Saturday, March 13, 2010

On Final Fantasy XIII

Yo, Space Monkees.  Don't get too excited.  This is just a short message, not a review, or a playthrough, or anything.  There is nothing final about this post.

I've been asked a few times around here and my direct email about my thoughts about "Final Fantasy XIII".  One would assume that I, the guy who tried to start a FFXIII walkthrough nearly three years before it was released in the US, would be jumping at the opportunity to play it immediately.  I mean, the trailers are playing on TV with "My Hands" blaring at full volume, so obviously I should have already bought the game and spent the last sixty-four hours playing it non-stop until I collapsed from exhaustion, right?  That's how a true Final Fantasy fan should act, correct?  Obviously.  Forget that the fact that I would need to buy a PlayStation 3 and the game, and get a high-def TV, and forget about schoolwork for the next week and then flunk out of college - all that needs to be left second for this one silly little video game.  Because that's being a goddamn fan!

Well, I'm not really much of a true fan then.  Beyond all the other practical reasons why I haven't bought the game, there's one issue which I figure to be above all the others.  I'm not convinced.

I'm not convinced that the game's lack of exploration, world-building, or secondary characters was actually a stylized design choice on the side of the creators.  Honestly, from what I can tell, they just couldn't have any world-building in this game.  Square Enix has become a company crippled by their own obsession with the highest quality graphics, now to the loss of the game's atmosphere.  One of my favorite parts of this series, and all RPGs for that matter, is how open the world is.  Even in "Final Fantasy I", you could wander freely around the World Map.  Now all that is over.  I never did forgive "Final Fantasy X" for making a world that was just a giant straight line.  How can I forgive FFXIII for doing the same thing, but worse?

I'm not convinced that the battle system was so complicated that it takes the game twenty-five hours for you to finally gain full control.  Every game slowly builds up your control in this series, slowly handing you greater depth in battle while teaching you the skills to use it.  But no matter how complicated FFXIII may be, it can't require a length of time equal to a six week adult education seminar to teach you it.  How good can a game be if you have to suffer through a length of time longer than an entire day before you're finally given full control?  Are you kidding me?

I'm not convinced that the action sequences, which are amazing to look at, are worth it in a video game.  Why have the coolest parts of your video game non-interactive?  If you wanted a game where this sort of thing took place, why not make your battle system look like that?  I want to fly around and fight giant robots in super-cool real time too.  Why should the game have all the fun?  "Final Fantasy VII:  Advent Children" was an awesome movie.  But it was a movie.  I don't play a game to watch, I play to play.  If you were to make sequences like this playable, it would be the most awesome game ever made.  Until then, it will only disappoint.

Finally, I'm not convinced that this game is at all superior to the last game, "Final Fantasy XII".  It all just seems like we're moving in a weird direction - where graphics and storyline have finally devoured all freedom for the players.  For years I've been saying the series needed more storyline and plot freedom, not less.  Greater exploration, a more believable and alive world, not a tunnel.

So ultimately I'll probably buy FFXIII.  And I might even come to enjoy it despite all these worries I have.  But I'm not going to buy it full-price.  If FFXIII is going to prove itself despite my worries, its going to have to do so at a bargain.  For four years now I've harbored such high hopes for this game, and what finally came out was decidedly not what I was expecting or wanted.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't my final opinion.  This is just an explanation for why I don't have a final opinion.

Oh, and "White Knight Chronicles" looks like a far superior game, by the way.


  1. I heard a rumor somewhere that Versus was bringing back the world map. I fucking hope so since world maps are that part of the game where you just leave your game on for hours listening to the awesome music. But overall, everyone I talk to about Final Fantasy seems to think Versus will be the "real" XIII . Based on how I feel about the game now, I can't help but agree.

  2. I like FFXIII. Oh, and the battle system doesn't take 25 hours to completely adjust, more like 6 actually.

    I still like FFXII more, obviously because it's always been my fanboy favorite. But after being 30 hours in so far, I can at least say I like FFXIII enough for it to be number 2, and the linear essence of it is really removed because it doesn't feel linear when you remove the minimap, at least to me. FFX's linearity was far worse.

  3. my friend was convinced white knight chronicles was a better game and said it would beat the ass of final fantasy XIII but it was recieved less warmly than that so he was gutted but i intend to play that also to compare

    it's the advancement sytsem that takes forever to open up, your crystarium only lets you go so far until you've progressed the story so it caps you from level grinding for a long time.
    I would go as far to say it's pretty damn linear, there is a very distinct system for as much as i've played of running forward, watching cut scene, running forward, watching cutscene and repeat... and the story leaves so much to be desired, the adverts show you pretty much everything and I expected something to flesh it out but there's so little to care about.

    XII was such a huge world and they've just taken a huge step back in that sense as far as I'm concerned and XII was set in a mere handful of countries, not two completely separate worlds! And the battle system, we're back to waiting for bars to fill up and battle screens.

    But i'm rambling now, it's just frustrating that the series appears to have taken a step forward in graphics and a leap back in absolutely everything else...

  4. After Crystal Bearers I've learned to not take much stock in reviewers. More important than their opinions is the what they say about the game. If they say "similar to FFXII", I'm fired up, no matter what their final opinion is.

    What did you friend think of the game, Hammy?

  5. he's still excited about it but has to procure a PS3 to play it, i intend to let him use mine when I'm done with FFXIII because it'll just be gathering dust otherwise. He says it's what the new Final Fantasy should be like but I'll wait and see. I need to find a use for the PS3 after waiting so long to play FFXIII on it...

  6. The game keeps making you play as certain characters, and as soon as you adjust to the current group it switches on you. I keep waiting for the "tutorial" feel to end, but it never does... And the whole thing reminds me of random things from Final Fantasy past... Snow swinging from the broken bridge = Cloud in the reactor, Tidus about to leave Zanarkland. Lightning = Squall + Cloud. Hope = Vaan. Snow = Locke (except a monk...). Advancement system = Sphere Grid minus need for specific spheres and return spheres. Vannile is the most annoying character with Selphie syndrome I've ever seen. The voice just too much. It's in battle, when you walk around, and of course in cut scenes. At least in FFX Tidus doesn't make a sound every single time Yuna cures him. And I'm fucking tired of hearing Leona Lewis every 10 minutes. Pluuuuuuuuuus, there's no "endurance" type strategy, since there's no MP (unlimited castings) and everyone is completely healed after every battle.

  7. Actually, unless you feel an absolute need to grind to max level at the beginning of every game, the progression of characters starts about two hours in. The level system is almost exactly like the sphere grid, so if you didn't like that, you won't like this. The story is something of a mix between IX and X, with some VI (bleugh) thrown in.

  8. Have you seen? Spoony's taking on Final Fantasy X. Bound to be good.

  9. White Knight Chronicles is great, if your going to play online. For only single-player, it would be better to go with the new Star Ocean.

    Back on topic, I'm gettin' this on my birthday, which is two months. Till than, I got Mass Effect 1/2 to play :)

  10. Mass Effect is an awesome game. Haven't had a chance to pick up the sequel yet. Let me know how it is, YKProductions.

  11. Currently I have to re-beat Mass Effect due to a corruption of my 75 hour level 60 save. :(

    Should start the second one...I dunno...tomorrow or on Thursday hopefully.

  12. I've already beaten Mass Effect 2. Twice, in fact, I started a new game immediately after beating it the first time. It's that good.
    I'm currently working on FFXIII, and it's awesome.

  13. I'm about one hour into it...My mind is blown, just incredible.

  14. Leona Lewis is only in the last 5 minutes of the game, all other vocals are by Sayuri Sugawara or whoever. Serah's theme, The Sunleth Waterscape, etc.

    Actually, Hope is so not like Vaan. Vaan sucks. Hope rules beyond belief, he's by far the best mage, and Lightning, Fang, and Hope are the best balanced team. Plus I love his character. =D

    I already beat the game, I love how all past FF things make you reminisce, sort of how FFIX felt. It's a fun game, and yeah, my second favorite. People who complain about it have their points but need to just live with it because the linearity can't be changed, and Kitase himself said, next time he'd like to make a bigger world now he knows Crystal Tools better. It's a great game with an awesome story(IMO the only better story in FF is Tactics).

  15. Now you see, Wee, that's one point I disagree with. Kitase almost had me convinced that the linearity was chosen based on its own merits rather than an open world. But then he had to open his big mouth about how they didn't understand their own engine all that well. Now its clear that the brought out a clearly compromised game that was released way too early. I could respect taking a decade to make the greatest game you possibly can. I can't respect taking half a decade to make a amputated half-complete effort.

    Probably their biggest mistake, though, was releasing a trailer back in 2006, when the game was nowhere near completion. And they're doing it again by talking about FFXV when they don't even have a plan yet.

  16. Man...FFXV...I shudder at the thought, as the memory of VII releasing is fresh in my mind.