The highest compliment I can pay to final fantasy 13 (and maybe certain videogames in general) is when as a gamer I spend nearly every second playing and thinking to myself “wow I would give anything to live in that world”.
For me FF13 truly was escapism at its finest and isn’t that why we game in the first place ? I am sure we can all think of those few games that truly sucked us into their worlds. When I was a kid it was the pokemon worlds…I wanted to wander freely through the forests of kanto in search of my OWN pikachu ( or squirtle for that matter). Millions of gamers out there wish they could probably actually live IN the world of warcraft as opposed to their daily lives to some degree. Living for the honor of your race…exploring the beautiful lands of Azeroth…..looking out into the sky from their zephyr reflecting on their recent quests. Videogames allow us as gamers that (escapism to some degree) and that is probably my single favorite characteristic of the medium.
Above all else though for me the Final Fantasy series has been at the forefront of this escapism. Ask most who have grown up with the series, wouldn’t you love to stand side by side with your favorite character? How cool would it be to Leap on a chocobo and ride across the plans of your favorite ff world, or wander across a massive breathtaking city? As I was playing final fantasy 13 I realized that to me that was what made the entire game work on the highest of levels. I can’t remember the last time I was truly this enchanted by the world of any videogame. I loved the vibe of deadly premonitions world…..monster hunter tri had a cool tropical village setting….hell mass effect 2 was probably the closest. Living in that world would be incredible. Mass effect 2 sported an awesome hyper futuristic style throughout the buildings and the cities… fascinating characters and battle weaponry…so much to get lost in. In some ways though the world in mass effects is more fun to live through vicariously with our gaming avatars because it’s so incredibly dark and gloomy. In contrast to the eye popping visual splendor that is Final Fantasy 13, I can literaly feel the neurons in my head releasing wonderful amounts of dopamine every time my eyes make contact with my TV screen. Lets be fair though…graphics aren’t everything right?? A fantasy game should look incredible ( if at least stylistically) and final fantasy does both to an off the scale measurement. One of the main reasons I had so much trouble getting wrapped up in Dragon Age wasn’t that it was so ugly( wich it was) but that it had ZERO style. The depth of the combat and story feel oddly faint when the world your spending time in is so dull.
Is there a world more beautiful than final fantasy 13’s? If there is I haven’t seen it. Yea sure there are times in the game when you are not in the brightest of set pieces…but over the course of your 60 hour journey you will encounter some of the most gorgeous towns, mountains, rivers, oceans, skys, vistas that ANY game available can offer. The visual orgasmica is part of what makes it all pop off the screen in what can only be described as an orgy of pleasure for the senses. Everything in the game drips with the most imaginative minds in the business. Hell even the fucking menus look incredible….the fucking menus!
The combat system may seem to divide some people but if nothing else it’s an incredible fresh take on final fantasy style battles and the series needed that. The characters and story are typical Final Fantasy. Characters so ridiculously stylistic and over the top it would be awesome to have a conversation with them. Hell it would be awesome to just hang back in their group and observe them! Take snow for example. Brash and overtly optimistic on the surface im sure we would learn that deep down those traits of his character are surface defense mechanisms. Traits that mask the obligation he feels under the surface to be the strong willed soul that others can latch onto in times of distress. Snow is the cornerstone of hope when everything seems to be crumbling down around you.
As confusing as the storyline can be at first it’s like untangling a beautiful mystery from the very core. Piece by piece until we as the player realize that every character, conversations, town, enemy, cinematic, is so PERFECTLY placed that once the final puzzle piece is in place we realize just how incredible what we have experienced truly is. As a player I enjoyed every minute of FF13. Squares deliberate pacing was the vessel for my experience yes, but every time I booted up the game, and stepped foot into one of the most breathtaking worlds ever imagined, I simply never wanted to leave.