Notice: The following S-Rank was a platinum trophy obtained on the Playstation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIII. It is not associated to my official S-Rank list on GiantBomb. Here's hoping that Sony will figure out that people like sharing their trophy information, outside of their own official site. Like every other achievement system in existence.
It's a great game, but there are so many skewed issues within the game's main design that it's difficult to go back talking about it. There are tons of other JRPG's that have been released this generation, that are dwarfed by the quality of Final Fantasy XIII.
But were not here to talk about the actual game, per-say. No, this is all about the achievements!
So were over half-a-decade into the HD generation, and a Final Fantasy game was finally released to capitalize on the big scary modern gaming machines. It should be noted that this is not the first Final Fantasy to incorporate an achievement system. The previous entry, Final Fantasy XII had an in-game menu that mirrored an achievement system. It wasn't that big of a deal, and there's a good chance that me bringing this up now, will inevitable make you hunt down your copy, in order to make sure I'm not making this up: But it was there. Defeating certain sub-bosses like Yiazmat, netted you a neat little icon in your in-game menu.
(I beat Yiazmat...I'm not...*sigh*...Go look it up...I have no interest in sharing that experience.)
So technically, Final Fantasy XIII was the first real attempt to bring achievements officially into the franchise. When I think back on the franchise, my imagination takes hold and I can see the possibilities. I know I'm not alone, thinking of concepts like getting an achievement for getting the gold chocobo in Final Fantasy VII. Perhaps an achievement for marching through the first Final Fantasy with all mages?
So how does Final Fantasy XIII capitalize on our new-fangeled modern achievement system? Is getting an S-Rank capitalize on something that you can proudly share? Or does it run down a lengthy corridor, and fall flat on it's face?
See what I did there? Get it? Because it's linear. People didn't like that. That it was linear. I used that as a seg-way to the actual article.It was also a joke. Pretty funny huh?
You can laugh, it's okay.
...Let's move on.
S-Rank Synopsis Sadly, Final Fantasy XIII's achievements are painfully uninspired.
When it come's to JRPG's this generation, we truly don't get many lists that seem to advertise some form of established middle-ground, or center. They are usually on opposite ends of the spectrum, either "challenges" that were made by disgruntled medicated employees, or developers that don't really care and just spoon-feed you achievements because they are now required too.
It's gotten better over the years, but it's still depressing to read an achievement list like Final Fantasy XIII's. To be fair, it's probably one of the most balanced achievement lists for JRPG's this generation. That being said, when it comes to the more complicated achievements, the most errigous flaws with Final Fantasy XIII come out in full-force.
Is getting an S-Rank in Final Fantasy XIII worth getting? Let's find out shall we:
There are 7 achievements out of 35 that are dedicated to grinding CP level's to max every character. Going after each of the character specific roles should unlock naturally, although raising each character's CP level to max will take more time.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: The grinding in Final Fantasy XIII is quite possibly the worst I have ever seen in a game.
"But, vidiot!" You stammer back at me, ignoring the fact you are referring to me out-loud by my internet handle.
"Surely, the time and effort is not as much as some other games you have played! You have S-Ranks in both Lost Odyssey and Resonance of Fate! I heard that the grinding involved in Resonance of Fate, makes unborn children cry!"...
I'm getting side-tracked.
...Slowly sitting into my armchair, I adjust my monocle in an over-exaggerated manner.
"You are most wise and studios in presenting your counter-point, Mr. Pumpernickel, but what you forget yourself on what the true purpose of subjecting your-self to such a monotonous task!"
"Well, when one does the act of grinding, it usually is during the act of procreation..."
"Not the grinding I was referring to Mr. Pumpernickel! You forget yourself!" I quickly cut you off in vain as our conversation turns to you wanting to talk about sex for the next hour.
Near the end of our debate you finally ask why the hell I'm calling you "Mr. Pumpernickel" .
You are unsatisfied with my answer.
Regardless of my moment of insanity, I personally find that grinding in JRPG's is not necessarily a dated, or unnecessary design concept. It gives the player the feeling of becoming stronger over-time, for die-hard fans of the JRPG series there is quite a bit of fun to beef-up on smaller foes: Only too then crush larger foes after a long session of "training".
Final Fantasy XIII has the usual JRPG completionist set of achievement points, designated to grinding. The problem is that Final Fantasy XIII's core design isn't geared toward grinding at all. In order to curb excessive grinding, there are caps throughout the main character development system known as "The Crystarium".
Unlike other JRPG's that use level caps, like Lost Odyssey, there's not much room for similar moments of choice character development. This way each chapter can end with a boss fight, that the player is equally prepared for.
The amount of CP ("Crystarium Points") required to max each of your characters seems unnecessarily ridiculous. To make matter's worse, obtaining big chunks of CP is actually somewhat of a debatable concept between different guides. There are many idea's of what qualifies as an exploit.
To make matters worse even at high CP level's, don't expect to be able to destroy certain high-level enemies in-order to gain more CP. Farming strong enemies like the Adamantoises for CP, seems to be more of a crap-shoot and even at max-levels it's quite easy to be wiped-out immediately. It feels like the game really doesn't give you the proper means to max your characters, because the game is focused on not grinding.
What's even more absurd, is that we haven't even gotten to the worst part of Final Fantasy XIII's grinding. Were actually not done yet with this subject, and were going to get to the real big problem in just a second.
Gysahl Wreath // Superstar // Limit Breaker // Exorcist
Keeping with the trend that Final Fantasy XIII's achievement's highlight the game's worst qualities, don't expect to see anything really imaginative here. Final Fantasy XIII's more "ambitious" achievements don't do enough, and some are confusing regarding their concept.
Let's get one thing out of the way: If you thought there wasn't a whole lot to do out-side the beaten path in this game, if you're going to be going after an S-Rank, get ready to notice it a whole lot more.
To put it simply: Just about every side-achievement is dedicated to the 64 monster hunts that are in this game. There's only two combat specific achievement (Limit Breaker and Superstar) involving inflicting over 100,000 points of damage, and the other beating the final boss under a certain time-limit. That's it.
Other achievements are somewhat laughable in context of the limited design of the game.
Case in point, my "favorite" is Exorcist, a bizarre achievement that's awarded for beating all the undead hunts. Why undead? Are there people who are just going after the undead hunts? If all the other achievements are making you eventually completing all the hunts, then what's the emphasis on getting just awarded for only beating the undead hunts?
The rest are what you would expect. There's one for getting items on a Chocobo (Gysahl Wreath) and beside from a few grind-specific achievements, there's not a whole lot here.
Grinding everyone's CP levels to maximum, is apparently less of a challenge than scanning 100 different enemies, something you will have to do regardless of incentive. Also, it feels like a large majority of Final Fantasy XIII's achievements are unlocked when playing Final Fantasy XIII's side-content.
Even though Final Fantasy XIII's achievements are limited in scope, when it comes to the actual fights and difficulty regarding some of the later bosses: It all check's out. Sadly, there's too many instances of developers getting confused over the idea that difficulty, equates to bosses with HP amounts that dwarf entire franchises.
Overall though, I never felt that a majority of Final Fantasy XIII's achievements were skewed. The hunt's usually give a good challenge.
I touched about CP grinding above, but nothing beat's the big noticeable turd in what's been so far a slightly disappointing S-Rank. Treasure hunter involves you obtaining every weapon, for every character in the game. There is no in-game check-list, so you will probably have to print out your own.
That's right: Instead of maxing characters to god-like levels, (That you will never feel that's on-par to other entries in the series) or beating ever hunt with a Five-Star rating, the vast majority of my time getting this S-Rank, involved running between a certain set of enemies, that dropped certain items that I then sold for a premium.
To reiterate: The big end-game grind sessions in Final Fantasy XIII, involves grinding for cash.
The achievement doesn't feel natural to the rest of the achievements either. It's also completely missable, given the fact that some very specific items are required in-order to upgrade your weapons. If you don't know this fact, and are looking for an S-Rank, you're screwed. Don't sell anything until after the main story is finished. This is especially disturbing, given the fact the game encourages you to sell things, considering how having tons of cash is such an uncommon situation in the game.
...And you will need tons of cash to get this thing.
To make matters even worse: It's all dependent on enemy drop-rates. You can equip accessories to increase these drop-rates, but some the more rarer items that are required to obtain, are, to put it nicely: Have drop rates that are fu***** ludicrous.
Case in point: Trapezohedron's are very important items and are required for weapon upgrades. Even with the most powerful accessories equipped that allow for higher drop-rates: Expect to only get them roughly 5% of the time.
- Collectibles: None!
- DLC: None!
- Glitches: None!
- Stacking: No difficulty achievements!
Estimated Time: 90-100 hours / 1+ Playthrough
As a critic, there's a part of me that wished for achievements that had more emphasis on certain aspects of the game, versus general completion. Load up a good podcast for this one, because the amount of time waiting for certain items to appear after a fight will drain you. Printing out item lists is not something new for JRPG enthusiasts, but the lack of in-game direction for the achievement like Treasure Trove really hurts the overall experience.
People ask me how I'm capable in pulling succeeding such a monotonous task: "Don't you have a life?! The hell is wrong with you!"
My secret is not very exciting, and is simply obtainable given my current set-up: My monitor plugs into my game consoles and my PC, in the same room is another TV. Loading up Final Fantasy XIII while watching late night television is probably the only way I was able to complete such a task. It's depressing that a slight majority of my time spent trying to complete this game, was because of one achievement that specifically expands on just about all of the faults of this game. It's depressing that the pay-off of getting each character to maximum level's, doesn't seem as substantial as previous entries. It's depressing that almost 50% of the achievements outside of completing the game, just involve completing the hunts.
That being said, Final Fantasy XIII's uninspired achievements, probably are more reflective of developers having difficulty finding things for you in the actual game itself. To be fair: A lot of the Hunt missions are actually quite fair in terms of difficulty. Some of the more elaborate fights, will impress you in terms of how much tactics are involved.
Final Fantasy XIII is not a difficult S-Rank. It just takes time and planning. Once you have the plan nailed down, all that's left is lot's of very boring grind-fest's that have pay-offs that are nowhere near as good as they should be. For those who want an S-Rank in Final Fantasy XIII, it's difficult for me to recommend that such a challenge is worth it.
That being said, I think this is a good start. If you look at other achievements that debuted on other franchises this generation, Final Fantasy XIII isn't that bad in retrospect.
If you have the 360 version, it is possible to hack your gamesave.
I'm not supposed to recommend doing this, but given the lack of difficulty and general monotony with Treasure Hunter: I trust you can make your own decisions.