In Defense of Final Fantasy XIII

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In Defense of Final Fantasy XIII

The legacy of the Final Fantasy name is what's preventing the series from progressing in any meaningful way.

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I'm surprised the Escapist let this article on the site considering how much the community here "Likes" Final Fantasy XIII, but as a fan of XIII I'm glad to see it and I think you made some very good points. However, I still don't see how people found it confusing. Compared to VII's "Clouds a clone" and VIII's Time Compression I found it very easy to follow as long as you paid attention to the dialogue (and no, I didn't look at the encyclopedia thing once as it all gets explained in time.)

I also agree that the characters were great and, in my opinion, some of the best they've done, but boy do I want to whack Snow round the head with something heavy. Its also one of the few Final Fantasy's I've played twice and gotten an entire different character experience because I know their history. First time round Vanille is the annoying peppy one that seems to be madatory in any Japanese game. Second time round, shes like the band on the Titanic as it sinks.

Oh, and while XIII-2 is good, its hard work with a story that, while interesting, really doesn't grab you and hold you like some of the others. Worth playing though.

There's a reason for that, though: Final Fantasy XIII wasn't really an RPG. Nor did it ever want to be.

What? You mean it's unreasonable to assume that the thirteenth installment in one of the most famous series of RPGs in gaming ISN'T meant to be an RPG?

This reminds of when Tommy Wiseau went back and claimed that his atrocity of a movie (The Room) was was actually meant as a "comedy", when the tone clearly isn't intentionally humorous at all.

EDIT:

Final Fantasy XIII gave fans something new. And it was vehemently hated as a result.

Actually, the whole time I was playing FF13 (brief as it was), I could not stop thinking of another game that had similar problems: Xenosaga Episode 2.

It had very similar gameplay related problems and an overwrought story.

I read the whole article but I still think it is only being devil's advocate to try to defend this game. How are you suggesting that the game was never supposed to be an RPG and the players just didn't get that the game tried to be better by being different? Such comments anger me, really. And I don't listen to each and every one of the producers giving speeches about the genre of the game they are making to check whether it matches with the genre I expect. Those producer speechers usually contain a lot of useless stuff, anyhow. All in all I'm still mad at anything Final Fantasy XIII.

Oh, and I never found Zell annoying... Why did you suggest that?

I think the things that hampered FFXIII are not specifically to do with the name Final Fantasy as much as the expectations placed on the JRPG format itself thanks in large part to the success of Final Fantasy since the Playstation.

It has become de rigeur for a JRPG story to confuse pretention for grandiosity, because dammit it worked for FFVII (Let's face it, the story of Jenova is just the story of Lavos from Chrono Trigger with a bunch of unnecessary cruft about lifestreams and whatnot), there are very few that actually connect us to the protagonist on a personal level like, say, Breath of Fire 3 did.

The battle system, however, is one of the best in any JRPG, and certainly the best in a Final Fantasy. It makes the most of the fact that there is no attrition to make almost every combat a meaningful challenge, usually with a solution based not on luck or brute force of levels but on understanding and manipulating the system provided to you, using the right mix of classes at the right time, and changing them in response to the flow of the battle. You might not be clicking on "attack" every round yourself, but you'll be making far more decisions than you would in any other FF game.

The problem with it is repetition, because there are quite a low number of potential encounter groups in each area the player will find themself fighting the same encounter repeatedly, and because the nature of the encounters is that they are now almost a puzzle, when you have solved the puzzle there is no need to modify your approach. Contrast that with, say, Enchanted Arms, an otherwise pretty terrible game which had a similar restoration of characters between battles, but which rationed the restoration of HP and MP (used by all attacks) by the reduction of another resource, so there was always an incentive to improve your solution to the same encounters so that you could keep fighting further towards the next save point.

Had FFXIII had either a system like that to push the player to continue thinking even in repeated encounters to refine their approach to them, or altered the encounter design to provide a steadily staged and increasing challenge curve through each area (a tricky task), it would have fully succeeded in what it attempted to do.

Aiberg:

Oh, and I never found Zell annoying... Why did you suggest that?

That's because he fortunately hails from a time before voice acting...

Well, it's a pretty good argument that the reason for the backlash was that it deviated too much from the series' template for the old fans to like it. But then again, everyone whom I know who has played it as their first FF game, including me, still thought it was crap. Then we went off and had a jolly old time with some of the old ones after we found those lying around in a store's retro section.

Jeff Dunn:
In Defense of Final Fantasy XIII

The legacy of the Final Fantasy name is what's preventing the series from progressing in any meaningful way.

Read Full Article

I was waiting for someone to say it.

Fucking thank you.

jurnag12:
Well, it's a pretty good argument that the reason for the backlash was that it deviated too much from the series' template for the old fans to like it. But then again, everyone whom I know who has played it as their first FF game, including me, still thought it was crap. Then we went off and had a jolly old time with some of the old ones after we found those lying around in a store's retro section.

Haha same thing happened to me. Leant my copy of FFXIII to two friends. Both of them hated it and accused me of 'trolling their gaming experiences' (apparently that's a thing?). One of them never wants to go near the series again, but the other one of them bought FFIX and now he won't shut the fuck up about it! He said he liked FFIX over FFXIII because he didn't want to murder all the main characters. I can relate to that.

You don't do major innovation within an established and popular franchise, ever. It never works.

I can't remember if it was a Red Alert or Tiberium Wars game but when they "innovated" with the mobile bases that killed the game.

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You can't claim the people hating on CoD for not innovating back your argument either because they hate the success of CoD and the fact that people still buy it, they tend not to hate the actual game.

You can also bet everything you own on the massive shitstorm that'd absolutely occur, compared to the minor pooh flinging of those now disenchanted with CoD, if ActiBlizz ever chooses to do major innovations to it.

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If you want to innovate you do it with a brand new game, or one that isn't hilariously popular.

Thanks for writing on Final Fantasy XIII and being open about why people feel so divided over it. For what it's worth, ever since Final Fantasy became popular in America (around FF6/7, depending on who you talk to), the next one's always been a bit polarizing. Folks who liked 7 disliked 8 or 9, folks who liked 8 hated 10, folks who liked 10 hated 12, and so on down the line. I'd actually argue that 12 and 13 aren't that far off mechanically, since both had little programs for your guys and they were on some sort of auto-pilot. If anything, the menu-based system that's become ubiquitous in most JRPGs was more apparent in 13 than 12. I will agree that the legacy of the series name is troublesome. While there are some expectations for staying the same, Final Fantasy implies a somewhat new system and other innovations every game, and these innovations aren't always welcome. Basically, no game bearing Final Fantasy is ever going to be 100% accepted because we have these weird convoluted expectations. 13 and 13-2 are just the latest to bear the bulk of the grudge.

Simonoly:
He said he liked FFIX over FFXIII because he didn't want to murder all the main characters. I can relate to that.

And there you also have my reason for hating VIII and X. They'd have been decent if Squall and Tidus hadn't been the 2 most annoying and whiny f*cks on the face of the planet.

I like all of the FFs. But even I have to say that XIII was the first one I have felt dragged on a bit (rather than feeling sad when it finished).

I don't want FF to change its game-play between iterations. I want it to change the story it tells and maybe the detail of how it plays - like the difference between VII and VIII - but I actually LIKE the way they play. It doesn't need changing and it won't get "tired" so long as the stories and characters are engrossing and engaging. I think the call for progress is a red herring - just make good stories set in interesting places with great looking cut-scenes and I'll be happy...

Atmos Duality:

What? You mean it's unreasonable to assume that the thirteenth installment in one of the most famous series of RPGs in gaming ISN'T meant to be an RPG?

This is what really got me. Also, I thought that "change is scary" thing was kind of a shot at people.

I like change. I like new ideas and I like things that break out of the mould. But perhaps the 13th core installment of a long-standing traditional rpg is not the best place to do it. I'm not sure this is at all about change, it's about fans expecting an RPG series to continue to be an RPG series. This isn't unexpected. It's not unreasonable.

Plinglebob:
I'm surprised the Escapist let this article on the site considering how much the community here "Likes" Final Fantasy XIII, but as a fan of XIII I'm glad to see it and I think you made some very good points. However, I still don't see how people found it confusing. Compared to VII's "Clouds a clone" and VIII's Time Compression I found it very easy to follow as long as you paid attention to the dialogue (and no, I didn't look at the encyclopedia thing once as it all gets explained in time.)

See I do not understand why people were confused by the story either. I just throught it was a shit story with really bad characters. You like it and that's fine but tell me that Snow is not the biggest douche in fiction?

I have to disagree a bit with the author. While chainging the name might have reduced the hate toward it, a different title would likely have reduced sales. I enjoyed the game well enough, but some someone who still plays the older final fantasy series games, I have yet to soa complete second playthrough on XIII.

The game did change, but it wasn't as enjoyable, more so because it wasn't just that they moved away from a typical RGP, but that they moved away from it being much of a game at all. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it been a 10 episode anime. When I play a game I like to be immersed, and feel like I am doing something. The game was follow the corridor and hold down teh a button in a fight. Even the leveling was boring, since you picked one of three trees and went up it (although I will admit that the older games didn't always even have this much depth, V excluded).

The story could have been better done. I like stories where little bits of what is going on are doled out to keep you in suspense, but at times I had to go to the journal to figure out what was going on.

So, while not the worst game ever made, it wasn't the best, and a name change wasn't going to make people think this was a revolutionary game.

jurnag12:

Simonoly:
He said he liked FFIX over FFXIII because he didn't want to murder all the main characters. I can relate to that.

And there you also have my reason for hating VIII and X. They'd have been decent if Squall and Tidus hadn't been the 2 most annoying and whiny f*cks on the face of the planet.

Agreed. I actually really like Zidane from FFIX, simply due to the fact that he is neither whiny nor a depressing little shit. He was just a normal guy (albiet with a tail) that liked to have a laugh and stab the crap out of wildlife. Cloud, Squall and Lightning all fall under the depressed teenager category for me, which just isn't fun to watch. Tidus and Vaan from FFXII were basically the same whiney characters. If Square Enix want to create something unique, maybe they should start giving their main characters new personalities?

All I know is I literally fell asleep while playing FF 13. I've never done that with any other game. It was the dullest experience of my life. I'd rather sit through my cousins piano rehersal. If it wasn't trying to be an RPG, that's cool; but whatever it WAS trying to be it did that really poorly.

Whatever the matter with FF XIII is, it still has some undeniably bad design decisions. Decisions that would kill fun and engagement in any RPG.

The problem with FFXIII was not that it was different, it was that it was different and bad. I loved dissida despite the fact that it wasn't an rpg like the games all the characters were from. It also wasn't a fighting game in the traditional sense. It was new, unique, and good. FFXIII was a movie that seems to resent giving control to the player. It made a passing glance at a job system and gave you limited control over one person. I promise you if it had gone a different direction that had been a fun game at the end of the day, FFXIII would have a completely different reception.

Do I dislike FFXIII because it didn't feel like what I had come to expect from the Final Fantasy series? Sure.

Was it still a bad game anyway? Well, yes.

Ironically, I was in denial of this for so long after buying the game, it was my love of FF that stopped me from hating the game, and made me defend it to people. But after I finished it, I was just underwhelmed. The battle system was largely rather dull, there was very little scope for character customization, the game was mostly quite linear, the story didn't hook me in, and none of it ever came together for me.

Although it was pretty, I'll give it that. Veeeery pretty. And I did like the sub-plot between Sazh and Vanille, that was one of the few parts where the story did actually catch my interest.

Also, I actually don't hate Vanille.

AC10:
All I know is I literally fell asleep while playing FF 13. I've never done that with any other game. It was the dullest experience of my life. I'd rather sit through my cousins piano rehersal. If it wasn't trying to be an RPG, that's cool; but whatever it WAS trying to be it did that really poorly.

I thought I was the only one. I rented it from GameFly, then about an hour in on the bridge that falls apart at the beginning I just got so bored I turned off the XBox and went to sleep.

Also, Zell was a fine character. I'm not sure I'm interested in you as a person, author.

I'm not really sure you're "defending" FFXIII just because you disagree with one of the criticisms of the game, that it wasn't trying to be innovative, but agree on all of the other complaints, and think it was crap as a result. That's not a terribly good defense.

And I did actually read that 1UP article before the game came out over here and thought the game accomplished pretty much everything they said they wanted it to when I actually got to play it.

The mistake in the article is that Final Fantasy is *exactly the same* as CoD and those other franchises. It's not the fans of any of these franchises that criticize it for being too "samey" all the time. It is, however, the fans that lament when there is a drastic shift in the formula of their beloved series. If Call of Duty suddenly changed into an RTS or something, you can bet that it's fanbase would be out with torches and pitchforks.

But yes, I agree that it's shocking people couldn't seem to grasp the fact that a project literally called "The New Crystal Story" was trying to reinvent a stagnate franchise.

Mr Dunn, I am sorry to say you are off point in every area. People who hate FFXIII hate it because it's not a good game by its own merits. Some of those same people *also* hate it because it is not true to the Final Fantasy formula, if there is such a thing any more. It seems you spend three web pages rebutting a very slim and specific group of people who take issue with FFXIII solely because of the latter, which is an entirely unproductive endeavor because you are addressing the minority. Your accusation of hypocrisy is also unwarranted. People detest Call of Duty because it makes no changes to its formula--only the setting ever changes. FFXIII did not change its formula, it changed its genre, a point you argue for. Apple to Oranges, bud. In any case, you are assuming some who hate Call of Duty are the same people who hate FFXIII but provide no evidence to support this assumption. Since the RPG genre is nothing like the FPS genre I doubt your assumption to be true.

If you are going to try and make a completely new type of game don't make it a sequel. That aside the things the article is completely dismissive of are big issues. The unlikable characters, the terrible combat, the movie like gameplay.

I can play a linear game and be happy, Dead Space or Crysis 2 for example but the fact is that if that linear experience is horrible why would I want to endure it.

It seems like you are making flimsy excuses for a bad game.

Come on,
the issue with FFXIII is not and never was an issue with it's history or namesake.

FFXIII can best be described as an interactive movie, and not as a game. The creator described it more like an FPS. Sure, I'd describe it like that if I cut out all the actual game play of Master Chief and left a small hallway for the player to run down before the next cut-scene takes the control away. It wasn't innovative any more then just taking the control away from the player putting them on YouTube and letting them watch someone else play FF7.

I watched interviews with the creator and when he described it as an interactive movie I was not expecting him to deliver it. I was expecting him to say whatever hype he needed to to sell another RPG with the Final Fantasy Franchise label slapped on it. The very nature of a franchise is to create a look at feel that can be replicated and carbon copied again and again. If I bought a Halo game and was given a JRPG instead I'd be a little offended.

I bought FFXIII expecting a Game and was given a Movie.

Simonoly:

jurnag12:

Simonoly:
He said he liked FFIX over FFXIII because he didn't want to murder all the main characters. I can relate to that.

And there you also have my reason for hating VIII and X. They'd have been decent if Squall and Tidus hadn't been the 2 most annoying and whiny f*cks on the face of the planet.

Agreed. I actually really like Zidane from FFIX, simply due to the fact that he is neither whiny nor a depressing little shit. He was just a normal guy (albiet with a tail) that liked to have a laugh and stab the crap out of wildlife. Cloud, Squall and Lightning all fall under the depressed teenager category for me, which just isn't fun to watch. Tidus and Vaan from FFXII were basically the same whiney characters. If Square Enix want to create something unique, maybe they should start giving their main characters new personalities?

Giving them new personalities?! Next you'll be asking that they make their next game without androgynous teenagers as main characters!
And yeah, I'd forgotten about Lightning. Christ, the only person in XIII that managed to out-annoy her in my eyes was friggin' Snow (Who, together with Hope, needs to die in some sort of grisly accident involving chainsaws, napalm, and a morbidly obese walrus).

medv4380:
snip

Didn't they also say that you can't tell a compelling story on an open world game?

Perhaps he never heard of Grand Theft Auto... or previous FF games...

the reason cod doest change for the people whining about it not changing is because they are not the ones who make the game money its the millions of people who like cod they way it is who make it money.

its the same or any game that has not changed much and when these games do change its slowly so people can get used to it ff12 was a change. one that i hated at first with the weird tacitic system for my ai allies rather than full control as i was used to and the no ramdon encounters was kinda fun once i got used to it.

the ff games where changing (albit it slowly) and i enjoyed the change then ff13 game out and even removed the gamit system any type of smblence to any other ff this ofcourse angered those very fans who make squre enix MONEY if you wanted to try somthing that diffrent and new dont slap it on a existing IP because your just gonna piss people off you would have been better off making a whole new game to test the waters.

In defense of FFXIII, I didn't care about the linearity, and I don't care if I can't run around in the forest outside of town for hours this game is no less linear than every other FF game. Doesn't matter how many sidequests you do you still have to go to the next town to kick off the story, and chances are you won't be coming back to that town anytime soon once you're done with it. As linear as the game was at least it made sense. You're criminals on the run, you don't really have time to stop and smell the roses.
There may be a lot of hallways but at least they're pretty hallways. Have any of you ever taken the time to stop and actually look at what's going on in the background ?

The story, characters, and soundtrack were phenomenal. Nothing more to say on that because if you disagree then ok then.

So with that I give FFXIII the highest praise I will ever give an FF game besides IV. Best FF since IV, excluding tactics of course.

Zachary Amaranth:

This is what really got me. Also, I thought that "change is scary" thing was kind of a shot at people.

I like change. I like new ideas and I like things that break out of the mould. But perhaps the 13th core installment of a long-standing traditional rpg is not the best place to do it. I'm not sure this is at all about change, it's about fans expecting an RPG series to continue to be an RPG series. This isn't unexpected. It's not unreasonable.

Aye, not all change is good.
"Bold but random/stupid" isn't the solution to "Safe but stagnant/overdone".

It's much better to have some actual vision for the project, rather than changing shit just to make it look like you're making progress...I saw enough of that in the 90s.

Gizmo1990:

See I do not understand why people were confused by the story either. I just throught it was a shit story with really bad characters. You like it and that's fine but tell me that Snow is not the biggest douche in fiction?

I don't think he's isn't even remotely close to that title. Then again, "douchebag" used in this sense isn't exactly well-defined.

My brief take on Snow:
We hate him because he's ignorant and naive' and has an overwhelming hero-complex.

To me Snow wasn't a "Douchebag". Seifer was a COLOSSAL douchebag. Way worse than Snow. But people don't hate Seifer because he isn't a player character; you not only get to witness his hubris, you get to administer it personally.

Zell, to a lesser extent, was a douche. Zidane was a borderline Douchebag, but I let it go because he was more carefree than obnoxious and stupid. (still didn't like him much, try as I might)

Snow came across more as an overly eager puppy. One who was about to learn a very harsh lesson about reality. If there is one thing I appreciated about Snow, it's that he wasn't another wet blanket downer nor a nasal imbecile like the previous two FF protagonists (Tidus and Vaan to a lesser extent).

Incidentally, I hated Vanille because she's just ridiculously creepy.
Like the Goddess of the Uncanny Valley.

Now defend XIII-2 cutting the ending from the game completely and releasing it as DLC.

Sorry you lost my interest towards the end of the first page. FF 13 wanted to be a movie that resented being a game. I couldn't get past 2 hours of its tedium. The game play just wasn't engaging enough to keep me going from movie clip to movie clip. Glad I was playing on a friends copy instead of spending my own money.

Yeah Kingdom Hearts 3 would be a nice.

I haven't played FF13 so I can't actually contribute anything meaningful to the conversation, but I was greatly amused by the idea that fans might have a pretty solid preconception of how a game called Final Fantasy XIII should play. What a tremendously unreasonable thing for them to do. Especially given that the FF series doesn't have a single story or setting to unite it, it depends entirely on the gameplay and aesthetics to make it feel like a Final Fantasy.

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