having good graphics. My issue is that while the foreground and characters are incredibly detailed and the backdrops huge and varied the two feel very separate. You are essentially running on a straight path with what might as well be wallpaper off in the distance. When I say straight path, it’s really very, very straight. There are little offshoots of a few metres which might have a chest or enemy, although more often than not have nothing but there is absolutely no exploration. This limiting of your options is the theme to every element of the game. Besides there being little field exploration there are no towns, shops are just a list you can access at save points and conversation is limited to preordained times and areas, with no real interaction that’s not a part of the main story.

It’s the same issue when it comes to combat. Yes there is an interesting structure and strategy in place but its execution ends up being incredibly dull. Your spells and actions are limited to which particular role you’ve assigned to your character. You can choose between roles and change them on the fly during battle but within each one you can only really do a few things. You won’t even need to choose which one as the auto-battle option usually does it better and quicker than manually assigning skills to fill up your Active Time Battle slots. It’s simply a matter of switching between roles – called paradigm shifting, so that each party member is working together to keep the hurt on your enemy and your health meters full. Let me bottom line it for you – you’ll be pressing left bumper to paradigm shift while watching your health gauge the whole time and pressing the A button (on Xbox 360) to carry out actions. That’s it. That’s the whole game. Yeah there are summons who are much more engaging than on previous Final Fantasys. Yes you can customise your paradigms so that you have a good mix on your team. Yes the battles are swift and all enemies are visible on screen. It’s just BORING. So boring that it’s hard to play for more than an hour without losing focus and finding your eyes wondering away from the screen, sometimes for long enough that your party get wiped out while you stare at your curtains. This is a FF game you won’t want to play for long sessions – what’s that about?!

Okay let’s just get the skill development out the way because I know you’re now as depressed reading this as I am writing it. You hold the A button down and it fills up a line. As you move along the line crystals light up and that’s you learned a skill. Just like the map exploration there are a few very short offshoots from the main path but nothing worth comment. You have little control over the skill tree or ‘Crystalarium’ except to choose which roles to upgrade first. Once it’s full it doesn’t automatically open the next section either. That will come at a preordained time within the storyline, when it’s good and ready. It doesn’t matter anyway since there’s no real leveling system in place. They could have done away with the skill development all together and just done it for you, like they did with everything else in the game.

Why do it? Why simplify the game to point where no fan of the series could possibly feel satisfied with this linear, hand holding, total lack of freedom? Newcomers will still be put off by the game’s length and long cutscenes as well as the faux complexity of the various spells and abilities you’ll learn. Who are they making the game for? What tops it all off is that everything about the game feels like it’s so very pleased with itself. It oozes the self-satisfied smugness of the developer feeling like they’ve created pure fried gold. Final Fantasy XIII is completely in love with itself from the posing smarmy characters to flashy over-styled menus. Are these merely the rantings of a life long FF fan, someone who waited for the four years like a puppy at the window for its owner to come home from work? Yes, yes they are. I feel like I’ve been hit on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and this review is my poo on the Persian rug of games journalism.







10 responses to “Final Fantasy XIII”

  1. noozles avatar

    Tis a sad day….

  2. South Q avatar
    South Q

    I’m suprised that she haven’t mentioned the Soundtrack. It’s seems too damn lazy with all these Leona Lewis remix.

    Tis a sad day indeed, and quite simply I have only one witty line:

    I can make a better final fantasy than XIII

  3. Mark Brown avatar
    Mark Brown

    I was thinking that, despite my RPG loathing, I’d check this out – you know, its a big deal and all that. Now, I don’t think I’ll bother…

  4. Barry avatar

    I cried a little inside 🙁

  5. Fran avatar

    I’ve only played about an hour of it… I’m glad I got it very cheap… And I want Vanille dead…

  6. Michael avatar

    “I know you’re now as depressed reading this as I am writing it.”

    Yes 🙁 Where did it all go wrong?

  7. Kirsten avatar

    Oh dear, you’ve got me started on the music. It’s annoying and too loud and there’s no way to turn it down as there are no sound options. It stays super loud throughout battles. In some places there are sirens blaring that remain during the battles. I was in one area for about an hour battling with the constant wailing of sirens.

    I really could write 10,000 words on everything that’s wrong with this game. It’s just such a bloody shame.

  8. Albull avatar

    I’m sad that I was right… The other day at work (Monday) I told one of our tech artists why I wasn’t going to buy it and the reasons thereof. On Wednesday he came in and told me I was a *expletive deleted* for the simple reason that my fears were most founded.

    FFIX rawked :-p

  9. Mark Brown avatar
    Mark Brown

    “I really could write 10,000 words on everything that’s wrong with this game. It’s just such a bloody shame.”

    Tim Rogers has you beat Kirsten! He wrote 18,000 words on FF13. Not that I’ll ever read more than the first 500, but you know 😛

  10. Lorcan O'Connor avatar
    Lorcan O’Connor

    Well said. All sight or mention of FF13 makes me feel depressed ;/

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