Designed to consume your time
FFXIII is what happens when a design team under pressure to mix up a stale and dying formula looks across the Pacific ocean. They see Lost and notice the ensemble cast with a variety of interesting back stories, non-sequential story telling and mysterious settings that may involve more than just coincidence that the characters are brought together. They see Call of Duty and pilfer the focused environmental design and on-rails action. They see World of Warcraft making billions of dollars, and reduce it's components down to a class based, role oriented strategic instance based combat system.
They see all of these great things, and yet somehow manage to take each lesson taught from these other successful games and completely miss the point. The convoluted and shitty storytelling works in LOST because it has a mysterious setting that is gradually revealed through the characters and through natural exposition, not through unlikeable characters and confusing set pieces as well as pages upon pages of fucking cliff notes. What makes Call of Duty fun is multiplayer, the single player is only passingly enjoyable for it's explosive action sequences. What doesn't make Call of Duty good is it's linear, forced tube design philosophy, which was the only takeaway for SQUARE ENIX. If Square Enix had even thought to maybe include action set pieces as remotely interesting as Call of Duty's, I might be whistling a different tune.
What makes World of Warcraft fun is playing with other people. The social aspect is integral to the World of War craft experience, rewarding the player for assuming their class/role. World of War craft doesn't have an AUTO BATTLE button that chooses all of your actions for you, while you watch your robot dude help or kill the other robot dudes. FFXIII is the most lonely game that I have ever played. It steals design philosophy from games meant to be played with other people, and jams them into a JRPG and strips away the context for which they had been applied, replacing other humans with a Robot. Fuck, the godamned robot assumes roles you should be playing. Why the hell can't they come up with a more involved combat system? Hitting Auto-battle and switching paradigms is the majority of what you do within the combat system.
After playing a good 12 hours of this, i don't care how much 'better' the game gets later, I have just wasted 12 hours of my life because the game would not let me do anything else. I hear the story opens up and the game plays to the strengths of it's designs, probably by including a 3rd thing for you to do in combat besides hitting X and switching paradigms with reckless abandon. I hear the story improves, the environments open up, Jesus ascends from the heavens to give everyone hand-jobs. This doesn't matter, I have just been raped. I don't think I can forgive the designers for this, just because they proceed to foreplay after they have just RAPED ME.