Just finished the 360 version (no spoilers)

#1 Edited by normalpants (166 posts) -

The final cutscene(s?) are indeed higher quality than the rest of the game and are simply jawdropping to look at.  That being said, the only way I can recommend FFXIII is by playing it with virtually all of the characters muted.  To the team's credit, it can't be easy to paint with a brush big enough to appeal to the east and the west.  It's notable that they even attempt something along that scale, so you have to give them props for that.  But I just felt embarrassed whenever I had to listen to anything any of the characters said.   I don't see how there can be another Final Fantasy game unless they make the games dramatically more abstract.  Everything in 13 feels incredibly forced and tone deaf.  I never thought I would be saying this, but it would be nice if they took a few pages from Nintendo's playbook and scaled back most of the specifics. Keep the art style, amp that up, but strip out the literal bullshit that bogs Final Fantasy down.  I've completed the game and I couldn't tell you the difference between a fal'cie and a l'cie because it's just an obstacle standing between me and the brilliant combat system, beautiful visuals, and trippy creature designs.    
 
I'm willing to bet that the most powerful moment in Final Fantasy XIII for most people is the final shot when everthing is totally silent and frozen.  A Final Fantasy without talking? Count me in. 

#2 Edited by Meowayne (6084 posts) -

 
Agreed. I'd pay 300 bucks for a modern console JRPG that utilized text boxes and fairly unarticulate avatars. The Japanese make significantly better interactive stage plays than they make interactive movies, especially when they try (and horribly fail) to "westernize" these movies.
 
 
"The Last Story" will feature an acted-out script and it will be the game's weakest point. Everyone knows it. Yet still the gaming crowd insists on VA and bad, cheesy cinematography.

#3 Posted by Symphony (1912 posts) -

Grats on finishing it :)
 
I disagree with the idea of muting the characters, and personally liked their voices and the majority of the dialogue, but to each their own. I do agree that there was a lot of technical term tossing and without that datalog thing, I would have been left completely in the dark on what a l'cie was or pretty much what the heck was going on at any given moment.

#4 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@Symphony said:
" Grats on finishing it :)  I disagree with the idea of muting the characters, and personally liked their voices and the majority of the dialogue, but to each their own.  "
Indeed, the voice acting and dialogue was quite excellent for the most part. Vanille bothered me a few times but overall wasn't a huge deal.
#5 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -
@Zenaxzd said:
" @Symphony said:
" Grats on finishing it :)  I disagree with the idea of muting the characters, and personally liked their voices and the majority of the dialogue, but to each their own.  "
Indeed, the voice acting and dialogue was quite excellent for the most part. "
Can you explain that to me? I like most of the actors, but the script and dialogue is beyond what anyone would even dare to publish as a bad romance novel; yet in videogames, people get away with it. I wish there was a script online so I could post some examples. 
The writing is horrible in XIII, there is absolutely no excuse for it. Characters exchanging bits of fortune cookies and motivational posters in the most awful manner, falling to their knees because of teh drama every 30 seconds.  It is worse than an episode of Power Rangers most of the time, including the retarded gesticulation.
 
"It's all your fault!"
"It's all my fault!"
"I am so happy!"
"You got to have something worth fighting for!"
"Without something to fight for, life is meaningless!"
 
They all act like emotionally unstable, retarded children sponsored by The World's Cheesiest Phrasebook. All the time.  There are very few memorable let alone cool/interesting/well-written lines of dialogue and out of those, probably 2 per cent is dialogue that actual people would actually say.
 

#6 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@Meowayne: You're an avid 13 hater even if you want to say otherwise, saying any well thought-out response to you would be pointless. All it is with you is either random hate for the game or anything good you say is a backhanded compliment. Saying anything would be pointless because you would either a) ignore it or b) go completely off topic and probably mention something about Lost Odyssey vs FF13 that doesn't really have to do with anything. It's pointless to even bother.
#7 Edited by Meowayne (6084 posts) -

Zenaxzd, what the fucking hell is wrong with you? 
 

I PLAY XIII NEARLY EVERY DAY AND AM ENJOYING MYSELF.

 
 How much clearer do I have to say this? THE EXACT SAME THING I SAID ABOVE ABOUT THE XIII SCRIPT APPLIES TO LOST ODYSSEY, EVEN MORESO. AND I LOVE LOST ODYSSEY. Lost Odyssey is even more cheesy, melodramatic and horribly written/staged than Final Fantasy XIII. Significantly more.
 
Jesus fucking christ. Talk about stubborn. Why in the world would I put 30+ hours into a game I don't like?
#8 Edited by thehuntsmen5434 (434 posts) -

yea I'm 30 hours in, and the dialogue is pretty cheesy.  Then again I just finished FF6 while playing 13 and the dialogue wasn't too much different.  I think its just because we have to literally hear them talk.  When its just text boxes its a little more forgiving.  You kind of visualize the characters in your head so they seem cooler.   I won't make any broad generalizations that JRPG writers are horrible.  They just never changed, RPGs have always been filled with "As long as you have Hope, love, and friendship we can never lose!"  I feel as though the players who were fans of this series just grew up.  Now some of them want more mature writing, and others want to just keep it classic.  Sometimes 20 minutes of dialogue isn't as powerful, or moving as silence.

#9 Posted by AltonBrown (950 posts) -

I think the cheesiness is part of the charm, myself.

#10 Posted by thehuntsmen5434 (434 posts) -

yea, exactly.  Some people like that.  The series has always been like that, FF13 is no different.

#11 Edited by xyzygy (10008 posts) -

I think dialog like this is inevitable for JRPGs.  Also I'd have to say in my opinion, FFXIII and Lost Odyssey probably has the least amount of cheesy dialog compared to recent rpgs (Eternal Sonata, Tales of Vesperia, Infinite Undiscovery, Last Remnant, Blue Dragon, etc) but it doesn't really bother me.  
 
Normalpants, are you going to do any post game stuff like finish off the missions? I honestly found the game became better for me as I'm doing the missions, trying to five star them, and get all my weapons and accessories upgraded. I don't know, there is something about it in this game, it really makes me like it a lot more than if I had just played the game and stopped right after I had killed the final boss.

#12 Posted by sopranosfan (1935 posts) -
@AltonBrown said:
" I think the cheesiness is part of the charm, myself. "
I agree.  Final Fantasy games ooze the cheese but if you can get past it they usually have pretty good stories.
#13 Posted by thehuntsmen5434 (434 posts) -

 (Spoilers)
As I described to my friend who started XIII recently, and has no idea whats going on.  I felt the story as a whole was really really good.  If I were to summarize it to someone they would say that it sounds amazing.  But the way they slowly introduced the story in the game itself is a grind.  I feel like the characters don't know where they are heading.  In Grand pulse before fighting the Primark for the second time, he showed up at the end of a broken bridge over water.  What would have happened if he didn't?  All 6 members just standing at the end of a bridge looking around.  They want to remove their brands somehow and not fulfill their focus to destroy cocoon, but Grand Pulse is pretty big and they just kind of wander.

#14 Posted by luce (4045 posts) -
@Meowayne: 
 
 
For the most part i agree with you on the writing.
 
I hated every character except for Lightning and Fang. They are up there with my favorite FF characters
#15 Posted by Zsciaeount (36 posts) -

Got to agree with the original post.  I am totally digging FFXIII's battle system, and for the most part, the visuals are stunning.  But, one of the things that is really crippling the traditional JRPG in the modern era is the writing and voice acting.  It seems almost a shame that Square Enix would pour so many resources into crafting good gameplay and high-end visuals, yet skimp on proper localization and voice acting.  Heck, even Nolan North couldn't make the script palatable.  A lot of the dialogue is redundant, and the conversations have an odd pacing that really makes it obvious that every actor recorded their lines solo.  There is no volume modulation, so every little grunt and groan is just as audible as the main dialogue, and during one of the earlier scenes with Vanille and Hope, it was just two minutes of sighs and groans... it sounded like an adult film.  It's just not up to snuff in an age where story and voicework are approaching the quality you'd find in mainstream entertainment.

#16 Posted by pweidman (2339 posts) -

The voices aren't bad at all.  I was afraid they'd be much worse.  The dialogue, for the most part though , is pretty bad.  The whole story's premise is uninspiring imo.  LO was so much better, better written, and so much more poignant.  I cared about those characters a lot.  These... not so much, at least not yet(10 hrs in).  The battle system is fun and develops nicely.  Prolly the strength of the game I'm guessing.
#17 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -
@pweidman said:
" The voices aren't bad at all.  I was afraid they'd be much worse.  The dialogue, for the most part though , is pretty bad.  The whole story's premise is uninspiring imo.  LO was so much better, better written, and so much more poignant.  I cared about those characters a lot.  These... not so much, at least not yet(10 hrs in).  The battle system is fun and develops nicely.  Prolly the strength of the game I'm guessing. "
It gets significantly better around the 20 hour mark. It is astonishing and puzzling just how much this game changes around chapters 9,10 and 11, and how much better it gets then.
#18 Edited by normalpants (166 posts) -
@xyzygy said:

"Normalpants, are you going to do any post game stuff like finish off the missions?"


I'm played for a couple hours this morning and thought it was really fresh.  After the ending, the game takes on a mellow exploratory vibe that I'm really digging.   I'm sure I'll be putting just as many if not more hours into sidequesting and exploration as I did in the main game.   Weapon and accessory upgrading is also surprisingly fun and complex, so I imagine I'll be hocking circuits and ooze.  But the biggest thing it has going for it is the lack of character interaction, so I am probably going to like it more than the actual game.
 
I'm kinda of bummed that I can't turn off elements of the sound and play custom soundtracks though.  The endgame is the perfect atmoshphere for listening to music and podcasts.  I guess I'll just wear headphones. 
 
PS: I think the person that composed the music for endgame Gran Pulse also did the music for the Nintendo shops on Wii and DSi
#19 Posted by CharleyTony (924 posts) -
@normalpants: 
It might be a matter of taste but if you are looking for a more traditional FF game, you might want to play Lost Odyssey. I really liked it. I did see it in your games list but since you havent gotten any achievements in it I assumed you did not play it.
#20 Posted by Signpost (47 posts) -
@thehuntsmen5434 said:
"  (Spoilers)As I described to my friend who started XIII recently, and has no idea whats going on.  I felt the story as a whole was really really good.  If I were to summarize it to someone they would say that it sounds amazing.  But the way they slowly introduced the story in the game itself is a grind.  I feel like the characters don't know where they are heading.  In Grand pulse before fighting the Primark for the second time, he showed up at the end of a broken bridge over water.  What would have happened if he didn't?  All 6 members just standing at the end of a bridge looking around.  They want to remove their brands somehow and not fulfill their focus to destroy cocoon, but Grand Pulse is pretty big and they just kind of wander. "
That is the point though, the characters don't know where they are heading, they don't know what they are doing.  All they know is that they don't want to complete their focus and they want to find some way to remove the brand.  They are wandering around Gran Pulse trying to figure out what the hell they are going to do (if anything).  If the Boss hadn't shown up at the end of chapter 12 (I think that was the chapter) they would have just continued searching for clues/answers.
#21 Posted by keyhunter (3207 posts) -

It was probably written by someone who reads a lot of SHONEN JUMP manga's. That's why we get this nonsense. Also their sentence structure is backwards to ours.

#22 Edited by Mourne (789 posts) -

Barthandelus's dialogue--at all times--was more or less entirely unbearable. It was one of the most forced performances I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through.
 
Overall, the dub wasn't bad at all--it's on par with the Japanese version for the most part, but nothing is going to save a script that stale in either language. It's generally pretty solid at the beginning, but you end up in these failed moments of melodrama toward the end that are a bit cringe-worthy. I've been saying for ages that voice acting has killed the modern RPG, because there's just so much more you can do with 10 minutes of text and only relevant character actions being played out on-screen than there is with 10 minutes of voiced and fully animated cut-scenes (for an RPG, that is; other genres generally do well with cinematic elements).

#23 Posted by normalpants (166 posts) -
@Signpost said:
That is the point though, the characters don't know where they are heading, they don't know what they are doing.  All they know is that they don't want to complete their focus and they want to find some way to remove the brand.  They are wandering around Gran Pulse trying to figure out what the hell they are going to do (if anything).  If the Boss hadn't shown up at the end of chapter 12 (I think that was the chapter) they would have just continued searching for clues/answers. "


Those are all surface details.  Maybe it's just the way the story is conveyed, but I didn't get the sense that any of those plot points connected to anything that would lend the narrative weight or make it a universal story worth telling.  It's pretty rare that a game's story connects with players in ways that transcend trivial details and one-dimensional characters.  I guess I just expected Final Fantasy to offer a tale that normal  people could digest and not just gamers. 

 
In the interest of full disclosure, I guess it's important to note that this is the first Final Fantasy game I have completed, but I've dabbled in the DS remakes and Final Fantasy X.   I didn't think those games had anything great to say either, but I suspected my perception would change if I had played more of or completed them.   
 
The game part of Final Fantasy XIII still rocks my face off, it just sucks that you have to slog through a metric fuckton of poop to get to the amazing bits. 

#24 Posted by thehuntsmen5434 (434 posts) -

 (Spoilers)
I just feel like nothing is happening.  If the characters removed their brands, or jumped off a ledge it wouldn't make a difference.  I read so much about all this character development, but its just development between the characters themselves.  I don't know any of their pasts, or maybe people that know them.  Someone said before on another forum that the world feels hollow.  All we meet is Hope's dad?  Does snow have a family? What about Sahz's family, is his wife dead?  He just carries around guns for the hell of it.    Wasn't Lightning part of the guardian Corps, we meet one person in a flashback from that.  Like i said before it feels like not much is happening. 

#25 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@thehuntsmen5434 said:
"  (Spoilers)I just feel like nothing is happening.  If the characters removed their brands, or jumped off a ledge it wouldn't make a difference.  I read so much about all this character development, but its just development between the characters themselves.  I don't know any of their pasts, or maybe people that know them.  Someone said before on another forum that the world feels hollow.  All we meet is Hope's dad?  Does snow have a family? What about Sahz's family, is his wife dead?  He just carries around guns for the hell of it.    Wasn't Lightning part of the guardian Corps, we meet one person in a flashback from that.  Like i said before it feels like not much is happening.  "
Much like Signpost is getting at in his post, that is just how the story is. The main plot itself is a bunch of fugitives on the run from a government that wants them dead. They don't know what to do or where to go. The whole thing is about their journey and the prior days leading up to that. Stuff like Sazh's wife being dead or what happened when they were little kids is just not important to the main plot or the characters really. It is also the reason (from a story perspective, we all know a major influence was development cost and money) you don't explore Cocoon, but hey guess what? Once you lose the trail of the government and get to Pulse where no one cares if you're alive or dead the game opens up for you to freely do whatever. "Not much happening" is simply because it's true, and I don't mean that in a negative way. The game is 30 hours of the main characters trying not to die and figure out how to escape what seems to be impossible odds. 
 
In the end I am just glad Square saw the direction the game was going with it's many narrow paths and less exploration than 12 and at least fit the story into that mold. It would of been a huge bummer if it was structured more like older FF games (lets go wander around for a while not sure what we're doing and explore the character's pasts) with the way dungeons are laid out. I actually applaud Square for making it all fit so well together. It certainly isn't my favorite plot or cast of characters from the series, but I really like the direction they took with the real focus of the story and characters, it feels very different from many other games in the genre and it is a welcome breath of fresh air.
#26 Edited by thehuntsmen5434 (434 posts) -

Yea I can see what you mean. Good point that everything else going on really is irrelevant.  I guess I'm just used to old school RPGs where everything and everyone is involved, and pointless events can happen that doesn't relate to the main storyline.  And yes I do want change in my games also, whether for good or bad.  If square wants to take this approach, and it ends up bringing in even more of an audience then more power to them.  Its not like their old games are vanishing off my shelf, could just always pop them in whenever. 

#27 Posted by Aus_azn (2224 posts) -
@normalpants said:

I've completed the game and I couldn't tell you the difference between a fal'cie and a l'cie because it's just an obstacle standing between me and the brilliant combat system, beautiful visuals, and trippy creature designs.

No offence intended, but that's sort of sad. You really might as well have not played the game.
#28 Posted by immike (714 posts) -

I also want text boxes, 2d sprites, and no cutscenes. This way I don't have to listen or really look at any of the characters.

#29 Edited by normalpants (166 posts) -
@thehuntsmen5434 said:

"Yea I can see what you mean. Good point that everything else going on really is irrelevant.  I guess I'm just used to old school RPGs where everything and everyone is involved, and pointless events can happen that doesn't relate to the main storyline.  And yes I do want change in my games also, whether for good or bad.  If square wants to take this approach, and it ends up bringing in even more of an audience then more power to them.  Its not like their old games are vanishing off my shelf, could just always pop them in whenever.  "


I was a PC gamer growing up so I don't have the affection for JRPGs that a lot of gamers seem to have.  Played Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and a handful of DS rpgs and could take or leave all of them.  FFXIII is the first JRPG that has truly hooked me, and that is definetly not due to the story or characters.  I hope Square sees to what extent these things have become obstacles for what seems to be a growing portion of gamers and strips away the bullshit to focus on things that actually make the game fun. 
 
I think it's still possible to have a robust story in a JRPG, but I'm afraid most people have forgetten the most overused and truthful platitude when it comes to writing: show, don't tell. 
#30 Edited by frankfartmouth (1018 posts) -
@AltonBrown said:

"I think the cheesiness is part of the charm, myself. "


That's how I look at it. Haven't played this one yet, but a lot of my friends razzed me for getting into 10. They'd catch a few moments of Tidus' whiny voice and the touchy-feely, planeteer storyline and express great confusion as to how I could enjoy such cheesy drivel. To me, it's kind of like a campy but technically well-executed movie. There's no doubt that its corny, but it's its own kind of corny. The weird, blue-haired, emo characters and self-important, soap opera dialogue all come together in their own unique way. Is it good, from a strict film theory perspective? No. But neither are cartoons or comic books. And I love those, too.  However, I do agree that, sometimes, I prefer the days when there was no spoken dialogue in JRPGs. It does lend more mystery to the characters when you "read" their voices.   
   
#31 Posted by xyzygy (10008 posts) -
@normalpants: Can't you just play custom soundtracks through the Guide button? I do it all the time on Gran Pulse.
#32 Posted by SonicFire (821 posts) -

A lot of it is East vs. West storytelling dynamics. Much of the way dialogue comes about is very Japanese, and a lot of Americans really hate it. Most of the stories that get major love in this area are those games (Uncharted 2, Mass Effect) that are keenly focused on Western Sensibilities. I won't say that the dialogue was bad in FFXIII, just different. For truly BAD dialogue, play Sacred 2. It's practically the Citizen Kane for bad VA in a recent RPG (whether intentional or not)

#33 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@normalpants said:
" @thehuntsmen5434 said:

"Yea I can see what you mean. Good point that everything else going on really is irrelevant.  I guess I'm just used to old school RPGs where everything and everyone is involved, and pointless events can happen that doesn't relate to the main storyline.  And yes I do want change in my games also, whether for good or bad.  If square wants to take this approach, and it ends up bringing in even more of an audience then more power to them.  Its not like their old games are vanishing off my shelf, could just always pop them in whenever.  "

 FFXIII is the first JRPG that has truly hooked me, and that is definetly not due to the story or characters.  I hope Square sees to what extent these things have become obstacles for what seems to be a growing portion of gamers and strips away the bullshit to focus on things that actually make the game fun.   "
I'm not going to say the story or characters "hooked" me to the game (for that was certainly the amazing combat) but uh.... No. The story and characters are not what I would call obstacles either. There is no way I would of enjoyed the game as much if it wasn't for those things. They added to my enjoyment of the game not "bullshit that got in the way from the game being fun".
#34 Posted by Talesavo (131 posts) -
@CharleyTony said:
" @normalpants:  It might be a matter of taste but if you are looking for a more traditional FF game, you might want to play Lost Odyssey. I really liked it. I did see it in your games list but since you havent gotten any achievements in it I assumed you did not play it. "
How is Lost Odyssey btw, could you sum it up in a few paragraphs if possible? The story/graphics/combat? Worthy of a purchase?
#35 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@Talesavo: It's a generic SNES/PS1 RPG made in the modern times and made quite well. Story is all subjective of course but the actual plot itself doesn't extend past evil guy wants insane power blah blah blah, the characters though are great and probably my personal favorite part of the game (One of the earlier scenes with a drunken Jansen is amazing).  
 
The combat is akin to the very original FF games (1, 2, and 3. The NES games not the SNES titles 4 and 6). You pick every characters attacks at the start of the turn and then sit back for 30 seconds or so as it all plays out. The only player interaction in that time is timing right trigger clicks if you use a melee attack. There are no bars filling up or that sort of jazz, calling it a traditional FF is false advertising, but I went over that in another thread. The only problem I personally had with the combat is how easy it was to break the game since you can make 4 of the characters stupidly overpowered. Essentially if you like that slow turn based combat this is it almost perfected, but something faster this is not (not that that is a problem imo). 
 
Graphically I think the game looked amazing, honestly I think it looks better than most games to come out since then. You can look up videos n' shit online to decide for yourself.
 
Worthy of a purchase? Totally. If I could go back in time and buy the game new rather than used I would, great game.
#36 Posted by Meowayne (6084 posts) -
@SonicFire said:
" A lot of it is East vs. West storytelling dynamics. Much of the way dialogue comes about is very Japanese, and a lot of Americans really hate it. Most of the stories that get major love in this area are those games (Uncharted 2, Mass Effect) that are keenly focused on Western Sensibilities. I won't say that the dialogue was bad in FFXIII, just different. For truly BAD dialogue, play Sacred 2. It's practically the Citizen Kane for bad VA in a recent RPG (whether intentional or not) "
The dialogue is bad in XIII. So is the dialogue in Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect, but to a much lesser extent. There are few videogames that feature decent or good writing, but XIII and similar games are just embarrassingly bad and painful. This has NOTHING to do with cultural differences - Read Lost Odyssey's dreams or play Chrono Trigger to see that you can make absolutely decent if not amazing scripts and dialogue out of the same cheesy themes and archetypical characters (love, respect, something worth fighting for, bla bla).
 
The themes and characters you can accredit to the different cultural preferences. Bad writing, you cannot.
 

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