Hello all and welcome to my playthrough thoughts on FFXIII. This is my first time doing anything like this so any comments are welcome.
Day 1 Chapters 1-3
First of I need to comment on just how AMAZING the cut scenes in this game are! They are the best I have seen in any game to date. The in game world looks great to as well as the character details. Very impressive start to the game.
So far I am really liking the story of the game. Its early days yet as I have only started chapter 3 but it is setting up to be a really interesting story. The setting of the game is very unique and strange which I am liking as it is a lot better than your typical fantasy towns and large empire style of game. I felt the story was a little difficult at first to follow what was happening as I was getting confused between L'cie and fal'cie as well as the Pulse and Cacoon equivalents. I don't know why they couldn't have picked slightly more varied names but after reading the very helpful and insightful Datalog events it was easy to work out what was going on.
I liked the way the game introduces the characters by switching between them and showing each of their own struggles and lets you see how they converge into them all meeting up. It makes it feel more natural instead of 5 strangers just somehow meeting up and deciding to go on a world saving journey together.
Speaking of the characters I have mixed opinions on them so far. Lightning I feel is a good main character but it would have been nice to see them leave the 'moody' silent protagonist for something new. But it seems that she is growing deeper and more expressive as the chapters go on and the relationship between her Snow and Sarah has the potential for great character interaction. Snow is a little one dimensional so far. I don't know how many times he says the word “hero” in these chapters but I get it!! He wants to be a hero and save everyone, I hope he continues to develop and expand into a more than a one dimensional character.
Hope and Vanille.... Sigh... Why do JRPGs always have to have a bubbly cute innocent girl character in them? They never work and are always very irritating. Especially Vanille's voice actor. She seems to dip into Australian every second line. Now I have nothing against an Australian accent but I just want her to stick to a consistent voice!! And all the other characters seem to have a similar non Australian accent so Vanille's seems out of place. However Vanille does seem quite mysterious and I hope that she has some sort of interesting back story and presence to justify her characters inclusion. Hope has the potential to be less annoying and I feel his character has a right to be complaining in almost every scene. It could get irritating if he drags on his hatred for snow too long, lets hope he resolves it sooner rather than later.
Sazh!! My favourite character so far. I was a little worried at the start that he was going to be the bumbling idiot one but he seems a lot older than the others and far more mature and responsible. I like the way he is the voice of reason most of the time and not as moody as the others. I hope that he is a main character throughout the story. I really like the Chocabo in his hair but... it raises a lot of personal hygiene questions.
As for the main combat in the game I quite like it. I know people complain that its one button but I feel that its just the beginning and it has the potential to get more interesting and deep. Before playing this game I read that it was an evolved version of FFXII's combat system which really worried me as I hated XII with a passion. But it seems to be a lot better than XII's. After you get into chapter 3 the combat strategy really opens up. I like the way the battles are graded so it forces you to work out the best system for defeating the enemies. I like the way battles are more management focused rather than choosing what attacks to use. It feels like a completely new combat system and I think it works well in the game.
In general I am enjoying it greatly so far. I really like the menu design and the Datalog. Reading the Datalog events and info gives a lot of information about the world and characters and is essential reading I feel if you want to understand what is going on care more for the characters. I wish they had voiced the main Datalog events in a Mass Effect style as I can see that much text being a turn off for most players and skipping it seems like it will take away a lot from the game overall.
Chapters 3 - 7
Sooo many battles!!! For about 4 chapters there is nothing but fighting and cut scenes then more fighting. Its quite tiring to play it for any length of time. I miss the old FF formula of Arrive in town - explore town and talk to party members - advance story – Complete some dungeons – Then explore another town and talk to party members again. It was a nice formula that gave you time to relax. In XIII it seems to be all battle with the only conversations with characters coming in cut scenes.
I'm still liking the story. Its gotten far more interesting with the inclusion of Cid and Fang. Oh and Fang and Vanille being from Pulse explains the mysterious Australian accents so everything is forgiven. I must say the story of Lightning and Hopes journey got very tiring and tried to be too deep. Lighting realising she is a pet of the fal'cie and somehow that triggering her realisation with her own emotions was badly done. And the dialogue with the play on Hope's name is just cringe worthy at times. Oh and his mothers name being the same as Snows mercenary groups name... COME ON! Hopes hatred for Snow finally seems to be coming to an end thankfully and lightning seems to be forgiving him as well. Lets “Hope” they all move on now...
As a new character Fang seems good, she is like a female version on Sazh which can only be a good thing. Sazh is still by far the best character and I enjoy the chapters with him in more than the others.
The combat system seems to have stopped expanding with exception of the launch and juggling system which is amazing to use as you can destroy your opponent without them even managing a turn. I also like the boss battles, it can take 3-4 tries to get the right strategy against them and it feels more rewarding to get it right rather then have to just grind out levels to win the fight.
Still enjoying the game. The amount of battles it tedious in some parts but the battle system and the fact you can restart a fight right before it is keeping it from being a game ender. There doesn’t seem to be a lot happening plot wise just a lot of character development. Some of it works well like Sazh and his son others, such as Hope and Lightning, are just badly done. I hope at the end of this chapter something new happens or they have a new goal because I'm losing interest in their current goals.
Right this will be my last update on FFXIII. Sadly I just cant force myself to play more of the game. And I say forced because I realised that's what I have been doing since chapter 7 onward. I just cant take any more of the endless battles! It feels like it is never ending. Even thought the battle system is enjoyable and a challenge it just isnt engaging or fun enough to have 20+ hours of it. The only break you get is a 3-4 min cut scene and then its back to the fighting. What I enjoyed about other FF games was the story and characters and the exploration. Exploration of town and places and engaging the world. There is just none of that here. Even FFX which was just as linear had a lot of moments to break up the fighting and it kept it fresh throughout. But this game seems to have stuck with the battle system at the expense of everything else.
My closing thoughts are of real dissapointment that I will probaly never finish this game ever. I really like the story and the characters (well some of them) as well as the setting but I feel like I have to endure the battles to get to that stuff. I hope that the next FF focuses more on the exploration as well as a more varied approach to the game play and how the world is discovered so that it feels like less of a grind.