Thursday, May 17, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC Special

Here's that post where I complain about trends in Final Fantasy!  *thumbs up*

So it has now been three months since I've played that wretched abomination of a game called "Final Fantasy XIII-2:  The Legend of Curly's Gold".  If you recall my response to that game, I hated it so much that even three months later I still refer to it as a "wretched abomination of a game".  Ever since my experience with Motomu Toriyama's latest unspeakable catastrophe, I've found myself increasingly morbidly fascinated by the slow trickle of DLC stuff.  Mostly in the now-clearly delusional hope that one of those DLC items would happen to contain the real ending of the game.  As we all know, FFXIII-2 does not have an ending.  And as we all equally should know, all video games need to have endings.  Preferably clear unambiguous endings where the heroes succeed and you're left with the warm knowledge that you didn't waste thirty hours playing some lazy half-assed piece of shit developed by cynical bastards who stopped giving a shit about their flagship RPG franchise seven years ago.  Sadly, that's not the case.

Ultimately I had no choice but to once again return to the sordid tale of FFXIII, because just this week, Square Enix released the last bit of DLC for the game.  This, as far as I know, is actually going to be the very last thing released for the entire FFXIII saga, barring of course the seemingly inevitable FFXIII-3.  So far most of the DLC has been rather harmless.  You got a battle against some old Final Fantasy veterans like Ultros and Gilgamesh, a fight against Lightning in her original costume, a really stupid Sazh-based poker game, and costumes, lots and lots of costumes.  But this last DLC, "Requiem of a Pretentious" is actually the very last event to occur in this game, so its the closest thing to an ending we may ever get.  And guess what?  This ending is just as horrible and inconclusive as anything else.  So if you spent six bucks on this bullshit (like I didn't*) you were left just as unsatisfied as ever, perhaps even more so.  All in all, FFXIII-2 in its complete form adds up to something like one hundred dollars, assuming you bought it new.  And the game still sucks.

So let me do a brief post explaining why this new DLC is horrible.  Because it will be cathartic.  Also, let me begin by saying this:  Motomu Toriyama, please retire.  You do not make good games.  You are a shame to your entire family.  Go do something else.

"Requiem of the Pretentious" stars a fully-playable Lightning, the character that's supposed to be the hero of this game and the character on the cover.  So ultimately, Lighting gets roughly ten minutes of full playtime.  For the rest of the game, as we all know, you play as Serah and that other guy**.  Now, fully-playable Lightning is actually quite impressive, her abilities and stats are many times stronger than anything you'd be capable of in the main game, and she's fighting on her own.  Not only that, but she has her own deck of Job Classes entirely exclusive to her, which sounds like an interesting game mechanic, but its ultimately wasted on two boss fights.  This makes me unhappy since if Lightning was playable from the beginning this game would have been a lot more fun.  So there we go, we're right back to the beginning with this:  nobody ever wanted to play as Serah or that other guy.  I still don't know what SE was thinking on that one.

Anyway, in this DLC, Lightning is fighting Captain Broken, Caius, in Valhalla.  This is apparently happening at the same time that Serah and whats-his-name are fighting Caius in the real world.  Usually I'd wonder how this is possible, but FFXIII-2 is filled with so much timey-whimey time travel bullshit that Toriyama could come up with any kind of excuse so who cares?  Lightning fights Caius, she wins a few times, but Caius, as we already know, is ridiculously overpowered so he just haxxors her into the ground and declares victory.  Now things start to make even less sense.  We get a weirdo scene of Serah being hung on an invisible crucifix while crying blood.  I thought the other guy was Christ, I'm confused.  Also it appears that the Yuel Log is actually evil.  I call her "Yuel Log" because she has all the personality of a log.  Actually, that's unfair.  Some logs are rather charming.

By the way, I have to harp on this invincible villain situation.  Caius has been reported to be the most powerful Final Fantasy villain ever.  And I guess this is true since he is truly immortal and no matter how many times he loses, he still wins.  Now, that should make Caius a really impressive and imposing character, but instead I'm left only annoyed by him.  He's not the Terminator, he's a nuisance.  Let me explain why:  in the mechanics of FFXIII-2, you fight a boss, you win, that boss loses.  This is traditional RPG boss stuff.  Usually when you win a boss fight, the plot declares you to be the winner and that boss is defeated.  Sometimes, however, the plot needs that character to survive, since he's the main villain and all, so in a really contrived way, the game just decides that the battle you just fought doesn't actually count.  "Yeah, you won, but that interferes with our storyline, so we'll pretend that you lost."  This, I don't think, has ever been an effective method of game design, but more fundamentally, you fight Caius roughly eighty times during the course of FFXIII-2, including a four-part Final Boss fight.  And all those dozens of times, you win.  How many times is a character supposed to cheat like this and remain scary?  It also really doesn't help that Caius never really does anything in the bizarrely simplistic storyline of FFXIII-2, all he ever does is wander around, threaten you, then run away when he loses (but the game acts like he wins... but he still runs away).  Caius isn't scary!  Square Enix could have me fight him ten thousand times, and even if he came back all ten thousand times, I still wouldn't be impressed.  The guy never even bothers to threaten any civilian characters, he never does anything particularly evil until the end when he tries to blow up Cocoon.  I'm tired of this character, I'm tired of his crap, I'm tired of his stupid broken powers that keep him smiling a dumb smug grin even after I smashed his stupid face insideout for the twentieth time.

Caius, somehow, is even more annoying of a recurring boss than Talbot from "Jeanne d'Arc".  I can't believe it.

So, because of Plotkai, Caius wins the fight, Lightning gets eaten by some poorly-explained Chaos smoke, and the the story stops even trying to make sense.  Lightning sees Serah die from the last scene of FFXIII-2, and this naturally makes Lightning upset.  But then Serah appears, telling Lightning not to feel bad, but things get really stupid and complicated from here.  Lightning reveals that she only went to Valhalla because she felt bad about the people she killed (GROAN).  There's a lot of rambling about hope***, whatever.  Then this happens:


Okay, I grant you that I'm a pervert.  But please, somebody who isn't perverted, tell me what is happening in that picture?  Tell me that isn't ending in a kiss, right now.  Try to tell me that.  You can't.  You cannot.  Because that is a lesbian incest scene right there.  Admit it.  CONFESS.

Also this scene where two totally non-lesbian sisters stare soulfully into each other's eyes for about two straight minutes while hugging and caressing each others' cheeks is done entirely with telepathy.  Why?  I don't know!  I was too busy trying to find out if Serah's hand was on any naughty bits.

Then one male gaze shot on Lightning's ass later, Lightning decides to climb up to the Etro Chair and freeze herself.  So that Serah's memory will never disappear.  (Its at this point that I puked up my dinner.)  Then Lightning freezes herself, end credits.  But don't worry, there is one last scene at the end.  Lightning wakes up in the future after the Day of Lavos and does... something.  We never find out what, because that's the end of the game.

There we go.  In the end, "Requiem of the Goddess" explained one thing:  why Lightning was frozen at the end.  Did it explain if Caius is alive or dead?  Nope.  Did it explain if the universe is still standing?  Nope.  Did it explain if this is even the real ending or not?  You bet your ass it didn't!  If anything, everything is even more confusing and stupid than it was before!  How is any of that possible??

And I'm not the only one lost here.  Nobody has any idea what Square Enix is doing with this ending.  Is this all a teaser for a FFXIII-3?  That seems like the only rational solution, but even that makes very little sense.  Why not just end the DLC with "to be continued in FFXIII-are-you-fucking-morons-so-stupid-you'll-buy-another-one-of-these-games-3?"  I don't know.  The ending itself is so ambiguous and bizarre it feels like something Terry Malice would have directed.  Well, if Terry Malice had done this everybody would have whispered the entire time and there would have been dinosaurs.  Nobody knows what this is supposed to mean, nobody knows what they're trying to achieve here.  What were they thinking?  Were they thinking?  These last scenes are so hilariously bad they descend into Dissidia territory.  Which is rather appropriate, since that game's storyline made no sense either and to this day nobody has any clue what that game was supposed to be about.

Before you guys go crying "FFXIII-3 will make everything better!"  Let me ask an important question:  should FFXIII-3 exist?  Or to put it another way, did there have to be two sequels to FFXIII?  Could they have fit a conclusive storyline into a single game?  Did any of this have to be divided up into two sixty-dollar games and what might turn out to be a hundred dollars worth of DLC?  The answer is no.  They could have made a perfectly decent game.  They didn't, instead they went for the money.  What Square Enix needs to do is remember what they are:  a game company.  Their number one priority should be to make the best single product possible every single time.  They should never cut their work into pieces out of the hope of creating franchises where single games could exist.

You want to know what the sickness is that's killing Final Fantasy?  It isn't Toriyama's writing, or the DLC, or the ambiguous endings, its the fact that Square Enix can't seem to be bothered with just making games anymore.  It always has to be the next cultural event.  And if FFXIII-1 can't capture the imaginations of a generation, they'll make two more games just like it, so many numbers alone can compensate where the weak ideas and lack of creativity could not.  Mediocrity is being inflated into grandeur.  And the results are beyond merely ridiculous at this point, its pathetic.  Final Fantasy wants so badly to be cool, and its failing so much.  So what are you left with?  Bullshit.  Worthless bullshit.

Yeah, there will always be that small niche of teenagers who don't know any better.  They'll defend this game to the end, since they never knew how great Final Fantasy used to be.  That's the real tragedy right there.

* My FFXIII-2 copy was long ago traded to GameStop for credit to buy "Xenoblade" with.  Good riddance, I wouldn't dare let that thing stay in my house any longer.  So I didn't actually play any of this DLC.  Does that make me critically unqualified to review it?  Perhaps.  Do I care?  No.

** The other guy really left an impression on me.  I can't for the life of me remember his name, and I can't be bothered to look it up.

*** Here's a tip for aspiring story tellers, never name a character after the esoteric idea that you're going to use over and over again.  I think the game FFXIII-2 uses the word "hope" some twenty-nine trillion times.  And there's a character named "Hope".  This makes every sentence awkward and a potential double-entendre.


  1. Blue, forget about this game, nothing else matters right now! Climb to the roof and cheer to the sky! Find a pretty girl and give her a kiss! Do you know why?


  2. What is cool is such an ephemeral thing that Enix doesn't seem to quite grasp, the more cool they try to be the more out of touch they become. Creating a perfect game with the tools available to them was something Square strived to achieve every time, with varying degrees of success, but then we could at least applaud them for trying. They stopped trying.

    Oh and please let me know what you think of Xenoblade. It's such a vast and impressive game, the storyline is standard RPG, there's a rag tag bunch of heroes, a world to save (which is in itself an amazing structure.) Made me love RPGs again and yearn for the days of FFXII...

  3. It made me angry that the other guy's name was Nole and not Noel (pronounced no-ELLE). Like, probably angrier than it had any right to make me.

  4. So when the hell ARE you gonna get around to looking at Xenoblade? That game is great I tells ya.

    P.S I thought you thought FFXIII-2 was just mediocre, you made it out to be like sonething akin to Superman 64.

  5. And this is why I just stick to the Final Fantasy games pre-XI (except XII. I like XII).Also, Square seems to be trying much harder with Kingdom Hearts than with Final Fantasy. Of course, it could just be DIsney trying to keep their creations from being as butchered as this fuckfest.

  6. Blue, have you tried Knights in the Nightmare? It's a pretty good TRPG game, with elements from platformers, RTS, bullet hell shooters, and the fact that enemies target your effing cursor.

    And if you do get it, get it on the DS. You control everything with the stylus, and I don't think it would transfer very well to the PSP.

  7. well im pretty sure that scene with lightning and serah,the constant use of the phrase hope, and a somehow even more confusing time travel plot killed any chance of this dlc appealing to me. hey square heres a suggestion: rehire the guys you lost from the spirits within disaster,
    fire toriyama, and keep the plot easy to comprend but intresting.
    how hard could that be?

  8. Y'know what the sad thing is? My sister is actually interested in this game. Not as much as XIII, since she dislikes Serah and practically worships Vanille, but still. I wish I could do something to prove that we're not related, because we're clearly not.

    By the way, we don't have XIII either. I'm not letting any filth related to this game anywhere near my house or PS3.

  9. I'll admit, this DLC, while fun gameplay wise, made me raise eyebrows. Not that it wasn't epic, because it was. But it wasn't satisfying. Oh well. To be honest, XIII-2's story made XIII's seem very simple and effective. And FFXIII's story was pretty convoluted in its own right. Square's lucky I happen to like the characters. It's about the only thing keeping me interested right now.

    I'd like to know what you think about Xenoblade. I'm not too far in, but I'm loving it so far. It brings back happy memories of FFXII. :D