Final Fantasy XIII (Part 1)

Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

People around the world are aspiring to take their lives in new and productive directions: working out more, learning a new language, joining a book club, or picking up cooking. I’m doing none of those things, but I’m going to play my first Final Fantasy game: Final Fantasy XIII.

Yes, that’s right, Final Fantasy XIII. A game that even fans of the series are kind of ambivalent about. A game that allegedly takes the better part of 20 hours to introduce every gameplay concept and open up. A game that, if the internet’s thoughts about it are to be believed, contains one of the more irritating characters of the generation in Hope.

“You’re making a horrible mistake,” you say. “You haven’t played any Final Fantasy games, and this is where you start?” It’s too late to stop me — the game disc is sitting on my desk and I’ve removed the shrink wrap. There’s no turning back now.

There is a method to my madness. For all of the complaints I’ve heard about Final Fantasy XIII, most seem to agree that it’s got the best battle system of the series. Aside from not owning a PlayStation or PlayStation 2, what’s kept me from the series and other JRPGs is that the battle systems have always looked monotonous, at least from a distance. I didn’t make it all the way through Skies of Arcadia Legends, but I distinctly remember the random turn-based battles being boring, at least to my 13-year-old self. Final Fantasy XIII, with its auto-controlled, Active Time, Paradigm Shift, formation-dependent (in case it isn’t already clear, I’m reading from Wikipedia) battle system, promises to make battles something more than a chore I’ve got to grind through. The hand-holding, while infuriating to veterans, may be exactly what I need to ease my way into the series.

It also helps that the world they’ve created (Fabula Nova Crystallis, if you will) seems like a world I want to explore, and of course, it looks beautiful. Series fans in the know will probably die a bit reading this, but the futuristic, big-swords-and-guns Final Fantasy games, from a purely aesthetic perspective, have always intrigued me the most.

Just to give you a sense of what I’m bringing to the table (and in the process ensuring I’m publishing as many inaccuracies as possible), here’s a list of some more stuff I think I know about Final Fantasy XIII:

  • Lightning is the pretty lady with the gun/sword who plays the part (or probably more fairly, one of the many parts) of brooding main character.
  • Hope is the kid who, if memory serves, is irrationally mad at Lightning for the majority of the game.
  • There’s also that girl who’s the star of Final Fantasy XIII–2.
  • There’s that black guy with an afro and chick (the bird kind) friend.
  • There’s some sweet Metal Gear-looking robots.
  • The main characters are all infected/inflicted with something.
  • It starts on a train.
  • The combat system is more about setting up tactics and A.I. routines than active control over characters.
  • Most of the female characters are wearing impractical, unnecessarily-revealing outfits, and some of them will probably look underage in a way that makes me a bit uncomfortable even though I know this is all fictional and totally Japanese.
  • Chocobos?

I should say that, as cynical as this all must sound, I really am going into this with an open mind. If I’d already decided that Final Fantasy XIII is a stupid waste of time, I wouldn’t have bought it, I wouldn’t be about to insert it into my PlayStation®3 Computer Entertainment System, and I certainly wouldn’t be endeavouring to write a months-long diary of my experience playing it.

And with that, I’ve put this horrible life decision into writing (on the internet, no less), so there’s no turning back. I’ll check in soon with my initial thoughts and/or concerns.

#1 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

People around the world are aspiring to take their lives in new and productive directions: working out more, learning a new language, joining a book club, or picking up cooking. I’m doing none of those things, but I’m going to play my first Final Fantasy game: Final Fantasy XIII.

Yes, that’s right, Final Fantasy XIII. A game that even fans of the series are kind of ambivalent about. A game that allegedly takes the better part of 20 hours to introduce every gameplay concept and open up. A game that, if the internet’s thoughts about it are to be believed, contains one of the more irritating characters of the generation in Hope.

“You’re making a horrible mistake,” you say. “You haven’t played any Final Fantasy games, and this is where you start?” It’s too late to stop me — the game disc is sitting on my desk and I’ve removed the shrink wrap. There’s no turning back now.

There is a method to my madness. For all of the complaints I’ve heard about Final Fantasy XIII, most seem to agree that it’s got the best battle system of the series. Aside from not owning a PlayStation or PlayStation 2, what’s kept me from the series and other JRPGs is that the battle systems have always looked monotonous, at least from a distance. I didn’t make it all the way through Skies of Arcadia Legends, but I distinctly remember the random turn-based battles being boring, at least to my 13-year-old self. Final Fantasy XIII, with its auto-controlled, Active Time, Paradigm Shift, formation-dependent (in case it isn’t already clear, I’m reading from Wikipedia) battle system, promises to make battles something more than a chore I’ve got to grind through. The hand-holding, while infuriating to veterans, may be exactly what I need to ease my way into the series.

It also helps that the world they’ve created (Fabula Nova Crystallis, if you will) seems like a world I want to explore, and of course, it looks beautiful. Series fans in the know will probably die a bit reading this, but the futuristic, big-swords-and-guns Final Fantasy games, from a purely aesthetic perspective, have always intrigued me the most.

Just to give you a sense of what I’m bringing to the table (and in the process ensuring I’m publishing as many inaccuracies as possible), here’s a list of some more stuff I think I know about Final Fantasy XIII:

  • Lightning is the pretty lady with the gun/sword who plays the part (or probably more fairly, one of the many parts) of brooding main character.
  • Hope is the kid who, if memory serves, is irrationally mad at Lightning for the majority of the game.
  • There’s also that girl who’s the star of Final Fantasy XIII–2.
  • There’s that black guy with an afro and chick (the bird kind) friend.
  • There’s some sweet Metal Gear-looking robots.
  • The main characters are all infected/inflicted with something.
  • It starts on a train.
  • The combat system is more about setting up tactics and A.I. routines than active control over characters.
  • Most of the female characters are wearing impractical, unnecessarily-revealing outfits, and some of them will probably look underage in a way that makes me a bit uncomfortable even though I know this is all fictional and totally Japanese.
  • Chocobos?

I should say that, as cynical as this all must sound, I really am going into this with an open mind. If I’d already decided that Final Fantasy XIII is a stupid waste of time, I wouldn’t have bought it, I wouldn’t be about to insert it into my PlayStation®3 Computer Entertainment System, and I certainly wouldn’t be endeavouring to write a months-long diary of my experience playing it.

And with that, I’ve put this horrible life decision into writing (on the internet, no less), so there’s no turning back. I’ll check in soon with my initial thoughts and/or concerns.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36026 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip said:

Hope is the kid who, if memory serves, is irrationally mad at Lightning for the majority of the game.

It's Snow, and he has an OK reason.

Online
#3 Posted by SuperWristBands (2266 posts) -

Hmm... I am probably a bit fuzzy on the details and what-not but despite not really liking the story or some of the characters I don't remember FFXIII as being a stupid waste of time :p

Good luck and have fun duder.

#4 Edited by BoG (5181 posts) -

You’re making a horrible mistake. You haven’t played any Final Fantasy games, and this is where you start?

I felt that the battle system was boring. The game essentially plays itself. I rarely chose my own attacks. The only real involvement you have in battles is changing paradigms. By the time my characters were well developed, I had crafted a team good enough that I almost never shifted. Your characters are hardly customizable, another big issue with the game. There are a few branches off of the main trail, but they're short, and really don't count as being a choice. And Snow is the worst character ever.

I had fun playing it, though, in spite of it being the worst FF game EVAR.

@Video_Game_King said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

Hope is the kid who, if memory serves, is irrationally mad at Lightning for the majority of the game.

It's Snow, and he has an OK reason.

Pfft. He doesn't have an ok reason. He should have confronted Snow about it early on. Even then, he shouldn't have been all mad about it. It's not as if...

Snow intentionally killed his mom. He was trying to save her! How did Hope not see that? He can be angry about his failure, but he can't blame him for her death. It was irrational for him to harbor that hatred for so long, especially after Snow was nice to him.
#5 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2945 posts) -

Man. Good luck. I tried to play this game, but I just lost interested and left it alone. It's the only mainline FF I never finished.

:(

#6 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

Hope is a terrible character. Final Fantasy XIII is by far the hardest game in the main series so anyone who complains about "hand holding" has their head up their own ass.

#7 Edited by PerfidiousSinn (730 posts) -

I wish I could offer you some advice on it but I really don't remember much about the game. Which is weird because I beat the game and then played it for at least ten more hours doing quests.

Oh, that's what I could tell you. Don't bother with most of the quests until you beat the game. The problem with that is the game is boring and those quests are the best part.

Also, most of the game is quite straightforward, as you'll be in a narrow corridor going from one side to another. If you want to find treasure either go backwards or check the few branching paths. It seems like a simple tip, and it's almost impossible to miss if you do a tiny bit of exploring...but still.

#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (36026 posts) -

@BoG said:

He should have confronted Snow about it early on.

Because he had all the opportunities in the world when he was bouncing about with Lightning and not Snow.

Online
#9 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

Should I go back and beat that game?.. Hmm.. Nevermind. :/

#10 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@BoG said:

He should have confronted Snow about it early on.

Because he had all the opportunities in the world when he was bouncing about with Lightning and not Snow.

That's nothing I don't see coming, but I would really appreciate it if I could avoid any big spoilers.

@PerfidiousSinn said:

Oh, that's what I could tell you. Don't bother with most of the quests until you beat the game. The problem with that is the game is boring and those quests are the best part.

Could you elaborate? Wouldn't it make more sense to do the best parts of the game before I finish, rather than after? Is there a post-ending save state?

Also, most of the game is quite straightforward, as you'll be in a narrow corridor going from one side to another. If you want to find treasure either go backwards or check the few branching paths. It seems like a simple tip, and it's almost impossible to miss if you do a tiny bit of exploring...but still.

Yeah, I've been doing exactly that. I'm the kind of gamer who, given branching paths, will try to identify the critical path and avoid it.

#11 Edited by xyzygy (9895 posts) -

I am an avid fan of Final Fantasy and 13 is my favorite one. I have played every single one of them except 1, 2, 11 and 14, and beaten 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 13-2.

It is VERY possible to love this game! It's really a great ride. The combat is flawless and works like a perfectly functioning cog in a machine when you fully understand and grasp the Paradigm system. It's actually, to me, the perfect battle system. So satisfying. At times it's frustrating, but it's part of the learning - when you make a mistake, you'll know not to to the same thing next time.

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

I'm pretty sure they included Auto-Battle for the more casual crowd because the combat gets unforgiving.

#12 Posted by Petiew (1332 posts) -

I think you're in the best position at having a shot of enjoying the game by going in with tempered expectations but still having an open mind. I feel like a lot of people who hate this game with a passion went in expecting a 10/10 game of the century or had already decided they didn't like it before even playing.  
The story and characters aren't particuarly great but the game is still decent.
 
@xyzygy said:

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

This is good advice, the game is more fun and engaging, as well as making you more effective, if you select commands yourself. Pressing left or right on the dpad, can't remember which, also lets you repeat your chain of moves if you don't want to have to select the same one every single turn.
 
XIII is one of the more strategic FF games. Status effects, buffs and debuffs are all very helpful and there is more to the battle system than just pressing X.
#13 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@xyzygy said:

I am an avid fan of Final Fantasy and 13 is my favorite one. I have played every single one of them except 1, 2, 11 and 14, and beaten 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 13-2.

It is VERY possible to love this game! It's really a great ride. The combat is flawless and works like a perfectly functioning cog in a machine when you fully understand and grasp the Paradigm system. It's actually, to me, the perfect battle system. So satisfying. At times it's frustrating, but it's part of the learning - when you make a mistake, you'll know not to to the same thing next time.

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

I'm pretty sure they included Auto-Battle for the more casual crowd because the combat gets unforgiving.

Yeah, I forgot to mention this in Part 2, but I've been messing with the secondary abilities a bit. Even though I've only got two choices right now, the AI doesn't always seems to make the right choice — I've caught it selecting regular attack when enemies are bunched together and vulnerable to an AoE.

#14 Edited by TruthTellah (8549 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: *just shakes head in disappointment*

This is like getting into Star Wars through the prequels.

Well, no matter its quality or insidiousness... I do hope you'll get some enjoyment out of the experience.

#15 Posted by PerfidiousSinn (730 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: Well, a good chunk of your quests don't even unlock until late in the game and if I remember correctly, some of them not until you beat the game.

After the credits roll it basically kicks you back into the world and says "new stuff is available". I recommend waiting until then to do most quests because A) that's when the most interesting quests open B) unless you're grinding A LOT they're ridiculously difficult to complete until post-game.

#16 Edited by xyzygy (9895 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip said:

@xyzygy said:

I am an avid fan of Final Fantasy and 13 is my favorite one. I have played every single one of them except 1, 2, 11 and 14, and beaten 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 13-2.

It is VERY possible to love this game! It's really a great ride. The combat is flawless and works like a perfectly functioning cog in a machine when you fully understand and grasp the Paradigm system. It's actually, to me, the perfect battle system. So satisfying. At times it's frustrating, but it's part of the learning - when you make a mistake, you'll know not to to the same thing next time.

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

I'm pretty sure they included Auto-Battle for the more casual crowd because the combat gets unforgiving.

Yeah, I forgot to mention this in Part 2, but I've been messing with the secondary abilities a bit. Even though I've only got two choices right now, the AI doesn't always seems to make the right choice — I've caught it selecting regular attack when enemies are bunched together and vulnerable to an AoE.

Exactly - I feel like sometimes Auto-Battle tries too hard to mix it up. Sometimes all you need are two Blitzes, instead of Blitz->Attack->Attack (for example) that it would do. It's actually awful, stay away from Auto-Battle. It's just for noobs who want to experience the first half of the story (because they won't be able to experience the second half because they won't have the skills to proceed lol)

#17 Posted by PK_Koopa (583 posts) -

I might be late here, but Vanille is far more annoying than anyone.

#18 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@TruthTellah said:

@GrantHeaslip: *just shakes head in disappointment*

This is like getting into Star Wars through the prequels.

Well, no matter its quality or insidiousness... I do hope you'll get some enjoyment out of the experience.

I have no plans to make any judgements about the series as a whole based on my experience with XIII, no matter how it turns out.

@PK_Koopa said:

I might be late here, but Vanille is far more annoying than anyone.

Yeah, that's becoming more and more apparent. At least thus far, I have no idea what their writers were thinking.

#19 Edited by TruthTellah (8549 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip said:

@PK_Koopa said:

I might be late here, but Vanille is far more annoying than anyone.

Yeah, that's becoming more and more apparent. At least thus far, I have no idea what their writers were thinking.

To be fair, I played the whole game and I still have no idea what their writers were thinking. Though, I'm pretty sure everyone but the CG artists had little idea what they were doing either.

(Sorry if I sound a bit rough, but I um... I don't think it is bad, per se. It's just a bit evil. As it tries to coerce you over many hours into appreciating negative game design. I don't doubt that some people liked the game; similar to Duke Nukem Forever, there's an audience for most anything. But this games seems to push even reasonable people toward wanting to believe they enjoyed a negative experience, as though the game were like a manipulative boyfriend slowly convincing an abuse victim that they were asking for it and they should be thankful they didn't treat them even worse.)

#20 Posted by Hailinel (23915 posts) -

@TruthTellah said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@PK_Koopa said:

I might be late here, but Vanille is far more annoying than anyone.

Yeah, that's becoming more and more apparent. At least thus far, I have no idea what their writers were thinking.

To be fair, I played the whole game and I still have no idea what their writers were thinking. Though, I'm pretty sure everyone but the CG artists had little idea what they were doing either.

(Sorry, I um... I think this game isn't bad, per se. It's just a bit evil. As it tries to coerce you over many hours into appreciating negative game design. I don't doubt that some people liked the game; similar to Duke Nukem Forever, there's an audience for most anything. But this games seems to push even reasonable people toward thinking they enjoyed a negative experience, as though the game were like a manipulative boyfriend slowly convincing an abuse victim that they were asking for it and they should be thankful they didn't treat them even worse.)

As someone that liked the game, I don't think it's fair in the least to compare it to DNF. The game does have obvious flaws; the most jarring being the super-linear world design (Final Fantasy X was also guilty of this, to an extent). It also left too much of the story in the in-game codex. I can understand why they made some of the design decisions they made; the characters are on the run for the vast majority of the game. They don't exactly have time to stop in towns, go shopping, stay at inns, or engage in any of the other traditional town aspects. I also didn't have a problem with the pace at which the game opened up. Sure, you don't get to the end of the tutorials until about twenty hours in, but the story is paced in such a way and the game is structured in such a way that it isn't necessary to have everything unlocked from the get-go. The combat system is among the best examples of the ATB system that I've ever experienced (and no, I never used Auto-Battle).

Also, I never really had that much of a problem with Vanille; I thought she was OK. Hope also gets a lot of shit, but I didn't mind him much, either. I'd say that my least favorite character in the game was Fang, but that had more to do with things she did at certain points in the game than anything in general. My primary party for the majority of the game was Lightning/Hope/Fang, though, so she didn't bother me that much.

If there was anything combat-related that I didn't like, it was the Eidolon battles, which are dependent on the player identifying and exploiting their singular weakness while a death counter is ticking down. It was a change of pace that I could have really done without.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 goes a long way in correcting the design decisions of the original, even though it was done at the expense of the original game's ending (which I will not go into further since there are people that have yet to finish either game reading this). I'm also maybe one of five people on Giant Bomb that is honestly, legitimately looking forward to Lightning Returns, but that has a lot to do with the fact that Lightning ranks high among my favorite FF characters despite her coming from an entry that isn't as good. And I say this as someone that doesn't mindlessly gobble up anything Final Fantasy-related. To this day, I still firmly believe that Final Fantasy X-2 is one of the worst games I have ever played.

#21 Posted by Ryanmgraef (229 posts) -

Fuck it man!that shit is dope!and remember,always get stoned while playing that ff shiiiiiit...just sayin.

#22 Posted by TrafalgarLaw (1039 posts) -

@xyzygy said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@xyzygy said:

I am an avid fan of Final Fantasy and 13 is my favorite one. I have played every single one of them except 1, 2, 11 and 14, and beaten 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 13-2.

It is VERY possible to love this game! It's really a great ride. The combat is flawless and works like a perfectly functioning cog in a machine when you fully understand and grasp the Paradigm system. It's actually, to me, the perfect battle system. So satisfying. At times it's frustrating, but it's part of the learning - when you make a mistake, you'll know not to to the same thing next time.

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

I'm pretty sure they included Auto-Battle for the more casual crowd because the combat gets unforgiving.

Yeah, I forgot to mention this in Part 2, but I've been messing with the secondary abilities a bit. Even though I've only got two choices right now, the AI doesn't always seems to make the right choice — I've caught it selecting regular attack when enemies are bunched together and vulnerable to an AoE.

Exactly - I feel like sometimes Auto-Battle tries too hard to mix it up. Sometimes all you need are two Blitzes, instead of Blitz->Attack->Attack (for example) that it would do. It's actually awful, stay away from Auto-Battle. It's just for noobs who want to experience the first half of the story (because they won't be able to experience the second half because they won't have the skills to proceed lol)

I auto-battled my way to the end boss just fine, the only time I picked abilities myself were against those giant tortoises. 90% of the game is about having your preset paradigms right.

Start out with triple Syn. Stagger with a triple RAV, and go triple COM for the kill.

If you want the extra damage, go for triple SAB before staggering. Need healing? Go triple Med. Giant attack incoming? Switch momentarily to triple Sen.

0 skill involved

#23 Posted by TruthTellah (8549 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@TruthTellah said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@PK_Koopa said:

I might be late here, but Vanille is far more annoying than anyone.

Yeah, that's becoming more and more apparent. At least thus far, I have no idea what their writers were thinking.

To be fair, I played the whole game and I still have no idea what their writers were thinking. Though, I'm pretty sure everyone but the CG artists had little idea what they were doing either.

(Sorry, I um... I think this game isn't bad, per se. It's just a bit evil. As it tries to coerce you over many hours into appreciating negative game design. I don't doubt that some people liked the game; similar to Duke Nukem Forever, there's an audience for most anything. But this games seems to push even reasonable people toward thinking they enjoyed a negative experience, as though the game were like a manipulative boyfriend slowly convincing an abuse victim that they were asking for it and they should be thankful they didn't treat them even worse.)

As someone that liked the game, I don't think it's fair in the least to compare it to DNF.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I'd say it's at least a functionally "better" game than DNF. As I said, it isn't a bad game, per se. My point was that most anything can have an audience, especially with enough hype around it. Outside of that, I'd say the only other similarity might be their extremely long development cycles which left the games a good bit muddled in what they ultimately wanted to be. While DNF's developers still seem to think their game is amazing, some of the developers of FFXIII have at least acknowledged the reality that it was a poorly managed project that had trouble nailing down a clear focus. No matter how you feel about the final product, that any complete version of the game was released at all is to their credit.

#24 Posted by Dookysharpgun (586 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: God have mercy on what's left of your soul after playing that game...it might not seem bad now, but you've seemingly already entered: The Corridor, an endless path whose only design is to drive you mad, as you question your existence and wonder if, maybe, freedom of your everyday existence is an illusion.

I'm not even joking, I bought this game day one, regretted it every day since...as you play it, you'll realise just how fucked it really is, not to mention the background surrounding the development cycle being less than confidence building, along with what happened after...and XIII-2...you threw yourself in the deep end of shit in the series, though it's not as bad as the MMORPG that they released an apology letter for. I'm not trying to sway you off your path, I think it's a noble idea to document your playthrough, I just think that it takes about a day after you finish it to really have everything come together, and make you question just how, how a seasoned developer with dozens of games under their belt could get things so utterly confused about an end product.

Also the characters are terrible, I've said it over and over, Sazh was the most interesting, but he gets downgraded to slapstick sidekick as the game goes on, and he does have one really good moment, but it just lets him down. Snow's a fucking moron, Vanille is an idiot, Hope is a bitch, Lightning is an angsty teenager who is also a huge bitch to everyone and Fang is the best fucking character in that game, but you won't see her until, I think at least, a third of the way through the game (I played on the xbox and I think it was about disc 2 when I got her...I'm not entirely sure)

...and the story and world are never shown to you through the game itself, you'll be hearing terms that have never been brought up in any FF game ever, and the only way to understand the language, the terms and even the general idea of the story, is to pile through codex page after codex page. Narrative is forsaken in place of the plot being handed to you, because apparently it's that easy to write a story for a game nowadays.

Again, not trying to deter you or anything, but you really started off rough series-wise, I hope this works out for the best, and I look forward to reading more about your experience!

#25 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@Dookysharpgun said:

@GrantHeaslip: God have mercy on what's left of your soul after playing that game...it might not seem bad now, but you've seemingly already entered: The Corridor, an endless path whose only design is to drive you mad, as you question your existence and wonder if, maybe, freedom of your everyday existence is an illusion.

I'm not even joking, I bought this game day one, regretted it every day since...as you play it, you'll realise just how fucked it really is, not to mention the background surrounding the development cycle being less than confidence building, along with what happened after...and XIII-2...you threw yourself in the deep end of shit in the series, though it's not as bad as the MMORPG that they released an apology letter for. I'm not trying to sway you off your path, I think it's a noble idea to document your playthrough, I just think that it takes about a day after you finish it to really have everything come together, and make you question just how, how a seasoned developer with dozens of games under their belt could get things so utterly confused about an end product.

Also the characters are terrible, I've said it over and over, Sazh was the most interesting, but he gets downgraded to slapstick sidekick as the game goes on, and he does have one really good moment, but it just lets him down. Snow's a fucking moron, Vanille is an idiot, Hope is a bitch, Lightning is an angsty teenager who is also a huge bitch to everyone and Fang is the best fucking character in that game, but you won't see her until, I think at least, a third of the way through the game (I played on the xbox and I think it was about disc 2 when I got her...I'm not entirely sure)

...and the story and world are never shown to you through the game itself, you'll be hearing terms that have never been brought up in any FF game ever, and the only way to understand the language, the terms and even the general idea of the story, is to pile through codex page after codex page. Narrative is forsaken in place of the plot being handed to you, because apparently it's that easy to write a story for a game nowadays.

Again, not trying to deter you or anything, but you really started off rough series-wise, I hope this works out for the best, and I look forward to reading more about your experience!

Oh man, you're not painting a bright picture. Thanks for the comment though!

I'm actually starting to warm a bit to the characters (besides Vanille, who I think I'll just have to endure), and I've been reading the Datalog a bit at a time so I'm not stuck having to spend a bunch of time on it after hitting a confusing story beat.

Hearing what I have about the game, it's actually a bit reassuring to have already committed to finishing it. I've already invalidated the sunk cost fallacy, so I'll never hit the "man, I don't know if I should bother finishing this" point others seem to have.

#26 Posted by EXTomar (4500 posts) -

@Hailinel: I see a lot of previous gen design in FF13 where I wonder if it was released on the PS2 it would have gotten as much if not more love than FF10. In particular I thought FF13 was the best RPG Japan put out that year....but that was also the year Mass Effect 2 was released as well and there is no comparison.

#27 Posted by Hailinel (23915 posts) -

@EXTomar said:

@Hailinel: I see a lot of previous gen design in FF13 where I wonder if it was released on the PS2 it would have gotten as much if not more love than FF10. In particular I thought FF13 was the best RPG Japan put out that year....but that was also the year Mass Effect 2 was released as well and there is no comparison.

I don't know about that. I played Final Fantasy XIII to the end and would be up for replaying it again some time down the line. I played the PS3 Mass Effect 2 demo and was alternately bored and frustrated.]

So different strokes, different folks.

#28 Edited by EXTomar (4500 posts) -

I feel that Mass Effect 2, even with it's problems, is still a more satisfying game: Importantly ME2 had a much easier story to follow where I've always felt some of the issue with FF13 isn't just that it has too many cut scenes or they are too long but that overall it was too hard to take in where the combination of all of that made for a less than desirable experience. These two games were going for similar "sweeping epic" in the narrative parts where people feel ME2 executed while FF13 is ridiculed.

I believe the important thing about shown is that this team has been shown to listen to criticism. The time periods in FF13-2 are still more or less like corridors but they learned more about set design. The story is simplified and is much easier to track. If that team continues to refine then FF13-3 should be very good stuff.

#29 Posted by TobbRobb (4581 posts) -

Hope and Snow are terrible characters and Vanille is annoying as shit. Other than that I thought that game was A-OK. I hope you'll end up liking it!

#30 Posted by Pazy (2561 posts) -

@TrafalgarLaw said:

@xyzygy said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@xyzygy said:

I am an avid fan of Final Fantasy and 13 is my favorite one. I have played every single one of them except 1, 2, 11 and 14, and beaten 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13 and 13-2.

It is VERY possible to love this game! It's really a great ride. The combat is flawless and works like a perfectly functioning cog in a machine when you fully understand and grasp the Paradigm system. It's actually, to me, the perfect battle system. So satisfying. At times it's frustrating, but it's part of the learning - when you make a mistake, you'll know not to to the same thing next time.

At first you'll simply be pressing A a lot, but I URGE you to get into the habit of selecting your own commands and making Abilities (I forget what it was called in the UI, the not Auto-Battle) the default selection upon battle initiation. Auto-Battle is a bad habit for the more difficult battles in the second half of the game and you'll wish you started navigating the commands faster from the outset. I started the game without Auto-Battle and just fucking loved every ounce of the combat.

I'm pretty sure they included Auto-Battle for the more casual crowd because the combat gets unforgiving.

Yeah, I forgot to mention this in Part 2, but I've been messing with the secondary abilities a bit. Even though I've only got two choices right now, the AI doesn't always seems to make the right choice — I've caught it selecting regular attack when enemies are bunched together and vulnerable to an AoE.

Exactly - I feel like sometimes Auto-Battle tries too hard to mix it up. Sometimes all you need are two Blitzes, instead of Blitz->Attack->Attack (for example) that it would do. It's actually awful, stay away from Auto-Battle. It's just for noobs who want to experience the first half of the story (because they won't be able to experience the second half because they won't have the skills to proceed lol)

I auto-battled my way to the end boss just fine, the only time I picked abilities myself were against those giant tortoises. 90% of the game is about having your preset paradigms right.

Start out with triple Syn. Stagger with a triple RAV, and go triple COM for the kill.

If you want the extra damage, go for triple SAB before staggering. Need healing? Go triple Med. Giant attack incoming? Switch momentarily to triple Sen.

0 skill involved

Yeah, I auto-battled my way to (and through) the final boss fight. As soon as I was allowed I set up ~4 of my own paradigms (Rav/Com/Com, Rav/Rav/Com, Com/Sen/Med and only for the last fight Sen/Med/Sab). I got 5 stars in the vast majority of the fights and the lowest I got was probably 4 stars. The final boss fight, where I used the Sen/Med/Sab, I got 5 stars. Since the OP hasent played the end of the game yet I wont say why I used that Paradigm, though he might be able to guess.

The battle system, whether auto-battle or not, is extremely shallow and worthless. The only choices you can really make are how the pardigms are set up but because of the extremely limited and clearly defined roles I found that to be a very quick and easy choice which I made once very early on in the game. Perhaps an argument can be made that if you invest in the system yourself there is fun to be found but the game never requires that of you, a friend even platinum'd it using auto-battle, and I never found it rewarding me for my efforts.

#31 Posted by Slag (4016 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: I just finished my first playthrough of the game and it's not as bad as some people are making it sound here.

to be fair FF is perhaps my favorite series, so i may be positively biased to it.

Old Final Fantasy games used to have this nice mix of story corridors followed by exploration mess around time and would rinse and repeat that cycle. This one definitely stays in the story corridor to its' detriment for far far too long. The First chapter I'm going to say fortunately is the weakest. That being said the cutscene/battle ratio is pretty good. Doesn't usually get out of balance either way say like a Xenosaga did.

Re: characters - I'm not crazy about Snow, Hope or Vanille either. But that isn't to say they are bad characters, only Vanille I would say was written poorly. Hope actually was one of the better kid characters I've played in a game, he had a semi-plausible reason for being there and he didn't act (too much) like an adult in a Kid's body. He wasn't fun but most Boys his age aren't real fun to be around anyway. So perhaps too well portrayed. As for Snow, I didn't find him poorly written but he just happened to have a personality I didn't like. Which is ok I don't like everybody I meet in real life either. Fang I liked quite a bit, but also criminally got the short end of character development.

Re: battle system - the auto-battle is mainly there due to the speed of the ATB in this game. If you tried playing it without it (which I did for awhile) it's a lot harder. That being said it's definitely not something where you can auto and forget as others have suggested. The paradigm switching you need to do often enough to keep from sleepwalking through the game, especially since if your really wanted to you can bypass a lot of fights. You can't use some of those suggested three person paradigms without some grinding.

fwiw I found the battle to be quick and fun, it had the right balance between speed (long menu driven fights I don't care for as much anymore) and strategy. My party rarely rarely ever dies in a FF game. In this game I definitely would get wiped out and I think if you look at gamefaqs or places like that, that the average player found this game fairly tough.

but maybe I didn't grind as much as others or didn't go with the optimal party.

Re: Story - there were a lot of things Xiii better than it's predecessors, The dialogue felt a lot more natural than it did in X or Xii and the intra-party character interaction was the best I've ever seen it. Which is fortunate since there is a lot of it.

It also had perhaps one of the more interesting worlds and premises in a FF game ever, which you unfortunately don't get to explore nearly as much I'd like. But it is there and it looks pretty dang good.

but it did underexplain and underutilize plot threads more than I'd like. As mentioned by others previously Sazh had the potential to perhaps be the most interesting FF character yet, but it's like the story writers didn't know how to write him anymore after half-way through the game.

And as others have pointed out to understand a lot what's going you do need to read the Codex as it becomes available. I found myself going "what?". There isn't a whole lot of world-building being established by the gameand what little established rules they have seem to be chucked out when convenient Jargon is thrown around by the characters in a natural-ish way, which means they don't explain what it means or at least they often don't right away.

And a lot of the motives behind the villains and non-player characters is never as well established as I'd like. I'm still not 100% sure why some characters did what they did. The ending, which I won't go into, I thought was utter garbage.

But overall It's a pretty solid game. The battle system, the look of the environments and the dialogue were more than enough to keep me entertained.

#32 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@Slag: Thanks for the write-up. I'm appreciating hearing the varying opinions people have on this game.

#33 Edited by xyzygy (9895 posts) -

@Slag said:

... it's definitely not something where you can auto and forget as others have suggested.

Yeah I have no idea how or WHY people would want to play the game through with only Auto-Battle. It has nothing to do with skill at all, it's literally just random ass attacks, a lot of which are unecessary and waste time. It doesn't place importance on curing and slamming status effects. Like how it will use Blitz with only one enemy present, or when you need to slam the enemy with ailments and they stagger the attacks stupidly like [Poison - attack- attack - poison - attack].

@Pazy: I'm calling complete BS on your friend, saying he platinumed it with Auto-Battle. I did it and it requires so much fast input after Pulse and especially Post-Game that Auto simply does not provide. They stagger the attacks so strangely and when you're grinding Long Gui for drops Auto-Battle is actually not even a possibility. I assure you you cannot defeat a Long Gui, let alone grind them and grind them for Trapezohedrons, using Auto-Battle. Many of the enemies on Pulse are similar in this way.

#34 Posted by Slag (4016 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: np man.

I'd be really curious to know your opinion after you're done.

I've literally grown up alongside FF ( got FF 1 on launch day as a kid), so I have no idea of what the series feels like to a younger person jumping in now.

@xyzygy:

Oh yeah definitely man. The Blitz thing is super annoying at times. I'm in post game but not to Long Gui (still have the admantoises and such) yet but yeah especially late game fighting Ochus and such autobattle could cause real problems if you relied in it blindly in some fights

I found it really bad for paradigms involving Saboteurs especially in fights with crowds, where it would default to switch targets once the first debuff hit (debrave etc), instead of piling on additional debuffs (like slow, poison).

and many times I felt my lead character had to be a medic in healing paradigms, since the auto-battle seems to only casts Raise if living characters are roughly above ~80% health. Which can be a real problem if the wrong character falls. You have phoenix downs and TP abilities like Renew and Summon, but a lot of times I don't want to waste them.

#35 Posted by Mendelson9 (402 posts) -

I am looking forward to reading more of this. We are in the same boat, you and me. I got Final Fantasy 13 on sale about 6 months after it came out on Xbox, thinking I was going to play my first FF game but instead never started it. Later, once I got a PS3 last year, I sold the Xbox disks and got the PS3 version of FF13, thinking I'll play it now with uncompressed video. And now it's sitting in the shrink wrap, next to an unopened copy of Uncharted 2. (I should probable play that too) Maybe this blog will finally be the thing to put that disk into my console...

#36 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1525 posts) -

@Mendelson9 said:

I am looking forward to reading more of this. We are in the same boat, you and me. I got Final Fantasy 13 on sale about 6 months after it came out on Xbox, thinking I was going to play my first FF game but instead never started it. Later, once I got a PS3 last year, I sold the Xbox disks and got the PS3 version of FF13, thinking I'll play it now with uncompressed video. And now it's sitting in the shrink wrap, next to an unopened copy of Uncharted 2. (I should probable play that too) Maybe this blog will finally be the thing to put that disk into my console...

Funny — I decided to play this over Uncharted 2 as well. I'll probably end up playing through Uncharted anyway by the time I'm done with FF XIII.

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