Final Fantasy XIII (Part 3)

Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

I made a bunch of progress yesterday, and just reached Vile Peaks and the point at which the group splits into Lightning/Hope and Sazh/Vanille.

Story

I’m starting to see what people talk about when they reference the one-way corridor the first 20 hours or so takes place in. I’m not particularly fatigued with it yet, but knowing what I know about how much of it I’ve got left, I’m starting to get worried. It doesn’t help that it’s not totally clear what I’m even working toward — it seems like the group’s objective right now is to keep moving, which makes sense given the circumstances, but doesn’t exactly make for an enticing carrot on a stick. I suppose I’m just supposed to accept on face value the idea that the one path open to me just happened to lead me to the plot device I needed to move to the next area.

Vanille continues to Vanille it up. Hope continues to almost to confront Snow only to turn back at the last second and silently resent him. Snow’s decision to stop and pick away at a clearly indestructible crystal had me rolling my eyes, but grief makes people act irrationally, and I guess they needed an excuse to separate him from the group. Were I not aware of Final Fantasy XIII–2, my inclination would be to assume that Serah has been dead since the moment she was petrified, so it’s kind of a bummer that I’ve had her eventual fate somewhat spoiled. I still really like Sazh — I’m curious about what his angle is, and he’s generally just likeable. While Lightning’s personality isn’t totally clear to me, I appreciate her no-nonsense attitude, lack of patience with Vanille’s childishness, and ability to call out Snow’s irrationality. I like it when game characters are annoyed at the same things I’m annoyed at.

I should say that I’m by no means hating the story so much as I’m disappointed with how some of the characters are developing. I really do want to know what’s going to happen next: I’m curious as to what’s going to come of Snow’s capture (though I know from screenshots that his captor is a future party member); I want to know the nature of the Fal’Cie; and I can see the makings of some neat political intrigue. I think they’ve created a neat game universe, and I want to see more of it.

Gameplay

I’ve reached the point where roles, paradigms, and the Crystarium open up, which has made the combat more interesting. Once I was tasked with levelling up character skills, I had my usual “oh god, what if I’m totally screwing this up” panic, and spent half an hour reading forum threads. It turns out that (and this is to Square Enix’s credit) there’s no weird tricks to character progression — if I stick to levelling up characters’ 3 main roles, I should be fine, and I’d really have to be actively irrational to run myself into a corner. That’s a relief.

I’ve heard there’s still a good deal of depth left to uncover, but balancing chaining, health, and damage dealing is already a pretty effective dynamic. I’ve been trying to manually stack abilities when I’ve got the time, but I can already see how auto attacks are going to be valuable once I’ve got more elemental attacks and monster weaknesses to manage. If this works the way I think it will, I like it — it removes the repetitive busywork of combat and lets you manage at a higher level.

Music

Lastly, I want to call out some of the game’s great music:

  • Saber’s Edge (early boss theme). It sets the tone, but also doesn’t convey a false sense of danger. I’m not sure why, but it’s got a “hey, you’re playing a tutorial” sound to it.
  • Hanging Edge. It’s texturally similar to the aforementioned boss theme, and has a similar early-game sound to it.
  • Blinded by Light (battle theme). It’s got a great driving sound to it, builds up nicely, and doesn’t have any immediately-apparent annoying qualities. I can’t imagine the pressure on a composer writing the battle theme for a 50+ hour game.
  • The Vestige. An appropriately mystical-sounding ambient track.

P.S. Figuring out that Lightning shares the same voice actress as Mass Effect’s Liara was a revelation, and now that I know it, I kind of wish I didn’t.

#1 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

I made a bunch of progress yesterday, and just reached Vile Peaks and the point at which the group splits into Lightning/Hope and Sazh/Vanille.

Story

I’m starting to see what people talk about when they reference the one-way corridor the first 20 hours or so takes place in. I’m not particularly fatigued with it yet, but knowing what I know about how much of it I’ve got left, I’m starting to get worried. It doesn’t help that it’s not totally clear what I’m even working toward — it seems like the group’s objective right now is to keep moving, which makes sense given the circumstances, but doesn’t exactly make for an enticing carrot on a stick. I suppose I’m just supposed to accept on face value the idea that the one path open to me just happened to lead me to the plot device I needed to move to the next area.

Vanille continues to Vanille it up. Hope continues to almost to confront Snow only to turn back at the last second and silently resent him. Snow’s decision to stop and pick away at a clearly indestructible crystal had me rolling my eyes, but grief makes people act irrationally, and I guess they needed an excuse to separate him from the group. Were I not aware of Final Fantasy XIII–2, my inclination would be to assume that Serah has been dead since the moment she was petrified, so it’s kind of a bummer that I’ve had her eventual fate somewhat spoiled. I still really like Sazh — I’m curious about what his angle is, and he’s generally just likeable. While Lightning’s personality isn’t totally clear to me, I appreciate her no-nonsense attitude, lack of patience with Vanille’s childishness, and ability to call out Snow’s irrationality. I like it when game characters are annoyed at the same things I’m annoyed at.

I should say that I’m by no means hating the story so much as I’m disappointed with how some of the characters are developing. I really do want to know what’s going to happen next: I’m curious as to what’s going to come of Snow’s capture (though I know from screenshots that his captor is a future party member); I want to know the nature of the Fal’Cie; and I can see the makings of some neat political intrigue. I think they’ve created a neat game universe, and I want to see more of it.

Gameplay

I’ve reached the point where roles, paradigms, and the Crystarium open up, which has made the combat more interesting. Once I was tasked with levelling up character skills, I had my usual “oh god, what if I’m totally screwing this up” panic, and spent half an hour reading forum threads. It turns out that (and this is to Square Enix’s credit) there’s no weird tricks to character progression — if I stick to levelling up characters’ 3 main roles, I should be fine, and I’d really have to be actively irrational to run myself into a corner. That’s a relief.

I’ve heard there’s still a good deal of depth left to uncover, but balancing chaining, health, and damage dealing is already a pretty effective dynamic. I’ve been trying to manually stack abilities when I’ve got the time, but I can already see how auto attacks are going to be valuable once I’ve got more elemental attacks and monster weaknesses to manage. If this works the way I think it will, I like it — it removes the repetitive busywork of combat and lets you manage at a higher level.

Music

Lastly, I want to call out some of the game’s great music:

Saber’s Edge (early boss theme). It sets the tone, but also doesn’t convey a false sense of danger. I’m not sure why, but it’s got a “hey, you’re playing a tutorial” sound to it.

Hanging Edge. It’s texturally similar to the aforementioned boss theme, and has a similar early-game sound to it.

Blinded by Light (battle theme). It’s got a great driving sound to it, builds up nicely, and doesn’t have any immediately-apparent annoying qualities. I can’t imagine the pressure on a composer writing the battle theme for a 50+ hour game.

The Vestige. An appropriately mystical-sounding ambient track.

P.S. Figuring out that Lightning shares the same voice actress as Mass Effect’s Liara was a revelation, and now that I know it, I kind of wish I didn’t.

#2 Posted by Phatmac (5720 posts) -

The soundtrack for the game is one of the few things that I actually like about it.

#3 Posted by Ryanmgraef (226 posts) -

Am I the only guy who Ike's Snow?Also "March of the drednaughts" is a really another really great track comin up for you.

#4 Posted by Slag (3897 posts) -

The music in this game is really good. I forgot to mention that.

and yeah you are finally getting to where the battle system start to open up a bit and where the battles at least get fun. It doesn't in my opinion get hard until near the end.

as far as the story goes you are getting to my favorite chapters in the whole game. I feel FF Xiii's story is strongest in the middle.

#5 Edited by xyzygy (9867 posts) -

Awesome. The battles will slowly become tougher and will give you more options now. What is the chapter number that you're on? I know you said Vile Peaks but I don't remember where that stands in the grand scale.

#6 Posted by SuperWristBands (2266 posts) -

Blinded by Light is so god damn good. I just unlocked it in Theatrhythm and couldn't be happier. The violins give me goosebumps every time.

That's a nice thing about final fantasy, even if I don't appreciate the story/characters/gameplay I can still appreciate the music (lookin' at you FF8)

#7 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

@xyzygy said:

Awesome. The battles will slowly become tougher and will give you more options now. What is the chapter number that you're on? I know you said Vile Peaks but I don't remember where that stands in the grand scale.

I believe I'm at the beginning of chapter 4.

@Slag said:

The music in this game is really good. I forgot to mention that.

and yeah you are finally getting to where the battle system start to open up a bit and where the battles at least get fun. It doesn't in my opinion get hard until near the end.

as far as the story goes you are getting to my favorite chapters in the whole game. I feel FF Xiii's story is strongest in the middle.

Thanks, good to know.

#8 Posted by Turkfinn (84 posts) -

Totally agree with all the points about the music. The music in the game is definitely one of its bright spots. Personally I really enjoyed the combat, especially when everything opens up later on in the game. I can see why people disliked the game with all its flaws and all, but I enjoyed the whole thing for what its worth. It deserves some of the hate it gets but I feel like it gets piled on a bit much by some people as there were plenty of redeeming qualities about the game. I wouldn't say it was my favorite FF game or RPG but I wouldn't call it a bad game and had a good time with it. I'm curious to see what your opinion on the game is by the time they get away from the corridor stuff.

FF-XIII 2 is something that also improves a lot of things about FF-XIII and I'm kinda looking forward to ffxiii-3. Say what you want about the series, at the very least, it's not stagnating and they're switching things up pretty drastically across all 3 games. That's more than you can say for most franchises at this point in time.

#9 Edited by xyzygy (9867 posts) -

Oh and I also want to say: there is a certain boss you will fight soon (I think it's soon...) and he has his own special battle theme. It is the best Final Fantasy song created. Better than Man With the Machine Gun, better than Terra's Theme, better than them all.

That is all. Hope you are prepared. :)

#10 Posted by TopSteer (634 posts) -

XIII has some of my favorite music in the series, with my personal favorite being Lightning's Theme.

@Ryanmgraef: I liked Snow as well.

#11 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

@xyzygy said:

Oh and I also want to say: there is a certain boss you will fight soon (I think it's soon...) and he has his own special battle theme. It is the best Final Fantasy song created. Better than Man With the Machine Gun, better than Terra's Theme, better than them all.

That is all. Hope you are prepared. :)

Unless you were talking about the Dreadnought, I'm still not there. Looking forward to it!

#12 Posted by RuneseekerMireille (325 posts) -

I'm at the end of XIII-2, tearing it up with my Chocobo army, but after reading this, I think I'm going to go back to XIII and play it again. I feel like like I'm one of the few that has played all of the Final Fantasy games, and found the Fabula Nova Crystallis line to be some of my favorite Final Fantasies.

Get the basics of the combat system down now, it'll start demanding some real smart shifting to beat some later bosses. A useful tip if you don't know: Every other Paradigm Shift will refill your ATB gauge. Planning around that is a very core strategy in beating some later bosses and trivializing the combat early on.

Good luck, and I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did!

P.S.: Vanille has some... interesting motivations for doing what she does. I've always enjoyed her throughout this game, but after everything was explained, alot of her actions make sense.

#13 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

@RuneseekerMireille said:

I'm at the end of XIII-2, tearing it up with my Chocobo army, but after reading this, I think I'm going to go back to XIII and play it again. I feel like like I'm one of the few that has played all of the Final Fantasy games, and found the Fabula Nova Crystallis line to be some of my favorite Final Fantasies.

Get the basics of the combat system down now, it'll start demanding some real smart shifting to beat some later bosses. A useful tip if you don't know: Every other Paradigm Shift will refill your ATB gauge. Planning around that is a very core strategy in beating some later bosses and trivializing the combat early on.

Good luck, and I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did!

P.S.: Vanille has some... interesting motivations for doing what she does. I've always enjoyed her throughout this game, but after everything was explained, alot of her actions make sense.

Is it every second paradigm shift, or does the refill effect just have a 12 second cooldown? From what I'm reading, I think you're right, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there.

I also read that if you do a paradigm shift during the last animation of the first attack cycle, you can skip the long version (3 character) version of the shift animation, which only happens the first time you shift — I'm going to give that a try now.

#14 Posted by TooWalrus (13127 posts) -

@Ryanmgraef said:

Am I the only guy who Ike's Snow?Also "March of the drednaughts" is a really another really great track comin up for you.

I like snow... or maybe I just like listening to Troy Baker talk. Either way, thumbs up.

#15 Posted by Hailinel (23674 posts) -

@TooWalrus said:

@Ryanmgraef said:

Am I the only guy who Ike's Snow?Also "March of the drednaughts" is a really another really great track comin up for you.

I like snow... or maybe I just like listening to Troy Baker talk. Either way, thumbs up.

I like Snow, too.

Online
#16 Posted by RuneseekerMireille (325 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip said:

@RuneseekerMireille said:

I'm at the end of XIII-2, tearing it up with my Chocobo army, but after reading this, I think I'm going to go back to XIII and play it again. I feel like like I'm one of the few that has played all of the Final Fantasy games, and found the Fabula Nova Crystallis line to be some of my favorite Final Fantasies.

Get the basics of the combat system down now, it'll start demanding some real smart shifting to beat some later bosses. A useful tip if you don't know: Every other Paradigm Shift will refill your ATB gauge. Planning around that is a very core strategy in beating some later bosses and trivializing the combat early on.

Good luck, and I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did!

P.S.: Vanille has some... interesting motivations for doing what she does. I've always enjoyed her throughout this game, but after everything was explained, alot of her actions make sense.

Is it every second paradigm shift, or does the refill effect just have a 12 second cooldown? From what I'm reading, I think you're right, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there.

I also read that if you do a paradigm shift during the last animation of the first attack cycle, you can skip the long version (3 character) version of the shift animation, which only happens the first time you shift — I'm going to give that a try now.

I pretty sure that it is every second Paradigm Shift, because when I used to mess it up by shifting to the wrong paradigm and then switching back, it would give me and my team a full ATB (wasting the few bars I had previously). I've honestly never tested it myself because when you use it optimally(attack, shift, attack, wait, repeat), it takes longer than 10 seconds before you do it again. Not 100% sure though.

I haven't actually seen anything about being able to skip the first long Paradigm Shift (because in XIII-2, it's not there anymore), but I had never found it to be more than a slight annoyance at worst. I had assumed it was there to let bosses set up the playing field before you unload on them. CPUs still attack immediately after their shift animation though, even if the scene is changing to the different characters.

#17 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1500 posts) -

@RuneseekerMireille said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

@RuneseekerMireille said:

I'm at the end of XIII-2, tearing it up with my Chocobo army, but after reading this, I think I'm going to go back to XIII and play it again. I feel like like I'm one of the few that has played all of the Final Fantasy games, and found the Fabula Nova Crystallis line to be some of my favorite Final Fantasies.

Get the basics of the combat system down now, it'll start demanding some real smart shifting to beat some later bosses. A useful tip if you don't know: Every other Paradigm Shift will refill your ATB gauge. Planning around that is a very core strategy in beating some later bosses and trivializing the combat early on.

Good luck, and I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did!

P.S.: Vanille has some... interesting motivations for doing what she does. I've always enjoyed her throughout this game, but after everything was explained, alot of her actions make sense.

Is it every second paradigm shift, or does the refill effect just have a 12 second cooldown? From what I'm reading, I think you're right, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there.

I also read that if you do a paradigm shift during the last animation of the first attack cycle, you can skip the long version (3 character) version of the shift animation, which only happens the first time you shift — I'm going to give that a try now.

I pretty sure that it is every second Paradigm Shift, because when I used to mess it up by shifting to the wrong paradigm and then switching back, it would give me and my team a full ATB (wasting the few bars I had previously). I've honestly never tested it myself because when you use it optimally(attack, shift, attack, wait, repeat), it takes longer than 10 seconds before you do it again. Not 100% sure though.

I haven't actually seen anything about being able to skip the first long Paradigm Shift (because in XIII-2, it's not there anymore), but I had never found it to be more than a slight annoyance at worst. I had assumed it was there to let bosses set up the playing field before you unload on them. CPUs still attack immediately after their shift animation though, even if the scene is changing to the different characters.

I spent some time messing with this last night, and I think you get a full (or very near full) gauge reset in the time it takes for 6 ATB bars to fill up, which is maybe where the 12 seconds number comes from. So basically, if I do a full 4-bar cycle, force an attack at 2 during the next cycle, then do a paradigm shift, I'll be able to do an 4-bar attack by the time I can hit auto attack.

In practice, it probably makes sense to do a full 2 cycles most of the time, but I've found cancelling out after 2 to be useful for giving Hope just enough time to cast two buffs before paradigm shifting.

I haven't yet managed to pull off the animation cancel, but here's a video showing it in action.

#18 Posted by RuneseekerMireille (325 posts) -

@GrantHeaslip: I never thought about doing that early game; interesting choice! Later on, at least for me, the AI is terrible at using the correct buffs, so even though I use Vanille in my playthroughs, for tough fights, I'll either continue using Vanille for defensive Synergist buffs, or I'll switch to other characters for more offensive buffs. See this is what I like about FFXIII: The different ways you could approach some fights, and the intricacies of character's animations with the combat (some characters cast faster than others, if I remember right, Hope and Light are the fastest offensive casters, Snow is the fastest defensively) make the game seem deceptively simple on the surface, but it holds alot of depth!

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