Final Fantasy XIII Impressions

Posted by Colorwind (388 posts) -

I didn't do a Gaming Landscape this week because it was basically the same two games I'd been playing the past few weeks but one (sort of) new game I did start was Final Fantasy XIII. It's been sitting on my shelf for a few months and I had actually tried to get into it at the start of the summer but the game kept freezing at this one particular cutscene. So I skipped it and just watched it on YouTube and now it works just fine and I've been playing it since the weekend. Currently, I'm at the very beginning of Chapter 7 so these are my impressions as of this point.

I'll start with a positive. I like the combat system. Nothing too taxing has been really presented to me yet but I like the idea of a more action based combat system that allows for real time switching of roles and abilities without having to cycle through menus. This system helps make you feel really powerful even during the early parts of the game as you're going up against enemies with tens of thousands of health. The stagger system is also something I'd actually like to see return in some form. Now for some bad. Some of the options that have been in previous Final Fantasy games aren't here and it's simple stuff too. Manual control of each character, the ability to have all your commands that you've earned available to you at once, even the choice of picking which character you control, not here. Even if these features show up later, it's a little too late seeing as how I'm around 15 hours in already. Also, while I like the battle system, the question that I ended up thinking about was "Am I willing to give up manual control of things for a more streamlined and energetic approach?" The answer I came up with was "No". So despite me liking it, I'd rather not see it implemented in another Final Fantasy.

I like the Crystarium system. It's fairly simple and is a decent way to upgrade your character while doing away with normal EXP and levels. I do wish there was more freedom with it. So far, the upgrade paths offer few branching options so it doesn't really give you a choice to emphasize certain stats with some characters. A couple of things in the meh category: upgrading weapons just simply seems to work. I've upgraded my stuff several times and it works fine but I haven't figured out what items do better things for my weapon. I know some are worth more EXP but that's all I've figured out. Also, shops are kind of useless. You don't get a lot of money in this game but you don't really seem to need it. Why buy a new weapon when you could upgrade the one you have to greater effect?

Really though, my biggest concern is the story and pacing. I don't hate the story. I actually like some of the characters and the plot. I like Sazh and as far as annoyingly optimistic, childish, scantily clad anime women go, I've seen worst than Vanille. I also like Lightning since she's tough and stoic and not overly sexualized at all yet is still appealing for other more substantial reasons. Snow's kind of annoying though in his brashness. Also, Hope makes no sense. Lightning's motivation to go after the Sanctum doesn't make any sense as she just wants an enemy to fight for her circumstance but at least there some kind of logic behind it. Hope didn't make sense as soon as I started to control him. Despite seeing his mom die from falling off a bridge that was blown up by the Sanctum and Snow trying to keep her from falling, apparently, the blame is on Snow. What's more is this is enough for him to hijack a vehicle, go into a potentially dangerous situation, and even go after the Sanctum in a ridiculous revenge operation.

The game also seems to draw out its sections for too long. Ever since the group split up, it seems like the chapter could have been cut in half but instead are padded with random battle sections and roaming around that doesn't contribute to the story. It helps with learning the combat system but not to the extent the section lengths are. Overall, I'm still invested in the game, thanks mostly to the combat and Crystarium system. I'm just hoping to get to Chapter 11 quickly (and at some point play as Snow) as I've heard that's when the game opens up.

#1 Edited by BigJeffrey (5199 posts) -

doesn't make any sense

That's FF13, i liked it though. Have you gotten to the point where pressing X or A repeatedly until victory is not a option anymore?

#2 Posted by rebgav (1442 posts) -

I put a few days into FF13 this weekend and it's been surprisingly good, apart from the pacing and Snow and feeling like a NIS game.

That Chapter XI difficulty spike tho.

#3 Posted by jimmyfenix (3941 posts) -

@colorwind: Chapter 11 is like 20 hours thats when the game begins!

#4 Posted by Colorwind (388 posts) -
#5 Posted by Superkenon (1568 posts) -

Yeah, FFXIII is kind of a... variable... affair. I consider it worth playing, but there are things about it that definitely work to hinder one's enjoyment of it. Hope you can continue to have fun with it, and post up some more thoughts!

For sure, almost all of this game's downfalls would be corrected if the pacing were much tighter. You're exactly right that each chapter could've been cut in half -- or more -- without losing any substance. It's like they padded out each section for the sake of game length, but it only proves to be detrimental to the experience. I like my RPG's long, but there's nothing wrong with a concise package. And this game would've made a splendid one.

#6 Edited by mwng (1031 posts) -

I did feel a little cheated when my party members would group up for no real reason and all get hit by an enemy attack when they didn't need to. Other than that, I also enjoyed the combat system in XIII, later bosses/optional bosses really put your ability to switch paradigms at a moments notice to the test. That's where the new system really shined for me, it felt a lot more involved than tackling some of the end bosses in the earlier FF games. Though I was cheating and using the "wait" option in them...

The whole leveling up system was rubbish though, I won't defend that. The fact you just pour points into it, eventually being able to max everything out so all characters become pretty much identical with no real customization was a letdown. I also found the plot an characters to be generally inoffensive as JRPGs go. Lightning seems pretty cool as a protagonist, but I spent a while trying to work out if she only seemed cool because of the company she keeps... Or if it was because she didn't really speak and just flipped around a lot...

Anyway, if you stomach it to the very end, I can recommend XIII-2. They effectively fixed all my minor gripes with the battle system, faster switching just seems to make battles flow a lot better. Plus there's a jump button, why wouldn't you want that?

#7 Posted by rebgav (1442 posts) -

@mwng said:

I did feel a little cheated when my party members would group up for no real reason and all get hit by an enemy attack when they didn't need to.

Yeah, that's driving me fucking crazy. Why are my characters all suddenly starting to crowd together? Oh, it's because it's time to get hit by an AoE attack! C'mon Square, that just ain't right.

#8 Posted by gokaired (581 posts) -

I played the first 2 and it's worse than the X games but finished neither I got further in 13-2 because i like time travel. but 20hours of a plot that was pointless in the form of a tutorial? F*** it.

I think the worst thing in this game (apart from the story and characters and lackluster level design), is the crysterium thing, what a very poorly designed unimaginative leveling up system.

The game is pretty, too bad you really can't appreciate for yourself.

Oh and that Chocobo secret pissed me off for the audacity of being that ridiculous, it's almost as bad as giving some moppy teenager a lamp with the devil in it or something ;)

#9 Posted by Demyx (3240 posts) -

The worst thing is the upgrade system. so bad. The game is decent, its beautiful and i like the combat.

#10 Posted by Angouri (239 posts) -

I was torn by FFXIII during my first playthrough. The story seemed ok, especially considering the genre. In addition, I approached the game way after the review cycle and kerfuffle that followed (IT TAKES 10-15 HOURS TO GET GOOD?! OMGOMG). That said, the game was disappointing for its combat, and structure.

Despite my issues with almost all the main cast (fang is good, the rest can die in a fire), I enjoyed learning the combat system, and rather enjoyed the linear "15 hours" until chapter 11, "when the game got good" as the reviews said. As a game, that first 10 sections at least attempted to guide you through its meandering story and build some character interactions (in the most linear JRPG ever). Once you get to Chapter 11, the game basically goes "fuck it, I guess its time to JRPG this shit. Enjoy some grind quests!" That was when my antipathy towards FFXIII reached a climax. The game gave up on its path, and expected 10 hours of roaming a (rather constrained) open world, fighting monsters. The battle system became so automatic, that I could wander my apartment, tapping X on my PS3 controller and the battle would progress to my inevitable victory. And that was the main problem-- this game stopped being challenging or demanding attention, something that previous FF installments did by spreading the grind over the entire story, instead of constraining it to a late-game portion. The battle system was watered down to make it more approachable, but it made me (a casual jrpg player) just bored.

The battle system let me down. When you can tap X to win, the game fails. It required no skill for so long (my clock ended up being around 40 hours), and I detested the idea that it wouldn't let me rank up my characters to their final stage until after I beat the easy final boss, but that I had to grind to get into that final area.

Also the fiction in that game is almost impenetrable, and took a long look at a wiki to understand. Apparently a lot of it was explained in 13-2, but I'm not ready to endure that again. Especially when I have Ni no kuni, sitting there, judging me.

Best of luck going through this game. It is profoundly flawed.

#11 Edited by gokaired (581 posts) -

Actually, 13 has quite a few contextual problems.

like enemies who can fly and have projectile weapons yet float at ground level to be punched.

And why items are in small floating spheres, when surely a create does the job better.

The save system which is also the Items shop and other stuff, why are weapons readily available through this universal devise that anyone can access. How are they delivered, teleportation, hardlight?

Why do robots evaporate?

Why was there no Chocobo Racing? (13-2's was bad)

What's the point of giving you so many weapons when maxing out your beggining weapons will be fine the entire game?

In the Openning why are they killing normal people, they aren't even the bad guys and they know it but they kill them

Oh Lightnings anti-grave thing has no real application in gameplay, where do they get them from because near the end they all have them so why aren't the soldiers using them if they had that many till later in the game why wait till then when at any point it would have come in hand, and like that chick who was in stasis knows what the hell it was. I know they're bombs for soldiers descent but they are never named and only used by soldiers in one scene before the group use them. And aren't really explained how to use them, so most have no training with high altitude descents are just expected to throw a small item not likely to reach the ground before their corpses.

The way currency works, is it digital? if so why would monsters drop it? is it physical how do you pay for items in the save module. Infact if it is digital how are the authorities assuming they're using their own ID not find them more often.

Why would a robot roar? (or have electric buzzsaws)

(the spoilers is just to get to the point below)

It feels like i'm trying to pick it apart or over thinking but this is the only FF that had me asking questions. Hell the moment the game opened i was like "what's a l'cie?"...

I didn't find the game all that immersive , the music was nice though.

#12 Posted by BigJeffrey (5199 posts) -

Also WORST AUDIO Leveling EVER, Turn Down that fING Music i'd actually like to hear your dumb characters

#13 Posted by MightyDuck (1632 posts) -

I got roughly 30 hours or so into FF13. I definitely enjoyed my time with it for what it was, but it definitely doesn't feel like the "older" Final Fantasy games I grew up.

I really do need to get back to it eventually, if I recall I hit a difficulty spike near the end and sort of threw in the towel.

#14 Posted by believer258 (13032 posts) -

The game also seems to draw out its sections for too long. Ever since the group split up, it seems like the chapter could have been cut in half but instead are padded with random battle sections and roaming around that doesn't contribute to the story.

This is why I stopped playing 6 or 7 hours in. It takes far too long to get out of that junkyard, which is a real shame because beautiful environments served as half the reason I wanted to play this game.

As for the story, it's really pretentious and thinks it's more than it really is. But, hey, that seems to come with the territory.

doesn't make any sense

That's FF13, i liked it though. Have you gotten to the point where pressing X or A repeatedly until victory is not a option anymore?

I kinda did, but that point should have come a lot sooner and should have been better explained.

Overall I liked what I played of it but it seems like a game that could have done with some real editing. It needs to be about fifteen - twenty hours shorter.

#15 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12964 posts) -

Congratulations, you've commented on what may be the most contentious game on these forums. Honestly? Everything about XIII-2 and Lightning Returns sounds far more interesting to me than XIII proper, but I'm also sure that the story would be even more nonsensical if I were to jump in halfway.

#16 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

As for the story, it's really pretentious and thinks it's more than it really is. But, hey, that seems to come with the territory.

I don't really see how. The game does come down to the humans fighting god-like beings for the future of humanity (which is not unusual for most game genres), but I'm not sure where you think that the game carries a sense of unearned self-importance.

#17 Posted by gokaired (581 posts) -

@hailinel: Well you do get a bunch of stupid anarchist with no real plan killing guards who are just making the best of it, is to me a sign of that. How few L'cie must turn to crystal that the only sure fire way to protect the populace from zombies is eviction? instead of finding a solution to help find their focus (on both sides) they distract from the real problem.

This is a parallel to witch hunting and "the war on terror" stuff

(hell Lightning was willing to destroy a food supply, whether she was joking or not i couldn't tell you).

And they're not beyond human comprehension, they can communicate clearly, they just choose not too because they're gits.

But also they prattle on about the same thing over and over, essentially it comes down to "what's the meaning of life?" and "Why are we here?", which is where the true pretension lies.

Geez, Xenoblade had the same concept but sh!t was clear in that game, there was an actual objective to the "gods" and heroes plan. The enemy changed but information was provided before during and after gameplay where players learnt with the characters, in FF13 you learn after the fact which ends up being unnecessary.

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