Final Fantasy XIII review

Graphics and Story
Final Fantasy XIII is like a beautiful woman with nothing interesting to say.

The combined effect of the stunning character models and colorful and (oh so) detailed environments is breathtaking. The game's art style has a fantastic lack of concern for practicality and realism. Cities emerge from nothing more than shadows, giant and bulky airships somehow manage to fly, and monsters the size of buildings walk the lands. It doesn't take long to realize that the world of FFXIII is one of imagination and not logic, and it's during the game's quiet moments in between battles and cutscenes while marveling at the improbability of the scenery that you come to appreciate the Fantasy in the game's title. --And then the characters open their mouths and ruin everything.

image
Hope's Eidolon? He can summon misplaced wangst.

The story's bad. Really bad. It's a perfect storm of childish melodrama, unlikable characters, and cringe-worthy lameness. And behind it all is a complex backstory with its own terminology and history, the kind of backstory that Square was so confident you'd be interested in that they've included an in-game guide to the FFXIII universe, called the datalog, which adds entries automatically as you progress through the story. It's the kind of guide that would make sense in a game with a story good enough to cause players to want more of it, but since FFXIII is no such game, there's actually something a little sad about the datalog ... diligently working away in the background to add new never-to-be-read entries to a list that's already glowing with little flashing exclamation mark icons. O Datalog ... I hope somebody reads you someday.

image
Vanille's Eidolon? She can summon inappropriate sex moans.

Gameplay
FFXIII is a distillation of JRPG elements. There are no towns to explore where you can buy stuff and chat up the villagers for information. Instead, you shop at save points and NPCs just shout insipid tidbits when you run by them. Furthermore, optional sidequests only appear later in the game, and they all consist only of tracking down monsters and killing them. The biggest change, in my opinion, from most JRPGs is that your party emerges from every battle with full health (think of it as the JRPG equivalent to Halo-style healing). This eliminates the irritation of having to manage your party's health, but it also eliminates that pleasant feeling of trepidation you'd get from many older JRPGs when your party, stocked with health and mana potions, leaves the safety of a town and marches off into a dungeon.

You begin each battle with your party assigned a set--called a paradigm--of roles such as the cautious paradigm of a synergist (a buffer), a sentinel (a tank), and a medic (take a guess). Outside of battle, you can set up a list of these paradigms and are able to switch between them during a fight. The combat has a refreshingly fast pace while still maintaining a good deal of depth, and as a result of that fast pace, you control only one character and may even let the computer choose your attacks so that you can instead focus on the larger scale strategy. The combat is a fun evolution of the turn-based battle systems of the past. Still, as enjoyable as it is, it can get a little old during the course of the game, but given how long this game's course is, that's not saying much.

FFXIII may disappoint you if you approach it with your own preconceived ideas of how a Final Fantasy game should be, but if you just play it for what it is you will enjoy yourself (at least for the first 30 - 40 hours; I can't promise you much after that).

image
Sazh's Eidolon? He can summon a newfound appreciation for the storage potential of an afro.

Conclusion
This is a solid 8/10 game, but it's not just any 8/10 game. It's an 8/10 game that thinks it's a 9/10 game that got all dressed up in its fancy 10/10 clothes. You can tell a lot of effort from many talented people went into this game. For that reason alone it should deserve more than an 8/10, but the story is just so stupid (I hate you, Hope), and the game constantly challenges you to drop it and do something else because of its long length stretched thin by many unnecessary sections. Less is more, Square Enix.

image
Lightning's Eidolon? She can summon a nagging urge in the player to rotate the camera during gameplay to look up her skirt.

A pretty solid review, although it's missing a bit about the music, which is pretty good. The review itself is a decent length, good spacing and flow. Also, pretty good picture placement. No grammar or spelling errors either, which is nice. Is this your first review, by the way?

And I agree, the back story is a wee bit confusing. Happily, I soon realised that was why it kept going back to Bodhum Beach and figured it out. Plus I had the guide for it which explains everything. Oh, and I liked all the characters in this. Yes, I liked Hope. And Vanille, even though he voice for the first few hours grated and the constant squeaking in battles got annoying.

Oh, and welcome to the Escapist, enjoy your stay, read the guidelines, etc, etc.

Sassafrass:
Is this your first review, by the way?

Yes, it is and thanks for commenting. Also, you're absolutely right about the music. I completely forgot about that. It's generally really good, especially when Leona Lewis isn't singing.

Loved this review, well done. Especially liked the opening line!

Good review, hit some key points.

Though.. Lightning is an awesome character! As much as I may be biased as having her being my most favored female protagonist..

Hmmmmmmm..... perhaps they should've shaved off about 10-20 hours or so and instead gone with the traditional world map and town motif.

That was a good review. I would like to hear what you think of gran pulse though.

darth jacen:
I would like to hear what you think of Gran Pulse though.

There fixed it for ya =) sorry total name Nazi

OT: Great Review and I agree with most points, even though im a FF Whore I can admit standards were set low =P

I personally hated the Combat System. Due to the full healing after battle, it allowed them to make trash not so trashy, so even normal fights got overly complicated at times. Also paradigm switching became tedious very very quickly.

LogieBear:

darth jacen:
I would like to hear what you think of Gran Pulse though.

There fixed it for ya =) sorry total name Nazi

OT: Great Review and I agree with most points, even though im a FF Whore I can admit standards were set low =P

Well, seeing as I haven't played the game I was close.

That's a really damn good second post you made there. Welcome to the Escapist. I think your review was a bit short but I think most reviews here are too short.

You know what? i almost raged out reading the first bit until i relized what you said further down. I was expecting you to say 1/10. So hey at least your not harsh. Am gonna admit i was the biggest hater of this game until my friend forced me to buy it. Now its easily one of my favorite games if not my favorite. I could now defend that statment saying all the games i also love but hey i dont feel like it. People should respect eacthothers likes and dislikes.

I loved the story though. love snow hes awsome! lol and hope gets better but you know all this.

Theres also a news of and XIII-2. Now i know am gonna loes my man cards saying this but... i wanna see that wedding... Imagine lighting in a dress! oh the hilarity! Sorry this turned out to be a gush post.

Good reveiw i respect your oppinion. You may have disliked the game but you came at the reveiw very tactfully.

[DELETED]

Good review. I can't tell you how frustrated I am with this series. FF1 is easily on my top 25 games of all time. Then I raised some babies. Then I got to start gaming a little again.

FF10 is tied with Halo for my favorite game of Gen 6.

I avoided 11, got X-2 and could not stop blushing from shame while playing it. I bought into the FF12 hype and got that and found it excretable.

Now, I bought FF13 and the collector's edition game guide. I am not far into it, but have to write that your review seems spot on. I am shocked at how much I dislike these characters so far and how lame the gameplay is. On the other hand, my chin keeps hitting the floor while looking at these incredible visuals. And every review says the gameplay picks up and is very rewarding.

An 8/10 is still a Great score, so, I'll keep at this. But dang, this is what I want in an RPG:

1) Realistic visuals: no cell shading or bobble head characters
2) Turn based combat
3) Health and Mana restored to full AT A SAVE POINTS
4) Likable characters and good if not great story
5) NPCs that matter in towns that can be explored
6) good maps, objective tracking

Anyone know a game like that in the current gen.?

While I certainly think this is a good opinionated review, I think it fails somewhat at being informative. While it's fine to pass comment on what you think of the story or characters, at least tell your audience something about those elements and give examples to back up your opinions. The fact that you don't really analyse the game in this manner means that your review comes across as having something of a lack of depth, particularly noticeable in the dissonance between the score you give and the trend of the review's content. Upon finishing the review I can definitely tell that you like the combat and were impressed by the visuals but you haven't said a whole lot else to justify why you gave the title an 8/10.

If you think the story is bad, tell us why it's bad.
What makes the characters unlikable?
What is the "cringe-worthy lameness" in the story?
Why, without spoilers obviously, might people stop enjoying the game after the opening 30-40 hours?

Personally I'm a big fan of Final Fantasy XIII but I'd still also say it only really deserves a rating of around 8/10 at most. It reminds me of LOST; it's a polarising experience with a twisted narrative that relies on the audience sticking around long enough to actually see the character development, and flashbacks ,that make it possible to relate to the protagonists and properly comprehend their actions. I finished the game liking all of the characters, although Vanille still galls me at times, with a particular soft spot for Lightning and Fang - which isn't all that surprising considering the parallels between them. The gameplay can get very repetitive, especially when battles are a mere formality, but there's a certain something about the atmosphere of the game, twinned with my investment in the world and characters, that makes me want to keep playing.

I bought this game.

Yep.

I bought this game for about $57[?] australian dollars, in a 50% off sale at my local store. Thus far I've only played the opening scene and then a little bit of it (about 30 minutes gameplay all up) but I have to say it's looking worrying.

I bought this game because, previously, the only JRPG I ever played was the ultimate - Tales of Symphnoia from the gamecube - and I wanted another deep, well made, expansive and very long JPRG to play.

If what you say is true and it won't get any deeper than it is now (basicically a rail shooter without the auto movement) then I'm worried that I've wasted a good amount of money.

A bit more positive: I got Valkyria Chronicles and it's great :) Don't know how long it'll be though. I was looking for another 50-60 hour game like Tales of Symphonia~

Gorfias:
1) Realistic visuals: no cell shading or bobble head characters
2) Turn based combat
3) Health and Mana restored to full AT A SAVE POINTS
4) Likable characters and good if not great story
5) NPCs that matter in towns that can be explored
6) good maps, objective tracking

Apart from the cell-shaded and 'not great story' parts I agree with that. I am willing to accept cell shaded graphics from a JRPG (anime influenced) and I love deep stories but yeah, if something like that comes along I'll jump on it.

I miss Tales of Symphnoia :( :( :(

PS. I have yet to get the outright annoyance of vanille - yet to encounter it. I don't know if i'll play for long enough to do so~~

First of all, excellent review.

But I disagree with some parts of it -- to each his/her own, right?

I actually enjoyed FFXIII, especially the story. Maybe this was because I was too busy with school and horses to play it all at once, so I ended up playing the game over a period of a few months, so I didn't get bored with it? I found the battle system boring and annoying at times, but I felt that some of the bosses were there to test how well you understood the system, because you couldn't defeat them without a solid strategy. Square Enix's attempt to make its players think harder, perhaps? Maybe I'm just a nerd, but I found the mental challenge enjoyable. XD

**SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH... for, like, the first hour or two of the game. So nothing that you don't already know, really, but better safe than sorry, right?**
Also, the whole "no towns and not interacting with NPCs" thing works. Yes, it was annoying, and yes, I'm hoping the following FFs will return the towns to what they used to be, but you have to remember that the party spends the entire game as fugitives, hated by pretty much everyone, so you CAN'T interact with the NPCs like the characters in past Final Fantasies could.
**Okay, SPOILERS ARE DONE.**

On a side note, I COULD NOT STAND HOPE for the first part of the game. I wanted to stab him. Maybe because Snow was my favorite character, or maybe because he was being a whiny little brat who needed to get knocked upside the head. But after he stopped being a whiny little brat, I found that I really liked him. As for Vanille, I liked her, too. She annoyed me at times, but I still liked her. What amused me was when someone told me that her accent sounded fake... And I was like, "Really? Cuz her VA is from Australia."

In short, great review. I loved the game a lot. It was a nice branch off/experiment/break from the more traditional JRPG elements of the Final Fantasy series. However, I would like to see those elements back in the next installment. Because ONE of these "throw the rule book out the window" games is enough for a while, methinks.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked