Arbitrary Versus XIII (and other wonderful uses of time and money)

Posted by ArbitraryWater (12123 posts) -
Kratos Sez: I'M ANGRY BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN EXACTLY A MONTH SINCE YOUR LAST BLOG. *Commits violence*

Oh, hey there. I hear some sort of video game convention happened? Well, that’s cool. I now have a respectable handful of Playstation 3 games, none of which I have delved very deeply into since I last blogged (also I bought that God of War 5-game collection. I’ve never played a God of War game before, so hopefully I’ll like it, otherwise I just bought a 5-game paperweight) Why? Well, first of all because E3. Second because I’ve somehow managed to devote most of my game console attention towards this one game and random miscellaneous stuff, to my own doom and that of others. But first, stuff!

E3 impressions:

  • I haven't noticed Ryan's absence this much since Game of the Year stuff. Jeff did a damn fine job of hosting this stuff and corralling guests on his own though. Still gotta catch up on the days I missed.

  • Microsoft seems to be making an earnest effort to win people back, but Sony isn’t taking their spot at the lead for granted. Also I am evenly split between a PS4 and XONE for my next generation console of choice at this point. Bloodborne looks like the VanHelsingSouls game I didn’t know I’ve always wanted, but I gotta say that not much else of Sony’s exclusive lineup seems all that exciting. The Order? Eh. It looks pretty. I will willingly play another Halo, if I were to swing the other way.

  • The games I am most excited for in 2014 are still mostly games that weren't shown at any of those big press conferences (okay, Destiny looks like the game I wish Borderlands could be, so count me in there). At least Josh Sawyer was on the livestream to remind the rest of the world that Pillars of Eternity is a video game that is coming out this year. Also that Civ: Beyond Earth game seems hot. Now all they need to do is fix the problems I had with the AI interactions in Civ V and we will be golden!

  • I should actively try to get my Wii U down here at school now that games are actually coming out for it. Bayonetta 2 looks incomprehensible, which is exactly what I want out of a sequel to a game I thought was almost too crazy japanese for its own good. Mario Maker could potentially be awesome, I should maybe think about trying Skyward Sword before I decide to play another Zelda game, but A Link Between Worlds was enough for me to get excited about Zelda again.

  • In the end, I'm still just going to play a bunch of junk that came out 3-4 years ago on my new PS3 and this semi-broken computer this year. Divinity Original Sin comes out at the end of this month and I’m cautiously optimistic about that game. The same goes for Wasteland 2 at the end of August.

Xenonauts: UFO Homage

When I backed it two years ago, I came into Xenonauts knowing they were making a slightly updated version of the original X-COM: UFO Defense. After playing for a few hours, that is… pretty much exactly what it is. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve made meaningful changes (including categorizing weapons in a similar way to new XCOM, with shotguns, LMGs and Sniper Rifles alongside pistols and rifles), but the core gameplay is almost entirely intact. You shoot down UFOs, loot them, your soldiers’ stats improve and eventually you research better armor, weapons and vehicles. As someone who very nearly called X-COM his favorite old game of 2010 (2010? I’ve been here for a while), that is a-ok in my book, because those small changes do matter and make the game more playable in a modern context. Some of the things that soured me on OG X-COM a bit over the years (mind controlling aliens, weapon balance, various interface quirks) seem to have been alieviated or eliminated, though some of those issues I have still remain (optimally managing multiple bases of dudes, UFO interception). Even with those quibbles, after a few hours I was fully on-board with this game. I might be a little more partial to Firaxis’ interpretation of XCOM at this point (if only because it does its own thing instead of mere imitation), but if playing a slightly updated version of the Best Turn Based Strategy Game To Feature Aliens sounds up your alley, maybe you should take a look at this one.

Final Fantasy XIII

Oh hey, this game.

What can one say about a game that has already been discussed to death? Nothing new, I imagine. Still, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Final Fantasy, it’s a topic that always invites a lot of discussion on either side of the fence, regardless of which Final Fantasy game it is. FF XIII is perhaps the most divisive game in the series, assuming that it isn’t VIII or IX instead. After dealing with around 4 years worth of back and forth between the proponents and opponents of this game, I figured I should play it so I could know for myself where I stand on it. Where do I stand on it, after 40-odd hours of playing? READ ON TO FIND OUT.

It’s okay. For a game with a downright abysmal sense of pacing, Final Fantasy XIII holds itself together pretty well. In some ways, it is the utterly clueless “Square doesn’t know how to make games for a modern audience” game its detractors peg it as (of course, the game those same people claim as the redemption of modern Squeenix has its own share of problems), but I think calling it a bad game doesn’t give it enough credit. From a pure gameplay perspective, the first few hours of the game are inexcusably rotten with tutorials doled out at a snail’s pace (not obtaining experience for the first few hours seems like a poor design choice all-around), but after the first few filler-y segments it becomes tolerable. Through the entire first half of the game though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that say… cutting the number of enemy encounters in half (especially early-on when you can sort of cruise through by just mashing the A button over and over again with COM/RAV/RAV or COM/RAV) would straight up make the game better. The game immediately gives you a taste of what is possible with its combat system and 3-man paradigms before yanking that away and having you spend most of those first 20 hours in two-man teams slowly unlocking multiple abilities until finally… around the end of chapter 9, you finally, finally, finally get consistent access to 3 mans and can put whomever you want in your battle team. At around this point I started enjoying the moment-to-moment gameplay a lot more, especially when Chapter 11 rolled around and the game decided to be slightly less linear for a while and the combat started getting appreciably difficult. It’s this second half where the gameplay of FFXIII finally becomes the game it should’ve been the first 20 hours. The combat’s emphasis on macromanagment and quick paradigm shifts finally started paying off in some interesting ways and at that point I was mostly okay with playing the rest of a game I had already resigned myself into finishing. The combat is fun, flashy, maybe a little shallow, but I never got super tired of it.

The naked linearity of this game bothered me about as much as Dragon Age II's repeating environments. I'll let you figure out what that means.

“But what of the story?” you say, no doubt ready to sharpen your stake or reload your musket (I am a vampire, apparently). Unlike the gameplay, I don’t think the story necessarily gets any better or worse with the passing of time. If we want to talk Final Fantasy, the story of XIII is a very Final Fantasy story. Crystals! The fate of the world! The power of friendship! Giant faux-angelic final bosses! Cursory attempts at thematic and symbolic significance! It’s also… pretty simple, actually. It’s not the most riveting tale, but it’s functional and coherent in the way that most JRPG stories are functional and coherent, a story of cursed individuals figuring out how to deal with the burden placed upon them and their goal of destroying or saving the world. Regardless of that, I got the impression that the aim was for a more character-focused tale, and in that sense FF XIII does alright for itself, in that I thought the main characters were genuinely alright. Maybe I’m secretly a sucker for JRPG Anime melodrama, but I didn’t even mind Hope’s whining all that much. Part of that comes from the ensemble nature, not enough time is spent on any given character to expose their weaknesses, but the localization team and voice actors probably deserve some credit, given that I didn’t cringe nearly as much as I thought I would. Some of the faux-badass stuff Lightning says is a little...ehhhh, and some of the dumb hero stuff Snow says is a little… blehhh, but talent and money were clearly put into this, even if that talent can only go so far. I’ll put it this way: I haven’t played a ton of modern JRPGs that aren't Shin Megami Tensei related. I thought the story and characters in this game were more interesting than the blandtacular cast of Bravely Default.

Not the worst cast in Final Fantasy history!

If you’re detecting some amount of ambiguity in my tone, perhaps to figure out if I like this game or not, I’ll say the same thing I said in my Peace Walker blog: I’m not sure. Final Fantasy XIII is a game with a host of problems. Its opening chapters are inexcusably bad and it takes an offensive amount of time to exercise its full potential in a gameplay sense. But… once it does it’s alright. It’s a beautiful game, that’s certainly part of it. Not just in the sense of being expensive (which it clearly was), but it has that fantastical future/on drugs aesthetic I expect from modern FF, but I even thought the characters and story were okay. Maybe this is all a hint that I’d really like XIII-2, which I bought because I hate myself. Either way, I don’t think I’ve seen the last of Lightning and friends yet…

I’m going to die, aren’t I?

#1 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

the first few hours of the game are inexcusably rotten with tutorials doled out at a snail’s pace

Every time people bring out the slow tutorialage, I'm tempted to bring up Resonance of Fate, since it's the anti-FF13 in that regard. Then again, that game's systems are far more complex than what FF13 has to offer.

#2 Posted by ViciousBearMauling (1252 posts) -

FF XIII-2 is better than XIII. I think that is a statement that very few would oppose. If you like XIII, then you should totally try XIII-2! Those two games had a lot of problems, but managed to get me to finish them.

FF XIII-3, though... I know some people on this website really like that game, but I personally found the story incomprehensibly stupid and the technical performance of the game awful. It's one saving grace is the combat, which I found really enjoyable. The whole package was too much for me to swallow though.

#3 Edited by Fredchuckdave (6158 posts) -

XIII's combat is easily the most dense and difficult in the series; it gets easier in XIII-2 except for a few fights but in general the depth and skill ceiling are pretty much unrivaled in any other JRPG; there's definitely harder JRPGs out there (Vagrant Story) and semi-comparable games on the complexity front (Valkyrie Profile 2), but they don't have the fluidity that XIII does.

Snow is awesome, Lightning is boring as fuck, Hope is the worst character in any Final Fantasy, the second Barthandelus is the best boss fight in any Final Fantasy assuming you don't go in overleveled. Linear JRPGs have better plots than non linear JRPGs by default. And the music is pretty great.

The best part about XIII and XIII-2 is you don't have to level up. You can play at pretty much any difficulty level you desire, and the combat system is so good that you can literally beat the game at 1/3rd the level of someone else if you're good enough at the game.

#4 Edited by SgtSphynx (1567 posts) -
@arbitrarywater said:
Not the worst cast in Final Fantasy history!

Not that I disagree, but which game would you say had the worst cast?

#5 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12123 posts) -

@arbitrarywater said:
Not the worst cast in Final Fantasy history!

Not that I disagree, but which game would you say had the worst cast?

For as much as I love that game, Final Fantasy V has a totally forgettable quintet of protagonists. I haven't played enough of any of the PS1-era games to make a judgement on that end, but I get the distinct impression that I would probably find Squall utterly insufferable.

#6 Posted by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

So can you give me any reason to go back and finish the game? Left off at the beginning of chapter 11, myself.

@arbitrarywater said:

the first few hours of the game are inexcusably rotten with tutorials doled out at a snail’s pace

Every time people bring out the slow tutorialage, I'm tempted to bring up Resonance of Fate, since it's the anti-FF13 in that regard. Then again, that game's systems are far more complex than what FF13 has to offer.

Which, if I recall correctly, is what I said to you when brought that game up last time I was involved in a discussion like this. So I'll take some credit for this comment, because I'm egotistical and whatnot.

#7 Edited by SgtSphynx (1567 posts) -

So can you give me any reason to go back and finish the game? Left off at the beginning of chapter 11, myself.

Pretty much when I stopped playing the game as well.

#8 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6158 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: Squall is decidedly "whatevs" but the rest of VIII's cast is alright; plus you can name Rinoa and her dog which gives you some great potential humor. Laguna is awesome, also great card game.

Final Fantasy V is awesome if you play it at 10x speed with an emulator, it's really boring otherwise.

#9 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@sgtsphynx said:
@arbitrarywater said:
Not the worst cast in Final Fantasy history!

Not that I disagree, but which game would you say had the worst cast?

For as much as I love that game, Final Fantasy V has a totally forgettable quintet of protagonists. I haven't played enough of any of the PS1-era games to make a judgement on that end, but I get the distinct impression that I would probably find Squall utterly insufferable.

Final Fantasy V is a game that's almost entirely devoid of personality from its cast. Other than Faris and her cross-dressing pirate act, none of the characters in the game are all that memorable and the ultimate bad guy is both absurd and absurdly named (Exdeath). The job system is the game's saving grace, which of course has nothing to do with character personality. Even Final Fantasy II has a more memorable cast.

#10 Posted by Aetheldod (3735 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: No you got it wrong Snow sucks and Lighting is the greatest!!!!! >:3 Or I fight you to the death *Slaps with a white glove on cheek*

To the OP ... it is a great game in my books , my favorite FF next to VIII and Tactics (and IX and XII sucks horribly...you can clearly see that Im not of the popular kind of FF fan) Also as you say the story is one heck of a Final fantasy story , only with a huge sprinkle of gnosticism instead of the more traditional judeochritian overtones of the others. Also I still abide that the terms are not as faux as people think , for example l´cie , there is a latin word cieo which means to put in motion , move stir , shake ( http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cieo ) and since Squarenix use a lot of latin in that FF well I just dont think it is a coincidence. Also there is a lot to speculate about the game , like Falcie Pulse , was he/she made a l´cie by Barthandelous? After all he/she becomes a cristal like the l´cie does when they complete their focus etc. What Im triying to say that even if it is simple in story it has a lot of complexities which I like and most people didnt.

Also I love Lighting ... she is my waifu :3

About E3 ... it ws all right but granted I didnt spend most of the day looking at news etc , Because of work , but anyway I enjoyed it a lot more this way and not getting angry or anything of the sorts. About the GB late night offerings , to be honest I never liked them not even when Ryan was hosting them , I dunno seeing a lot of drunkenish people trying to make funny stuff happen etc. never has been my cup of tea (and nope dont enjoy it even when GDC happens and Dave Lang appears). But that is just me.

#11 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6158 posts) -

@aetheldod: Well then I'll punch you, steal your, gun, shoot it in the air and yell "I'm here to kill you all!" Because that's what heroes do man.

#12 Edited by Aetheldod (3735 posts) -

@fredchuckdave: But heroes dont kill , only anti heroes like me ....grrrrrrrrrr

#13 Posted by believer258 (12201 posts) -

XIII's combat is easily the most dense and difficult in the series; it gets easier in XIII-2 except for a few fights but in general the depth and skill ceiling are pretty much unrivaled in any other JRPG; there's definitely harder JRPGs out there (Vagrant Story) and semi-comparable games on the complexity front (Valkyrie Profile 2), but they don't have the fluidity that XIII does.

Have you ever played SMT Nocturne? It seems like something that would be right up your alley.

On the Final Fantasy XIII front, I think what I've played of that game is totally OK, but apparently it gets a lot better so I might wind up really liking it.

#14 Posted by Jazz_Bcaz (271 posts) -

I dig TCs review. I feel that so much of the content in XIII (characters, setting, gameplay) is fairly average, yet it grows on you by virtue of being incredibly long, if you manage to stick with it. It kind of has to, given the agonising drip feed of mechanics. Now, that worked when they had a defined space for this universe to exists in (at least it felt like it did once Leona Lewis started singing) but it doesn't hold up in the sequels.

FF XIII-2 is better than XIII. I think that is a statement that very few would oppose. If you like XIII, then you should totally try XIII-2! Those two games had a lot of problems, but managed to get me to finish them.

FF XIII-3, though... I know some people on this website really like that game, but I personally found the story incomprehensibly stupid and the technical performance of the game awful. It's one saving grace is the combat, which I found really enjoyable. The whole package was too much for me to swallow though.

XIII-2 is far from fresh in my mind but almost from the first second the story jumps the shark, introduces the worst characters in the series and sets upon a dark path of which there is no return. Cool menu music though, TIME.AND.SPACE, and at least Hope actually becomes a pretty chill and capable dude. He's the only character that has an arc (which I say loosely. He changes) in either of the sequels as far as I can remember, and Lightning Returns tries it's darndest to undo any of that. I enjoyed the gameplay in Lightning Returns immensely, whilst feeling pretty uneasy about what it's systems actually were. I don't like RPGs that don't have their wardrobe as centre focus very much, and I resented the first two games because of this but... Be careful what you wish for.

Every game presents it's contradictions but what I can probably say about all three is that they all have interesting gameplay, beautiful art and the best music in the industry. They're strangely endearing despite none of them feeling cohesive or well planned, with characters, dialogue and plot that consistently insults your intelligence. They all have a tangible sense of progress, or experimentation, and frankly, I don't know how fair it is to attack a publisher willing to make that a staple of their flagship. I just wish they knew how to competently run a production, and brought in better scenario and writing talent. I don't regret playing any of them though, and the fact each game is a rather dramatic response to criticism of the previous is fascinating. Yet it's always a bit off, or things don't quite measure up. They always seem to fall just short of greatness in so many ways, it just feels miles away.

#15 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6158 posts) -

@believer258: Despite playing every JRPG ever I have managed not to play any SMT game nor any Persona game; but Nocturne has always sounded fairly interesting so I might give it a shot once I have some space on my PS3.

I like the amazon description:

  • Negotiate with your enemies and work out a compromise instead of battling every time -- just like in real life

Just like in real life.

#16 Edited by LordAndrew (14430 posts) -

I paused Final Fantasy XIII to play finish up Ni no Kuni. Now that I've finished that, I can give Final Fantasy XIII my full attention.

I'm currently at chapter 5, and I'm hearing now that I can't select my party members until chapter 9. Damn that pacing. The game hints at upcoming game mechanics throughout, and then you have to wait so long to make use of them. Battle Team has been listed in the menu ever since paradigms became available, but I can't use it for several more chapters.

The actual game mechanics aren't bad, but the wait for them to become available is maddening.

#17 Posted by Chemystery (248 posts) -

Final Fantasy XIII is a Final Fantasy game without any grinding. That is an amazing feat and at the very least an interesting change to the series. Everyone is so quick to criticize that trilogy of games but at least SquareEnix tried to do something different. They could have cranked out two similar games to fill out the series but they created new combat and questing mechanics. They may not have been good, but I'd rather see attempts and failures rather than old and tired.

#18 Posted by Sinusoidal (1809 posts) -

Final Fantasy XIII was to me by far the most lifeless of the Final Fantasies. Nothing in XIII drew me into its world. It seemed to be actively trying to hinder immersion throughout. XIII-2 got a little better on that front, but unfortunately threw any kind of coherent plot right out the window (time travel is one of the worst and easily abused/misused story devices there is, and XIII-2 is egregious in its abuse of the trope.) Maybe one day I'll get around to XIII-3, but it's not exactly high on my list of priorities.

#19 Posted by Hunter5024 (5967 posts) -

I totally agree that there was nothing particularly interesting about the cast of Bravely Default or Final Fantasy 5, I find it easy to forgive those games for that though because their focus was clearly pointed elsewhere (cool combat systems, and hella class customization). For 13 though, the quality of the characters seemed to be the primary focus of the game, so I expect this cast to be better than those casts, and it was. I agree that they were totally okay, I just wish that I could say something better than that.

While I thought the battle system provided an interesting framework, I don't think they ever delivered on its potential. There's too much focus on hammering preset weaknesses to develop your own strategy. Really the only point where I felt strategy entered into the equation at all was when you're making your set of paradigms. If they'd just given us the ability to set them in battle, or gave us an extra 3 paradigm slots then the game wouldn't really require any planning at all.

In the end I think people have really inflated how bad this game is. It isn't a bad game really. It's not a good game either though. It's just sort of okay, and I guess a lot of people expected more than that from this series. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the next two games.

#20 Posted by Slag (4885 posts) -

@viciousbearmauling said:

FF XIII-2 is better than XIII. I think that is a statement that very few would oppose.

I oppose this. Xiii-2 only fixed the linearity/pacing issue and had superior sidequesting/endgame, Plot wise, set piece wise it doesn't hold a candle to Xiii.

I'd also argue Xiii's battle system was better than Xiii-2's (mainly because it was designed to fit the linear progression model, Xiii-2's was super easy to powerlevel to non-challenge since to modified a system not designed for that non-linearity). It took a while to warm up, but when it did it was pretty great.

It of course depends on what aspects of a game you value, but in my book the overall package of Xiii was a bit better.

#21 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12123 posts) -

@chemystery: Final Fantasy is nothing if not willing to try new things.

@fredchuckdave:Didn't mind Hope, to be honest. He's a whiny bitch, yeah, but he eventually gets over it and grows a pair. It's the closest thing to a complete character arc this game has. Lightning seems to operate in two modes, "Stoic Badass" and "Caring older sister", which is more than can be said for Snow being "I'ma HERO and HEROES are AWESUM" guy (Also I thought that second Bartandelus fight was sort of bullshit, but that might just be me).

@aetheldod: Eh, I feel like throwing Gnostic symbolism at the wall and hoping some of it sticks is a very JRPG/Anime thing to do, or maybe I've just watched too much Evangelion and played too much SMT.

@hailinel: We've had this discussion before, and I certainly don't disagree. However, Final Fantasy V also doesn't really care that its characters are as boilerplate as they come because it doesn't take itself that seriously. That's a sin that Bravely Default commits despite having similarly dull characters.

I dig TCs review. I feel that so much of the content in XIII (characters, setting, gameplay) is fairly average, yet it grows on you by virtue of being incredibly long, if you manage to stick with it. It kind of has to, given the agonising drip feed of mechanics. Now, that worked when they had a defined space for this universe to exists in (at least it felt like it did once Leona Lewis started singing) but it doesn't hold up in the sequels.

Heh, that's not a bad way of putting it. By sheer virtue of time spent, the game seems better than it actually is.

#22 Edited by Hailinel (25205 posts) -


@hailinel: We've had this discussion before, and I certainly don't disagree. However, Final Fantasy V also doesn't really care that its characters are as boilerplate as they come because it doesn't take itself that seriously. That's a sin that Bravely Default commits despite having similarly dull characters.

@jazz_bcaz said:

I dig TCs review. I feel that so much of the content in XIII (characters, setting, gameplay) is fairly average, yet it grows on you by virtue of being incredibly long, if you manage to stick with it. It kind of has to, given the agonising drip feed of mechanics. Now, that worked when they had a defined space for this universe to exists in (at least it felt like it did once Leona Lewis started singing) but it doesn't hold up in the sequels.

Heh, that's not a bad way of putting it. By sheer virtue of time spent, the game seems better than it actually is.

Honestly, I don't find the Bravely Default cast that dull. Characters like Ringabel actually subvert their tropes somewhat. (Less ultra-mopey amnesiac, more amnesiac that just doesn't give a fuck about that problem.) They're a far more interesting and better written bunch than the Final Fantasy V cast ever was.

And I wouldn't say Final Fantasy XIII seems better than it actually is. It's a game that takes its sweet time doling out mechanics, but for that first twenty hours, it's also doling out still-interesting combat and the early stages of the story. I never really understood the mindset of the people that were honestly flustered because they couldn't organize a custom party line-up until the Palamecia.

At the risk of summoning the wrath of jazz_bcaz, his last comment doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Final Fantasy XIII is a self-contained story, and the game, while not perfectly paced, manages to fit everything in as best as it can. The sequels offer new stories with new mechanics and different pacing. Final Fantasy XIII-2's main problem lies in the fact that it has to set up the the story by pulling the temporal rug out from under Lightning, but once you get past that, and get used to the new protagonists, it's a different game with a different tone. The combat system is Final Fantasy XIII's with a few changes, but the pacing and structure are wholly its own. And Lightning Returns, in taking what FFXIII-2 effectively started, is, both in terms of narrative and gameplay structure a wholly different beast from either of the previous games, outside of a few shared mechanics.

All three games aspire for very different things from their gameplay and their narratives, which is very unusual for any game trilogy.

#23 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12123 posts) -

@hailinel: In an almost inverse situation to this game, the characters of Bravely Default started to grate on me the longer the game went on. For a game that took me 60 hours to finish, not to mention a game with Tales-style character interaction skits, you'd think the principle cast would be a little less one-note. Still, I'll be interested to see what you think of the game as a whole when you finish it (assuming you haven't finished it already?) I'm not going to jump into XIII-2 just yet, but I found XIII enjoyable enough to want to see where that series ends up, and that will inevitably include Lightning Returns.

I honestly didn't have a huge problem with not having party customization until Chapter 9. My issue more stems with only controlling two characters for lengthy periods (and also the game being sorta easy, but eh). I just think the game gets a lot better at that halfway point.

#24 Posted by Hailinel (25205 posts) -

@hailinel: In an almost inverse situation to this game, the characters of Bravely Default started to grate on me the longer the game went on. For a game that took me 60 hours to finish, not to mention a game with Tales-style character interaction skits, you'd think the principle cast would be a little less one-note. Still, I'll be interested to see what you think of the game as a whole when you finish it (assuming you haven't finished it already?) I'm not going to jump into XIII-2 just yet, but I found XIII enjoyable enough to want to see where that series ends up, and that will inevitably include Lightning Returns.

I honestly didn't have a huge problem with not having party customization until Chapter 9. My issue more stems with only controlling two characters for lengthy periods (and also the game being sorta easy, but eh). I just think the game gets a lot better at that halfway point.

I'm still less than half-way through Bravely Default. I'm at the tail-end of Chapter 3, in the Grandship engine room, but a couple of my friends are playing the game as well and both are ahead of me. One of them, who I've talked with about the game a lot, has really enjoyed the main cast. She's currently pushing her way through the endless boss fight gauntlet that is the game's second half. But as for myself, I still have a long way to go, though I've been making forward progress. So far, I really enjoy how the game has been balancing the dark moments (and there are moments in the the game that are well and truly fucked) with the more light-hearted bits.

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